What entry-level sampler/sequencer should I look at?
August 7, 2008 6:49 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in sampling with hardware. What are some good entry-level samplers with decent sequencers? What are some low-end options for a limited budget? What older models might be worth it for the price?

I've just been looking into this for a little while, and I think I'm looking for something along the lines of an MPC. The Yamaha SU10 looked like it might be useful for messing around with, but if I can find something that won't cost a lot, I'd like to be able to use it for more than just toying. Any suggestions whatsoever would be appreciated.
posted by Picklegnome to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

You don't mention what are you're planning on sampling, or what's your price range.

Anyways, how about looking for an used Korg ES-1? Straightforward sampling and a fun sequencer.

Yamaha has bigger models in the SU-range, which might work for you. Some people swear by MPCs, but I wouldn't necessarily categorize them "entry-level".

Boss and Roland have cheap samplers (SP-303 etc, if I remember correctly), but they're more "phrase"-oriented (e.g., one-shot hits, loops and such). The better Rolands might not be cheap, even used.
posted by phax at 8:58 AM on August 7, 2008

Just to get it out of the way, have you poked around on vintagesynth at all? There's a wealth of info there on older samplers. Also check out the synth finder which will display synths and samplers depending on your search criteria.

Speaking of which, what are your criteria? Cost, features, etc?

I have little direct experience with samplers, but I do read a lot and scour craigslist. From what I've read, the ES-1 that phax mentions is a rock-solid entry-level sampler with great features, and can be had at around $150.
posted by lekvar at 12:59 PM on August 7, 2008

It depends on how limited your budget is... (and if you're still reading this...)

I've owned a host of samplers over the years - Roland S-220, Emu Emax, Kurzweil K2000, Akai S-900/2000/Z4, Korg ES-1, and both an MPC1000 and 2500. The MPC series is far and away my favorite.

The ES-1 is fun and good for the price, but I remember having to load samples onto it from my computer. It is not a fully-featured sampler/sequencer (the 3 8-segment LEDs are sometimes hard to interpret) but it's a good starting point if you just wanna mess with this stuff. It has a 16-step editor which is fine for basic stuff, but not enough for serious remixing or recording.

About three years ago I got an MPC-1000 almost on accident and it turned out to be amazing. The interface for sampling/trimming/editing/sequencing is completely intuitive, and you can slap hard drives in both to save your work without the zip-disk/SCSI crap that the old MPCs (2000, 3000) had. I highly suggest getting a used MPC-1000 and messing with it to see what you can do. Hook up a turntable/CD player/etc to the audio input and chop up some sounds, play them on the pads, and you'll probably be hooked before you even start to use it for your own music.

They are easily found used 'cause a lot of people, sadly, don't understand that you have to actually sample things yourself. They get bored of the preset samples that come with it and sell it.

One last thing - If you do get an MPC, max out the ram so you can keep several projects or songs/sequences loaded up at once. You can mash-up your own songs and re-use/re-pitch samples to great effect, once you get into it. I use my MPC2500 to sketch out new songs as well as record full instrument/vocal tracks without having to get on the noisy, slow computer.
posted by rubadub at 12:04 PM on August 12, 2008

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