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10 Ways to Improve Atom SQ Through Software

PreSonus ATOM SQ is a cool and innovative controller with tight integration with Studio One. I’ve published a video review of ATOM SQ on my YouTube channel where I’ve covered my impressions of the device as it is.

Note: I’m also giving away a PreSonus ATOM (the original PreSonus pad controller). Watch the video review to find out how you can win one.

I like the thing and while I had a few comments about some issues with the SQ and its shortcomings, I feel like a lot of them can be eliminated with just a software or firmware update. In this post I wanted to focus on those as actionable ideas and leave the pure hardware desires alone.

I will also post links to the feature requests (mine or someone else’s) on the official Q&A site. So, if you also feel like some or all of them are good ideas, don’t forget to follow those links and vote them up.

Note: I’m approaching this from the perspective of ATOM SQ Studio One integration. It also has an Ableton Live integration and can be used as a “generic” MIDI controller.

Pattern editing polish

Pattern editing is where ATOM SQ shines and has close to perfect integration. There are only a few things missing.

Mute/Solo lanes

You can mute and solo lanes in patterns by clicking the M and S buttons on the lanes, but you can’t do the same from Atom SQ. Surprisingly, there’s no command for this in Studio One (as of version 5.5) either, which I assume is the core reason for this omission. Which also means that you can’t create a macro or shortcut for this either.

🎯 Vote for this to be addressed.

Pop the velocity, etc. panel up when adjusting

You can adjust step velocity, delay, repeats, and probability right from ATOM SQ (and in two ways, no less). But if you don’t pop the panel for this up with your mouse (it’s collapsed by default), you can only see the values changing on the ATOM SQ screen and not your computer screen. It would be great if the panel popped up once you start adjusting these values.

🎯 If you agree that this would be useful, please vote this up.

Other things

Sleep mode shortcut/menu item

One of the most bizarre omissions on ATOM SQ (and ATOM) is that there’s no power on/off switch and as long as it’s plugged into a powered USB port it stays on like a Christmas tree. I’m sure it should be possible to create a setup menu item and/or a key combination that would put the device to sleep and turn off all the pads, buttons, and screen.

🎯 There are multiple requests for this to be addressed and one for the original ATOM is the most popular in the category and dates back to 2018. And here’s one for ATOM SQ specifically.

MIDI CC buttons in Studio One mode

Even more bizarre than “always on” is that even though you have 8 configurable encoders, and you can configure 8 pages of those (for a total of 64 parameters that can be controlled by the knobs) there isn’t a single button that would send a MIDI CC command in Studio One mode. Bank switching buttons A-H can send those in “standalone” (generic) mode, but when connected to Studio One shift + A-H have special meaning leaving you MIDI button-less.

I can see two ways to remedy this:

  1. Instead of “Shift” use a different modifier like holding a “User” or “Instrument” button for A-H to work as MIDI CC buttons.
  2. Implement a general command in Studio One for sending MIDI CC commands, so that we can create macros for specific commands (not sure how feasible this is) and then attach those to buttons on the User page.

🎯 If you agree that it’s crucial to have assignable MIDI buttons, please vote for this issue here.

Let the octaves go below 0

Octaves on the SQ can only go down to C0 and not below. Aside from actually playing lower notes, lower octaves are often used for key switches on virtual instruments, which makes those inaccessible on the ATOM SQ.

🎯 Upvote a feature request here and here.

Sync key with Studio One

You can set your song’s key signature in Studio One and you can also adjust the key signature on ATOM SQ. These two are not synchronized. I can imagine that not everyone wants them synced at all times, so I guess the logic could be that if one end (Studio One or SQ) is at the default value and the other changes, then it’s synchronized, otherwise it isn’t.

🎯 Vote here for this to be addressed.

Faster page navigation

The six soft buttons around the screen on the ATOM SQ perform different functions based on the mode the device is in (Song, Instrument, Editor, or User). Each mode has multiple pages of button functions. Up to 8 in the User mode. You navigate between pages with two forward/back buttons.

All of this means that you could be at least 4 page flips away from the function you want to use. And that’s assuming you know exactly where you are and where you need to get.

I think there’s a fairly simple way to dramatically improve navigation efficiency — make pressing Shift+Soft Button take you directly to page 1–6. From what I can tell those buttons do nothing [special] when shift is pressed, and this would be the most natural use-case for them. There would still be a weird issue of pages 7 and 8. But if you can get with one tap to pages 6 or 1, then you could get to 7 and 8 with just one forward/back tap.

🎯 Upvote this request here.

Editable button text on user pages

You can assign any commands or macros to soft buttons on User pages. That’s great. But the device displays the names of those commands as-is resulting in longer names getting cut and sometimes resulting in multiple buttons with the same name.

It would be great if users could edit the names on those buttons. Even when the name fits it could be useful to have a name that is different from the full command name. For example, if you have a page completely dedicated to note lengths, there’s no use of having all buttons repeat “Note length…”

Sure, you can probably workaround this by creating specialized macros repeating the same function as the built-in command or another macro and name them differently, but it feels like the proper fix should be easy to implement.

🎯 Do you agree? Vote for this feature request here.

Save recall multiple profiles for user page setup

ATOM SQ can operate in different contexts — the built-in Song/Instrument/Editor modes give you access to different functions. But the User pages are static. Ideally, you would be able to setup different User pages for different contexts. But this is probably quite complicated to implement.

What should be easy to implement is letting you save and load different settings from the configuration page. The most obvious scenario would be having different User functions for the Song (writing/producing/mixing) and Show (performing) modes of Studio One.

🎯 Vote here and hopefully this will be added in a future update.

Wider RGB gamut on pads

This could very well be a hardware limitation. In that case we can’t do anything. But there’s a chance this is some software/firmware thing. The pads on the SQ can be of different colors but apparently multiple shades accessible in the Impact XT pad color picker end up looking exactly the same on the pads.

🎯 Vote here, if you want this to be addressed.

Any other ideas on how to improve ATOM SQ without waiting for the v2 hardware?

Want to buy a PreSonus ATOM SQ? Buy it from Thomann (that’s where I got mine). You get it for a good price, and I get a little bit back ;)

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Alan Mendelevich

Alan Mendelevich

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I run AdDuplex - a cross-promotion network for Windows apps. Blog at https://blog.ailon.org. Author of "Conferences for Introverts"