Analog or digital, clock or notes, it appears Korg’s new SQ-1 will do anything. It loves your MS-20, but also your volca series and your monotribe and your MIDI gear and your computer. In fact, with audio clock, it’ll support a product even Korg probably only heard about yesterday – those cute Teenage Engineering machines.
The SQ-1 is the new compact step sequencer hardware from Korg. Way back when Korg first unveiled the MS-20 mini, I hoped for a remake of the SQ-10 to go with it. Now, instead of that lumbering behemoth, we got something much more practical. The SQ-1 is a spiritual successor to the SQ-10, but it’s almost volca-sized in dimensions — a small rectangular device that can control anything.
Basically, the SQ-1 is the little box that will suddenly make all those other boxes you started collecting more useful. Want to keep some synths and drum machines in sync, by sending clock? Want to make some rhythmic or melodic patterns? The SQ-1 could be the one you want, simply because it crams a lot of useful creative controls onto the front panel, and then connects to anything. What initially looked like just control voltage for the MS-20 in the bits that leaked yesterday now covers all the bases:
- Analog: you get dual CV (Hz/V and V/Oct) trigger and gate
- Analog sync: (clock volca series, electribes, or monotribe – or the Teenage Engineering gadgets)
- Analog for littleBits: In an unexpected twist, there’s even an explicit jack for Korg’s collaboration with the snap-together littleBits hardware system.
- Digital hardware: Three-pin MIDI connection to your computer (via stereo minijack breakout – we didn’t seen that DIN icon yesterday)
- Digital/USB: there’s a USB port for MIDI connection to your computer.
None of that would be terribly interesting if not for some sequencing options. But what makes me really keen to review the SQ-1 is how much they’ve managed to squeeze in small space. You get different sequence modes (parallel, alternate) and step modes (active step, slide, jump) that look great for performance. See the full specs below.
In other words, what the sequencer here does is what the volcas have done. You can “play” those steps directly, or jam with the sequence modes. You can skip steps while the sequence plays, jump to a particular step, or go acid bass with the slide function.
To select pitches, you turn the knobs – as you would on a classic analog sequencer. (There’s the SQ-10 lineage, if much shrunken down. It’s not quite an SQ-10 mini so much as an SQ volca, but you get the idea.) Now, the problem with finding pitches with knobs is, you can easily get lost. Here, though, you can either get nicely-detuned pitches by turning knobs to pitch directly, or quantize to major / minor / chromatic scales.
In fact, the only really bad news here is that Korg didn’t put a display on, so like many step sequencers, you’re left guessing. But… I have a feeling this isn’t even the last step sequencer news from NAMM, let alone this year, so, uh, stick around.
All of that said, Korg… sure, a module version of the MS-20 is cool, but … okay, now a real SQ-10 sequencer remake, as a limited edition kit, seems not out of the question. Think about it, won’t you?
Full specs (this all runs on a couple of AA batteries):
Sequencer Mode: ALTERNATE, ORDER, PARALLEL TURN, PARALLEL ORDER, CV/DUTY, CV/SLIDE, CV/DUTY RADOM, RANDOM
Step Mode: GATE ON/OFF, ACTIVE STEP, SLIDE, STEP JUMP
Sequence Step Resolution: quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes
CV OUT Pitch: Linear, Minor, Major, Chromatic
CV OUT Voltage: 1V, 2V, 5V (Oct) 8V (Hz/V)
– littleBits OUT jack (mini monaural phone jack)
– OUT (MIDI OUT) jack (mini stereo phone jack)
– CV – A OUT – GATE jack (mini monaural phone jack, CV OUT : Output Level 1V, 2V, 5V, 8[Hz/V], GATE OUT: output level 10V)
– CV – BOUT – GATE jack (mini monaural phone jack, CV OUT : Output Level 1V, 2V, 5V, 8[Hz/V], GATE OUT: Output Level 10V)
– IN – SYNC – OUT jack (mini monaural phone jack, SYNC IN: Max Input Level 20V, SYNC OUT: Output Level 5V)
– USB jack (type B, USB MIDI)
Two AA batteries (alkaline batteries recommended), or USB power
approximately 5 hours (when using alkaline batteries)
Dimension: 93 x 84 x 63 mm/7.60″ x 3.31″ × 2.48″
Weight: 641 g/1.41 lbs.
SQ-1 Product Page [KORG]