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Sampler/Sequencer Options?

Posted: Sat May 08, 2021 12:41 pm
by MrShake
Here's the scenario:

I'm at a small local gig, trying this electronic stuff. Acid house, acid techno, acid whatever. The meat of the setup is something doing an 808 beat with a squelched 303 over it, define that how you will. Jamming live on those two and a little analog sequencer synth looping 2 bars, nothing too fancy or complicated, but trying my best to do Phuture proud, more Trax than hardcore rave, generally. I start thinking about the SH-101 I want to get and trigger sequence from my 808, and maybe some cheap 'n' nasty polysynth for chord pads, but that and the SH-101 are down the road when I can spare the cash.

So, the 808, the 303, and the analog sequencer are churning away as I bounce around on my mixer's mute buttons and doing filter sweeps and pattern changes on the fly as fast as I can.

At this moment, I want to reach out and fire off a breakbeat I sampled and chopped myself underneath the drums. And then kick off some wordless 2-bar house diva vocal or "Pacific State" style sax to drift over top. I reach over to smash some trigger buttons on... what?

Budget's been Behringer. The "808" is actually the RD-8, the 303 is a TD-3, and a Korg Volca Keys to morph and shift around as it rattles through a half-time step sequence, all through some Midiverb or Quadraverb or whatever. I'm perfectly happy with the sounds and quality of what I've got. What I realize I eventually need is a sampler, preferably an all-in-one with Master Sequencer capabilities. In my search, the MPC One seems like the best choice for me, because it fills the following needs:

- On-board sample editing (no loading pre-cut samples from PC)
- On-board sample sequencing (dropping a vocal sample twice in a bar, consistently)
- Ability to sequence other hardware remotely (longer, more complex sounds from the Volca Keys, for instance, using a MIDI keyboard)
- At least 6 MIDI channels for remote sequencing and onboard layering (the synths I've got, plus any necessary expansions)
- Standalone, no DAW. Hard Rule. DAWs are just fine, but I just don't work creatively with them. Gotta be self-contained hardware.

I'd obviously prefer not to pay for features I don't plan on needing, like internal synth engines, etc.

I'm new to a lot of this hardware world, so I've got option paralysis, especially since many options use "sampler" and "sequencer" in different ways. I know something about the hardware used on what I consider the classic stuff, so I know MPCs are the gold standard for a lot of people at my level (short of doing everything on an Atari PC). So, the MPC One seems to be the one closest to my budget, and having watched a fair amount of demos, seems to be able to cover most anything I want out of a sampler, though I haven't fully investigated it's outboard sequencing capabilities. This is the top of my budget. I realize to get the good stuff, you gotta pay, but anything above this price is just muddying already murky waters.

There's the Elektron Digitakt, which seems great, but a little more advanced in its capabilities than I might need or want. I've heard the Elektron way of doing things is a little quirky, and I'm willing to learn, but it might be over-featured for me.

The Elektron Model: Samples looks pretty good, the price is right, but I can't tell how quickly I'd outgrow it, or whether I'd have much difficulty with the limited interface for sample chopping, etc. All the groovebox-y features seem cool, but I'd rather not buy it as a "pretty solid" sampler if I'm ignoring all the other stuff.

And the Korg Electribe also seems pretty great, but I don't need the internal synth stuff, just the sample recording, editing, and sequencing. Same concerns as the E M:S with the groovebox thing.

So, I've got a few things making the drum/synth sounds I want. Chopped and re-sequenced breakbeats and 2-4 bar loop samples are needed. I want to add 80s/90s acid-house-style sequenced samples on top of drums/synths, two or three layers of samples at a time (a piano stab and a looped vocal sample simultaneously, for instance). I'd also like to be able to chop up beats within the hardware box itself to do the classic MPC hip-hop/breakbeat sound. If I can get my act together, maybe I'll post some samples of what I've done to help clarify the sound I've already got.