eBay or Stay: Yamaha QX5

QX5 image from sonicstate.com
QX5 image from sonicstate.com

The QX5 (and later QX5FD with built-in 3 1/2″ drive) was the top of the budget line of Yamaha sequencers, competing with the Roland MC series along with the QX7 and QX21. Featuring sub-menu operation via soft buttons instead of punching in job numbers and a combined linear/pattern approach to sequencing made the QX5 a popular choice for the low-budget studio.

MIDI in, tape in, foot switch

MIDI out + thru, tape out, click (audio)

The QX5 is built into the same wedge-shaped case as a lot of other Yamaha stuff at the time (it’s pretty close in format to the TX7 module for instance). I wonder if anyone ever built a leaning wall out of these? Anyway – it could save data to cassette (yeah, right) or transfer song data via MIDI. The QX5FD had the luxury of a built-in 3 1/2″ drive, but they were quite rare, probably due to the price difference imposed by the drive.

Onboard memory was 128k which would store about 20,000 notes. (15,000 with velocity) The sequence would be structured into 8 tracks and up to 32 macros. (A macro is a track, which can be called upon from a track, a little bit like small patterns).Weighing in at 350x240x49 mm,s 2.9 kg (!) it’s not that easy to place in a rig. I once used a belt to attach it to my keyboard stand, positioned just below the keyboard.

I guess a use for it today would be as a sketchpad sequencer in conjunction with a keyboard, as the boot time is almost instant and it doesn’t lose its memory when powered off.

Backlit LCD display. Lots of features when editing tracks and if you can overcome the “track-1-mentality” (see below), it’s actually quite easy to use. Has most of the features you expect from a sequencer of its time, but this has the usual advantage of having battery-backed memory that’s always ready whenever you’ll turn it on, giving it a huge advantage over other models that had to load both OS and songs from disk.

All editing/recording is performed on track 1. This means a lot of swapping tracks, as track 1 always must contain the track to be edited, or the to-be-recorded track. Relies quite heavily on sub-menus, but they are logically constructed. Memory size may be obstructive. No undo function.

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