Need suggestions for a hardware sampler

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Need suggestions for a hardware sampler

Postby Mark76 » Sun Oct 02, 2016 7:27 pm

Hi all

Need some inspiration from you folks.

I'm looking for a hardware sampler to add to my set up. I'm really trying to avoid any Mac/software and trying to do as much as possible using hardware.

Currently I'm using an MX1 as a master clock and mixer midi goes out to my old 707/TR8 and eventually my M1(when it gets fixed up - new battery)

I sequence using the onboard sequencer in two boutiques, used in conjunction with the MX1 it's a crude but surprisingly quite successful set up and lots of fun!

But I'm kind of missing some vocals/loops etc which is what I love working with and this is where the sampler comes in. Could anyone recommend something that

a) is able to sample independently without using any add on piece of kit
b) able to store some samples onboard - not expecting it to hold hundreds of samples
c) quick/easy to use and most importantly - fun!!!
d) not keen on going retro S1000 type stuff, a bit too bulky for the space I have
e) ideally like to split the tracks to different output channels on the MX1

I liked the idea of the Roland Aira Scooper for sampling/looping on the fly it looks great fun but alas it is pretty basic, no storage. I've seen a couple of things from Korg which tickled my curiosity bone but I can't quite see how they compare with each other. One looks a bit 'toy' like (says me, using Boutiques!!! :lol: )
The Electron stuff doesn't seem too popular and seems expensive
There also looks like a few looper/sampler options in the Akai range which look interesting.

Anyway, any ideas folks? What do you use, what would you recommend?
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Re: Need suggestions for a hardware sampler

Postby Z » Sun Oct 02, 2016 9:59 pm

Roland/Boss SP series? The SP-404 seem to be very popular
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Re: Need suggestions for a hardware sampler

Postby Mark76 » Sun Oct 02, 2016 10:22 pm

Z wrote:Roland/Boss SP series? The SP-404 seem to be very popular


Funny you should mention this as I did demo one of these last year, but I always thought it was aimed more at a DJ/live act. How would something like a Sp404 compare to the likes of a Korg Electribe or Akai MPC?

Is the 404 a bit more 'toy' or gimmick like?

Also, doesn't the 404 need a Mac/PC to allocate the samples
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Re: Need suggestions for a hardware sampler

Postby Z » Mon Oct 03, 2016 12:53 am

Mark76 wrote:
Z wrote:Roland/Boss SP series? The SP-404 seem to be very popular


Funny you should mention this as I did demo one of these last year, but I always thought it was aimed more at a DJ/live act. How would something like a Sp404 compare to the likes of a Korg Electribe or Akai MPC?

Is the 404 a bit more 'toy' or gimmick like?

Also, doesn't the 404 need a Mac/PC to allocate the samples


I'm not big on samplers. I still have my W-30 from the 90s (in a bag in "storage") and I owned a SP-555 for a few years, but didn't use it much.

I'm sure the 404 works similarly to the 555. On the 555, you could sample from the stereo inputs and save to Compact Flash card. I'm sure you could transfer samples from a computer as well, but I never did that.

From photos, I see the 404 has an SD card slot. So I would imagine it works just like the 555 as described above.
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Re: Need suggestions for a hardware sampler

Postby ninja6485 » Mon Oct 03, 2016 9:19 pm

What about an electribe?
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...
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Re: Need suggestions for a hardware sampler

Postby Mark76 » Mon Oct 03, 2016 9:56 pm

I think my shortlist is:

Roland SP404
Korg Electribe
and possibly an MPC but I don't know much about these at all.

Thing is I need something to run on it's own sequencer that can be synced to the MX1 in the same way the Boutiques do.

Also I saw on a demo somewhere that the Electribe has some sort of on board 'chord' function. Thing is, is this done in the sequencer through MIDI? so I could then edit the sound as it's playing (just like a straightforward sequencer basically). Or is it just layering up a pre recorded sample to give the chord? i.e not editable on playback?/

If it has the facility to run something like this, whilst also sequencing samples then it would definitely be my preference.
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Re: Need suggestions for a hardware sampler

Postby ninja6485 » Tue Oct 11, 2016 8:05 pm

Mark76 wrote:I think my shortlist is:

Roland SP404
Korg Electribe
and possibly an MPC but I don't know much about these at all.
The MPC might be my first choice among those. It pretty much sets the standard that the others have to live up to, or at least it did.
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...
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Re: Need suggestions for a hardware sampler

Postby meatballfulton » Wed Oct 12, 2016 4:15 pm

The SP404 has a very primitive sequencer and is not suited for melodic sequencing. It's more for sequencing loops and one shot samples. I would forget about that one.
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Re: Need suggestions for a hardware sampler

Postby Mark76 » Fri Oct 14, 2016 8:41 am

Thanks for help so far, chaps!!

RE: MPC, could someone fill me in on these? This one seems a lot more $$$ than the other two so I need to make sure it's right.

From research most people seem to rate the MPC1000 although as far as I am aware it's long since been discountinued.

The newer ones seem to reply on software as far as I can tell, which kind of defeats the purpose. I may as well use Ableton which I really want to avoid!!!

I was actually heading towards the SP404 but I might need to have a rethink. The Electribe seems to have very mixed reviews TBH.
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Re: Need suggestions for a hardware sampler

Postby Chewy » Fri Oct 14, 2016 10:03 pm

Hey, I figured I'd just chime in.

I notice you keep saying things like "the Electribe" - remember that there are a few Electribe samplers. In chronological order: ES-1 (mk 1), ES-1 (mk 2), ESX-1, ESX-1SD, and the new one, interestingly just called "Electribe Sampler" or something.

I have an ES-1 mk2, and I like it alright, but that's geared more towards rhythm/one shot stuff, so I'm not sure if it fits the bill. It does have a nice, easy to use TR style sequencer, and effects, just like most of the others do.

If you're not interested in that, you could check out the ESX-1. I'm not as familiar with it, but it does have more features, along with that great easy to use sequencer the Electribes are known for (plus a vacuum tube - may be kinda gimmicky, but yeah). It does have a couple "keyboard" parts - I'd imagine those are geared for more melodic sounds, probably allowing one to easily play the samples at different pitches. The SD version of this guy utilizes an SD card.

The new Electribe Sampler could be cool, too, as it seems to have more synthesis features, but I don't really know all that much about it. I'm not sure about the chord function, either, but I'm also curious. All of the Electribe samplers have sequencers, are true samplers (ie, not just sample players), and are compact. Don't be afraid to buy used, btw - the older Electribes often go for very reasonable prices.

There's also the Korg Microsampler, which has a built in (small) keyboard.

Ensoniq samplers are pretty cool, and some of them may fit your needs. The ASR-10 is a beast of a sampler with lots of control and synthesis features, effects, and a 16 track sequencer (may be a bit more expensive than you'd like, though - they are awesome and well loved to this day); the ASR-X and ASR-X Pro are desktop units with pads and stuff, and have at least some of the features of the -10 (fairly affordable, too, IIRC); the EPS-16+ may not have quite as many features as the ASR-10, but it does have a lot, like synthesis features (LFO, filters, etc.), effects, and an 8 track sequencer. The Mirage and EPS are also neat, but those are 8 and 13 bit, respectively, which may not be your thing, and the Mirage doesn't have the simplest UI. These old Ensoniq samplers also use outdated storage media, like floppies (although older Electribes, SP series, and others use compact flash and smart media cards, which aren't exactly modern, either).

There are some good suggestions and comments here already, I just figured I'd represent the Electribes and bring up some other choices. Heh, hopefully I've been at least somewhat helpful (my post has become a bit long, too - sorry about that).

Good luck on your hardware sampler search/journey! They're so much cooler than in the box stuff, imo
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Re: Need suggestions for a hardware sampler

Postby Hyde » Wed Oct 26, 2016 5:55 pm

What about something like the Bastl Microgranny. Its really crude but, "new". Throw in a decent memory card & you'll have all of the samples right there that you'll ever need or want to make. It can run on batteries so, you can go out & sample butterflies if your fancy strikes. 8bit is perfect for those vocal samples
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Re: Need suggestions for a hardware sampler

Postby Chewy » Sat Oct 29, 2016 8:49 pm

Hyde wrote:What about something like the Bastl Microgranny.


The Microgranny is so cool! I didn't mention it because I wasn't sure it'd fit the bill for OP - it's 8bit, doesn't have a built in sequencer, is monophonic, etc. I personally don't mind that, I LOVE crunchy, lo-fi sounds (I'm an industrial guy), and I could just sample stuff into it, and then into my ES-1. I may have to get one sometime.

Bastl is such a unique company, and it makes me happy that a manufacturer is currently making modern, 8bit, low sample rate samplers.

If OP does like it, he could use an external sequencer. It can also play the samples chromatically via MIDI, which is nice (or you can even play the individual grains!). The UI is simple to use, too, and it's got some nice features.
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Re: Need suggestions for a hardware sampler

Postby Hyde » Sun Oct 30, 2016 6:22 pm

Chewy wrote:
Hyde wrote:What about something like the Bastl Microgranny.


The Microgranny is so cool! I didn't mention it because I wasn't sure it'd fit the bill for OP - it's 8bit, doesn't have a built in sequencer, is monophonic, etc. I personally don't mind that, I LOVE crunchy, lo-fi sounds (I'm an industrial guy), and I could just sample stuff into it, and then into my ES-1. I may have to get one sometime.

Bastl is such a unique company, and it makes me happy that a manufacturer is currently making modern, 8bit, low sample rate samplers.

If OP does like it, he could use an external sequencer. It can also play the samples chromatically via MIDI, which is nice (or you can even play the individual grains!). The UI is simple to use, too, and it's got some nice features.

I keep thinking about picking one up just for its mobility. So many cool things about the microgranny. No, it doesn't have a sequencer. But yes, it does have a cool 8bit vibe & chip reader. Sample & store til your heart's content.
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Re: Need suggestions for a hardware sampler

Postby medway » Mon Feb 06, 2017 3:32 pm

Mark76 wrote:Thanks for help so far, chaps!!

RE: MPC, could someone fill me in on these? This one seems a lot more $$$ than the other two so I need to make sure it's right.

From research most people seem to rate the MPC1000 although as far as I am aware it's long since been discountinued.

The newer ones seem to reply on software as far as I can tell, which kind of defeats the purpose. I may as well use Ableton which I really want to avoid!!!

I was actually heading towards the SP404 but I might need to have a rethink. The Electribe seems to have very mixed reviews TBH.


Have used a few MPCs including the MPC1000 and can definitely recommend it. It's quite compact and should do all that you've mentioned in the original post. There's a custom OS for it as well which adds to some of the features (this might have been updated with the official OS too - last I used this machine was about 10 years ago).

The sound is good, clean but with a little bit of warmth. The newer MPCs do generally require a computer to be connected (I'm on the Studio Black now which is the same case). Akai did just announce standalone MPCs, think the cheapest is still about £800 so might be above your budget.
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Re: Need suggestions for a hardware sampler

Postby ninja6485 » Mon Feb 06, 2017 4:07 pm

Hhhm... What about a price/feature comparison between the sp404x and MPC 1000? Usually sample time/memory, individual outputs, sample editing features, effects, screen size, and overall usability are key factors. I wonder how they stack up?
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...
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