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Sugar Bytes Thesys review by Mac Life

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MIDI step sequencers are particularly useful in electronic music for almost any kind of musical structure. Originally built into various analog drum machines to drive individual sound modules, the programmed patterns provide amazing control, performance and interaction in live operation.

Effort and Benefits

After the easy and quick installation of the only about 4 MB small program Thesys is immediately ready in the appropriate host program. Thesys can now control various MIDI devices, such as software instruments, as well as external synthesisers via MIDI. You can even control multiple channels and thus different internal and external instruments through Thesys, so that even complex and layered sounds are possible. In addition, this virtual puppet player even has its own internal sound generator, which of course can also be switched off.


Quite clearly, Thesys is based on the concept of classic drum computers, but presents itself in an appealing and fresh design, which represents the diverse possibilities intuitively usable. The program comes with over one hundred sequencer presets, which in turn can contain up to sixteen different patterns. The main Thesys window is divided into five sections and houses the pitch, velocity, gate-time, performance and modulation sequencer. The former defines the note height for each step. In addition, various scales, such as church keys or pentatonic patterns, can be selected. Interesting is the recording function with which note values ​​can be written to the pitch sequencer via the controller keyboard.

The velocity sequencer triggers the notes with the appropriate velocity. By contrast, the gate time sequencer determines the lengths of the individual notes. By lowering the gate time you can, for example, create interesting percussive effects.

The performance part of the program has it all: just five mini-sequencers, such as the Octave, Bend, Chord, Roll or Random models, are integrated here and provide a lot of fun in the MIDI setup. With over fifty chords including multiple breaks, the chord sequencer lets you create a variety of accompaniment patterns. A particularly powerful tool is the modulation sequencer. With it a total of 129 individual controller channels are fired and thus parameters of functions such as aftertouch, program change, but also release, attack or cutoff changed. Here, too, the parameters can be changed per separate step. Each of the five individual sequencers also has useful functions, such as the random button that randomly generates the individual patterns, or the Mutate button, which only changes it very finely. With the slightly off-placed pattern sequencer, the order of the programmed patterns can be set and adjusted in the actual host program to musical arrangements.

Action Section

The name says it all: behind the "Action Section" there are a total of six direct control options, which control the various functions of the five sequencers. These accesses, represented as pads, can be controlled directly from an external MIDI controller. If a corresponding pad is triggered, this function overwrites the respective sequencer in the corresponding one. On stage, this is a very interesting tool to intervene quickly and effectively in the music scene, without having to edit patterns forever. Not too high expectations should be placed on the internal synthesiser, which offers few possibilities for sound manipulation and probably acts more as a kind of "taster".


Overall, Thesys provides very intuitive access to rich and powerful features that internal sequencers of relevant DAWs can not match. Anyone who loves particularly unusual and percussive musical structures, who radically change their various sound parameters within a very short space of time and thus can hardly be recorded manually, will appreciate Thesys. But the chord sequencer also lets you create simple pads with responsive voicing and lively turnarounds, even without them reaching for the keyboard. Thesys was very stable during the whole test, was quick to use without further delays and had the entire pack in the MIDI setup firmly under control.


  • Intuitive operation.
  • Extensive control options.
  • Extremely usable with Ableton Live.
  • Good value for money.


  • Performance of the internal synthesiser

Overall Rating:


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