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Korg Electribe Sampler
4.15 4.15 out of 5, based on 2 Reviews

Mixed up feelings

2nd February 2016

Korg Electribe Sampler by besairedt

  • Sound Quality 3 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 3 out of 5
  • Overall: 3.75
Korg Electribe Sampler

I've had the new electribe sampler for about two weeks. Unfortunately I didn't have my hands on any of the previous electribes (I've read manuals and watched videos though) but the new one did not impress me. I've worked with other groove boxes so I have something to compare
But lets start with pros:
- Design is great! When you just unpack it you want to play it right away!
- It's very user friendly and playing with this box is fun
- The cut down synthesis feature you can substitute with single cycle wave forms
- It feels solid and reliable (it's a great step for korg)

But there are really significant and intolerable (imho) down sides:
- The sampling time is even smaller then on the old ones! C'mon Korg it's 21th century! What the heck is 270 sec in mono?!!!
- The fact that you have a SD-card slot doesn't make life easier: all your samples you have to load on start up from SD to internal memory and it's a looong process (at least you have auto load, but don't forget to export all your changes to the card before turning the thing off otherwise you're screwed!) I've had just a bunch of short samples (only around 20% of available space) and it took about 40 sec to boot the bloody machine
- You're restricted to no longer then 4 bars. You kinda have the option to switch the sequence from 16th notes to 32nd but don't let it fool you: in this case your sequence becomes 2 bars. Seriously Korg?
- No song mode. No comments. There's some weird way to record your performance to file and then play that file back but why? Why?? Even the TE pocket operators for 50$ have some kind of pattern chaining
- Absolutely terrible sample import. You literally have to import each sample from SD card manually one at a time. I mean it: pick a sample on a card, then press import, then scroll to the available sample slot and then go back to import the next one. 100 samples took me a freaking hour to import. Not to mention that then I forgot to export it back to SD card and turned the device off. Yes I had to do it over. Maybe they've solved this issue with the update but I'm not really sure
- Stereo samples still take two tracks/pads
- Midi implementation just sucks. The pads are restricted to channels 1-16 and you can't filter incoming midi separately. Let's say you have another sequencer controlling your stuff. And you want to use all the electribe's pads/tracks. Where do you put electribe in your chain to make it response only on certain midi channels leaving the rest for another gear? I don't know. You might think about midi filter? No sir! It will filter the entire incoming midi stream for all channels and the options are cut down to receive notes, CC, or nothing for all tracks.
- The knobs transmit midi CC values. The Motion Sequence feature records your knob tweaking into sequencer. But it doesn't transmit it over midi. Duh!
- And the sound quality after all: I've made a blind test by importing the same sample of kick with very fast and snappy attack transient to korg electribe sampler and Roland sp-555 (which uses compression while korg claims to playback wavs). The exact same sample sounded great in old roland and lost it's attack in korg. I tend to think that they have used some cheap converters or.. I don't know.

This box unfortunately was a huge disappointment for me. Heaven knows I tried to love it but it's just to much flaws

  • 4
1st December 2020

Korg Electribe Sampler by micropho6ia

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Korg Electribe Sampler

Have owned and loved all Electribes. The 2S appears to be a bit maligned at times, but I think we get spoiled by ITB, VST and high end Romplers and sometimes expect too much from things.

For example, no-one ever expected to produce a whole album on an EM1 or even the beautiful ESX; you could, with multiple tracks and plenty of time, but they are largely performance boxes with some quirky features, such as the pre-sidechain-trend Gated Arpeggiator touch strip and fader which persists into the current Electribes through the X-Y. So if one thinks of the E2 in that vein (they are only $500 or <$300 s/h) Korg have put a lot of extra things in there, which has, I suspect, made some seem to want it to be able to do everything.

The elephant in the ointment for the E2S is the ****ty polyphony which gets chewed up with DSP FX on stereo waveforms and is done pretty early on...but the key out of this dilemma (like when they had to bounce on the 4 track at Abbey Road back in the day) is resampling, which is a breeze.

The fly in the room is the limit of one send FX per track, but see above to stack them.

Sample editing is a bit limited , but it's still there and workable (you can trim, reverse, 'normalize'(ish), filter etc) on the Electribe alone , but I found the best way is to trim, stretch, mod and tempo up samples in my DAW, put them on an SD and use the Electribe's native tweaking once they were loaded up (even sample editing on my MPC was not as easy as using even a free DAW).

As many believe, limitations spark creativity, and the E2S, IMHO, rewards the development of creative work-arounds. Just like the Volcas begged you to bin the warranty and crack open the case, the E2S seems to challenge you to come up with ways to deal with its limits.

The first awesomeness is the step sequencer. The sub-par pads (I have both the Black and the Red ES2) have nowhere near the feel of anything fit to be played by a human with an ounce of 'steps' (ahem) the step sequencer (which can be used to work on any existing track) and here you can layer notes, adjust gate, note, and most importantly velocity, so in a sense you can tweak the groove back, like teaching a robot to dance. And this is before you've even applied the actual Groove algorithms, or swing at separate settings for each track

The second awesomeness is the amount of things you can actually apply at once to a waveform that can be automated though EG/LFO modulation and then 'manually automated' by recording motions of many of the key dials. So for example you can have synchronized panning of a sample from a square wave mod source and then motion capture the intensity, then motion capture a resonance change, apply a delay and motion capture an adjustment there and then apply an XY phaser sweep while resampling the whole thing and then tweak some more.

Limitations aside, at the end of the day it's a relatively small box packed with DSP, three (digital) resonant filters, modulation, XY kaoss style pad, a 16 channel, 64-step sequencer, multiple motion capture, cv, 3.5mm MIDI, 6.35mm TS out, 3.5mm stereo in, and the capacity to carry around 30+ GB of samples on an SD card, and you can run it off AA batteries from the supermarket. It's about $300 used and not much more new... that doesn't even buy you a used Neve channel strip that 'just needs recapping'.

Like I said, we are spoilt these days. If McFly took an ES2 back to the 50's they would have burnt him at the stake, but if anyone with the remotest incline towards hip hop or house could take it back to the late 80's they wouldn't come back because they could live like a king and probably die from Champagne poisoning and gold chain fever, if that's a thing.

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