Last Updated on May 12, 2022.
Step Sequencers are fun and also very useful plugins, but there are also way too many to choose from, which makes it harder to decide on which one to get.
In this article, I will list the step-sequencer plugins that I think are the absolute best ones you could get and I will also include a couple of freebies since those are always nice to have.
If you just want the best of the best, then here are the three that I would consider getting if I were you:
Most powerful step-sequencer & arpeggiator VST Plugin!
Simpler to use than Thesys but not as capable. Still the second-best plugin.
Synthesizer plus set-sequencer with two powerful engines.
What is a Sequencer Plugin?
A sequencer is a tool that allows you to process audio in a series of steps, or sequences, and is typically used to make beats, melodic patterns, shutter effects, and grooves, introducing different variables at every step, which results in continually changing phrases.
With sequencer plugins, effects such as filters, distortion units, gates, etc. are modulated on a step-by-step basis and help bring life to even the most static audio patterns.
What to look for in a Sequencer VST?
A balance of ease of use and control.
Having control over as many parameters as possible is key, especially if these are easy to access, use, and understand since with powerful step-sequencers you can control every single parameter in a very precise way to create anything from subtle effects up to massive ones.
Top Sequencer Plugin I recommend
If you ask me to recommend just a single step-sequencer, I’d have to recommend Thesys by Sugar bytes since it’s extremely powerful yet easy to use, plus the mutate function is great for creating patterns on the fly.
Ok, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into the actual list!
Best Sequencer VST Plugins
Here I will be listing the absolute best sequencer plugins starting with the ones that I think are the best (Thesys, Consequence, and Pigments 3).
Just note that there will also be a couple of free ones at the bottom of the post.
Let’s get started!
Thesys by Sugar Bytes (Windows, Mac)
Powerful Step-Sequencer and Arpeggiator.
Thesys is a step sequencer and arpeggiator plugin that allows you to manipulate your music in various interesting ways, be it by painting the sequence with your mouse or by utilizing a MIDI keyboard, and all of this is done in a very intuitive manner.
The Randomizer is an especially useful feature, helping you avoid the predictability that often results from step-sequencers and arpeggiators, which allows you to come up with interesting variations to keep the production moving forward without becoming boring.
The Velocity and Gate Sequencer sections are there to let you control riffs and arpeggios without wasting time.
Thesys is the most powerful plugin on this list, but it’s also a bit harder to learn than Cthulhu or Cream. But if you’re someone who likes to dedicate a lot of time into learning the ins and outs of a software, then Thesys is definitely for you.
Consequence by Sugar Bytes (Windows, Mac)
Simple to use yet extremely powerful Arpeggiator/Sequencer plugin.
Consequence makes its way into this list because it could be considered a simplified version of Thesys, the previous plugin on this list that is also made by the same company, while still being an extremely capable Arpeggiator and step-sequencer plugin.
It creates note sequences based on chords that you play, with numerous options for interpreting the incoming data.
Consequence lets you load up to three different instruments each with its own envelope, and you can play those instruments via the onboard 32-step sequencer to create complex and interesting sections for your song.
Included as well is an FX unit.
With Consequence, you get a Sample Library comprising of 800 MB content with 222 sound presets and in 15 categories, and thanks to its 16 chord snapshots which you can trigger randomly or in any combination that you please, the result will never be boring.
If you’re looking for versatility and ease of use, Consequence might be what you’re looking for.
Pigments 3 by Arturia (Windows, Mac)
Synthesizer with a step-sequencer.
The third addition to this list is Pigments 3, an extremely powerful and capable synthesizer and step-sequencer by Arturia that features two sound engines in parallel with a choice of a virtual Analog triple oscillator engine, a complex wavetable engine with over 160 wavetables, a sample & granular engine, and a harmonic oscillator additive engine.
Pigments 3 lets you create your own unique chain of FX with twin insert buses and a send bus, and a selection of 18 classic, creative, or modern algorithms – from pitch-shifting delay to an essential multiband compressor.
The advanced sequencing section lets you create melodies and entire arrangements directly on the plugin without having to resort to any other kind of software. Need arpeggiation, scale quantization, and smart randomization? Pigments has got you covered.
While not the simplest plugin to use, it’s definitely powerful and can do a lot!
Lastly, and this is a first, Pigments 3 comes with in-plugin tutorials where you can learn the ins and outs of the software.
Animation Station by Sample Logic (Windows, Mac)
Super easy to use!
Considered by many to be the best arpeggiator and step-sequencer VST plugin out there mainly because of its ease of use and overall performance, it’s no wonder that Animation Station makes it onto this list.
There is one con, however, which is that it doesn’t have an audio generator and relies on other software to create sound, which means that it has to be used in conjunction with other instruments, such as your favorite synths, bass VSTs, etc., and it allows you to create music sequences in a matter of seconds with any of those virtual instruments.
It offers over 300 pattern presets, Intelligent infinite pattern randomization, and MIDI export for ultimate flexibility.
Out of all the plugins on this list, I think that the interface of Animation Station is the cleanest looking without being overcrowded or cluttered, making the experience that much more enjoyable.
Playbeat 3 by Audiomodern (Windows, Mac)
Features eight independent Sequencers.
Playbeat 3 is a Creative Groove Randomizer plugin that generates unique beats and patterns for you in no time, where no two beats will ever be the same!
Unlike an ordinary step sequencer, Playbeat creates patterns using algorithmic and random procedures for generating notes by combining Steps, Pitch, Volume, and more.
With the ability to generate and suggest different combinations for your beats on the fly, you’ll always have something fresh and new, from simple pattern remixes to more complex drum beats. The more you play, the more combinations you get.
It features a total of eight independent sequencers which can combine Real-Time Pitch Shifting, Playbeat’s signature Density feature, Flam strokes, Volume, Pan and more, which means that it can create or remix infinite combinations of patterns in the most creative way.
You can drag-n-drop your own sounds and generate up to four patterns simultaneously to get Polyrhythms.
- Generate Random Grooves
- Syncs to Host tempo
- Infinity Mode for Each Channel
- Number of notes generated
- Advanced Probability Engine
- Load or Drag -n- Drop any Sample
- MIDI Controllable
- …and more!
Get Playbeat 3 here: Pluginboutique.
Related: You might also be interested in a list of the best Synth VST/AU plugins available.
Riffer Generator by AudioModern (Windows, Mac)
Riffer is a MIDI sequencer that generates random riffs for your sounds.
You can choose from 50+ scales, pattern complexity, steps, start and end points, set pitch, transpose, motion, measures and many more.
Riffer allows you to generate fresh ideas, sequences, melodies, riffs and musical patterns and turn them into something of your own or let it run endlessly using the infinity mode.
- 53 scales list from Western to Eastern
- Fully customizable steps: set Pitch, Duration and Volume
- Start & End loop points
- Sustain & Tie notes
- Export MIDI Using Drag and Drop
- Automatically generate sequences with the Infinity mode
- Get Riffer Generator here: Pluginboutique.
Related: Are you looking for the best Sampler VST/AU plugins? Here’s a list of them.
Phrasebox by Venomode (Windows, Mac)
Simple yet powerful Sequencer & Arpeggiator.
Phrasebox allows you to turn simple chord sequences into melody lines and musical phrases with extreme ease, simply design your phrase in the piano roll, and Phrasebox will playback the pattern using whatever notes you input.
What’s even better is that you have complete control over how the phrase is played: Select notes in pitch order, or use the special selectors, such as the loudest/quietest or first-played/last-played, and your phrase will be played back with sample-accurate timing.
Phrasebox gives you full control over the timing and length of notes as you would in your DAW. Alongside velocity controls, you can also adjust each note’s transposition, and even select a random chance that the note will play.
If you want quick access to an unlimited number of phrases, you can use the built-in generation tools to quickly get inspiration. Simply set how you want the notes and controller data to be generated, and Phrasebox will create a unique phrase pattern with just the click of a button.
- Get Phrasebox here: Pluginboutique.
Harvest by Harvest Plugins (Windows, Mac)
Powerful MIDI sequencer
Harvest is a VST Plugin that can produce melodies, chords, drum patterns, unique loops, subtly tweak melodies or create MIDI chaos, and what makes it stand out is that you can physically tap in rhythms and melodies via hardware.
Basically, it allows the use of physical MIDI instruments to write music using Harvest and generate an interesting and effective workflow.
It’s a relatively simple MIDI sequencer featuring an interactive piano roll so you can be specific when you need to, preset- and customizable scales, a lock tool for filtering out parts that don’t work, a couple of different effects, and more.
Available also is the Harvest Mini, a completely free and stripped-down version of Harvest.
- Get Harvest here: Pluginboutique.
HY-MPS2 by HY-Plugins (Windows, Mac)
Block-Based Step Sequencer.
The HY-MPS2 is a block-based step-sequencer that has a total of 8 available blocks, each controlled by a block “Chainer” that triggers those sequence blocks in a specific order.
In addition to this, it features 4 modulation units each with 5 modulation engines (LFO, Prob LFO, Step LFO, Multipoint Envelope, and Sample & Hold), and a randomizer.
It lets you shape your sounds with a lot of LFO, and the randomizer function works really well allowing you to create a song in just a few minutes.
- Get HY-MPS2 here: Pluginboutique.
Cream by Kirnu Interactive (Windows, Mac)
Great in terms of Price-to-performance.
Kirnu Cream is a very powerful MIDI sequencer and arpeggiator VST/AU/LPX MIDI FX plugin for Windows and Mac.
With Cream it’s very easy to create catching lead parts, bouncing bass lines, swinging drums, and lots of other cool stuff.
With simple and clever design, it has been made easy to learn and operate.
You can easily create cool performances by tweaking only a couple of controls.
If this is not enough for you there are so many ways you can control Cream that you never feel bored with it.
Kirnu Cream is good for everybody; hobbyists, professionals, producers, composers, or whoever needs a good MIDI performer to make their songs awesome!
Out of all the plugins on this list, I think that Cream is the best one in terms of Price-to-Performance since it’s so affordable.
- Get Cream Here: Pluginboutique.
Cthulhu by Xfer Records (Windows, Mac)
Affordable and really easy to use.
Cthulhu is a sequencer that also features a Chord module that allows you to play one note and Cthulhu will automatically create chords or scales off of that one note. This is great for when you’re trying to compose a song but can’t come up with new ideas.
It comes with loads of presets and it also allows you to create your own and save them.
If you import MIDI or record chords straight in, Cthulhu is able to analyze the chords you play and allow for various sorting options like Circle of 5ths, Chromatic, low note, etc., allowing for easy access over your chords.
The Sequencer and Arpeggiator side of Cthulhu lets the incoming notes or chords be manipulated in various rhythmic ways. For instance, starting on the lowest note and ending up on the highest (when it runs out of notes, it starts back on the first one).
You can choose whichever pattern you like, sequence them in no time and that’s it… you have the basic structure of a song.
Additionally, you can get the ADSR bundle which comes with over 140 chord presets and 50 arpeggiation presets which are quite good.
Get Cthulhu here: XFer Website.
Best Free Sequencer Plugins
|Kirnu||Most powerful free step-sequencer & arpeggiator.||VST 32/64-bit.||Windows, Mac|
|Hyperclick||LFO-driven MIDI arpeggiator, gate effect and step sequencer.||VST, AU 32/64-bit.||Windows, Mac & Linux|
|B-Step Sequencer||Monophonic and polyphonic playback modes, Reverse Playback.||VST, AU 32/64-bit.||Windows, Mac & Linux|
|SequencAir||16 chainable banks with 16 sequencer steps per bank.||VST, AU 32/64-bit.||Windows, Mac|
Kirnu by Arto Vaarala (Windows, Mac)
Kirnu is a VST MIDI arpeggiator plugin that could also be considered a step sequencer, and it is designed with real-time tweaking and usability in mind.
It’s not the easiest plugin to use, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll love it, and it comes with all the features one would expect from a plugin like this.
If you’re looking for an even more advanced version of Kirnu, then check out its updated version “Cream“.
Note: Cream is not free, but for $35 it’s definitely considered a budget option.
You can download Kirnu here.
Hyperclick by Mucoder (Windows, Mac & Linux)
Hyperclick is an LFO-driven MIDI arpeggiator, gate effect and step sequencer, the output of which can then drive other MIDI instruments.
The main use for hypercyclic is to generate midi that can be recorded and/or sent to other plugins, and it also features a simple built-in synth for testing purposes.
A unique feature is the possibility to modulate the sequencer step size itself, which is useful for creating glitchy stuttering effects.
It’s simple enough for non-professionals to use, however, if you don’t want to spend too much time learning all the ins and outs, you can also use the various different presets also included with the plugin.
You can listen to it here:
Download Hyperclick here.
B-Step Sequencer (Windows, Mac & Linux)
B-Step Sequencer is a step sequencer plugin and standalone application for creating melodic loops, chord progressions, arpeggios, drum grooves, and basslines.
It comes with an array of features like chord programming, sequencer ratcheting, shuffle, drag-n-drop, copy, MIDI learn, and much, a couple different presets to get you started with, and more.
One of its features that I like is that it offers both monophonic and polyphonic playback modes, as well as reverse playback.
Download B-Step Sequencer here.
SequencAir by Full Bucket Music (Windows, Mac)
SequencAir is a free software step sequencer that offers 16 chainable banks with 16 sequencer steps per bank, individual control for Note, Octave, Velocity, Gate, Skip, Mute, as well as Sync-to-host and Swing functions.
In addition to this, SequencAir offers an additional built-in monophonic synthesizer, and all of this in a fairly simple-to-use interface, although the huge number of knobs can seem a little daunting to most beginners.
Download SequencAir here.
You’ll need a MIDI Controller
In order to be able to use these plugins properly, you will need some sort of MIDI Controller.
While you can use your, it’s a lot faster and easier to do it with a keyboard/controller.
My recommendation here is for you to get something like the M-Audio Oxygen 25 MK IV MIDI Controller which you can find at Amazon at a very affordable price, plus it comes with some extra software like Pro Tools First.
Sequencers are not only useful but also fun!
Make sure to check out the ones I listed here, especially Thesys, since they are all pretty good plugins!
I hope this information was useful!
Have a great day!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Sequencer?
In music production, a sequencer is a hardware or software device designed to record performance data and play it back in sequence, or in a specific order of events.