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 where to start. There are thousands of different samplers and controllers out there to choose from. However, 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.
Easy does it…
Well, before you go into button overload, we’ve compiled a quick list of different samplers ideal for the beginner. There’s no need to jump in at the deep end and go for a higher-end model – 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.
1. Native Instruments Maschine Mikro MK3
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. The Maschine Mikro MK3 is the latest rendition of the coveted samplers, which boasts a collection of software that includes a huge variety of drum kits, basses, synths and acoustic instruments.
The beauty of the NI Maschine Mikro MK3 lies within its ease of use. Thanks to a plethora of pads, buttons and dials you can drum/play/sketch patterns, sample any sound with ease and seamlessly integrate hardware/software. Therefore, you can use it in isolation to come up with ideas but equally it plays well with others too. Portable enough to slot into any backpack the Native Instruments Maschine Mikro MK3 can travel with you anywhere and everywhere.
Add to the package the ability to access a vast arsenal of Native Instruments software including Sounds.com, Expansions, NKS (Native Kontrol Standard) and KOMPLETE, the Maschine Mikro MK3 is an affordable music production instrument/sampler that punches well above its weight.
If you want to take things to the next level, then check out the bigger and better Native Instruments Maschine MK3.
2. Akai MPC Live Recorder and Player
OK, so we’re pushing the budget here, but this is a machine that can see you from beginner to pro, thanks to its award-winning technology. The MPC Live empowers users to make music anywhere. Taking the best of the existing MPC line-up and adding bluetooth connectivity, a re-chargeable battery and 16GB of onboard storage, you can now create and perform killer tracks wherever it suits you. It comes complete with the powerful yet easy to use MPC 2.0 software that delivers powerful 128-track DAW capability with a total of 25GB worth of virtual instruments and audio data! The MPC will have you set for sampling life!
3. Alesis Strike Multipad Percussion Pad with Sampler and Looper
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 are demystified with the Alesis Strike Multipad, which is the perfect scenario whether you’re gigging, jamming or recording.
Boasting 32GB of internal memory and the ability to expand that further using a USB flash drive, the Strike Multipad is perfect for those with wild musical ambitions. There are nine velocity-sensitive with customisable lighting system for you to trigger sounds and samples with ease. Thanks to the built-in soundcard you can work readily with the DAW of your choosing, whilst five powerful effects processors allow you to deftly sculpt your sound. As if all that wasn’t enough there’s an integrated looper, which also work whilst recording external audio. All controls and parameters are easy to keep on top of thanks to the 4.3-inch dual display.
As well as coming supplied with Alesis Strike Multipad firmware for immediate operation, you even get a copy of Ableton Live Lite and Avid Pro Tools First software. Therefore, you can hit the ground running as soon as yours arrives!
4. Korg Volca Sample
Korg excel at creating products that not only work well, but that are also extremely fun to play with. After all, if it’s not fun, what’s the point in playing at all? The Volca Sample takes a range of technology found in much more expensive samplers. Then combines the best parts to create the ultimate compact sampling tool. Thanks to the 100 pre-loaded samples and the addition of a built-in speaker, the Volca Sample lets you make a grove anywhere, anytime!
5. Presonus Atom USB Production and Performance Pad Controller
The Presonus Atom is a remarkable little unit that offers an exceptional level of tactile performance that belies its affordability. There are 16 full-size, velocity and pressure sensitive RGB pads that respond dutifully to each beat or stroke. There are eight assignable banks that allow you to assign a plethora of virtual instruments to play with from drums to beyond.
Not only that, but the ATOM even boasts a MIDI ‘keyboard’ mode, Note Repeat and Full Velocity mode (so that no matter how lightly you tap the pad is sends a note with max velocity). With an additional 20 assignable buttons and 4 endless rotary encoders you can tweak and adjust a wide variety of parameters. From the studio to the stage Presonus ensure that all bases are covered for pure, unadulterated joy when you’re making music – and isn’t that what it’s all about?
Each ATOM is supplied with Presonus’ own Studio One Artist Production Software, as well as custom content designed by the team at MVP Loops.
6. Roland SP-404A Linear Wave Sampler
Talking samplers wouldn’t be right without including Roland would it? Without further ado we’d like to introduce the SP-404A Linear Wave Sampler, which works wonders when paired with your TR-8’s 16-step sequencer. However, it is more than capable of going solo too.
Featuring a built-in mic, it allows you to capture sounds whenever and wherever you wish. There’s also a wealth of connectivity options to choose from so that you can import files/sounds from virtually any device to hand. Manipulate recorded sounds to your heart’s content to create and re-create samples as you please.
A vast array of effects are built-in with compression, EQ, reverb and more modulation options than you can shake a stick at. Whether you’re DJing and wish to combine the SP-404A into your setup, creating samples on a long-distance journey or in your bedroom, adding to a growing collection of Roland AIRA gear or starting out on your music production journey, with this little beauty you’ve got a friend for life.
Each SP-404A Linear Wave Sampler includes an SD card packed with “Sounds by Loopmasters” that is bursting with stereo samples, effects, and one-shots to get you going.
Get in touch
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. Equally, try out as many as you can before you take the plunge. It’s a learning curve so enjoy the ride!
Head to the Dawsons website to check out our range of Computer Music Gear, DJ Gear, Studio Equipment, Synthesizers, and Drum Machines. Alternatively, head to your local Dawsons Music Store where our instore specialists will be more than happy to help you out.
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For some inspiration check out our appropriately titled article “Introduction to Sampling“.
Jon is a multi-instrumentalist with a passion for inspiring others to get involved in making music. After spending many years playing venues here, there and – pretty much – everywhere, he joined the Dawsons’ Music Web Team before progressing into his current role managing the Dawsons Blog.