The new $250 Atom SQ makes an attempt to handle these issues whereas additionally putting one thing of a extra distinctive and versatile profile. It’s bigger, extra platform agnostic and, on the danger of spoiling the remainder of this evaluation, virtually a no brainer for any Studio One person.

I wish to set one factor straight: I’m not a Studio One person. And this isn’t a evaluation of Studio One. I’ve been studying it over the past couple of months as a part of this evaluation and as analysis for one more story, however I’m primarily an Ableton person. And till this summer season I had not used Studio One in any respect. This evaluation as a substitute is targeted on the {hardware} of the SQ and its integration with Studio One and different DAWs. 

So with that out of the best way, let’s check out mentioned {hardware}. The Atom SQ is fairly compact. Not practically as small because the OG Atom, however nonetheless fairly transportable. It would simply slot in a bag and is corresponding to Elektron’s Model lineup when it comes to measurement and weight, even when the form is just a little totally different. Connectivity-wise there’s not a lot right here, only a USB-C port. Obviously, when all the level of a controller is its tight ties to a DAW there’s not a lot want for different ports, however with the rising curiosity in {hardware} devices a TRS MIDI jack would have been good. 

PreSonus Atom SQ

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

Even although the physique is all plastic, it nonetheless feels stable. I in all probability wouldn’t topic it to the pains of tour life, but it surely ought to simply survive journeys to Starbucks or the occasional household trip. The knobs, pads and buttons are all high quality parts. I’ve actually skilled higher, however I’ve additionally used far worse. My complaints are principally minor: the pads are a bit stiff and the encoders will be gradual when altering issues like filter cutoff or anything you would possibly wish to manipulate reside. But none of those are deal-breakers.

The display screen, too, is respectable sufficient and the viewing angles are stable. You’re not watching films on this factor, clearly; it’s simply there to supply visible suggestions for altering settings and parameters. Its measurement is a little bit of a limiting issue, although. While you received’t have any points navigating menus on the system, discovering your manner round Studio One’s bigger interface is a little bit of a wrestle. It can’t fairly match the scale and scope of what you’d discover on Abelton’s Push 2, but it surely’s additionally lower than a 3rd of the worth. That being mentioned, it’s fully potential to make use of Ableton Live from a Push and by no means have a look at your pc display screen. I’m not satisfied that you might accomplish that with Studio One and an Atom SQ. Still, somebody extra accustomed to the software program would possibly fare higher than me. 

The massive horizontal multifunction touchstrip has a matte, however pleasingly easy end and the suggestions from the row of LEDs above it’s welcome. That mentioned, its placement makes it a bit awkward to be used as a pitch or mod wheel. And you’ll be able to solely actually change its perform earlier than you launch your DAW from the settings on the system itself. There are pressure-sensitive plus and minus buttons on the left that default to pitch modulation, however making use of simply the correct amount of pressure will be troublesome. 

PreSonus Atom SQ

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

Navigating the varied features of the SQ took some getting used to, however that has extra to do with my lack of familiarity with Studio One. When I related to Ableton Live I had a neater time. And the controller does map fairly effectively to Live 10 proper out of the field. The integration isn’t practically as deep as it’s with Studio One, but it surely’s nonetheless fairly sturdy. 

The transport controls on the left all work as anticipated and there’s a handful of clearly labeled shift features for each Ableton and Studio One. When utilizing the SQ with Studio One you’ll be able to rapidly add chord and arpeggiator results to an instrument monitor which is useful, although you’ll want to achieve in your mouse to really edit their parameters. It additionally places Melodyne (a pitch and timing correction device, kind of like Autotune) only a press away. There are eight lettered buttons on the left above the transport controls. By default they alter the octave of the pads, however they are often programmed to regulate virtually something you need. And in Studio One they’ve shift features that permit you to rapidly choose, copy, paste and duplicate components and patterns. 

The primary 4 modes on the controller — Song, Inst (or “instrument”), Editor, User — are comparatively self explanatory. Song mode is the place you set your tempo, zoom out and in, loop alternatives of your music, or mute and solo devices. It’s additionally, barely confusingly, the place you add results to channels. Instrument is the place you browse your plugins, change their parameters, add chord and arp results, in addition to add patterns and components. There’s additionally a notice repeat device, which is nice for including pulsing basslines, and a scale mode for these of us who aren’t so robust on the idea entrance. Editor has a bunch of instruments for enhancing your association, together with quantization choices, transpose options and time shifting capabilities. Lastly, User is the place you’ll discover Melodyne, numerous viewing modes and a few efficiency centered options.