Zoom in on the ARQ AR-48—A MIDI Controller/Instrument that Rings True!


Zoom, the company behind so many innovative products in acoustic guitar modeling, field recording, and more, has announced its newest sample-based live performance instrument, the ARQ AR-48. With 460 built-in samples exploring a variety of genres, the AR-48 is many things: a sequencer, a drum machine, a synthesizer, a looper, a MIDI controller, and more.

Like the ARQ AR-96 that preceded it, the AR-48 boasts two impactful components: a Base Station and the detachable Ring Controller. The Base Station houses all the sound generators, including the 460 customizable instrument sounds and a synthesizer with three sub-oscillators. Your I/O is also based out of the base, with a 3.5mm stereo input, the 3.5mm headphone output, the two 1/4" stereo outputs, the SD card slot (for importing pre-recorded audio), and the USB port (for computer connections).

Also on the base station is a 32-step sequencer for creating and looping rhythmic patterns on the fly. The sequencer can save up to 384 patterns and 99 songs, so you’ll have plenty of space to store your creations. Here you’ll also find your transport (Record/Play buttons), as well as controls for capturing audio, recording motion sequences, and saving your work.

Next, you’ll note the Ring Controller, which communicates with the Base Station with an included cable—though it can also be configured to work wirelessly over Bluetooth with an optional adapter. The ring features 16 pressure-sensitive pads with programmable LEDs. These pads let you play instrument sounds, trigger samples, and record sequences. A 3-axis accelerometer allows you to use movement to trigger effects such as reverbs and delay; you can assign each axis to any parameter you’d like, and move the ring around like a tambourine to induce effects. A few dedicated buttons make your life even easier, giving you easy-to-read, easy-to-trigger controls over Play/Pause, solo, mute, split, arpeggiate, and effect changes. The Ring will also let you switch between PAD and SCALE layouts, both of which facilitate their own unique way of experimenting.

The ARQ-48 includes Ableton Live 9 Lite, giving you all the tools you need to get started creating electronic music. So, if you’re in the market for an unconventional musical instrument—something more manageable than the ARQ-96, but no less fun—then look no farther!