Big drums and cheap sampling have been the order of the year, with Roland making us get all nostalgic, Elektron looking to the future, and Akai vying with Korg to make the most fun sampler. Let's start our look at the best beats and sampling hardware of 2014 with Roland's TR-8.
Roland was never one to look back and revisit the past, much to the dismay of everyone else. Well, that was until it unveiled the Aira range this year.
The unofficial leader of the pack had to be the TR-8, which was a wish come true - an 808 and 909 in one sleek box. Yeah it’s not true analogue but, standing up against the originals, Roland’s ACB technology sounds just as good, if not better.
4.5 out of 5
Future Music's Gear of the Year 2014 is brought to you in association with DV247
Elektron Analog Rytm
Remember how fresh the likes of the 808 were to your ears when you first heard them? We had the exact same feeling the first time we clapped ears on the Rytm.
An 8-voice analogue/digital drum machine with step sequencing and real-time recording - plus drum pads, effects and user sample loading – this is a real beat-making beast. It might be three times the price of the TR-8, but its expandability more than makes up for it.
4.5 out of 5
Much like Korg's Volca sample, the MPX16 won’t change the world of sampling, but they are both useful loop and phrase building tools, whether used live or in the studio.
We still think Akai’s pressure-sensitive pads are the best out there and, despite the lack of a sequencer and timestretching functions, the audio inputs, built-in mic, and SD slot make the MPX more flexible than Korg’s offering (not to mention the fact that you can use it as a MIDI pad controller).
Korg mini Kaoss Pad 2S
When its predecessor was released, we loved the upgrades from version 1, but the lack of sampling diminished our ardour somewhat.
The new S version has reignited that love, as it’s not just another FX processor. In addition to changing pitch and cue points, the sample recorder lets you capture sounds via either the line in or the built-in mic. Great for live performance and DJing if you’re on a budget.
4 out of 5
Korg Volca sample
Just as it did withthe original Electribe series back in the late-’90s, Korg has added a sampler to the Volca line. Initially relying on an iOS device for user sample import, Korg has since announced the release of the relevant SDK, and we're already starting to see software on other platforms that enables you to manage the Volca sample's sounds.
We love the amount of controls you have at your disposal, and how easy it is to tweak the 100 onboard sounds. This is the perfect addition to the Volca range.
4.5 out of 5