Korg SQ64 or Novation Launchpad Pro MK3, which one should you choose?

Published: Wed 30 December 2020
Updated: Tue 18 October 2022 by Ludo In Music
tags: modular synthesizer sequencer launchpad korg novation launchpad pro midi controller

The Korg SQ-64 and the Novation Launchpad Pro MK3 are products that are marketed completely differently. And yet they have a lot in common: A standalone 4-track polyphonic sequencer! So how do you decide for one or the other?

Both are sold in the same price range, below $300 or 300 euros. This article was updated with the new SQ-64 features with firmware ver 2.0.

Korg sq 64 vs novation launchpad pro mk3

They have a great 4-tracks sequencer, polyphonic, with multiple MIDI outputs. You can control them with your DAW or use them fully standalone with their 64 keys matrix, and they share the following specs:

  • 1 MIDI In and 2 MIDI out ports with TRS mini-jack connectors
  • Global tempo and swing
  • Polyrhythm and setting the start and end steps of the patterns freely
  • Pattern chaining for longer sequences
  • Sequence modes: Up, Down, Up/Down, Random
  • Polyphonic melodic mode with predefined scales
  • Steps probability
  • Easy patterns transposition to other scales
  • Quantized and unquantized Live recording (new in SQ-64 firmware ver 2.0)

Korg SQ-64 strengths

  • More steps: 64 steps vs 32 on the Novation
  • 64 projects and 4 tracks with 16 patterns of 64 steps
  • Modulation recording: CV modulation and MIDI velocity or a chosen Midi CC (one modulation per track)
  • 3 mod/pitch/gate CV outputs for the 3 melody tracks
  • 8 trig CV outputs for Analog drums for the drum track
  • 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.
  • Moving notes before or after a step division, and step sub-division for ratchet effect
  • Slide between steps with different curves
  • Control mode where the 64 pads send MIDI notes, and knobs MIDI CCs. It's configured using the SQ-64 editor.
  • Analog sync in/out ports
  • Strum function which is labeled as Arp mode
  • Step recording (new in SQ-64 firmware ver 2.0)


Launchpad Pro MK3 Advantages

  • 64 projects like the Korg. Each project has 4 tracks with 8 patterns of 32 steps but you can switch projects without stopping the sequencer so songs with more patterns are possible.
  • 16 pattern scenes to trigger with one button, your selected patterns in all four tracks
  • all 4 tracks can be configured for melody or drums
  • the 64 pads are velocity-sensitive with aftertouch, while they are not on the Korg
  • Micro-steps allows you to add up to 6 sub-steps in a step, for adding some groove or playing a trap like ratchet
  • Probability setting for each step even if there are multiple notes on a step
  • Mutation of the steps, where some random semi-tones are randomly added to the recorded notes
  • 8 customizable pages, where you can assign MIDI CC, Program changes, volume knobs, and faders on the 64 pads
  • Allows playing on a 5th channel while the sequencer is running. Not possible with the SQ64: played notes are only output in record mode.
  • Full advanced Ableton Live control, plus custom modes for Logic Pro, Elektron Octatrack / Digitakt, Korg Volca / Minilogue

LP Pro Mk3 IO

Why would you choose the Korg SQ-64?

You will prefer the SQ64:

  • if you want to play your modular synths directly with CV output 🎛
  • and if you don't have a MIDI to CV converter in your set-up
  • if you need up to 1024 steps for your patterns, with patterns chaining, since the Launchpad is limited to 256 steps
  • if you need CC automation (but 4 CCa since only one CC per track). You can change CC live on the LaunchPad but can't automate changes.
  • if you need per-track swing setting
  • if step recording is part of your live workflow

Why would you choose the Launchpad Pro Mk3?

You will choose the LaunchPad Pro:

  • if you want to record velocity easily in the sequencer without an added keyboard 🎹
  • if you have synths that handle polyphonic aftertouch
  • if you need 4 melodic tracks, and play live with a 5th track where the MIDI channel can be switched easily (the 4th track on the SQ64 is drums only and not very flexible)
  • if you need more flexible custom modes. It has 8 custom modes with notes, program changes, CC sliders, giving you up to 64 virtual CC sliders
  • if you want quality and sensitive pads, which are loved by many finger drummers
  • if you need to save your patterns to a computer (not possible currently on the Korg)

My preferred sequencer under 300 euros

If you want to support my blog, you can buy the sequencers using the affiliate links below 👍

My preferred sequencer for that price range is currently the Launchpad Pro mk3 (don't buy an mk2, it does not have a sequencer).

The sequencer interface is so much intuitive on the Launchpad. On the Korg, even for basic gate length or simply adding and removing notes you need to dive in submenus and constantly play with the knobs, read the tiny LCD...

There's no LCD on the LaunchPad and there's no need. The information is clear thanks to the colored pads. The scene function is great for a live performance where you need to quickly change the patterns played. Lastly the sequencer workflow is very similar to the highly popular Novation Circuit Tracks and Rhythm.

Ok, there are no CV outputs on the Launchpad, but if you get a simple MIDI to CV converter on your modular, you will really like the Launchpad sequencer.

The Launchpad Pro Mk3 is intuitive, fast, and flexible. Here is a small tutorial showing sequencing on the Launchpad Pro. If you like the form factor and really need CV outputs, the APC64 is another great option.

Feel free to comment below if you find inexact information or if the SQ64 is updated 😊

LD. --

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