Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

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windchill
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Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by windchill » Thu Apr 23, 2020 11:19 am

Due to a recent change in my musical goals I've decided to give the all-in-one sequencer idea one more spin of the wheel. For me, the choice is simple: a Five12 Vector or a Frap Tools USTA.
I'd be interested in any observations, especially from anyone who has used both.

On paper the Five12 Vector wins outright. It's obviously the better sequencer in terms of raw capability. It has those powerful sub-sequencers, and greater chance ops, but there are some aspects of the Frap Tools USTA that keep it in the running for me:

USTA is smaller and has 4 cv output channels as standard. The Vector only has 2 CV channel outputs and I don't think I can commit to the expense or the extra HP of the expander.

USTA can record external CV into sequences. Vector can't do this. This is especially interesting because I have Marbles.

USTA has full microtonal support with loads of scales. Vector may get this at some point but when, and to what extent, is unknown.

USTA's interface has all 16 steps visible and adjustable at the same time, and the design seems to invite a different approach than the more editor-like Vector. I get the feeling that USTA will be very fluid to work with. It's hard to put this into words but USTA looks more like a musical instrument.

Any thoughts on these two sequencers are welcome.

Can I ask that we stay on topic on this one? I don't want an Eloquencer or a NerdSeq, any sequencer without control of step length (that's step length not gate length!), nor an ER-101 (close, but there's no way I can deal with its data-entry method). I'm also well equipped in the roll-your-own-sequencer-from-individual-modules dept.

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by mdoudoroff » Thu Apr 23, 2020 11:47 am

Features aren’t unimportant, but limitations can actually contribute more to creativity.

The more important question is which of these two sequencers would you actually want to use? They’re different enough that you should have a pretty strong bias at this point. If you do not, then you may not be giving this fundamental concern enough attention.

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by bc3 » Thu Apr 23, 2020 12:02 pm

This topic seems to come up like once a week it feels like lately.

Same suggestion as before, the difference between to two for me came down to workflow. The Vector takes up more space than the USTA but was totally worth when it comes down to being able to quickly get to where you need to go. The sub sequencers on the Vector take it to the next level as well and the midi capabilities which USTA does not have. I had USTA first and am personally SO much happier with the Vector.

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by daphnid » Thu Apr 23, 2020 12:25 pm

Been mulling these two over as well but am waiting for the Erica Black Sequencer to release as it'll apparently be like $300 cheaper and similarly capable it seems.

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by windchill » Thu Apr 23, 2020 12:32 pm

bc3 wrote:
Thu Apr 23, 2020 12:02 pm

The Vector takes up more space than the USTA but was totally worth when it comes down to being able to quickly get to where you need to go. The sub sequencers on the Vector take it to the next level as well and the midi capabilities which USTA does not have. I had USTA first and am personally SO much happier with the Vector.
Care to tell me just a little more? Is it Vector's chance ops and sub sequencers that help you get more quickly where you need to go or are there other things about the USTA that slowed you down?

(Midi is of no interest to me in this context.)

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by windchill » Thu Apr 23, 2020 12:53 pm

daphnid wrote:
Thu Apr 23, 2020 12:25 pm
Been mulling these two over as well but am waiting for the Erica Black Sequencer to release as it'll apparently be like $300 cheaper and similarly capable it seems.
It does look very nice but it doesn't appear to have control of step length, which for me is essential.

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by synonymist » Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:40 pm

Hello. I own and play both, and I do not use MIDI.

Related to mdoudoroff's comments: Since after some consideration you are comparing these two sequencers in particular, yet you are still torn between them based on (and this is the key) their specs, if you have the means then buy and play them both. I promise you that this will be the only way for you to know what makes each module distinctive in itself, and thus in contrast each to the other.

If it comes down to specs or features after all, fine. Already a Vector Sequencer player, I learned of USTA and was intrigued. USTA's apparently smaller feature set did not dissuade me. There was just something about even the rumor of this instrument. When it was announced that microtonal scales would be included in USTA, I was sold. Playing it, I found USTA to feel completely different from Vector, which was my main motive for trying it; not to replace Vector, but to be an alternative that was truly "other".

Vector Sequencer is expansive, and has a cheerful utilitarian feel that makes it prone to be insidiously mind-blowing. USTA is moody, seductive, and flavorful, its visual elegance belying its propensity for suprisingly complex results.

Vector Sequencer is American. USTA is Italian. (Because that does matter. Everything matters.)

Vector Sequencer is rational and tactile. USTA is emotional and tactile.

Vector Sequencer is Bauhaus. USTA is Impressionism.

Vector Sequencer is an eau-de-vie. USTA is a Barolo. Drink enough of either and you will throw up and pass out (hopefully in that order). But the experience en route will be quite different in either case (no pun intended).

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by windchill » Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:59 pm

synonymist wrote:
Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:40 pm
Hello. I own and play both, and I do not use MIDI.

Related to mdoudoroff's comments: Since after some consideration you are comparing these two sequencers in particular, yet you are still torn between them based on (and this is the key) their specs, if you have the means then buy and play them both. I promise you that this will be the only way for you to know what makes each module distinctive in itself, and thus in contrast each to the other.

If it comes down to specs or features after all, fine. Already a Vector Sequencer player, I learned of USTA and was intrigued. USTA's apparently smaller feature set did not dissuade me. There was just something about even the rumor of this instrument. When it was announced that microtonal scales would be included in USTA, I was sold. Playing it, I found USTA to feel completely different from Vector, which was my main motive for trying it; not to replace Vector, but to be an alternative that was truly "other".

Vector Sequencer is expansive, and has a cheerful utilitarian feel that makes it prone to be insidiously mind-blowing. USTA is moody, seductive, and flavorful, its visual elegance belying its propensity for suprisingly complex results.

Vector Sequencer is American. USTA is Italian. (Because that does matter. Everything matters.)

Vector Sequencer is rational and tactile. USTA is emotional and tactile.

Vector Sequencer is Bauhaus. USTA is Impressionism.

Vector Sequencer is an eau-de-vie. USTA is a Barolo. Drink enough of either and you will throw up and pass out (hopefully in that order). But the experience en route will be quite different in either case (no pun intended).
Thank you so much for this. What a brilliant answer! Each of your comments is laced with meaning.
For what it's worth, it confirms my bias for the apparently lesser-featured but very intriguing USTA.

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by synonymist » Thu Apr 23, 2020 4:11 pm

windchill wrote:
Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:59 pm
synonymist wrote:
Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:40 pm
Hello. I own and play both, and I do not use MIDI.

Related to mdoudoroff's comments: Since after some consideration you are comparing these two sequencers in particular, yet you are still torn between them based on (and this is the key) their specs, if you have the means then buy and play them both. I promise you that this will be the only way for you to know what makes each module distinctive in itself, and thus in contrast each to the other.

If it comes down to specs or features after all, fine. Already a Vector Sequencer player, I learned of USTA and was intrigued. USTA's apparently smaller feature set did not dissuade me. There was just something about even the rumor of this instrument. When it was announced that microtonal scales would be included in USTA, I was sold. Playing it, I found USTA to feel completely different from Vector, which was my main motive for trying it; not to replace Vector, but to be an alternative that was truly "other".

Vector Sequencer is expansive, and has a cheerful utilitarian feel that makes it prone to be insidiously mind-blowing. USTA is moody, seductive, and flavorful, its visual elegance belying its propensity for suprisingly complex results.

Vector Sequencer is American. USTA is Italian. (Because that does matter. Everything matters.)

Vector Sequencer is rational and tactile. USTA is emotional and tactile.

Vector Sequencer is Bauhaus. USTA is Impressionism.

Vector Sequencer is an eau-de-vie. USTA is a Barolo. Drink enough of either and you will throw up and pass out (hopefully in that order). But the experience en route will be quite different in either case (no pun intended).
Thank you so much for this. What a brilliant answer! Each of your comments is laced with meaning.
For what it's worth, it confirms my bias for the apparently lesser-featured but very intriguing USTA.
You are quite welcome. Thank you for your kind assessment of my comments.
Please enjoy your USTA and "drink" responsibly. :cloud:

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by Hovercraft » Thu Apr 23, 2020 6:05 pm

In the same boat--I narrowed down my next sequencer to either the Usta or the Vector. Both look like great sequencers, and I wouldn't consider either limited in features. No sequencer is perfect, but both of these are offer a lot of power and flexibility. After getting the Fumana, I fell in love with Frap Tools--and have since added the Sapel, Falistri, 333, and 321. Their engineering and designs are second to none. Most of their modules are directly inspired by Buchla, but with significant further developments. Usta's starting point was the Buhcla 250e, but it's also a unique take on that design. If you dig the Buchla DNA with some beautiful engineering, the USTA make a lot of sense.

Jim at FiveTwelve is a sequencer guy, with years experience developing Numerology, and is committed to updating the Vector firmware to meet the needs of its owners. The big OLED display and shallow menus look like a great interface for the wide array of features. It's also the obvious choice if you're also using midi instruments. It's also pure modular--meant to balance variation and repetition with short sequences.

Placed my order for one of these today. :tu:

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by studioutopia » Mon Apr 27, 2020 12:24 am

Hovercraft wrote:
Thu Apr 23, 2020 6:05 pm
Most of their modules are directly inspired by Buchla, but with significant further developments. Usta's starting point was the Buhcla 250e, but it's also a unique take on that design. If you dig the Buchla DNA with some beautiful engineering, the USTA make a lot of sense.
I thought the same too - USTA looks like a 250e... but according to Simone Fabri at Frap - it was technically based on the Buchla MARF. The ring of knobs came later.

I love my USTA. The workflow is now the centre of my creative process.
I have yet to actually use all 16 outputs - tonight I hit 11. Every synth on this track is performed on USTA.

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by MossGarden » Mon Apr 27, 2020 4:20 am

Ok USTA user here, I've had second hand experience with the vector so can't really comment on how the USTA really compares on a deeper level.

Reasons I love my USTA, after getting to grips with the controls/button combos, it really feels like your playing an instrument. The way you interact with the music as it's playing is a huge part of why it's so addictive to jam on, it's interactive, constantly. You have to go into menus initially, setup your clocking/CV quantization but everything else you can basically do whilst your performing without ever stopping the sequencer. I play a mixture of ambient/buchla-esq stuff and techno, Whilst it isn't probably the best at Techno (nerdseq would be better at that, but usta is still great) for my main output it's exceptional, the sheer amount of outputs is so useful for giving you the freedom to patch up anything whilst performing. You could be like "Oh a second voice here countering the one already going would be fun" just a quick copy/paste and you've got a pattern you can manipulate being sent elsewhere quickly. I too use Marbles so being able to capture what that is spitting out is a big bonus too, although I don't do that as often as I should.

In regards to vector, I found a lot of what vector did impressive, I used five12's numerology a lot in the past and many ideas from that work really nicely within euro, my initial gripe is the fact its so big vs number of outputs and you can't get at everything as quickly as you can the USTA. If you want to react to what your creating in the moment, usta is fast, even if I am clunky with some of the shortcuts.

Both are amazing bits of kit, work out how you want to perform (you probably already know this) for me, constant reaction/conversation with sound is important so Usta all the way (also micro tuning)

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by Hovercraft » Mon Apr 27, 2020 1:55 pm

studioutopia wrote:
Mon Apr 27, 2020 12:24 am
...
I thought the same too - USTA looks like a 250e... but according to Simone Fabri at Frap - it was technically based on the Buchla MARF. The ring of knobs came later.
Shoot, that's even cooler. It looks like it diverges quite a bit from the MARF, but I can appreciate the way Frap is using Buchla as an inspiration. Would be interesting to hear from someone with both a MARF and an USTA.

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by theTwiddler » Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:14 am

MossGarden wrote:
Mon Apr 27, 2020 4:20 am
Ok USTA user here, I've had second hand experience with the vector so can't really comment on how the USTA really compares on a deeper level.

Reasons I love my USTA, after getting to grips with the controls/button combos, it really feels like your playing an instrument. The way you interact with the music as it's playing is a huge part of why it's so addictive to jam on, it's interactive, constantly. You have to go into menus initially, setup your clocking/CV quantization but everything else you can basically do whilst your performing without ever stopping the sequencer. I play a mixture of ambient/buchla-esq stuff and techno, Whilst it isn't probably the best at Techno (nerdseq would be better at that, but usta is still great) for my main output it's exceptional, the sheer amount of outputs is so useful for giving you the freedom to patch up anything whilst performing. You could be like "Oh a second voice here countering the one already going would be fun" just a quick copy/paste and you've got a pattern you can manipulate being sent elsewhere quickly. I too use Marbles so being able to capture what that is spitting out is a big bonus too, although I don't do that as often as I should.

In regards to vector, I found a lot of what vector did impressive, I used five12's numerology a lot in the past and many ideas from that work really nicely within euro, my initial gripe is the fact its so big vs number of outputs and you can't get at everything as quickly as you can the USTA. If you want to react to what your creating in the moment, usta is fast, even if I am clunky with some of the shortcuts.

Both are amazing bits of kit, work out how you want to perform (you probably already know this) for me, constant reaction/conversation with sound is important so Usta all the way (also micro tuning)
Can u do triplets or maybe even more complex trackdivisions on single tracks in the usta?

Thanks for sharing ur userexperience

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by windchill » Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:26 am

Update: after a lot of further thought I went with the Vector and have had it for a while.
I couldn't be happier.
The chance ops and sub-sequencers are wonderful, the screen is very well integrated with the controls rather than feeling separate from them, and the upcoming Launchpad integration is intriguing (it works very well with Numerology).

I'm sure my initial bias, the USTA, is great too. With some decisions it becomes impossible to fully rationalise an answer; you simply have to go one way or the other.

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by studioutopia » Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:31 am

Congrats to the OP on choosing Vector and enjoying it!

For others still deciding or looking for opinions....
theTwiddler wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:14 am
MossGarden wrote:
Mon Apr 27, 2020 4:20 am
...Reasons I love my USTA, after getting to grips with the controls/button combos, it really feels like your playing an instrument. The way you interact with the music as it's playing is a huge part of why it's so addictive to jam on, it's interactive, constantly.
Can u do triplets or maybe even more complex trackdivisions on single tracks in the usta?

Thanks for sharing ur userexperience
I will confirm everything theTwiddler just said. USTA feels like an instrument.

I will add -
USTA hits a sweet spot... While many of the high-end sequencers are going after being a hardware version of what I can do in Ableton - I still prefer Ableton. Coming from the other end of the spectrum - Doepfer A-155, Metropilis, Rene2, VoltageBlock - they have a fast, interactive real-time performance feel to them, but are just too primitive/limited for me.
I find that I can compose complex passages in USTA faster than I can on Push2 in Ableton.
The probability capabilities give me enough of what I loved about having Marbles - without having Marbles.

Once you memorize (red=CV pitch or gate length, Green=chance, blue=variation) and then visualize the 4 track buttons and 5 control buttons (CVa, CVb, length, GateA, GateB) as a total of 20 "layers" of that ring of 16 knobs - USTA becomes very fast at orchestrating 4-8 voices, and usually live.


MossGarden - because you can adjust the overall ratio of a track to a clock, then set the length of each stage - you can easily do triplets or other complex timings. You could also just set the ratchet on a stage on subdivide by 3.

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by autopoiesis » Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:34 am

having tested both out, for me Vector is the obvious choice. especially because I want to sequence MIDI as well as CV+gate and Vector's interface and level of complexity is nearly perfect to me. it's like a Cirklon stripped down to mostly the best parts of it that I care about.

the only sticking point for me is that I want to work with scales beyond what Vector offers. I much prefer the array of scales in, say, Metropolis or Tetrapad+Tete. and while microtuning is coming to Vector in the 2.0 firmware, it will be implemented using Midi Tuning Standard files (which can be generated from Scala files) and will only have 2 slots available for these alternative tunings. it won't really be a solution for people who want to work with other 12TET scales (e.g., Japanese pentatonic scales, custom-masked duotonic or tritonic scales that are useful for basslines, etc.). USTA is a lot more flexible in regards to custom scales, tuning options, on the other hand.

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by closedLoop » Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:20 am

studioutopia wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:31 am


I will add -
USTA hits a sweet spot... While many of the high-end sequencers are going after being a hardware version of what I can do in Ableton - I still prefer Ableton. Coming from the other end of the spectrum - Doepfer A-155, Metropilis, Rene2, VoltageBlock - they have a fast, interactive real-time performance feel to them, but are just too primitive/limited for me.
That's the best way to put it. For me, USTA is the best compromise between the directness of a playable module, and the sophistication and depth of a software sequencer.

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:31 am

I think they are both great but I favor the vector. USTA reminds me of tetra maps. It was cool at the time but then more better stuff came out. That does not diminish the value of the USTA but I know I would get the vector over the USTA. If I had an iPad I would get tetra maps in 2020.
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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by theTwiddler » Sun Aug 02, 2020 1:05 pm

studioutopia wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:31 am
Congrats to the OP on choosing Vector and enjoying it!

For others still deciding or looking for opinions....
theTwiddler wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:14 am
MossGarden wrote:
Mon Apr 27, 2020 4:20 am
...Reasons I love my USTA, after getting to grips with the controls/button combos, it really feels like your playing an instrument. The way you interact with the music as it's playing is a huge part of why it's so addictive to jam on, it's interactive, constantly.
Can u do triplets or maybe even more complex trackdivisions on single tracks in the usta?

Thanks for sharing ur userexperience
I will confirm everything theTwiddler just said. USTA feels like an instrument.

I will add -
USTA hits a sweet spot... While many of the high-end sequencers are going after being a hardware version of what I can do in Ableton - I still prefer Ableton. Coming from the other end of the spectrum - Doepfer A-155, Metropilis, Rene2, VoltageBlock - they have a fast, interactive real-time performance feel to them, but are just too primitive/limited for me.
I find that I can compose complex passages in USTA faster than I can on Push2 in Ableton.
The probability capabilities give me enough of what I loved about having Marbles - without having Marbles.

Once you memorize (red=CV pitch or gate length, Green=chance, blue=variation) and then visualize the 4 track buttons and 5 control buttons (CVa, CVb, length, GateA, GateB) as a total of 20 "layers" of that ring of 16 knobs - USTA becomes very fast at orchestrating 4-8 voices, and usually live.


MossGarden - because you can adjust the overall ratio of a track to a clock, then set the length of each stage - you can easily do triplets or other complex timings. You could also just set the ratchet on a stage on subdivide by 3.
Thank u very much for the informations i watched some videos and it looked like it wasnt possible (without ratchets) now it makes it even harder for me to decide cause they both seem to have what i need but i like the display of the vector lil bit more

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by rareo » Sun Aug 02, 2020 3:10 pm

I don't know if the USTA does this, but one small thing I find indispensible with the Vector is shifting individual steps forward or back.

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by weirdo » Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:28 pm

rareo wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 3:10 pm
I don't know if the USTA does this, but one small thing I find indispensible with the Vector is shifting individual steps forward or back.
Bump for this thread and im curious about this too, i googled and:

„CV Pitch/Gate/Stage Shift“ is possible but maybe only via cv?

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by closedLoop » Fri Aug 14, 2020 9:21 am

weirdo wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:28 pm
rareo wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 3:10 pm
I don't know if the USTA does this, but one small thing I find indispensible with the Vector is shifting individual steps forward or back.
Bump for this thread and im curious about this too, i googled and:

„CV Pitch/Gate/Stage Shift“ is possible but maybe only via cv?
There are two different ways to do this.

There's quite a bit that can be shifted via CV, and all of that is detailed pretty well in the USTA manual. Specific to your question is 'Stage Shift'. There are 5 main channels to each of the 4 tracks: 2 CVs, stage length and 2 Gate tracks. If you are using one of the two CV inputs to effect Stage Shift, with a shift value of 1, the 2 CV and 2 Gate values will be shifted up one stage. Stage 2 would use Stage 3's values, Stage 16 would use Stages 1's values. It's important to note that it shifts all stages, whether or not they are active. If you have Stages 1-8 active, and you shift it up by a value of 8, you'll shift to the values of Stages 9-16. The stage length remains unchanged, which can be little confusing. If you are viewing a CV or Gate track, the LEDs will show the shifted value, while the unshifted stage length track will display it unshifted, because that is what USTA is using for playback.

New in firmware 152, there's another way to shift everything. If you hold a track button, and turn the central silver encoder, it will rotate all of the settings on all of the tracks across all of the stages. I don't find this too useful, personally. I wish there was a secondary shift/rotation where it would only rotate the active stages.

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by weirdo » Fri Aug 14, 2020 10:53 am

Thanks for the info! I find it a bit confusing tbh. but i should try out the Usta when its possible. I like shifting individual steps (stages in Usta if i got that right) but if it affects all stages this is different with the Usta compared to other sequencers.

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Re: Five12 Vector vs Frap Tools USTA

Post by rareo » Sat Aug 15, 2020 3:13 pm

Sounds quite involved, and I'm sure what the USTA does in this regard can be interesting.. but i just mean the ease immediacy and ease of doing this on the Vector is so important to me. Just to quickly lean a single, or a couple steps in a sequence in either direction, to fit them better with an unsynced delay, or if programming percussion, often i am adjusting 1 (or less) bar gate patterns, might be only 2 or 3 triggers.. but moving 1 slightly forward and/or another slightly back and you can quickly get the exact amount of wonkiness that you can edit so easily. It's perfect really.

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