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Looking for a good hardware sampler/sequencer in the $300-500 range


sergeantk
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Hello all.

 

I recently founded a new band, and have been working on a lot of sample-based music. Getting a sampler/sequencer will help with both workflows, but I only know what exists on the low end of the price spectrum (volca sample) and the high end (Octatrack). Volca Sample looked decent enough, but the lack of SD support + the somewhat rigid sequencer made it a less attractive option. What exists in the next tier, without relying on software?

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If you can grab a Boss DR-550. Very cheap, a good beginners drum machine and has plenty of sounds to choose from in the banks. Just don't ever take the batteries out or rely on them since all your patterns will go bye-bye with it.

Earlier Electribes are good samplers too that are very well rounded and within the cheaper range, just don't expect them to be super great sounding either. I found it better to transfer the samples via smartmedia cards and computer rather than using the record mic feature.

 

If there are no dr-550's around your area then a Volca Sample is very good. Strong at beats and rhythm but you can only hold about 90 seconds of sounds on it so longer sounds and numerous breakbeats may not be feasable, an it has an ass-backward sample transfer that is haphazard at best. However you can create really good drum loops and the filter adds a lot of oomph to it, and the variables that you can change are plentiful enough to fuck up the sound into completely other sounds.

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Guest Chesney

Electribe, probably the ESX1 (I have the ES-1 which is awesome, but only awesome for rhythm sampling)

 

I started with the ES1 and eventually tried to upgrade with the ESX but it pissed me off. It sounded pretty shit, so noisey. Granted you can tame it eventually with tweaking but the sample upload is so much more annoying and long. Once you get going it's fun but it annoyed me that much that i found myself loathed to turn it on and eventually sold it.

Live sample playing would be the MPC or an ableton with controller, live sample tweaking then its the octatrack. It all depends what you want out of the thing really?

The most flexible sampler I guess would be software based so don't rule that out until you know exactly what you want to do live. Then you can narrow down what you don't need it to do and the simpler your live ideas get you can tailor them to more live friendly hardware. Anything is good live if it does what you want.

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A couple years ago you could easily find an MPC1000 in that range, not sure if you can anymore. Same with the 2000 series but I'd go with the 1000 (even though personally I love the 2000xl, have been using one for 6 or 7 years and am pretty committed to it, it's definitely more limited and a lot bulkier and wouldn't be my first recommendation to someone looking for an MPC today).

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IF you know someone who's handy with a soldering iron, and don't mind the minimalistic interface, this thing is pretty great:

 

http://midisizer.com/midirex/

 

IT's more or less like one of those Electro Harmonix 4 track loopers (the one that replaced the 2880) except for MIDI data instead of audio, very simple but effective. Really easy to build, there are files for a laser cut acrylic enclosure floating around (on the Mutable Instruments forum I think) and you could have one of those plus an inexpensive keyboard controller for about $250 total.

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