Sequential TAKE-5 ► 200 custom sounds
Presets compatible with firmware ver 2.0 or higher.
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What’s in the bundle?:
You will receive all the sounds from all my demos plus extra. This is 200 patches / presets in total. All the sequences are also stored as patch data, so you will have those too (of course you can change the sequences or bypass the sequencer and play the sounds by hand).
What format / import method?:
My patches come under the name “WCOG” in a soundbank saved as a sysex file exported directly from my TAKE-5. You can use any midi manager (like the free MIDI-OX for example) to import my soundset into your TAKE-5.
What genre / style?:
There is no one style, because YOU decide what style these patches will be played in. It’s a wide variety of sounds that are meant to inspire, make you look at the synth in a different light and give you a great choice of directions. Some patches are bread & butter, some offbeat; they’re the result of me trying to find the limits of the instrument. The sounds are ready-to-use in music or can serve as starting points; just pick the textures or dynamics that you like and easily fine-tune them to suit your exact taste or purpose.
Any external stuff?:
I did not use any external FX in the demo; all the delays, reverbs, noises, crackles and other effects are part of the TAKE-5 engine & mod matrix. However, I used some slight EQ-ing on some of the sounds (no boosting, just limiting).
Notes on grades lower than 3/3:
[modern]: nice mod matrix, but everything else in “vintage analog” architecture domain
[engine]: sine/saw/square oscillators, one filter, note-playback sequencer, etc
[flex]: remarkable, but it’s a Sequential, not a Modwave / Hydra type chameleon
[soft / mgmt]: editor / librarian only third-party, confusing memory structure after update
When the TAKE-5 was announced, I was happy for a new synth, but I was also surprised. The one thought nagging me was this: “what is the idea or concept behind this synth, who is it for?” It looked to me like a scaled down PRO-3 with bonus voices. Sequential, on the other hand, described it as being “portable, powerful, polyphonic (…) the perfect gateway to subtractive synthesis and the creative power of Sequential’s best synths (…) genuine Sequential sound and quality at a price within your reach (…)” and that the oscillators were “passing through a Prophet-5-lineage 4-pole analog filter.”
So… is it portable? Looking at the fullsize keys and feeling the 7.7 kg of its weight, I am in doubt. I generally dislike all things “portable” because many times they compromise the level of comfort or the quickness of editing, so I do appreciate the fact that TAKE-5 is as full size as it can get. But the sole fact that this synth is shorter by one octave than all the other Sequential synths does not make it portable;) Korg Minilogue XD, Hydrasynth Explorer, Arturia Microfreak – these are just some examples of synths I would call portable.
Is the “price within your reach”? Maybe. I think the word which is often used in this context is “affordable”, and I think that interesting & capable affordable synths oscillate around the 650 Euro / 700 USD mark. The price of TAKE-5 is more than double that amount, so again I’m not sure if this is the right category to judge this synth in.
Is it powerful? Yes, but within this price range other synths are as powerful if not more powerful than the TAKE-5.
Is it polyphonic? Obviously, but I’ve always had a personal problem with synths that have a “weird” number of voices, and 5 voices definitely falls into the weird category. I am used to 6 voices when it comes to vintage synths or 8/12 voices for the more modern synths. Of course you could say that even if I have a 6-voice synth, I still won’t be able to play two full chords without experiencing the “note-stealing” phenomenon / problem. And you would be 100% right. The issue of how many voices are needed to play or create music is a very personal thing so maybe there’s no point discussing it.
So my personal answer to my personal question (“what is the idea behind this synth, who is it for?”) is this: Sequential reazlied how large & thirsty the portable / affordable synth market is. They also realized how deep the demand for the “legendary Prophet-5 sound” is. Hence the “small” synth with a “Prophet-5 sound”. I hope the TAKE-5 becomes one of Sequential’s best-selling products – but maybe Sequential should have just built a mini-size Prophet-5 and a mini-size Pro-3, and they would sell even more of those?;)
OK let’s actually use this thing. Good news is that I’ve clicked with this synth very quickly (in a matter of 2 or 3 days). The synth is very easy to edit and has a “vibe” from the moment you swicth it on. New patches pour out of this thing surprisingly fast. I needed much more time to reach that stage with my REV-2 and my PRO-3. So if Sequential says that it’s “the perfect gateway to subtractive synthesis and the power of Sequential’s best synths”, I think everyone who’s had the chance to play a Take-5 will fully support that statement.
Similarly to Arturia Matrixbrute, this is practically a knob-per-function synth with only one level of menu diving. Ocasionally you – the user – will have to scroll through the “Program Menu” list to find & adjust settings like “unison detune” or “lfo phase reset”. It’s okay because this is the kind of stuff needed at a later stage of your sound design.
Surprisingly, Sequential decided to hide the “keyboard filter tracking” and “pan spread” in the menus. Almost every synth out there has a dedicated knob for these features. It’s even more weird if you realize that all the reverb settings have their independent front-panel knobs. Other synths usually hide these settings in a menu. But it’s something different, so it’s good (and IMO it’s better to have the Filter Tracking hidden yet fully functional than have it on top of the panel only as a switch which goes “off”, “half” or “full” – like in Prophet-6 / Trigon-6).
The other good thing about this synth (and other Sequential synths) is the “Random Mod” in the mod matrix. If it hadn’t been put there, we would have to use a S/H LFO, and since there’s only two LFOs in the TAKE-5, we would lose 50% of our LFO modulation power for only one randomization trick. So with the Random Modulator we can multiply the randomness 16 times in the matrix and free up the LFO for other purposes.
The bad thing about this synth is that the screen does not show parameter values (or knob positions in other words). Sometimes it’s really irritating not being able to see certain things. Pro-tip: if you want to “peek” the original value of a parameter, instead of looking at the screen you have to look at the tiny patch number display, and a tiny dot will appear in the corner to indicate the original value. Sometimes (with big resolution knobs, most notably the Filter Cutoff) it’s extremely hard to spot. I find this design choice weird. Why can’t we see the values on the screen if we do have a screen? I hope this issue will be reconsidered in a future firmware update.
Let me get one thing straight right away: the synth can sound fantastic, and I’ll say more about it down below. But is it also easy to quickly edit the sound into something as great as it had been just a second before? Here some difficulty crawls in.
If you’ve listened to my demo and you like the sounds I got out of it, you need to know that I am using the mod matrix in almost every patch to reach that satisfaction level / acceptance threshold. Sometimes it’s just two matrix slots, sometimes it’s as many as sixteen. I’m saying this because I know some people consider diving into the mod matrix the hard part (or the unwanted part). I dive into the matrix because manipulating the front panel knobs is not enough for the dynamic / organic effect that I have in mind. If I use the front panel only, the synth does not sound as nice (or as convincing) to my ears. There’s a certain “darkness” or “tightness” to the inherent tone. Despite the initial positive vibe, oftentimes I’m having a hard time getting around it even after taking advantage of all the features the TAKE-5 is equipped with. It’s not the lucid, fit-in-the-mix sound of the Prophet-6 / OB-6 / Trigon-6, if that’s what you’re after.
The sawtooth wave on the TAKE-5 sounds like it had a sine wave mixed within it, while the VCA sounds as if it was already overdriven, even without applying the drive, which often results in a kind of abrasive / saturated / nasal quality of the final sound. There’s just too much sound in the sound, if you know what I mean;)
Using the “vintage knob” is not a miraculous shortcut either. I guess a lot of you will by default crank it all the way up on every patch to make it sound “more vintage”, but it won’t turn the TAKE-5 into an Oberheim OB-X8;) I personally use the vintage knob after I’ve completed the first stage (the front panel knobs stage), exhausted all the possibilities and I still think there is something missing. Maybe it’s because I look at various modern conveniences as booby traps which kill perseverance and creativity, and I regard the vintage knob the same way. The adventure is more exciting and the final effect is more nuanced when you climb a mountain by yourself instead of landing on it in a rented helicopter with a pro-pilot / guide who “takes care of you”;)
The vintage knob won’t change the nature of the oscillators, the filter or the VCA. It’s just a collection of repetitive offsets for certain parameters. The Korg Prologue does not have a mod matrix nor a vintage knob – and it doesn’t even need them to sound soft / organic, so that’s something to think about. Read my thoughts on the “Vinatge Mode” in my Prophet-6 write-up if you’re interested in this topic. I like the Lo-Fi effect on the TAKE-5 much better for introducing “vintage-ness”, alas – it makes the sound mono.
5: COMPARING / WRAPPING UP
So you’ve read as far and you have the impression I’m underwhelmed with the synth? Nothing could be further from the truth. Even though the TAKE-5 has its quirks and downsides (like every synth), there is still a huge potential in each of its knobs, which is boosted even higher by the flexible mod matrix which can be used to create various interactions between the said knobs / parameters. There’s only one filter? Sure, but you can use the Filter Out as a modulation source for some creative results, or go the other way round – use any other modulation source to modulate the Filter itself. The oscillators only have the traditional shapes of sine, saw and square, and this makes you think the wavetable Hydra or the wave-folding Opsix will give you much more potential? They surely will, but don’t forget the TAKE-5 oscillators are continuously variable, capable of FM and again – ready to be modulated by anything in the mod matrix. Now add to that the overall sound vibe (which is very far away from the “vibeless” Hydra / Opsix, by the way) and look at the sum of all those parts.
Back in the day (around 2008) I used to believe that Sequential had returned with a mission to revive the “real analogs” and that their new products would be “the vintage analogs born again”. But when I actually had the chance to play these “modern vintage analogs” (Prophet 08 / REV-2, OB-6, Prophet-6), all I got was the familiar impression that I had heard that sound before and I knew it all too well – from my time with the Nord Leads or Novation Nova synths in the past, or from stock music database sites of today. There was too much “virtual analogue” and not enough “real analogue” feeling to it.
Well, no more complaining. The TAKE-5 is the first inexpesive Sequential synth that sounds truly analogue, like a 1980s synth, which makes it the most vintage-sounding affordable synth Sequential has come up with in its modern history (the P5r4 & OB-X8 are in a different category – they’re not regarded as affordable). What’s more, its architecture is deep enough to satisfy almost every ambitious & demanding sound design nerd out there, while the interface is bound to turn everybody’s work into a pleasure. All of the above makes the TAKE-5 one of the most valuable & interesting keyboards that have been released in recent years.
I’ve said there is something heavy / tight / stiff about the sound of the TAKE-5. But I could say exactly the same thing about PRO-3 and REV-2, so maybe that’s a “Sequential thing”. However, unlike the two, the TAKE-5 leans in a considerable degree to the more retro sound of the yesteryear, and thanks to the dirty element in it I’d say that sometimes it even sounds like a vintage Soviet synth or a SSM-based Korg. I can even sense some DCO-VCF flavors in the vein of Kawai K3. Textures like these are an interesting discovery in a modern synth, and this is what I will point at if you ask me about the advantages of TAKE-5 or what it’s better at. The PRO-3 has more advanced sequencer and filtering options, the REV-2 has deeper modulation (I mean the 4 LFOs and the 3rd Envelope, not necessarily the mod matrix) and larger polyphony with bi-timbrality, but the TAKE-5 has a more visceral / imperfect-sounding tonal palette, and this is what you should be taking into consideration when choosing between these models.
So, let me wrap it all up by saying that Take-5 is like a mix of various little things & flavors coming from all of the synths mentioned above – it doesn’t excel at anything particular, but it’s good enough for almost everything, and it sounds noticeably dirty & characterful. To me it has become a very convenient tool for bread & butter patches as well as some more advanced textures & soundscapes, sequences & grooves. Just like with other synths of this sort (SUB-37, Matrixbrute / Polybrute), you have to pay attention to the position of (and the relation of) the 3 volume knobs – Oscillator Levels, Amp Level and Drive. You will get different textures / flavors of the final patch depending on how much volume you’re feeding into the system and at which stage.
Just remember that when I praise the TAKE-5 for being a knob-per-function synth, this praise comes with a caveat. I say so because the synth is considerably limited in some aspects. Take the sequencer for example. It’s only a note-playback sequencer. You can’t do anything else with it (unlike the REV-2 sequencer, which can be a modulation source, or the PRO-3 sequencer, which is one of the most powerful sequencers on the hardware synth market). That’s why the TAKE-5 might seem easier to learn than the PRO-3 and become a great “gateway” synth – because there’s not that much to learn. Instead of learning all the buttons and shortcuts you rather need to learn & appreciate the not-so-obvious creative potential that can too easily be overlooked if you take this “small” synth for granted.
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