Synth Site: Kawai: Q80EXE Midi Sequencer: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.2 out of 5
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Mark a professional user from The States writes:
The REAL low-down on the Q80EXe...

I don't care what anyone says, software sequencers are not 100% reliable for playing live and at home/in the studio you get too wrapped up in updates, upgrades, plug ins, and all sorts of other distractions that take away from your main focus - writing music! Hardware sequencers are tricky, you wanna get one that's rock solid, stable, and most of all usable! Welcome to the fucking world of the Q80. I want this review to be as honest and as accurate as possible, so it will be sorta long!

The Q80 was first relased [approx] 1988. Since then, it has retained the same exact look and feel, only Kawai added more memory two times (hence the Q80, Q80EX, and today the Q80EXe) and they added a second MIDI OUT so you get 32 channels of midi control now! That's something every RM1x owner is craving. The current memory holds over 100,000 notes; that's the same as the RM1x, MPC2000, and more than the MPC3000 which hold 70,000 notes. The Q80EXe stores 10 songs and comes with a floppy drive which can hold 120 songs/150,000 notes. It's compatible with the MIDI 0/1 spec, so you can load a song from Cubase, Logic, Cakewalk, RM1x, if you decide. Now for some of the kick-ass features that outshine others!

1) The price! The Q80EXe is only $365 and I bought mine at www.kraftmusic.com which carries every piece of gear a techno artist could want. Kraft is better than every place else on the net and just as good as Nove Musik.

2) The ease of use! The Q80EXe has a a bright back-lit 2x16 display. For those who think you need a huge display to work, forget it! Why do you think the Alesis MMT8 was so popular for House and Trance artists? Just remember, LESS IS MORE!

3) Active Quantization. It's so adjustable it's not even funny! You can fix just the horrible sounding stuff that's way off and leave your intended subtle differences alone. :-)

4) The Q80EXe lets you store 10 data files (ie. 1 for each song) where each data file holds up to 999 MIDI system exclusive messages for synth patches or drum patterns. As a bonus, you can store the latest OS of any synth and dump it via the Q80EXe. For example, you buy a Nord Lead 2 and need to upgrade the OS, you can download it and load it into the Q80's Data Management area, and then dump it to the Nord. Nice!

5) Motif! Think of a Motif as the same thing as a pattern in the RM1x. You can have up to 100 Motifs per song on the Q80EXe and use them for any track. Motif's can be used on any of the ten songs too. It will cut back in memory/note utilization, although 100,000+ notes is a lot!

6) OH MY GOD....the MANUAL! The Manual is the best I have ever seen. As most know, the RM1x manual is a joke. Check Yamaha's site for proof [the maual is online]. The Q80 manual was written by a company who writes technical documentation for various companies around the globe and makes it understandable. Everything is explained in the most simple fashion, anyone can learn how to use this box in a day! The Q80 is just as easy to use as the MMT8..in fact, the Q80 is the Alesis MMT8 on steroids!

Other things that are standard are Real Time, Overdub, Step, and Punch In recording. Editing is so simple like adding, erasing, or deleting measures or groups of measures in songs and motifs/patterns. You can also filter midi data using the Q80 without the need for an external midi filter/patch bay. The Metronome sounds better than the RM1x because you put it through your external Mixer as opposed to it being a beep coming from a tiny speaker inside the unit. This allows you to adjust the volume of the Metronome and you can decide when to hear it (REC only, REC and Playback). You can record multiple midi tracks at the same time which is nice so if you split your synth you can play both parts at the same time during a record session but on seperate MIDI channels.

What opened my eyes to the Q80 was the similarites and ease of use it had compared to the Alesis MMT8, an all time classic for techno artists. The weakness of the MMT8 is that it's only 8 channels and some of the older (grey) units crash and the buttons wear out and get stuck. I was told the last batch of black units were not like this. I owned a Yamaha RM1x for several months and only used it for the sequencing features, not the TG. I got to the point where I just wasn't finding it comfortable to work with. There was a lot of menus, sub menus, sub sub menus, etc, and I hate that! So is the Q80 for everyone? No. But can everyone learn the Q80? Surely! It's not cryptic like the Akai and it doesn't make you navigate 6 pages just to do a simple copy/paste. I like it because it's fast, solid, robust, and I would trust it in a live performance any time. Oh, one more thing, song chain mode kicks ass! When you go to play a live set of House or Trance you don't even have to think about changing/loading songs, because it's already done in the studio.

Later, Mark

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Saturday-Apr-29-2000 at 18:12
nomad a hobbyist user from usa writes:
the q80 can be made to work with loops, you do have to sort of jump through some hoops (motifs) but it works well. the step recording is very nice. and you can have 32 patterns active at once, and mute/unmute all.

it can be confusing at first, but once you learn it it's pretty easy to get around quickly. the event editing is a little cumbersome but at least it's there...

there are a few things i wish it had (like an easy way to put in notes right on the sequencer, like an x0x-style interface or something, you need an extra controller to do step= or realtime recording. you can put notes in directly with the event editor but it is tedious) but overall i like it...

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Thursday-Apr-06-2000 at 10:13
Bryan a hobbyist user from San Francisco writes:
Picked one of these up from Kraft Music (www.kraftmusic.com) and promptly returned it. It's not that it's a bad sequencer, but the truth of the matter is that for pattern/loop-based work, there just isn't much out there.

The Q80 is most definitely meant for writing songs, not loops, and does not lend itself to doing live work too well, at least not if you want to do pattern switches.

Still, it's built elegantly and has a very solid feel. The interface could use some work -- lots of button pushing to get even the smallest things done. All in all, it ain't for me. I like my MMT-8 more.

Rating: 2 out of 5 posted Monday-Mar-06-2000 at 14:21
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