Music Recording Software – Sequencers, 5 of the Best

November 12, 2008

A music sequencer (also MIDI sequencer or just sequencer) is software or hardware designed to create and manage computer-generated music. In other words its plays back a musical ‘Sequence’ that you the user has defined.

Although the term ‘sequencer’ is today used primarily for software, some hardware synthesizers and almost all music workstations include a built-in MIDI sequencer. Drum machines generally have a step sequencer built in. There are still also standalone hardware MIDI sequencers, though the market demand for those has diminished greatly in the last ten years.

This article is focusing on the software side of the fence, here is is our 5 best and most popular software sequencers.


Ableton LIVE 7 

A very powerful program ideal for live applications and ‘real time’ manipulation.- One of the fastest growing programs we have.

Ableton Live 7 is your companion during every stage of the musical process, from creation to production to performance.
The Live Concept

Live offers two main views—the Session View and the Arrangement View—that interact in a powerful and unique way, allowing you to create, produce and perform your music all in a single application. Here is the principle behind each view:

Session View

Live’s unique Session View acts as a powerful musical sketch and launch pad, allowing you to try out new ideas easily and improvise freely. Each cell in the Session View grid can hold a recording, MIDI file, or any other musical idea. These ideas can be recorded on the fly or dragged in from the Browser and played in any order and at any time you wish.


Arrangement View

The Arrangement View offers a timeline-based approach for traditional multitrack recording, MIDI sequencing and other music production tasks. You can even improvise in the Session View, and all of your actions will be recorded into the Arrangement View, where they can be edited whenever you like.


Steinberg Sequel 2

Steinberg’s entry level sequencer arms you with alot of tools to make music very fast.- A rethink of a classic format

Sequel turns you into a producer, and gives you your own fully-loaded music studio. You need HipHop beats for your latest track? Or want to surprise your friends at your next party with your own electro live-set? Sequel gives you everything you need to produce pro-quality tracks at home, on a plane, in the rehearsal room or even live at a club.

And best of all, Sequel is so easy to use that you can get creating your own music straight away.

Want to get them bangin’ their heads to NuMetal or chill out to Ambient? Produce your own tracks in any ‘now’ musical style with over 5000 outstanding loops and over 600 instruments. Just a few minutes will see you creating your own songs, even if you can’t play an instrument or don’t have any musical knowledge at all. Because Sequel stays in the right key automatically, and never gets thrown out of rhythm, leaving you to get creative with your own music.

More than 5000 Loops (2000 instrument loops, 3000 audio loops)
More than 600 instrument presets
More than 50 audio track presets
More than 150 effects presets

Recording format: Stereo WAV16-bit or 24-bit with 44.1 kHz sampling rate (CD quality)
Supported file formats (import, drag & drop): WAV, AIFF, MP3, WMA, WMA Pro, OggVorbis, Standard MIDI file (SMF)
Export: WAV, AIFC, AIFF, WAV64, OggVorbis
Export project to iTunes: one-step mixdown/export function opens iTunes with new track in destination format (iTunes converter, including MP3, AAC, and Apple Lossless)


Sony Media ACID Music Studio 7 

ACID Music Studio is by far one of the easiest sequencers to get used to, ideal for beatmatching and remix’s as well as traditional multtracking, it also is one of our most affordable entry level sequencers. – Highly underrated program capable of things programs 10 times the price can do!!

 If you’re serious about making your own music, ACID Music Studio software is the perfect tool for original song creation, multitrack audio and MIDI recording, and studio-quality mixing, and effects processing. Share your songs any way you want — burn your own CDs, upload to the web, prepare audio for podcasts, or export to your MP3 player. With built-in tutorials to guide you, you’ll be composing, mixing, and mastering like a pro in no time.

Your Music Studio

Easy Live Recording – Record vocals, guitars, keyboards, and other instruments with ACID Music Studio software. It’s easy – simply plug your microphone or instrument into your PC sound card and click Record to capture audio and MIDI.
Powerful Mixing – 3,000 ACIDized music loops, 1,000 MIDI files, built-in effects, and other tools. You can also import your own songs and MP3 files for beat-matching and mixing.
Share Anywhere – Burn your own music CDs, save the songs you create to popular formats for uploading to websites such as ACIDplanet.com, prepare audio for podcasts, or convert songs to MP3 format for playback on your portable music player.
Easy to Use and Learn – Even if you’ve never written a song or played an instrument, you can use ACID® Music Studio software to create original music, produce DJ-style remixes, add soundtracks to videos, and burn professional-quality CDs.


Steinberg Cubase Studio 4  

If you ask anyone what a sequencer is they usually mention ‘Cubase’ first.  Cubase Sudio 4 is a scaled down version giving you all the same features of the full version of Cubase without the studio based  ‘bussing’ architechture. If that statement means nothing to you, you will not be needing them!

Cubase Studio 4 is the perfect music creation and production system for composers and producers. It comes with a brand-new VST3 plug-in set, integrated virtual instruments providing more than 600 sounds, and professional notation. The unique SoundFrame™ Universal Sound Manager organizes all your sounds from every instrument in your studio.

Top-10 New Features

SoundFrame™ – Universal Sound Manager 
21 All-New VST3 Audio Effects Plug-ins 
Built-in synth engine with hundreds of sounds 
Professional score editing, layout and printing 
Extended VST mixer 
Instrument Tracks 
Track Presets 
User Interface Redesign 
Drag & Drop for Insert FX


Propellerhead Reason 4

Reason is the exception to these 5 sequencers, ie this is not for audio recording. This ONLY records (MIDI) information and is played back through one of the most impressive sampled sound banks on the planet. You want excellent pianos? Reason has them. You want vintage synthesizers?…Check!  You want loops? Reason has it all.

Making music should be as easy as powering up a computer, loading up a powerful piece of music software, and getting down to business. And it is. Reason version 4 is a virtual studio rack with all the tools and instruments you need to turn your ideas into music. And it’s more than just a set of excellent synths and effects. It’s a complete music system. Step into the age of Reason.

Synthesizers, samplers, drum machine, REX file loop player, professional mastering tools, mixer, vocoder, world class effects, pattern sequencer and more. As many of each as your computer can handle. Reason is an infinitely expandable all-in-one music production environment, complete with its own realtime sequencer.

Use Reason the way you want to:

As a self-contained synth studio system – Everything you need is there, including a fast and flexible sequencer with powerful, dedicated event editors for each type of device.
As a sub-system synchronized to your audio sequencer – Process Reason’s audio output with plug-in effects and mix it with your hard disk tracks. With Reason in ReWire mode, its instruments are automatically patched into the mixer in any other ReWire compatible application. Seamless integration.
As a Workstation synth – Easily load up complex performance patches – instruments pre-routed through effects – in one single click. Perfect for live gigs and performances.
System requirements


Other commercial sequencers


  1. Hi,Fabulous site with fantastic information.Thanks.Yes, it is true you do not need to pay someone up to 50 dollars an hour to do some thing you can do yourself in 15 minutes.

  2. Glad you liked!.
    Plenty more to come!

  3. I use Ableton and hate it. It’s a bit more complicated than I would hope it is, and it’s a little bit “clunky”. It’s just a pain to use, but I agree with the first commentor a lot of home recording Musicians need to realize that they don’t need to pay a lot to get a great sound.

    By the way, I used to use Acid (some much older versions) and I loved it. I just moved on to Ableton because I recieved it as a gift (and I’m not really into recording my own music any more, I just host radio shows.)

  4. well for my money I recommend ACID pro all the time, great easy powerful program!

  5. sequal 2 is the bomb!! this is THE product if you want to make music.

  6. CUBASE is for sure, the BEST sequencer i’ve used in my entire life.

    Still remember the good old NOTATOR in an ATARI computer before i discovered cubase at the time.

  7. I passed my A’level Music Technology (sequencing paper) with Atari Notator. This was in 1994, the same year the college changed all the computers over to PCs with Cubase. I always yearned for the good old days of Notator, until I learned how to use Cubase properly. Now I can’t do without Cubase.

  8. Adobe Audition and FL Studio (Fruity Loops) are pretty much the only programs I use to make my instrumentals. After spending some time familiarizing myself with them, I’m truly only limited by my imagination. What do you think of those programs?

    • I use FL sdtudio V5 and Cool Edit pro V2 . they are very good programs and a really high standards of music recording can be done with them .

  9. Question:

    I’ve been running PT just for live instrumentation; never any midi.

    Just picked up my first midi controller (Akai MPK 49) and am receiving Reason 4 from a brother in law. I was told PT is no bueno with midi/synths. this true? If so, does Reason 4 rewire nicely to Cubase?

    and same question for Kontakt rewires with Cubase?

    Thanks! Great lookin site.

  10. I’ve been using Reason for years now but just recently decided to make a big change. I’m using Ableton 8 now and its damn complicating and sometimes sluggish for easy use, but so far I like it. Just need to figure it out more and hopefully get things done quicker.

    I got it rewired with Reason so i can enjoy my old software too

  11. Thanks. great site for me.

  12. I like to thank you for article.

  13. It says above that Cubase Studio 4 has ‘professional editing notation’. Is anyone familiar with it? And if so, how does it compare with Sibelius and Finale?

  14. interesting to see that not many people seem to be talking about Logic…I’d be curious to see whether that is beacause people don’t like it as an app or if it’s because a lot of people are on PC and don’t have access to updgrades.

  15. Thank for your post.

  16. I interest it.

  17. Thanx. I wz just looking 4 what i thot might b good 4 recording voals. I expected cubase or acid. Those seemed the best from what i read. I think Id like 2 try acid. I have years experience with FL Studio (Fruity Loops) and Reason. Like stated, Reason is the hugest and most realistic sample libray, and the loops are great. I love it’s Dr. Rex Loop Player, it really does ur drums good. FL Studio has to b the easiestr interface, it’s simple. U can kno nothing of music and learn plenty on FL with no help, manual or anything. It has great sounds, butt it can also Rewire with reason very smoothlly and tap into it’s samples which I do A lot. Because Reason has extrodinary brass samples. And recently Ive been messing with Seinberg’s Hypersonic. It samples are okay. Butt it has a few that r just so worthy that u wont find anywhere else. Particularly the Miami Brass. Which is great 4 Miami’s down south feel. Or can bused more complexly 2 make the same type of exciting music u hear in the jazzier classic video games like street fighter, sonic, and Megaman. Its just got some great synth sounds.

  18. I like to thank you for article

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  31. Hi. Useful article. However, I was wondering whether the notation feature in Cubebase can be used to compose a melody. For example, can I write a bass line in standard stave notation format so that it can be reproduced as a bass track? Also, are there any other sequencers you know of that can do this? thanks.

    • Making waves studio or pro version – its cheap and powerful unfortunately only really works well on XP. You can put tracks together extremely quickly. At first glances it looks like a simple program, like fruity or Ej but far from it. Hihgly recomended.

      Mr Macstar

  32. I like MUSIC Tools

  33. adobe audition is one of good program to make music,i use this more times.thanks to Adobe.

  34. The essence of good software is ease of use with plenty of useful features. I’ve tried Ableton, Cubebase and Propellerhead, but found all of them to be pretty unintuitive. The only DAW software that I found to make sense and was able to use immediately is Mixcraft 5. Furthermore, it not only has a nice set of virtual instruments and effects included, but also has an inbuilt notation feature, which has been invaluable to me when using virtual instruments. A good thing about this software is that it can be downloaded as a fully functioning trial; once the trial date ends it can still be used, with only the mix-down feature disabled. The developers are always available on the forum, and I’ve found they usually respond within 24 hours. Version 6 due later this year.

  35. Is not a cool thing to do.

  36. After reading your endless and quite factless tripe on midi sequencing software I’ve decided that I’ll go to a site where the person giving out the info did their homework. You clearly didn’t.

  37. I trust that by ‘you’, you are referring to the plural. If you wish to try another website, try ‘v.i. control’, although I would recommend your choice of syntax, and be a little more respectful.

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  46. Updated for 2014, here are some of the most popular DAW software this days: FL Studio 11, Ableton Live 9, Sonar X3, Reaper, Cubase 7, Logic Pro X, Reason 7, Avid Pro Tools 11 .

  47. […] Music Recording Software – Sequencers, 5 of the Best … – Nov 12, 2008 · A music sequencer (also MIDI sequencer or just sequencer) is software or hardware designed to create and manage computer-generated music. In …… […]

  48. Hello,

    Could you please add http://www.loopartists.com to your list of free audio resources?
    We have of 600 loops that are royalty free to use.


  49. Vision was the best sequencer for my purpose, but they no longer make/ support it. It was very easy to do step recording with. I have tried Digital Performer and Logic Express. I’ve given up doing step recording unless I use Finale. Does anyone know if any of the new sequencers can do step recording quickly. ( One hand on music keyboard and the other hand on number keys for note duration? Vision let you set it up as an 8th note and you could hit it twice for a quarter note etc. Really quick for entering notes.

  50. Does anyone know of a sequencer that would do step recording as well as Vision did? I could have one hand on the computer number pad for rhythm and another on the music keyboard for pitch. It was really fast and easy. This company no longer exists and I’ve tried Digital Performer, Garage Band – old & new, Logic Express, and they are all slow and klutzy. Finale works well, but then you have to import it into a sequencer. That’s probably my best bet. Please let me know if there are any out there. Thanks.

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