Korg Electribe MX1 (EMX1) by tone_rekooda
I am going to review a synthesizer, drummachine and effects unit housed in a single box : The Korg Electribe MX1
First of all I`d like to mention that I`ve experienced this blue box as a perfect fun tool. It indeed makes a lot of fun playing around with this gear and it`s old-fashioned step-sequencer.
Of course all is not gold or better said metallic-blue that glitters. I gonna tell you in the next sentences what I liked about it and what not with the focus set on sound quality, playability and certain features I liked the most or vice versa.
Build Quality, Features, Usability, Connections
It`s build quality is very good! It`s housed in a metal box so it feels pretty robust. The knobs and potis are in metallic-look too but made out of plastic. Overall I always had the feeling that I do the knob-twist on a solidly built machine.
The features-list is very long. You can address 9 drum sounds and 5 synthesizer sounds on the several pads. You have a dedicated effects section, synth filter section, modulation section. You can use the ribbon controller and adjust it to play the arpeggiator. You can even drive two valves (Electro Harmonix 12AX7EH) to get more vibe and warmth. There are different modes like pattern mode or song mode.
The usability overall is good too. I did some livegigs with it and it never crashed. But there are some limitations which damps the fun a little bit, e.g. the limited effects section.
Connectionwise you have access to the usual suspects like stereo trs in/out and midi in/out.
I`ve synced the EMX1 with my DAW via Midi and that always worked very well. I`ve used it as my otb drum rompler and did the synths itb and synced the EMX1 and recorded when needed.
What I liked the most
As I mentioned above I don`t tell you everything about that box as far as most of you know what it`s able to do. But I gonna tell some stories about features I loved a lot and used most of the time.
That`s a really really cool feature which I`ve missed on my other drummachines all the time. With this function you can record your knob twisting and enable or disable your recorded automations. Makes sense if you have for instance a static High Hat pattern for the verse and need some more interesting modulations going on for another part of the song. Just one press on the knob et voila your High Hat Pattern transforms into something different and vice versa.
That`s a fun tool too mates. I used this function most of the time during transitions or to make a little kick-doubler during playback or what else. Imagine a transition where you want to make some tension with you snare at the end. Just use the ribbon controller and control the arpeggio and make a nice snare roll or flame. It`s very usable with synths and anything else too.
Further you can adjust the behavior of the arpeggiator to get different sounds.
I love that old-fashioned In-A-Row-Step-Sequencer. It´s so easy to use and play around with it. I can`t tell a lot about it as far as there aren´t any secret tricks about it. Just a step Sequencer which works very well and makes fun all the time =)
The haptic of the several pads, including the step sequencer`s pad, is pretty nice too so it feels very cosy and direct playing around with it.
You can change your patterns during playback what means you don`t have to stop. I think the Roland grooveboxes were not capable of doing this. What a fault.
What I didn`t like so much
I don`t think that the several effects are sounding very good. I always struggled when finding a nice sounding combination. Well, maybe it`s just me.
The function ability is rather limited too. You just have two parameter per effect and it`s hard to find very good sounding adjustments. As far as I remember (changed the EMX1 for a new NI Maschine two years or so ago) you can`t address different effects on every sound pad what means that you just can address global effects. That`s the only reason why playing live with the EMX1 isn`t a 10/10. It`s just a 8/10 =)
For playing live I always drove the tubes a little bit. But not much, hardly more than 20%. It adds much much warmth and depth to the sound but also burrs it a lot. At least that`s what I`ve experienced.
For recording drum sounds made with the EMX1 into the DAW I always set the tube stage to 0% because the several sounds sounded much clearer with better transients then.
If you drive the tubes very hard, let`s say more than 30/40% you will likely get a nasty sound out of the box which is distorted and not that usable. Again, just my experience.
Regarding to the “problem” with the tubes I´d say it`s sound quality is a 7 out of 10.
When used pretty naked without effects and without a lot of tube on the master I always got nice and punchy drum sounds although a little bit weak in terms of excitement. I recorded them into Pro Tools or Ableton Live and further processed them there which worked very well. This way I always experienced the sound to sit very well in the mix.
Otherwise, when recorded “hot” through the tubes or with effects on it, I always had to struggle to get it to sound nice and well-sitting in the mix. “Muddy” would describe this sound the best.
Overall I`d say it`s a cool machine with lots of features and what`s important : A guaranteed fun experience! =)
You are limited by some features but hey, out of limitation your creativity can flow!
I`d be so excited to see a new Electribe Model soon… Man that would be an amazing machine I think…