The Korg SQ-64 and the Arturia Beatstep Pro share a few things: a compact form factor and standalone multitrack sequencer with CV outputs! So how do you decide for one or the other?
Both are sold in the same price range, below $200 or 250 euros for the SQ-64 and below $300 or 300 euros for the Beatstep pro. This article was updated with the new SQ-64 features of firmware ver 2.0.
They have a great 3 or 4-tracks sequencer, with multiple MIDI and CV outputs. You can control them with your DAW or use them fully standalone, and also have:
- 1 MIDI In and 2 MIDI out ports with TRS mini-jack connectors
- 3 mod/pitch/gate CV outputs for each melodic track
- 8 trig CV outputs for Analog drums for the drum track
- Analog sync in/out ports
- Global tempo and swing
- Polyrhythm and setting the start and end steps of the patterns freely
- Up to 64 steps per pattern
- Sequence modes: Up, Down, Up/Down
- melodic mode with predefined scales
- Patterns transposition
- Moving notes before or after a step division, and step sub-division for ratchet effect
- Step recording (new in SQ-64 firmware ver 2.0)
Another great 4 tracks sequencer alternative is the Novation Launchpad Pro MK3. You can read my SQ-64 vs Launchpad Pro mk3 comparison here for more details.
Korg SQ-64 strengths
- 4 tracks: 3 melodic tracks + 1 drums track, vs 3 tracks on the BSPro.
- 64 projects and 4 tracks with 16 patterns of 64 steps. Only 16 projects on the BSPro.
- Modulation recording: CV modulation and MIDI velocity or a chosen Midi CC (one modulation per track). Random modulations can also be programmed.
- Stochastic sequencer mode: at each sequencer step the next step will be decided randomly among four choices: one forward, skip one forward, one backward, or repeat the same step. Random play mode is also available.
- Slide between steps with different available curves
- Per step probability setting, but only on/off note probability
- Control mode where the 64 pads send MIDI notes, and knobs MIDI CCs. The CCs are configured using the SQ-64 editor.
- Pattern chaining for longer sequences
- Quantized and unquantized Live recording (new in SQ-64 firmware ver 2.0)
Arturia Beatstep Pro Advantages
- 3 tracks: 2 melodic tracks + 1 drums track
- advanced polyrhythms on the drum track, where each sub-track can be any length. For example, you can have a 9 steps hi-hat over a 5 steps kick.
- You can play arpeggios on melodic tracks, by simply holding a chord and the mod strip
- Integrated metronome which sends note data on MIDI channel 10 by default
- each of the 16 encoders allows to tweak 16 steps' velocity, gate, or pitch very quickly
- pressure-sensitive roller/looper strip to add creative rolls while playing live
- Per track probability setting, with progressive randomness added according to the randomness setting (pitch + gate + velocity + octave)
- Control mode: you can send any MIDI CC or note with the help of the top 16 encoders, and 16 pads.
- projects saving to your computer and sequence editing
Why would you choose the Korg SQ-64?
You will prefer the SQ64:
- if you need 3 melodic tracks with CV
- if you want polyphony on the melodic tracks, via MIDI output of course. On the BSP you can play chords on the pads, but cannot record them contrary to the SQ-64.
- if you want CC automation, even if it's limited to one CC per track
- if you need up to 1024 steps for your patterns, with patterns chaining, since the BeatStep Pro is more limited with 512 steps
- if you need unquantized Live recording
Why would you choose the Arturia Beatstep Pro?
You will choose the Beatstep Pro:
- if you want to record velocity easily in the sequencer without an added keyboard
- if you want to experiment with advanced polyrhythms (polymeters to be exact) on the drums track
- if you want more Live performance tools thanks to the roller/looper strip
- if you want to save and edit your sequences on your computer
Which sequencer wins?
If you want to thank me for this comparison, you can buy the sequencers using the affliate links below 👍
- Korg SQ-64 on Amazon ⭐
- Arturia Beatstep Pro on Amazon ⭐
- Korg SQ-64 on Thomann ⭐
- Arturia Beatstep Pro on Thomann ⭐
That's not easy to make a choice between these two sequencers.
But what I have found is that the Beatstep Pro editing workflow is much better and faster than the SQ-64's one. With the Korg, you end up losing yourself in lots of menus, even for simple tasks, like changing the length of a note. The Korg tiny LCD helps a little, but not that much. A good workflow is essential if you plan to use the sequencer in a live performance.
So unless you really need the 4 tracks and the polyphony of the Korg SQ-64, I find the Arturia Beatstep pro more interesting and easier to use. Anyway if you use CV outputs, polyphony won't be very useful. But since the Korg is not selling its price is now lower than a Beatstep Pro...
In the same price range, there is also another 4 tracks seq alternative with the Novation Launchpad Pro. You can read my SQ-64 vs Launchpad Pro comparison here for more details.
And what about the Arturia Keystep Pro? For sure it's one of the best 4 tracks polyphonic sequencers, but it's twice the price and it's not the same form factor. So the comparison is not fair...
Feel free to comment below if you find inexact information 😊