Korg SQ8 Sequencer
God it's so small. Around 6,500 notes worth of velocity sensitive memory in a plastic case that could just fit your inside pocket. First surprise, however, is that it's not strictly portable. The SQ-8 doesn't take batteries but relies on an external power supply, plugging into the mains. Odd that.
You can record eight, separate, polyphonic tracks each with its own MIDI channel then hear them back separately or synced together, and lay in new material while listening. A compact (it would have to be) LCD screen shows the status of the individual tracks, plus tempo, beat, bar number, memory space left, and MIDI channel info. It's not back lit, so you'd need a torch on stage.
Much of the SQ-8's operation revolves around the function switch which steps the machine through its various parameters — tempo and beat, MIDI-channel, play, record, erase, step write and other. Let's get that last one out of the way while we're here. It includes echoing back incoming MIDI data through the MIDI out socket (an alternative to MIDI through), repeat, turning off after touch info, and key transposition.
To make music? Is easy senor. Select a track and switch to record, prompting a countdown of 8 in the display (and a metronome click if you've got it plugged in). You play (diddley, diddley, diddley), finish and hit the stop button, then either rest satisfied, or tap rewind zipping you back to where you made that daft cock up, play again and in go the correct notes.
I will tell you what you can't do. You can't correct individual bars or sections and leave what comes after them intact. And you can't copy bars or sections to other places to save wear and tear on fingers. The SQ-8's editing facilities are few.
But it does have a talent for location in the shape of the Measure Memory function. Enter the appropriate bar number, then either play or fast forward and the Korg will stop when it reaches your marker.
There's a lot you can do with 6,500 notes. I seemed to play for ages until eventually, the memory counter blinked from full to 80 per cent full.
Pressure of size make the operation fiddly - certain of the switches are tiny. The lack of editing restricts the SQ-8 if you prefer to juggle, copy and construct songs from snatches of material, but I don't think that's its intention. Consider it more as another eight sets of arms while you're putting down material for your Portastudio, and then its cleverness comes forward in the mix.
Review by Paul Colbert
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