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Korg’s SQ-64

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Re: Korg’s SQ-64

Postby Ben Asaro » Sun Feb 14, 2021 2:54 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:Summary so far: I like it a lot.
Awesome! Do you own a BSP? I would be curious to hear the pros/cons between those two units.
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Re: Korg’s SQ-64

Postby Agharta » Mon Feb 15, 2021 8:00 pm

Music Matter are included in an eBay promotion right now and the Circuit Track and SQ-64 are both reduced below typical prices.
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Re: Korg’s SQ-64

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue Feb 16, 2021 2:13 am

Ben Asaro wrote:
Eddy Deegan wrote:Summary so far: I like it a lot.
Awesome! Do you own a BSP? I would be curious to hear the pros/cons between those two units.

Unfortunately I can't compare the two as I don't own a Beatstep Pro but looking through the SOS review of the BSP the SQ-64 would seem to be 'more of the same' insofar as it has more pattern memory, more space for onboard projects, an arpeggiator (well, sortof, it's driven by recorded chords and somewhat basic though hopefully they'll improve it in a firmware update at some point), three (polyphonic) tracks for melody and one for drum triggers and somewhat better randomisation than detailed in the SOS review.

I'm not a huge fan of the feel of the buttons on the SQ-64. They work just fine but to me are a little spongy to the touch and I suspect I end up pressing them harder than I need to as they don't give any meaningful feedback as to whether the press was registered or not. Thus if the button has no useful function in whatever mode you're in then someone learning to use the device sometimes wonders if they mis-pressed it or not. Other than that, the build quality is top notch; it's beautifully put together and feels like something a lot more expensive than it is.

I'm also not entirely sure but I may have found a timing bug in the SQ-64 when changing between patterns on multiple tracks simultaneously on occasion and which leads to one of the tracks being a beat or so out of time. I'm not saying that's the case for certain but I've got a little investigation to do to confirm either way - it may be something to do with one of my patterns or more likely I've enabled something like the 'rotate' feature on one of the patterns!

The SQ-64 'manual' isn't very good. It makes a half-decent reference for features you've figured out how to use but as a 'how to' guide it's not much use, which is a shame as it would make the device friendlier from the off.

I've still not worked out how to use the clock divider function which doesn't work as vaguely hinted at in the document (I wanted to run one track at half speed relative to the others) and I've still got a few 'how do I' things I've yet to figure out though I'm sure it can do them. Edit: I've figured it out now!

Don't get me wrong; I'm very much liking the SQ-64 and it's proving very musical (which after all is the whole point) and at the price point I think it's great. It's display is lovely and crisp and it's not too hard to navigate.

It has those 64 pads on it which are used for all sort of things, including acting as a virtual keyboard but in different modes, one of which is a rather nice isomorphic layout much like the strings on a bass guitar. You can assign this keyboard to any of the three melody tracks with a simple button press.

In mono you can't use the keyboard live while patterns are playing, sadly. At least not over CV/Gate (it may do over MIDI - not tried that yet). I'm also not sure if you can in poly mode or not; I've yet to hook it up to a polyphonic synth. Edit: I've just seen someone do it on a youtube video, so it is possible. I so wish the manual was better!

As well as stochastic random stepping (one forward, skip one forward, one backwards, or repeat same step) it allows you to configure chance value for each step, as well as a random function for values (though there are a couple of parameters per step associated with the latter and I'm unsure exactly how that works due to the vague documentation) supports microtiming (per note on polyphonic tracks) and can also be configured to send CC messages and such. It also supports ratcheting and a rather neat 'alternate' function which can play any given step only every second or third time the pattern is played. The global configuration also lets you set various voltage ranges for gate and CV which could be very useful.

In conjunction with the Mother-32/Subharmonicon/DFAM rack and my modular though it's already given me better results than I could have hoped for.

I've mentioned a few negatives here as the positives are pretty much that it does what it says on the tin although from Korg's marketing spiel you'd think it was something to rival a Squarp Pyramid (which it certainly isn't). For immediacy, a useful jamming tool and hands-on creativity though I can see it has huge potential and I do want to get to know it more - there are a lot of features in there.

I've got a number of additional thoughts but I'll do a proper write up in the form of a post in the user reviews forum as soon as I've spent a few more hours on it - hopefully this weekend coming sometime, though I'm racing the clock to get a bunch of board put up before a plasterer turns up on Monday to skim it :lol:
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Re: Korg’s SQ-64

Postby Andy Cobley » Wed Feb 17, 2021 1:07 pm

Random thought, Does it look like it could be mounted in a Eurorack ?
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Re: Korg’s SQ-64

Postby Eddy Deegan » Wed Feb 17, 2021 3:38 pm

Andy Cobley wrote:Random thought, Does it look like it could be mounted in a Eurorack ?

I don't think so, no. It's slightly shorter from front to back than a normal height module but even if you fabricated some form of mounting brackets you'd hit a problem as the I/O is all on the back edge and would be inaccessible if you racked it unless you had a custom case and positioned the module very specifically in it (and even then you'd have trouble if you wanted tor recable it). It's probably possible to do all that but it's not a trivial exercise.

For something that covers the same functional features (and for the most part more) in Eurorack format I'd recommend a Squarp Hermod, although it's a far more compact unit and doesn't have anything like the same interface.
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Re: Korg’s SQ-64

Postby BobTheDog » Tue Feb 23, 2021 9:58 pm

Eddy, how are you powering yours?

Just wondering if powering from usb from a computer is working for you, if you do it that way?
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Re: Korg’s SQ-64

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue Feb 23, 2021 11:15 pm

BobTheDog wrote:Eddy, how are you powering yours?

Just wondering if powering from usb from a computer is working for you, if you do it that way?

I'm using a standalone plugin adaptor to provide USB power. I've not connected it to a computer as one of the attractions of a hardware sequencer for me is the ability to work with a bunch of my synths without needing to power up the PC.

As a quick test I just plugged it into one of the powered USB 3 hubs connected to my DAW and it boots up just fine from there. I've not used any USB MIDI/data features as of yet though.
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Re: Korg’s SQ-64

Postby BobTheDog » Fri Feb 26, 2021 9:45 pm

Thanks for testing that for me Eddy, thinking of getting one here and I would route the midi over usb. Good to know it runs off the computer.
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Re: Korg’s SQ-64

Postby joesh » Sat Feb 27, 2021 12:40 pm

Interested to read your take on the Korg SQ64. I've had one for a few days now and although I'm enjoying using it, there are a few things that aren't working so well, or aren't correctly explained (as you already mentioned) in Korg's always totally useless user manual. Here's a few thoughts from my side to add to your comments:

Firstly I have on odd 'glitch' getting out of the range loop mode. Normally, to put everyone in the picture, when you select a range, the SQ64 loops between those two points, and, to exit you just push twice on any key in the loop to release it. However, in my case it doesn't always work. Sometimes I have to push several times, even more on occasions. This is clearly a firmware/software problem as when I use the select mode (where you can pick out individual steps to loop), then a soft double tap, on any of the keys in the loop, immediately release the loop and it returns to running as normal.

Another feature, which I find most odd, or not well explained is the sequencer modes - Project, Pattern and Chain. Project is simple enough and does what it says, save the whole project. However, Pattern (which saves each lane A - D) individually can be a bit tricky. I've managed to save the patterns of one project, no problem. However, on a more recent project the patterns wouldn't save correctly on one lane. In fact, the sequence even changed octave, which is little strange. I eventually found a way to work around it, but clearly this isn't meant to happen.

BTW, Pattern mode is almost the same system as an Akai MPC's sequence mode. You press a pad (that has your pattern on it) and it moves to that next pattern. However, each lane has it's own pattern, and they're not really synced. You have some options (Sequence, Bar, Beat), but not really useful ones like on an MPC such as Wait and Mute or more simply the pattern moves in sync.

As for the Chain mode, it seems most odd and definitely clumsy. Again, for those of you with an MPC, you'll understand this as the song mode, you can select you patterns and assign them to pads (again associated to each lane A - D). However, again there seems to be a lack of options, or maybe there's something I don't understand. A simple task such as making a sequence chain such as A1 > A1 > A2 > A1 seems impossible (as far as I've worked out). You can only have A1 > A2 > A1 > A2 ..... etc.

On the plus side, I saw some people asking about running the unit using the USB via your computer. This works fine, and I've used this to record at the same time too, no problems - you just need to do a bit of menu diving in the Global settings to point your machine in the right direction. I've also run the SQ64 using MIDI out to a Prophet REV2, whilst using the CV/GATE ports to modular units and it all seems to work fine. I would say, that as yet, I haven't managed to get the unit to send velocity messages via MIDI, but I haven't spent hours on that, so maybe there's something I haven't seen. I also haven't tried playing my REV2 polyphonically into the SQ64 - although I'll try later today.

Lastly, if Korg ever reads these forums, I'd say a lot of these problems could just be sorted out by having a proper manual. If the manual was written correctly grammatically, it would help a lot (and I'm multi lingual, so I did check several languages to see if things were better explained elsewhere). If, again, they could provide some proper tutorials either written or video, which would certainly clear up some of the misunderstandings.
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Re: Korg’s SQ-64

Postby Dryjoy » Fri Mar 12, 2021 4:36 pm

joesh wrote:
As for the Chain mode, it seems most odd and definitely clumsy. Again, for those of you with an MPC, you'll understand this as the song mode, you can select you patterns and assign them to pads (again associated to each lane A - D). However, again there seems to be a lack of options, or maybe there's something I don't understand. A simple task such as making a sequence chain such as A1 > A1 > A2 > A1 seems impossible (as far as I've worked out). You can only have A1 > A2 > A1 > A2 ..... etc.


I was just looking around the web for other people's experiences with the SQ 64. I've had mine a couple of weeks, and so far I like it. The manual, as has been commonly observed, is pretty terrible though, and I've not explored all the features yet.

I thought I'd just chime in here though, as it seems possible to chain sequences in any order you like in 'Chain' mode. I haven't had a problem with something like A1 > A1 > A2 > A1, that seems to work fine for me.
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Re: Korg’s SQ-64

Postby joesh » Fri Mar 12, 2021 6:02 pm

Hi Dryjoy

You may well be right, I did wonder if I had a problem with the firmware - the unit seemed to have a few odd reactions, as I mentioned the range mode, which wouldn't release with the 'suggested' two clicks on any of the notes in the selected range (maybe you could try this and see if it work every time for you).

Although I really liked the CV/Gate access, unfortunately I found the menu diving, and nob twisting* (for note changes in particular), didn't really suit me, and so I have to admit I sent it back with the idea that I'd wait to see if they updated anything in a new/later firmware.

* = Although it's another topic, I thought I'd add in that the nob twiddling is also one of the infuriating things that DS synths use for their sequences. I find that I prefer either the keyboard input method, or the grid method, where notes are changed (in realtime) instantly, and not via increments.
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