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With the new Elektron Model:Samples on its way, I began fiending for another shiny new piece to add to my vast collection of production hardware.
While eagerly looking up pre release NAMM footage for this new sampler, I sat back in my chair wondered if it was something I really wanted. I thought, "Would I want another sampler added to my hardware setup? What does this machine triumph to which its bigger brother doesn't?"
Designed and "modeled" by the flourishing Swedish music company Elektron, The Model:Samples is a six track sampler and groovebox that's light weight, compact and on the more affordable side compared to its predecessors of the same manufacturer. After researching a little more of the nitty gritty, The Model:Samples has quite a lot of power and surprises packed into it's light weight frame:
- High quality digital sound sample playback with a 1GB built in sample storage
- Six audio/midi control tracks with a 16 step sequencer that can be expanded to 64 steps
- An efficient sample load feature for loading sample kits into a project
- The signature Elektron parameter locking and trigger conditions features
- Velocity sensitive pads for live recording
- A new "chance" feature designed for random interesting variations and happy accidents
- A library of sounds pre-stored into the sampler for immediate jamming
- Send delay and reverb FX
- A dedicated LFO for each individual track for assignable parameter modulation
Doesn't Elektron's Octatrack do some of these things? Let's take a quick look...
The Octatrack Dynamic Sampler has been one of my absolute favorite music sampling devices developed by Elektron. Owning it for about a year now, I'm still learning the curve of this machine and all the neat features it has. It's hands down one of the key pieces to my creative process and a challenge to master.
Could the Model:Samples, this new contender, go toe to toe with an Octatrack? What can it do which the Octatrack, or any other sampler on the market, can't? Let's compare...
A dynamic sampler and midi performance controller that can synchronize eight pieces of hardware via eight midi tracks with eight audio sample playback and recording tracks. It's both a great tool for the studio and a revolutionary live performance center piece.
Here are some of the key features that producers absolutely admire about the Octatrack (MkI and II), and where the M:S falls short:
- Eight mono tracks for 16 bit sampling and live recording
- Eight additional midi tracks for controlling synths or other midi capable devices
- Compact flash card storage (up to 16 GB depending on your card)
- Sample chopping (slicing) mode that's reminiscent to the Akai MPCs
- Four quarter inch audio inputs for sample recording and routing audio from other instruments for onboard FX processing and live sound mangling
- 14 Digital track effects including: comb filter, reverb, delay, chorus, bit reduction and phaser
- A DJ style fader for interesting parameter and FX modulation
- Internal recording engines for different methods of recording and playing sounds. (live loop recording, time stretched recording, live audio mixing)
- Three assignable LFOs per track
Now let's see the wins for the M:S.
- Six velocity sensitive pads for finger drumming
- Lightweight and very portable
- Most affordable machine Elektron has to offer
- Pattern reload: ability to save a snapshot of a pattern, make changes to the parameters and revert back to the saved parameter settings
- Batch load of six samples into a pattern all at once
- A new sleek design that stands out from the rest of the Elektron devices
- Ready to go when you take it out of the box
In sum, the Octatrack, one of Elektron's flagship machines, is still one of the most feature packed samplers in the music production world. The M:S may not size up to it, but here's the thing...
The Octatrack is a thousand dollar dynamic performance sampler with a very steep learning curve. I've spent copious amounts of precious productive time just to learn how to use it, and I still have not fully unlocked all its capabilities.
I love it, but it can be frustrating at times.
What I admire most about the M:S is that it's an out of the box instrument. An easy to use device with no jamming time wasted. Some musicians may prefer the limitations from a creative standpoint. Limitations and simplicity helps us make creative decisions and it keeps us from overthinking our visionary objectives.
The Model:Samples is something I would highly recommend to those who are new to using hardware equipment. It's also a great affordable way to introduce yourself with the engineering and design of other Elektron hardware, and compared to other hardware samplers from other manufactures such as the Korg Electribe Sampler or the Roland SP 404sx, it offers quite a lot in one conveniently small package.
For both musicians, new and seasoned, you might be able to find a special place for the Model:Samples in your rig.
Check out the Model:Samples and Octatrack and see if it's the right piece for you. The M:S is expected to arrive in stores sometime this month.