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Elektron Model:Samples review

A more accessible and affordable Elektron sampler

  • £410
  • $449

Our Verdict

Model:Samples is immediate and affordable, but still retains many of Elektron’s deep and creative sequencing tools.

Pros

  • • Some excellent sequencing tools
  • • Compact and portable without feeling cramped
  • • Immediate and intuitive workflow

Cons

  • • Browser and memory are overly complex
  • • Odd lack of info on the USB audio capabilities
  • • Faces stiff competition from Elektron’s own Digitakt sampler

What is it?

Elektron is making a move into the music technology mainstream with the Model:Samples sampler/groovebox. A more accessible and affordable proposition than many of the Swedish company’s other products, this is a compact device that’s designed to be picked up and played.

Model:Samples is a six-track groovebox that comes with 300 preset sounds that are supplied by Splice. These range from the familiar - kicks, snares, hi-hats, etc - to more esoteric tones. You can also import your own samples or buy additional sound packs.

This is arguably the most tactile and intuitive Elektron device yet, thanks to its one function per knob control panel. This makes sound shaping a breeze, and your tones can be played using six velocity-sensitive pads. Patterns can be recorded live, or via the step sequencer.

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Performance and verdict

Where Model:Samples really shines is in its sequencing workflow, which is super-flexible and simple at the same time.      

You can argue that, for the price, Model:Samples’ core sample engine is a little simplistic – with no direct sampling, no timestretching and fairly basic envelope shaping – but the creativity offered by the sequencer makes up for any sound-shaping limitations. What’s more, Elektron has mostly done a stellar job of keeping the workflow simple, with little in the way of menu-diving and a pleasingly shallow learning curve. 

On the whole then, Model:Samples is a welcome departure for Elektron. It’s a far more streamlined instrument than the rest of its range but still has enough complexity carried down from those higher-end instruments to bring something new. Conditional Locks and the extensive parameter automation feel genuinely fresh at this price, even if the sample engine itself doesn’t offer much to set itself apart from similarly-priced rivals. 

We'd still advise paying the extra for the Digitakt if you can afford it, but those seeking hands-on creativity at a good price will find a lot to like here. 

MusicRadar verdict: Model:Samples is immediate and affordable, but still retains many of Elektron’s deep and creative sequencing tools.

The web says

"It may not be the perfect sample player for every artist, but it's a pretty great gateway drug to the world of Elektron products." Engadget

"For novices, Model:Samples is a great alternative to the Korg Electribe or Novation Circuit grooveboxes, its most direct competitors. It will introduce players to the Elektron workflow, albeit in a slightly augmented format. The workflow modifications will certainly benefit novices, who will appreciate an easier learning curve on an Elektron device that is simultaneously simple and complex." Attack Magazine

"The stripped-down nature of [Model:Samples] will be a dealbreaker for some, but it’ll be a mind-blowing revelation for others. Not only is it a fine percussion/short-sample machine, it works well for sequencing your other outboard gear, or even your software. No, you don’t need it… but you might well want it." MusicTech

Hands-on demos

Cuckoo

BoBeats

Loopop

Dataline

Specifications

  • 6 Audio tracks (all of which may be used as MIDI tracks as well)
  • 6 × Velocity sensitive pads
  • 96 Projects
  • 96 Patterns per Project
  • 1 × Sample playback engine per track
  • 1 × Resonant multimode filter per track
  • 1 × Assignable LFO per track
  • Delay and reverb send FX
  • Elektron sequencer up to 64 steps with unique length and scale settings per track
  • Real-time or grid recording of notes and parameters
  • 64 MB sample memory
  • 1 GB storage
  • Class compliant USB audio 2.0
  • 1 × 1/4″ Headphones output
  • 2 × 1/4″ Balanced main outputs
  • 1 × Hi-speed (micro) USB 2.0 port
  • 1 × 3.5 mm standard audio minijack (TRS) for MIDI In
  • 1 × 3.5 mm standard audio minijack (TRS) for MIDI Out/Thru
  • 2 × slots for attaching Powerhandle BP-1 (battery pack to be released at a later date)
  • Included in the box:
    Power Supply PSU-4
    Micro USB Cable USB-2
    2 x MIDI adaptor (5-pin DIN to 3.5mm TRS minijack)