Korg SQ-64 Polyphonic Sequencer

A New Brain for Your Entire Studio

Ryan Gaston · 11/17/20

The last few weeks from Korg have been a whirlwind—the launch of the Nautilus workstation, Opsix Altered FM Synthesizer, and leaked images of the rumored ARP 2600 Mini have kept us busy and interested. Today is the official launch of the next member of the Korg family, the SQ-64: a polyphonic sequencer capable of tying any studio together.

The SQ-64 is a standalone sequencer designed to work within any electronic music workflow: so whether your setup is centered around a DAW, modular synths, or other MIDI-capable synths/desktop gear, it just might be the next brain of your operation. With polyphonic MIDI sequencing capability, plenty of CV/Gate jacks, the ability to sync via MIDI and analog signals, and everything from standard to experimental sequencing modes, the SQ-64 is a sequencer for just about everyone.

Everything is Connected

Of course, Korg's SQ line of sequencers has its root in the 1970s—the original SQ-10 provided multi-track sequencing capability to their original line of semi-modular synthesizers, which included the MS-10, MS-20, and MS-50. Decades later, once the resurgence of analog and modular synthesizers was in full swing, Korg introduced the SQ-1: an affordable, desktop-format MIDI/CV sequencer equally suited for use with modular gear, other desktop devices, and much more.

Now, the SQ-64 continues this trajectory, providing a considerably more expansive feature set than any of its predecessors. Designed for the current age, it is far more than a remembrance of the sequencers before it. It is designed to be of use to any electronic musician...so whether you're into drum machines, desktop semi-modular synths, DAWs, or any combination of the above, it can provide a huge amount of control in a single piece of gear.

The SQ-64 workflow offers three simultaneous melody tracks and a drum track. Each of the melody tracks has 16 patterns of up to 64 steps each—with dedicated CV, Gate, and Modulation output jacks on the back for use with modular synths. That's right...for each of the melody tracks, you get dedicated pitch CV, gate, and modulation outputs, making it easy to provide information to up to three distinct synth voices at once. The Drum track has sixteen sub-tracks designed for percussive sequencing—and eight of these can be assigned to dedicated trigger outputs on the back of the unit, meaning that the SQ-64 can truly act as an all-in-one modular sequencer for up to eleven distinct sound sources all at once.

Sequences are edited via a matrix of 64 LED-backlit buttons and a set of encoders and mode buttons, making it quick and easy to switch tracks and edit individual steps to your specifications. This pad grid can be used in other ways, however: several dedicated keyboard modes make it such that you can use the SQ-64 to play any of your gear in real time. With options for piano-style, isomorphic, and octave row layouts, the SQ-64 is a more than capable performance controller. Additionally, the integrated arpeggiator allows you to easily add nuance and ornamental flair to any sound. Experimental sequencing modes allow you to reverse your sequences, randomize their order, or use stochastic and "bounce" modes for more complex, characterful sequencing methods based on chance and the physical properties of objects in motion. And with the ability to chain patterns to create song structures, the SQ-64 could easily become the brain of your entire setup.

Of course, in addition to all of its CV/Gate capabilities, SQ-64 also has MIDI inputs and outputs. It supports MIDI I/O over USB, and also has a single 3.5mm MIDI input and two 3.5mm MIDI outputs for connecting to other hardware. Additionally, it includes Korg's standard 3.5mm sync input and output jacks, great for clocking along with modular gear or desktop Korg gear (such as Volcas, Electribes, and more).

With a rugged design, a huge range of sequencing and performance capabilities, and an interface that invites playful experimentation, the SQ-64 is sure to be an absolute blast. With the option to extensively manipulate sequences, to use it as a hands-on control source, and to connect to virtually every piece of gear in your studio, this sequencer isn't just another MIDI controller: it's an instrument in its own right, and one sure to become the brain of countless musicians' setups.