Today i will compare two old but very useful hardware sequencers.  The Oberheim DSX and the Roland MSQ – 700.  I’ve posted a lot of ASCII about the DSX before so this post will focus mainly the Roland MSQ – 700.

Previous Reading on the Oberheim DSX:

In or around 1983 while Oberheim was refining and updating the DSX Roland released the MSQ-700  It was the world’s first MIDI-compatible sequencer!

This is not to say it’s better.  The DSX kicked the MSQ – 700’s bottom in the features department.  But the MSQ – 700 offered some great features in it’s own right.  Here’s a run down:

1, 8 tracks of full MIDI Data or DCB recording and playback. ( only one or the other sadly not both simultaneously! )

In MIDI mode Each track could have a full 16 channels of data and all associated controllers.  Very inclusive and very cool.  You could have a full multipart song sequence on each track for live performance purposes. You could also mix or merge from one track to another and quantize tracks after they are recorded non destructively via quantizing while bouncing them to an open track.

2, The MSQ – 700 can sync internally or externally via MIDI, DIN Sync, or from time code on a tape.

3, It’s built like a tank, solid steel all but for the side panels which are plastic but painted silver!

Roland fails is in a few serious ways, and these are where i prefer the DSX in all it’s non MIDI glory.  There is no facility on the MSQ for real time sequence manipulation so you can’t play and mute tracks while a sequence is playing.  Nor can you transpose or edit on the fly like the DSX can.  This is a total bummer for those who like to let the basic structure loop and drop things in and out and transpose the whole thing for fun on the fly.  The MSQ- 700 also lacks CV Gate compatibility in lieu of Roland’s proprietary DCB.  The problem with DCB, besides it only being implemented on a few Roland instruments like the Jupiter 8 and Juno 60, is that it is so limited in comparison to MIDI that it’s not worth the effort to use it since Jupiter 8’s and Juno’s can be easily Midified to a level where you can transmit via MIDI all the front panel controls for each like the Juno 106 ( which doesn’t sound nearly as good ).

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References:

Roland MSQ700   ( This is a great article about the MSQ – 700 )

MSQ – 700 FAQ 1

MSQ – 700 FAQ 2

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