The most exciting new samplers, grooveboxes and drum machines for 2024

(Image credit: Yamaha)

GEAR EXPO 2024: Grooveboxes, drum stations, sampling workstations, call them what you will, but these hardware production boxes can make big tunes all on their own, and 2024 looks like being the year to groove!

In this roundup we have everything from simple drum machine accompaniment devices to full-on boxes that bleep, beat, sequence and sample. Nowadays you can make tunes anywhere you like, without a computer in sight, and these hardware marvels are what we're celebrating here. 

So let's get into the beat boxes and production workstations coming out in the year ahead. 

Yamaha Seqtrak

The star of this year's NAMM show, Seqtrak is, as Yamaha says, a "standalone music production studio" that pretty much covers everything, as pretty much everything is included!

Seqtrak has a step sequencer, drum machine, a sampler and also several software synths. It's equipped with a microphone, speaker and rechargeable battery, along with a companion app that enables the user to dive into detailed sound editing.

From left to right on the unit you get drums, a synth and sampler in the middle, and sound design and effects on the right. The drum section has seven tracks (kick, snare, clap, two hi-hats and two percussion sounds) that can be filled with sounds from Seqtrak's 2000-sample library, or with your own samples via the Seqtrak app. 


(Image credit: Yamaha)

Seqtrak has three polyphonic digital synth engines: two based on AWM2 (Advanced Wave Memory) technology, and one, named DX, which is a four-operator FM synth engine based on the sounds of the classic Yamaha DX7 synthesizer.

Seqtrak's sampler can record via the built-in microphone or a stereo mini-jack input, resample internally, or play back samples loaded in via the Wi-Fi and USB-C connections. Sounds can be processed through an array of effects that includes 12 types of reverb, 9 types of delay, modulation, distortion and compression, a 5-band master EQ and low-pass and high-pass filters on each track. 

Seqtrak is available in either grey and black or white and orange and costs $599.

You can get more info from the Yamaha website and we'll be getting one in for review asap!


(Image credit: Yamaha)

Korg NTS-3 KAOSS Pad

NTS-3 Kaoss Pad

(Image credit: Korg)

Incredibly, Korg's KAOSS Pad celebrates 25 years of crazy x-y pad effects this year. The distinctive performance sampler and effects box has been used by artists including Brian Eno, Radiohead and Muse, thanks to its unique way of processing audio in real-time. 

The latest incarnation has just been announced by Korg, and follows the company's more recent DIY philosophy born out in its Nu-Tekt range, which also includes the NTS-1 (as shown in the picture above). 


(Image credit: Korg)

NTS-3 KAOSS Pad still includes the x-y touch pad interface and the ability to mix and match four effects, but you can put it together yourself without the need for any soldering, and can also customise its appearance. Korg says you should be up and running in just 20 minutes from scratch.

NTS-3 KAOSS Pad should be shipping this June with price info still TBA. 

There's more info from Korg's website

Korg KR-11

Korg's latest  KR-11 drum machine is being pitched at the bedroom guitar player. It has been designed with few flourishes and extras to get in the way of your practising and playing. No fuss, no excuses, Korg says!

It comes with a fair few features, though, despite that pared-back ethos. The unit is battery-powered and has a built-in speaker. There are 126 preset patterns, all arranged into nine genres including blues/R&B and country.

Korg KR-11 practice drum machine

(Image credit: Korg)

There are also 14 user slots for you to fill with your own efforts, and you get 16 velocity-sensitive pads to create them in the first place. Finally, there's a handy pedal switch for hands-off control of any rhythm changes.

KR-11 is available now priced at around £105 / $120. More from Korg

Korg KR-11 practice drum machine

(Image credit: Korg)

Polyend Play+

Polyend's original Play groovebox was released in 2022 with 16 tracks of sample playback and sequencing, 35 sequence play modes, automation, pattern chaining, and effects. 

Play+ has a better processor, stereo playback, multitimbral synthesis, and USB audio. Owners of Play can get a hardware upgrade to Play+ for €399, and the original Play will continue to be sold, albeit at a lower price.

The top of the unit has a colour display, 16 knobs, 11 buttons, and 160 backlit pads. At the rear are mini-jack stereo audio out/headphones, mini-jack MIDI in/out, a microSD card slot, USB-C and power.

Play+ has 16 tracks – eight for samples, and eight shared between synths and external sequencing. The microSD card comes with samples, patterns, and presets to load in. 

Polyend Play+

(Image credit: Future)

Add in four new synthesis options (ACD mono, FAT poly, VAP VA poly, and WTFM FM synth with wavetable-based oscillators), and there is a lot to fill the tracks and get your groove going. 

In our full review, we conclude that, "the Play+ synths add a new dimension to the existing sampling and sequencing workflow, and gave us very pleasant Elektron Monomachine feels, which is always a good thing. It represents a credible and very usable upgrade to a fun machine."

Play+ costs £699, and the original Play is £435. You can get more info on both at the Polyend website

Polyend Play+

(Image credit: Future)

Critter & Guitari Kaleidoloop

Last but not least, it's time for something a little different. Critter & Guitari's latest version of the Kaleidoloop is a sampler and looper equipped with a microphone and 3W speaker, and squeezes into this roundup based on its sampling prowess alone.

Kaleidoloop originally came out back in 2016, and this new for 2024 version has a smaller form factor, a new interface, updated software and new features. Unlike the original, this latest Kaleidoloop can continue playback during recording, so it is a now much more flexible sampling and performance tool. 

You can record samples in 48k/16-bit audio direct to its 8GB microSD card, and transfer them via the USB-C port. There's the option to loop and change sounds via six playback modes, three speed modes and three effects. You can also design your own playback modes, or upload new ones created by the C&G community. 

Kaleidoloop has two 1/4" jacks at the front for mono audio in/out, four controls for record/play, playback mode, and track navigation, and three knobs: volume and two for controlling data in each playback mode. The unit is powered via three AA batteries or via USB.

Kaleidoloop costs $375 and is available now. There's more info on Critter & Guitari's website.


(Image credit: Critter & Guitari)

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Andy Jones

Andy has been writing about music production and technology for 30 years having started out on Music Technology magazine back in 1992. He has edited the magazines Future Music, Keyboard Review, MusicTech and Computer Music, which he helped launch back in 1998. He owns way too many synthesizers.

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