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Erica Synths Sample Drum review

This award-winning module will bring sample-slicing to your Eurorack rig

  • £295
  • €302
  • $350
Erica Synths Sample Drum review
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

A well thought-out and fun to use sampler/loop slicer. A welcome addition to any modular rhythm section.

Pros

  • Plenty of CV and hands-on control for performance.
  • Built-in effects.
  • Module state and samples savable as presets.

Cons

  • No timestretch facility to repitch loops for different tempos.
  • No transient detection in the slicing algorithm.
  • No internal LFO or envelope for modulation.

What is it?

The Sample Drum is part of Erica Synths’ new Drum range of modules, but unlike its one-shot competitors this offers sample-slicing: it’s all about the loops. 

Offering two identical channels each with their own output, a toggle switch flips between one channel and the other; there’s no option to combine channels for stereo sampling – it’s strictly a mono affair.

Once sliced, you can set the module to random trigger for some Squarepusher-style craziness or map them across your keyboard and sequence like a junglist.

The Sample Drum ships with a 16GB micro SD card including samples to get busy with straightaway. These weren’t that inspiring but, fortunately, sample-loading was easy; I just dragged a load of samples from my computer onto the SD card. 

Sampling into the module is also simple. The input level can be adjusted to compensate for your input: instrument/line or modular level, and a monitor option lets you hear what you’re recording.

Recording is limited to 12-bit so don’t expect pristine quality, but it’s still very usable. The bit reduction may even be useful for adding crunch to drums.

Performance and verdict

As the Sample Drum is all about slicing, my first move was to load up an Amen Break and get busy. Slicing is easy and can be set to detect zero crossing points, just choose the number of slices and away you go.

Sadly there’s no transient detection to help you deconstruct beat loops; the slicing is strictly a mathematical division of the sample length, however you can manually slice if your sample is not that rhythmically tight. Usefully if you set marker points in an audio editor on your laptop these will be recognised by the module when you load up the sample.

Once sliced, you can set the module to random trigger for some Squarepusher-style craziness or map them across your keyboard and sequence like a junglist.

(Image credit: Future)

64 slots per channel are available and I managed to load 60 samples before the RAM limit was reached. These samples can then be mapped across your keyboard so you could make a multisample instrument or play a whole drumkit on one channel.

Sadly the Sample Drum will not record or play back CV like the Squid Salmple from ALM, only audio files. I had great fun with the Sample Drum, slicing up not just beats, but melodic loops and phrases. For experimental play you’d be better off with a Morphagene but there’s plenty of potential. 

The three performance controls for each channel are freely assignable and, with the three assignable CV inputs you get lots of scope for expressive play. The module also features seven built-in effects which, while fairly basic, are handy, particularly the delay and wavefolder which add bite. 

Slicing/preparing your samples and setting up your CV sources, effect options and performance controls is a bit fiddly using the encoders. Menu diving is minimal, but it still takes a while. Happily, once you’re done you can save either one or both channels as a project for easy recall. You can also set the module to autoload the last project when powered up.

MusicRadar verdict: A well thought-out and fun to use sampler/loop slicer. A welcome addition to any modular rhythm section.

Hands-on demos

Erica Synths

Bonedo Synths

Specifications

  • KEY FEATURES: Dual channel, Built-in effects, Auto sample slicing, Sample recording capability, Cue point loading from WAV files, 1 v/oct tracking, 3 assignable CV inputs per channel, 3 assignable performance controls per channel
  • Erica Synths