Korg SQ1 Review – a Great Step Sequencer for the Price

Korg SQ-1 Step SequencerWelcome to my Korg SQ1 review. Korg seems to be covering all bases these days by releasing a series of compact, affordable electronic music gadgets, such as the Monotron and Volca Keys for example. The SQ1 is very much that kind of thing, with it being a small box of knobs and buttons that live electronic musicians will have a lot of fun with. It can be used to sequence either analog synths using the CV/Gate or digitals synths via MIDI.


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Contents


PROS & CONS

Pros:

  • Compact, sturdy metal construction
  • Can control analog or digital synth via CV or MIDI.
  • Works great with the Korg MS-20 semi-modular synth.
  • You can manipulate sequences live.
  • No need to use a computer to sequence your synths.

Cons:

  • As it’s a step sequencer, it’s not really suited to composing more complex melodic arrangements.

Rating:  (98%)
Recommended? Yes

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Demonstration Video

Take a look at this great introduction video which explains how it works:

And here it is linked up to the Doepfer DarkEnergy synthesizer:


Who is the Korg SQ1 Designed For?

I would say that the SQ1 is best suited for experimental electronic musicians who want a convenient and affordable way to bring sequencing into their live set. Its compact size, hands-on interface, and ability to connect to any synthesizer, means that you can easily manipulate sequences in a live setting.


FEATURES

Connectivity

Not only can it connect to standard MIDI and USB MIDI to control digital equipment, there are two CV/Gate out channels, littleBits out (so that you can connect to the synthesizer kit made by littleBits), as well as the SYNC IN/OUT for connecting to Korg’s own range of miniature synths such as the Monotribe and Volca Keys.

Versatile Sequencing

Although you don’t have the infinite possibilities offered by computer software sequencing, as a hardware step sequencer the SQ1 does offer some surprising versatility. There are two sequencer channels, A and B, each containing 8 steps. You can either run them one after the other as a full 16-step sequencer or run them together. Not only that, you can also set it to alternate between them or sequence the steps totally randomly, which is great for the more experimental musician.

Compact and Sturdy

You could be forgiven for thinking that the SQ1 was made many years ago, due to its sturdy metal construction. Many electronic products these days are mainly built from plastic and, therefore, don’t last. The SQ1 has been designed with the traveling electronic musician in mind.


Conclusion

So there you go, this is a great little analog sequencer that works great with the Korg MS-20. You can easily use this to manipulate sequences live without the need for a computer. Due to its sturdy metal construction and compact size, it is an ideal piece of kit to take with you to live concerts.

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I hope you found my Korg SQ1 review helpful, but if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and I will reply as soon as I can.

All the best,
Marcus.

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12 Comments

  1. G.C.Horton

    This is the first that I’ve heard of the Korg SQ1 sequencer. I can see why you would say it’s a good sequencer for experimental electronic musicians and appreciate that you pointed out it’s probably not suited for composing complex melodies. I was surprised to learn it is built in a metal case. Most electronics have plastic cases.

    Reply
    1. Marcus (Post author)

      Yes, it seems to be very solidly built.

      Reply
  2. Johnson

    Thanks for your review on Korg SQ1. Perhaps with my interest of making music, this is probably some of the item that will be required to make good and quality music.

    Well appreciated on this review as i hope to see more of your review to give me more insight on the requirement for making good music. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Marcus (Post author)

      Thank you for your comment, Johnson.

      Reply
  3. Wanda

    Hi Marcus,

    I was very impressed with the information that you had in your video. I must admit when I first reviewed your website I had no knowledge of the Korg SQ1. After reading and reviewing your video, I am positive I can have a conversation about the SQ1 now and relate to its functions.

    Thanks for the insights of the SQ1, very educational.

    Regards,

    Wanda1958

    Reply
    1. Marcus (Post author)

      I’m glad you found it helpful, Wanda. Thank you for your comment.

      Reply
  4. braxa0103@gmail.com

    Great review.

    A lot of aspiring audio engineers and producers often get confused when thinking about the best equipment to buy to achieve their goals.

    Audio tech magazines are often jam-packed with equipment which has similar functionality and this can get really confusing.

    Your review really breaks down the features in a way that will enable the reader to make a clear decision as to whether the equipment is suitable for their needs.

    Reply
    1. Marcus (Post author)

      Yes, I used to read music equipment magazines like Future Music and Computer Music, and there was always so much equipment to choose from, it was overwhelming really.

      Reply
  5. JP

    Awesome review. I’m really interested in synthesizers and such to make electronic music because over the past few years I’ve come to recognize how awesome this kind of music is, in all it’s forms, EDM, House, Indie Electronica, Tropical House, Chill .. I love them all. Look forward to more posts

    Reply
    1. Marcus (Post author)

      Yes, there are so many possibilities with electronic music. Much more exciting than non-electronic music, in my opinion.

      Reply
  6. Vertical Veloxity

    Hello Marcus! I am a do it yourselfer so I love stuff like this. I am also a music guy. And I am also a creative type person. So this all falls into my wheel box.
    I am not very technical and I have not learned how to play the keyboard yet. Do you think a person like myself could learn to use this product. Or would I have to learn how to play the keyboard first?

    Reply
    1. Marcus (Post author)

      Hi,

      This is a sequencer that needs to be used in conjunction with an analog synthesizer such as the Korg MS 20 Mini. If you are looking for something for a beginner, I would recommend taking a look at the Korg Electribe Sampler. It’s perfect for beginners who want to get into making great eletronic music easily.

      Reply

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