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Korg SQ-64

Polyphonic Step Sequencer By Robin Vincent
Published May 2021

Korg SQ-64

Korg’s SQ‑64 step sequencer bridges the gap between ‘deep’ and ‘hands‑on’.

The SQ‑64 is smaller than you’d think and mightier in every other respect. It’s sleek, sharp and angular and feels far more stylish and understated than the Arturia alternatives. It’s heavy, solid, metallic and stands less than 2cm tall, with its eight rubber feet sticking firmly to your table. The entire surface is covered with things you can touch. The buttons are raised, the lights break the surface, and the decals give it a roughness beneath your fingers.

The surface is covered by 64 pads or buttons. These can represent many things, but they most obviously offer a button for every step of a sequence — which will please anyone who’s gotten lost in the pages of 16‑step devices. Each button has a slit towards the top edge with a Cylon‑like red glow that’s dim when inactive and brighter when enabled. A similar white LED also lurks behind and makes an appearance in certain circumstances. LEDs cut into the top edge of the SQ‑64 indicate activity on each of the CV outputs. The OLED screen is clear and subdued and split into four sections to describe four functions; you would think these were controlled by the four buttons that sit immediately beneath, but in fact you’ll find the four knobs to the right are what you need to be fiddling with.

The SQ‑64 has four tracks of 64‑step polyphonic sequencing. Three are melodic, with up to eight notes of polyphony, while the fourth is rhythmic and capable of pumping out 16 monophonic paths of percussion (eight over CV). In addition, you get Sync In/Out and a MIDI input so you can connect a keyboard controller. All of the patch sockets are on the back, which means I can’t butt the SQ‑64 up against my rack because of all the cables. It would seem to me to be more Eurorack‑appropriate to have the sockets on the top, which would solve my butt problem and also enable you to see where to plug things in. At least the indicator lights along the top edge sit directly above each socket, making the cabling that bit easier to achieve.

With a track selected, you get to view all 64 steps across all four rows of 16 buttons. It is a wonderful thing to be able to view your whole sequence. With no track selected you get to see the first 16 steps of each running together which is no less fabulous to watch. The four buttons beneath the display are employed to switch between the possible four banks of 16 steps.

The sequencer has four modes called Gate, Pitch, Mod and Loop. Each mode comes with a slightly different set of four possible parameters displayed on the screen and accessed with the knobs. To access...

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Published May 2021