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NAMM 2019 HANDS-ON: Elektron's Model:Samples is the real deal

NAMM 2019: Elektron has a bit of a reputation for gear with a steep learning curve. While instruments like the Octatrack and Analog Four are undeniably deep and powerful, a considerable amount of practice and a thorough read of the manual is required to even scratch the surface of their capabilities.

Their new digital sample instrument, Model:Samples, certainly bucks this trend. With a neatly laid out sequencer and plenty of up-front, hands-on control, it’s far less daunting then its bigger siblings.

That’s not to say there isn’t still depth here, though. Many of Elektron’s regular sequencing features are carried across, including probability-based triggers, polyrhythmic sequencer tracks, extensive automation and the performance-enhancing Control All mode. It also doubles up as a capable MIDI sequencer, so could make a great centrepiece of a portable live setup.

Model:Samples sounds great, too; the digital sample engine is punchy with plenty of grit, and the resonant filter, reverb and delay are perfect for quickly shaping and mangling sounds. Chromatic sequencing means it’s also a handy bass and lead line generator.

The hardware does look and feel a little more ‘budget’ than Elektron’s more expensive instruments, but it still seems rugged, and the aesthetic is sleek and eye-catching. It’s nicely lightweight, and a forthcoming battery accessory will add to the portability.

The one question we have is how it will compete with Elektron’s other sample-centric beatmaker, Digitakt. Model:Samples is certainly cheaper and more accessible, but is the drop in price enough to persuade users they don’t need Digitakt’s extra sample shaping capabilities and onboard sampling?

Either way, this latest Elektron instrument gets an instant thumbs up from us. And if it ushers in a new range of affordable and accessible Elektron gear that maintains some of the sound-shaping depth the Swedish brand is known for, that could mean very exciting things to come.

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NAMM 2019 - all the news

The dust is settling, but our ears are still ringing. You'll find all the stories that counted in our massive news hub. Below, enjoy our editors' findings as we regrouped at the end of the show.