Both the Q119 and Q960 sequencers create control voltages for use by other modules. The difference is various features that allow the sequence to be controlled.
Both sequencers have an internal oscillator but the Q960's oscillator has voltage controlled frequency and will track a keyboard fairly well. This can be used to create a fancy oscillator with manual control over the waveform. The oscillator also has a finer manual control over the frequency via a multi-position range switch.
The Q119's oscillator is not voltage controlled but the same functionality can be had by using a Q106 oscillator to drive it.
Both sequencers can be driven by an external pulse source such as an oscillator or keyboard gate.
Rows and columnsThe Q119 sequencer can operate as 3x8 (3 rows of 8 stages) or 1x24 (1 row of 24 stages). This allows long sequences without having to patch additional modules.
The Moog-style Q960 has 3 rows of 8 stages but can be patched into a Q962 switch module to produce 1 row of 24 stages. A little work but not a problem.
ControlThe Q960 has a button and jack to turn the internal oscillator ON and OFF. The Q119 goes further and offers a GO input which causes the oscillator to stay on as long as the input is on.
SequencesThe Q119 offers a switch for Up or Up/Down sequences, and a switch for Once or Continuous mode. The Q960 sequencer can not perform Up/Down since it's a shift register design, but can produce Once or Continuous by setting the 9th stage to Off or Skip.
Stage AdvancementBoth sequencers allow manual or external stage advancement.
Gate OutputThe Q119 has a gate output for each row, and a master gate output for when the unit is in 1x24 mode. The gate width is adjusted with a pot, or can be voltage controlled by controlling the pulse width of an external oscillator.
The Q960 has a gate (Trigger) output for each stage but each output is on for the duration of the stage's on-time (100%). This prevents adjacent outputs from creating distinct gate pulses when combined. The gate outputs can be patched back into other gate inputs to create interesting patterns. The Q960 also provides a pulse output from the internal oscillator but it is fixed at 90%.
Mode SwitchesThe Q960 has a mode switch for each stage with options: Skip, Normal, Stop. This is very fun to play with in real-time while the sequence is playing. The Q119 does not have a mode switch for each stage.
The Q119 can offer stage on-time control, but only by using an external oscillator controlled by the 3rd row.
The Q960 has built-in stage on-time control which uses the 3rd row knobs.
End StageThe Q119 has an button to set the last stage.
The Q960 sets the end stage by either patching a trigger output back to the stage #1 input, or by setting stage mode switches to Skip. A reset feature is offered for the Q960 that provides another position on the mode switch to force stage #1.
Output SectionThe Q119 offers gate and voltage outputs for each of the 3 rows, plus master outputs. The master output offers a glide control, a voltage add input, and a manual voltage add control. A voltage range switch toggles between 0-5v or -5-5v output ranges.
The Q960 has dual voltage outputs for each row, along with a 3-position voltage range switch for each. Position 1=0-2v, 2=0-4V, 4=0-8V.
Size and PowerBoth the Q119 and Q960 sequencers consume 8 module spaces and will fit in a 5U tall rack frame. Both modules require +15, -15, +5 volts but the Q960 requires more current on the +15 volt rail to run the incandescent lamps. This is usually never a problem.
PriceThe Q119 is substantially cheaper than the Q960, plus the Q960 typically requires a Q962 switch to increase functionality which further widens the gap.
The Q119 uses LEDs which essentially last forever.
The Q960 uses 16-volt incandescent lamps which are true to the vintage Moog look but dim quickly at high switching speeds, and tend to burn out regularly. There is a great variability with these lamps, some will last a long time, some not so long. They are easy to replace from the front panel and not very expensive. See the parts page for replacements.
ConclusionThe Q119 and Q960 are both excellent sequencers but with different features. The Q960 offers more control via gate inputs and outputs, and the mode switch makes changing patterns in real-time very fun. The Q960 requires a Q962 switch to produce 24-stage sequences and can't produce up/down sequences like the Q119, but the Q119 would require an external Q106 oscillator to produce stage timing and track a keyboard.
A difficult decision I know. Ultimately the user will have to decide based on the features offered and the budget. Maybe toss a coin and see if you like the results?