10 Best Sequencer Software Plugins – [VST Plugins]

Best Sequencer Software PluginsLet’s get your grooves on point with the best sequencer software plugins for music production.

We’ve honed down a giant collection of sequencers, and now present to you 10 of which we’re certain will make you happy.

Quick answerSugar Bytes Thesys is top choice here, followed by Consequence by the same plugin makers.

The cheapest ones are Inertia and Array, both by Sinevibes.

The rest of this plugin guide will look at these plugins with a little more detail, so you know what you’re getting into before you get your next plugin.

Let’s take a closer look 🙂


Best Sequencer VST Plugins

  1. Sugar Bytes Thesys
  2. Sinevibes Array
  3. Sinevibes Inertia
  4. Sugar Bytes Consequence
  5. Audiomodern Playbeat
  6. Audiomodern Riffer Generator
  7. Sinevibes Switch
  8. Sinevibes Sequential
  9. Sinevibes Turbulence
  10. Five12 Numerology

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Sequencer Plug-In Buying Guide

What is a Sequencer?Consequence Sugar Bytes window

A sequencer is a tool that allows you to process sound via a series of steps or sequences. You can use this to make beats, grooves, melodic patterns, or shutter and sputter effects.

Similar in concept to how MIDI and audio sequencers trigger events along a musical bar or measure in your DAW piano roll, sequencer effects plug-ins introduce different values at every step. This is where they become very useful, as they result in continually–and sometimes radically–evolving rhythmic phrases.

With these particular sequencer plug-ins, effects such as filters, distortion units, and gate circuits are modulated on a step-by-step basis. This makes it possible to transform even the most static audio tracks into extremely gated and stuttering rhythmic patterns.

You can read more about how they work from this Wikipedia article on audio sequencers.

Features to Look for in a Sequencer Plug-in?

Control is key when talking about sequencer plug-ins…

… and you definitely want plenty of control over as many different parameters as possible.

Some of the best tools can modulate effects and parameters to a very precise degree, letting you generate everything from subtly evolving washes of sound to massively glitched-out rhythms.

Choosing the Best Sequencer Plug-in

When choosing a sequencer plug-in, you definitely want one that shapes your audio in ways that are subjectively pleasing to your ear, or at least is going to give you the result you want.

Not all glitch effects are usable in the context of a mix, even though they may sound pretty impressive when soloed.

In general, you want a sequencer plug-in that lets you get as extreme–or as subtle–as you want depending on the task at hand.


Looking for hardware sequencers? Read this article.


Sugar Bytes Thesys

See price @ Plugin Boutique

Thesys Sequencer by Sugar Bytes

Sugar Bytes Thesys is an impressive 32-step sequencer. It has a number of essential music-creation and sound-mangling features.

It’s ideally suited to real-time pattern manipulation, so it has a useful randomization feature and a built-in synthesizer that lets you generate fresh new ideas on the spot, or bring new life to tired old grooves.

Specs and useful features
  • Powerful and versatile 32-step sequencer
  • Pitch recorder
  • MIDI control over pattern selection and triggering
  • Pattern sequencer facilitates creation of longer passages
  • Real-time pattern manipulation
  • Internal synth engine
  • Randomizer feature
  • Independent loop lengths for all sequencers
  • 18 sequencer lanes
User impressions

Users expecting to make use of Thesys’ arp functions were more than a little surprised at how much more capable it was than they thought. Although the plug-in is frequently used in studio settings, some users reported using it to great effect during live performances.

Admittedly, some prep work is necessary in order to make full use of its capabilities in live settings. With a bit of preplanning however, Thesys can definitely enhance even the most mundane instrument parts.

Bottom-line

For the price, Sugar Bytes Thesys packs an almost unbelievable amount of value. Even if it were priced a couple of hundred dollars more, it would still be worth the cost given all the features and functionalities that you get in return. And with the ability to mutate your tracks beyond recognition, this is a sound tweaker’s dream come true.

Demonstration


Sinevibes Array

See price @ Plugin Boutique

Array Sequencer by Sinevibes

Sinevibes Array is billed as a “spectral animation” plug-in, a description that provides a mere hint of potentially awesome capabilities.

Audio is treated in eight different bands, each of which can be filtered and/or muted in a most impressive manner. Whether you want a quick way to freak your loops or you want more detailed control over how your audio is chopped up and glitched, Array is a worthy addition to the collection of sound-shaping plug-ins.

Specs and useful features
  • 32-step sequencer
  • Variable duration, division and swing ratio
  • Eight -24 dB/octave filters
  • Output gate sequence for each filter
  • Parameter snapshots for real-time switching and automation
  • Syncs to host with tempo and time signature support
  • Multi-touch gesture and force touch device support
User impressions

Many users of Array appreciate being able to take their music to pretty complex extremes via the apparently modest set of controls.  Many also appreciate the tight and efficient workflow that the plug-in encourages, citing its ease of use in creating even the wildest sequences.

Bottom-line

Sinevibes Array would be a pretty good deal even if it cost a few hundred dollars more than it does. As it is, the price is almost too good to believe considering all the features that you get in return. Equally capable of subtle modulations and extreme glitching, it is the perfect antidote to bland and boring musical parts.

Demonstration


Sinevibes Inertia

See price @ Plugin Boutique

Inertia Sequencer by Sinevibes

“Advanced audio level shaping” is the claim to fame of Sinevibes Inertia, and it certainly does that job admirably. Up to 32 envelope generators can be triggered in time with your host’s tempo, each with its own set of envelope shapes. If rhythmic tremolo and intricate gating and stuttering effects are your thing, Inertia definitely delivers the goods.

Specs and useful features
  • 32-step sequencer
  • Variable duration, division, and swing ratio
  • Multi-envelope generator
  • 11 envelope types
  • Parameter snapshots for real-time switching and automation
  • Syncs to host with tempo and time signature support
  • Multi-touch gesture and force touch device support
User impressions

Sinevibes Inertia has won praise for its wide range of modulation capabilities, which make everything from rhythmic tremolo to hard gating possible. Many users feel that the plug-in’s simplicity is especially impressive given the wide range of features available. This is due in part to the color-coding and subtle animations that make it easy to see exactly what the plug-in is doing to the audio.

Bottom-line

Inertia is quite an impressive sequencer plug-in that does so much more than you would initially expect. Rhythmic tremolo seems to be its main area of specialization, although it can easily switch character and crank out a plethora of chopped and stuttered riffs. The plug-in is further enhanced by the live audio waveform and real-time visual feedback that lets you know how your audio is being sliced and diced.


Sugar Bytes Consequence

See price @ Plugin Boutique

Consequence Sugar Bytes

To refer to Sugar Bytes Consequence simply as an arpeggiator would be selling it short. Although it  does a bang-up job of performing standard arpeggiator duties, you’ll find that it’s capable of more sound-shaping and mangling tasks that what you expect.

The chord sequencer is especially noteworthy as it’s largely responsible for generating the broad pallet of sounds possible with the plug-in. Sound designers will especially appreciate the depth of the modulation section, which provides powerful pattern-based control over the synth engine, as well as the filter and effects.

Specs and useful features
  • 32-step sequencer
  • Three oscillators
  • Easy creation of complex sounds and rhythms
  • Hundreds of sound samples
  • Versatile multi-effect section
  • Individual envelopes per instrument
  • Onboard kick drum
  • Polyphonic triggers per step
User impressions

Some of the features that user love about the Sugar Bytes Consequence are the step sequencer that can be set to as long as 32 steps, the control over sequence duration, timing, and swing, and the snapshots that allow for quick recall and creative ‘scene switching’. The availability of nineteen effects processors also makes it a popular choice among sound designers.

Bottom-line

Sugar Bytes Consequence will find plenty of use as an inspiring and creativity-inducing production and songwriting tool. It’s pretty encouraging, taking your music to unexplored territories, it almost seems to force you into adopting a more creative and wildly-experimental approach to creating music. And for the price, that is definitely a good thing.

Demonstration


Audiomodern Playbeat

See price @ Plugin Boutique

Audiomodern Playbeat

Although it may look like an ordinary step-sequencer, Audiomodern Playbeat is in a category of its own. It’s proven itself worthy of conquering “writer’s block” many times, but it’s capable of so much more!

If you find yourself feeling uninspired, Playbeat can generate beats and patterns using complex algorithms. Once you’ve imported your samples, you can generate up to 4 patterns simultaneously. The possibilities are endless!

Specs and useful features
  • Compatible with Windows, Mac & iOS (x32/x64)
  • Randomize Step, Pitch & Volume (collectively or individually)
  • Define the “range” of each randomization using values
  • Generate up to 4 patterns simultaneously
  • Parameters can be assigned to a MIDI controller
  • Load/drag & drop your favourite samples
  • Change the starting position of each sample
  • 16 “quick-load” presets to recall your best patterns
  • “Infinity mode” creates an endless stream of variations
User impressions

Starting a project from scratch can be quite daunting without a solid foundation . Most users of Audiomodern’s Playbeat report having their creative flow “jump started” by this plugin’s ability to generate meaningful sequences using their favourite samples. It’s taken their music to places they could’ve never imagined!

Bottom-line

Also referred to as a  “creative groove randomizer”, Audiomodern’s Playbeat is designed to generate potent beats. Once you’ve got this solid foundation to work with, the rest of your song will basically write itself! With such an approachable user-interface, you’ll always be inspired to produce great music.


Audiomodern Riffer Generator

See price @ Plugin Boutique

Audiomodern Riffer Generator

Typical MIDI sequencers can be tedious to work with, but Audiomodern Riffer Generator is the exception. You’ll quickly find yourself neglecting your DAW’s piano roll in favor of its user-friendly interface. It’ll be like having your own personal musical assistant.

Once you’ve selected your prefered scale, Riffer can generate an endless array of melodic ideas. This is achieved by randomizing pitch, duration and velocity either collectively or individually.

Specs and useful features
  • Compatible with Windows, Mac & iOS (x32/x64)
  • Randomize Pitch, Duration & Velocity
  • Drag and drop MIDI to your DAW
  • Transfer MIDI to compatible devices using WI-FI
  • Lock-in individual notes and/or parameters
  • Ability to create and save custom scales
  • Adjust the ratio of “root notes” based on the scale
  • 16 “quick-load” presets to save your best patterns
  • “Infinity mode” creates an endless stream of variations
User impressions

Users claim that Riffer Generator is especially effective at generating great basslines. Crafting memorable melodies can be quite challenging, so it’s helped many overcome that obstacle. The simple user-interface is accessible to anyone, regardless of their musical background!

Bottom-line

MIDI sequencing (or programming) is now accessible to everyone thanks to Audiomodern’s Riffer Generator. If crafting “catchy” melodies isn’t your forte, this plugin can certainly compensate for that. It’s much more than a typical MIDI sequencer, it’s a personal musical assistant.


Sinevibes Switch

See price @ Plugin Boutique

Sinevibes Switch

If you’ve been looking for a powerful gate sequencer, Sinevibes Switch is definitely worth checking out. Its interface is pretty minimalistic, but it’s got everything you need to create a variety of stutter-like effects (tremolo, gating, pumping, etc…).

What’s most interesting about this plugin is its ability to produce a real-time visual representation of waveforms. Manipulating Switch’s various parameters can become quite the interactive experience and with up to 32 steps to work with, there are countless possibilities for you to discover!

Specs and useful features
  • Compatible with Mac OS X 10.6 or higher (x32/x64)
  • Visuals are rendered using GPU, not CPU
  • Up to 32 steps to work with
  • Adjustable duration, division and swing ratio
  • Includes factory presets
  • Works with audio tracks and VST instruments
  • Synchronizes with your DAW’s tempo and key signature
  • 8 “snapshot” banks to recall your favourite patterns
User impressions

Sinevibes has developed a good reputation with its users throughout the years. Owners of Switch 1.0 actually got the upgrade to Switch 2.0 for free! I keep hearing great things about this plugin which is surprising considering how affordable it is.

Bottom-line

There’s nothing complicated about Sinevibes’ Switch, but it can certainly create some complex patterns. Looks can be deceiving, but rest assured that this plugin sounds as good as it looks! It’s a must-have for producers wanting to add some “flair” to their tracks.


Sinevibes Sequential

See price @ Plugin Boutique

Sequential Sugar Bytes

Sinevibes Sequential is a dynamic multi-effect module that continues on where other sequencer plug-ins leave off….

And continue on it does, talk about a host of sound processing and synthesis algorithms that transform your audio into numerous rhythmic iterations. 19 specialized effects that filter, distort, gate, and shape your audio in various ways, this is an essential tool for sound designers, groove merchants and beat makers alike.

Specs and useful features
  • 14 effects processors, including filter, phaser, wave transformer, sample rate and bit depth reduction, analog drive, ring modulator, and more.
  • Five audio-controlled generators
  • 32-step sequencer
  • Variable duration, timing and swing
  • Eight snapshots for switching and automation
  • Randomization feature
  • Syncs to host with tempo and time signature support
User impressions

Some of the more avid users of Sequential praise its ability to make a wide variety of glitch sounds out of most any audio material. They cite its value as an idea generation tool, many users have good things to say about the randomization feature, which frequently comes up with interesting and usable results. Still other users report using the plug-in to “glitch up” tracks and bring new life to tired old loops.

Bottom-line

Like all the other Sinevibes plug-ins, Sequential packs a whole lot of functionality and tasty sound-altering capabilities in an intuitive and easy to use package. From its effects section to the 32-step sequencer and useful chordmaker, it’s a good bang for the buck.

Demonstration


Sinevibes Turbulence

See price @ Plugin Boutique

Sinevibes Turbulence

Technically referred to as a “wave transformer”, Sinevibes Turbulence can transform your uninteresting sounds into unique textures. It achieves this by feeding your signal through its 32 gates, each with its own transformer, curve and modulation.

This process is comparable to that of a wavetable synthesizer, but since Turbulence is also a step-sequencer, it’s somewhat of a hybrid of the two. What makes this plugin unique is that it uses your signal as the sound source (instead of an oscillator)!

Specs and useful features
  • Compatible with Mac OS X 10.6 or higher (x32/x64)
  • Visuals are rendered using GPU, not CPU
  • Up to 32 steps to work with
  • 4 customizable transformer types
  • Includes the basic waveforms (triangle, square, sawtooth)
  • Includes factory presets
  • Works with audio tracks and VST instruments
  • Synchronizes with your DAW’s tempo and key signature
  • 8 “snapshot” banks to recall your favourite patterns
User impressions

There’s somewhat of a learning curve to using Turbulence and its users have definitely mentioned it. Even with an instruction manual, they claim that the best way to start using this plugin is by experimenting! For the best results, most of them suggest starting simple using fewer steps and simpler sounds.

Bottom-line

If you’re looking for a wavetable-like experience integrated into a step-sequencer, Turbulence by Sinevibes is worth checking out. Once you’ve mastered this plugin, the possibilities are literally endless. The rhythmic soundscapes you’ll be creating will give your music the edge!


Five12 Numerology

See price @ Five12

Five12 Numerology

When it comes to step sequencing, Five12 Numerology has everything you would want and perhapds more. It’s a powerful modular system that features several types of sequencing modules.

Whether you’re working with monophonic, polyphonic or percussive instruments, it’s got a module for that! It even has a sequencer that is specifically designed for harmony.

Specs and useful features
  • Compatible with Mac OS X Mavericks or later
  • Available as VST/AU or Standalone
  • Capable of recording audio and MIDI
  • Parameters can be assigned via MIDI CC
  • Each module has its own channel on the mixer
  • Drum sequencer that can be configured from 1-16 tracks
  • Matrix sequencer that can also be used as an arpeggiator
  • Advanced modules that work with CV signals
  • Includes several effects (delay, filter, dynamic, EQ, reverb, etc…)
User impressions

It’s not uncommon for users of Numerology to compare it to Propellerhead’s Reason. They both have a “modular appeal” when it comes to routing things. The interface can seem a little overwhelming at first, but it’s surprisingly intuitive once you get the hang of things!

Bottom-line

If you’re serious about step-sequencing, there’s nothing more advanced than Five12’s Numerology. It’s literally a world of its own! It may seem like an intimidating piece of software, but it’s not any more difficult to use than your typical DAW.


Final Thoughts – Which to Get?

Considering that every plug-in in this roundup is endowed with so many excellent features, it was pretty difficult to choose the one that deserves the top slot.

All things considered however, Sugar Bytes Thesys deserves special mention for the ability to shape the sound in so many weird and wonderful ways, while still remaining remarkably easy-to-use. For sheer power, flexibility, and intuitiveness, Thesys is a pretty tough act to follow.

But follow they do, and the company’s own Consequence provides some stiff competition to Thesys. With five sequencers pushing and prodding the audio in wonderfully freaky ways, Consequence also has a startlingly deep modulation section and a fully-stocked sound library that further add to its appeal.

The cheapest plug-ins in this lineup are Sinevibes’ Inertia and Array, but don’t think that they are anything less than fully capable. These two are every bit as effective at cranking out unique grooves and pulsating rhythms as the best of them, and only their price sets them apart from the other costlier options.

In fact, you might add Sinevibes’ own Sequential to the mix, and have yourself a trio of highly-effective and totally inspiring sequencer plug-ins that provide excellent value for the money.

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