Korg make a swift return to hardware step sequencers with the new 64-pad SQ-64. Highlights include four tracks for melodies and drum patterns, eight-voice polyphony and three outputs each for pitch, gate and modulation.
For a company with as many hardware releases as Korg, it is surprising that their history with dedicated step sequencers is quite brief. In 1978 they released the SQ-10, which was specifically designed for the MS Series synths, and then 37 years later in 2015 they rolled out the SQ-1. The latter quickly became popular due to its price of £106, performance controls and MIDI to CV conversion, but it was monophonic and limited to only 16 steps.
The SQ-64 is the long-awaited sequel to the SQ-1, featuring a 64-step Matrix with four sections for note, modulation and CV/gate sequencing. There are three Melody tracks with 16 patterns of up to 64 steps each and each of the three tracks has three outputs for pitch, gate and modulation.
The fourth track is a Drum track with eight individual trigger outputs for controlling analogue synths, Eurorack, and drum machines. These outputs can also be fine-tuned to match the polarity and voltage of the connected devices.
The I/O section is rounded off with one MIDI in, two MIDI outs and an audio sync I/O that will allow the SQ-64 to send or receive tempo information.
Korg’s Volca and Electribe ranges are known for versatility and performance controls in their sequencers so it is no surprise that the company has added four alternative sequence playback modes to the SQ-64. These modes are called Reverse, Bounce, Random and Stochastic and each one can be applied to the four tracks individually. Korg have also included an arpeggiator.
In terms of physical traits, the SQ-64 comes in an all aluminium chassis and weighs exactly 1 kg/2.20 lbs. The 64 LED-lit step button pads have all been equipped with graduated lighting, so the buttons with a higher modulation value will have a stronger light. The parameters on the OLED screen at the top-centre are edited via encoder knobs and dedicated mode buttons. Swing and tempo are also controlled via two physical knobs.
Beyond sequencing, the 64-pad matrix has the option to be used as a keyboard with three layouts to choose from. In Keys mode all notes are spread across the pads, in Isomorphic mode the notes are displayed symmetrically in rows and in Octaves mode one scale is spread across three octaves.
The SQ-64 will be available in early 2021 at a price of £269 that includes a free software bundle with instruments from Korg, UVI and Applied Acoustics as well as Reason Lite and Ozone Elements.
Head to Korg for more information.