Pros: CV output & MIDI Output Cost
Cons: Not sturdy. Dropped it once off my desk and 3 of the knobs don't work very well anymore. Difficult to sequence or know the sequence. With no display or LED feedback, knowing which note each step is on is really a guess. It does key lock to mode, but there's not an easy well to tell what the tonic is. ie; I can lock to minor but I don't know which minor scale it's set to.
This would have been killer hardware with a simple 2 character 7 segment at the least. As is, it's ok for quick sequencing if you don't mind making mostly random sequencers.
Also missing many advanced features like step repeat, step velocity, step skip (not mute)
3.8/5 note: i got mine for $60 in retail but it's supposed to be $120, so idk if it's worth the money really. live mode: velocity sensitive pads shouldn't be pushed down, so hit them quick. sequencer mode: great bonus, although tuning each note can be excessively tedious (especially when renoise doesn't record rests). knobs spin infinitely. there are selectable scales to tune to, though, which is especially helpful to someone who doesn't know music theory. wires: usb (powered by), (aux to) midi, gate and cv, which is incredibly useful, apart from that you need a computer or other device nearby to use it. pros (-), neutrals (|-), and cons (/-) would be: |- live mode pads are 1-2 octaves below the original note. this can be helpful, though, if connected to a computer with keyboard playing (ZXCVBNM,). |- while sequencing, the first notch turn on a knob will playback the sound at the current pitch, which may be frustrating (but also helpful) while trying so sequence speedily. /- pads are tough, but this is user preference. i don't mind - feels great. cold and sleek, knobs are top notch.
I have found many sequencers try too hard to be all things to all people. The Beatstep is a 16 step sequencer with all the basic necessary tools, no more and nothing missing either. It is well built- to last, has a great feel for manipulating the sequences while it is running: hitting the large rubber buttons feels like playing music. Beatstep takes about three minutes to learn, and is fun to use. It has MIDI, Gate and CV trigger 3.5mm jacks on the side (the MIDI 5 pin adapter comes with the Beatstep). It can store 16 patterns, run at 4 speeds (1/4, 1/8, 1/16 & 1/32) and has fine tuning to speed up or slow down with the big knob you see on the upper left of the unit. It has "Play" & "Stop" controls as well as a button for running sequences or in the stop mode, you can just trigger individual steps by hitting one of the corresponding 16 step buttons. The Beatstep can run sequence forward, backward, alternate forward to the last step and reverse back to the first and repeat, or can randomize playing steps. Beatstep can play in Chromatic, Major, Minor, Dorian, Mixolydian, Harm Minor, Blues or User defined modes. Each of the 16 small (8 over 8) knobs corresponds to each of the 16 (8 over 8) button steps below and can adjust tone for the corresponding step. Beatstep is really intuitive once you start messing around with it. Reading this review I'm typing now makes the Beatstep seem a lot more complicated than it is. You can pick it up, press play and understand that the moving lights across the buttons can be turned on or off to either make noise or not when the light reaches pad. I've used the Beatstep to sequence everything I can find with a Gate or CV trigger or MIDI input. Korg Volca units, Microbute, Moog Minitaur & Mother 32, Dave Smith Desktop Mopho, Rucci Handmade Instruments, Atari Punk Consoles and other 8 bit synths, Roland System-1m, Wave Signal Generators, MeeBlip, Arduino Synths, VST Synths... anything that makes a noise with MIDI, Gate or CV triggers. It's a perfect sequencer for anyone who wants "just a sequencer" and not a bunch of bells and whistles. And at $100- the price is low, if not perfect.
Love my BS. Only wish it had three things: clock out, bpm display and continuous/unquantized mode (free from "scales"). Also the gate out is too weak to trigger some of my envelope generators. That said it's great fun within it's limitations. I oftn use it as master clock for the ipad, running a drum machine and a looper synced to it while it controls my analog synths.
The beat step is one piece of gear I love using along with my iPad and Ableton Live. If I need a quick step or a need to control certain parameters in my set. A must have but would prefer the beat step pro for modular setup.
Still sort of getting in the groove for it (steep learning curve) but great and super affordable controller. I use the pads and encoders for Ableton SFX and EFX racks and the nice little CV out control for external analog sequencing.