A sample of some great gear…
If you’ve decided to try your hand at producing your own beats and recording your own music using samplers, you’ve undoubtedly been faced with the difficult decision of exactly where to start. There are thousands of different samplers and controllers out there to choose from, but choosing the right one for your needs is going to be the tricky part. Where do I start? How many buttons do I need? Is there really a need for that many buttons? Why has this sampler got different buttons to that one? Stuff like that… I get it.
Well, before you go into button overload, we’ve compiled a quick list of different samplers ideal for the beginner to narrow down a few options for you. There’s no need to jump in at the deep end and go for a higher end model when you’re starting out – you don’t buy a Harley Davidson before you learn to ride your push bike! So we’re going to look at some of the lower cost options that are beginner friendly but can also be gigged and used professionally when the time comes and Dr. Dre asks you to help him out on some tracks.
Akai MPC Element Music Production Controller
As far as samplers go, you can’t ignore the influence the MPC model has had on music and hip hop especially. Without the MPC hip hop would sound very different indeed. We actually covered it a little on our history of sampling blog – worth reading if you’re starting out. The Akai MPC element is a low cost controller that allows you to hook it up to your Mac or PC and trigger samples. It comes packed with MPC essentials software which is perfect for cutting your teeth on. Learn how to sample, use effects and trigger without committing to a high investment. Don’t be fooled though – although very fun top use, this thing is not a toy and can be used professionally.
Native Instruments Maschine Mikro MK2
Native instruments specialise in making user friendly samplers that can be used in a live setting or for learning the ropes when it comes to creating beats. It’s packed with 6GB of sounds which include a huge variety of drum kits, basses, synths and acoustic instruments and also comes packaged with the 2.x Maschine update opening up a whole new world of sounds. If that isn’t enough you also get Komplete Elements which includes 1,000 sounds selected from Komplete 9 and Komplete 9 Ultimate – that’s a huge array of sounds to go through all packaged neatly in an easy to use controller. The connectivity capabilities are excellent when it comes to learning more about sampling as the iMaschine app works perfectly with your iPad or iPhone for getting ideas down on the go. The Native Instruments Maschine Mikro MK2 is a highly portable option that is a good contender for best product, never mind beginner product.
Akai MPX16 Sample Recorder and Player
Akai have made sampling as simple as possible with the MPX16. A built in microphone allows you to record your own sounds and sample them on the fly whereas the dual 6.3mm inputs offer a superior recording capability for CD quality samples in an instant. It’s easily transportable and very lightweight too, so throwing it in your bag for use, anytime anywhere isn’t an issue. Perhaps best of all, you don’t need to hook the MPX16 to a computer to use it as it’s already preloaded with a host of samples. If you’re on your way to a gig, you can record something on the way and sample it that night.
Roland SPD-SX Sampling Pad
If you’re keen on introducing samples into your live set up, whether as a DJ, drummer or vocalist, you’ll need something easy to use and totally responsive to allow seamless integration. Sampling and triggering is demystified with the SPD-SX, which for beginners is obviously the perfect scenario. You can store up to 3 hours of cd quality audio with the 2GB internal memory, hit one shot samples, loops or complete tracks. It’s a hardy Roland product, so you know it’s not going to let you down and it’s loaded with plenty of tools to get you started. If you’re after something that you can use straight away – this is another good option.
Korg Electribe ESX 2 Sampler Music Production Station
Korg excel at creating products that not only work well, but that are also extremely fun to play with – and after all, if it’s not fun, what’s the point in playing at all? The Electribe ESX sampler takes a range of technology found in the likes of KingKORG, kaossilator, kaoss pad, and tactile and combines the best parts to create the ultimate sampling tool. Although there are a myriad of buttons and triggers and dials to turn don’t be put off as it’s entirely user friendly and ready to use. You have a range of pre-loaded preset patterns to be getting on with, but if that’s not enough you have room to store 250 of your own presets to the internal memory. Polyphonic chordal progressions, single notes or intricate phrases can all be handled easily with the 16-pad setup too. The Electribe ESX 2 is a great tool for the beginner to start their sampling journey with.
When it comes to choosing your sampler, choose the one with the right capabilities for your needs. It’s going to be you using it live or in the studio so pick the one that you feel comfortable working with and try out as many as you can before you take the plunge. It’s a learning curve so enjoy the ride!