Review: Korg microSAMPLER

Korg microSAMPLER Front ViewSampling enthusiasts have a wide range of options to choose from when it comes to mobility. Of course you can sample sounds through a decent line-in or microphone input on your audio interface, but what’s the fun in that, right? An MPC500 or MPC1000 would be a step right in the right direction if you’d like to go around sampling without staring at a laptop screen all day. When you prefer playing keys instead of pads, like chromatically across a keyboard, the Korg microSAMPLER seems like a right fit and a fun toy. Let’s take a look at its features.

The first thing you’ll notice about the microSAMPLER is that all of the most important functions are laid out in front of you and are directly accessible in the form of recessed buttons and knobs. This makes everything very straightforward. It’s a matter of connecting your audio or using the mic input, for example with the supplied swan-neck mic, and getting your sampling on with the several sample modes available.


Korg microSAMPLER controlsYou have the logical loop, one-shot and gate sample modes, that are respectively suitable for recording loopable samples, one shot samples such as drums, and samples that play for as long as you hold the key. Then there are two sample modes where you can have a single sample laid out over the 3 octaves of keys. ‘Auto next’ will do this automatically on basis of the bpm that you can set with the tap tempo button. ‘Key Gate’ will allocate each individual sample slice for as long as you hold each key in succession.
Besides sampling from one of the inputs or the mic you have the ability to resample the internal audio indefinitely to end up with some crazy, unique results.

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The microSAMPLER excels in sampling, but what about playing back your samples performance-wise? Well, first of all there’s the Loop Hold function where you can set one or several samples to loop continuously as backbone of your performance. The loops can also be timestretched to a certain amount to try and fit your song tempo, but it’s best to stay as close to the original tempo to maintain the audio quality. A keyboard sampler wouldn’t be a keyboard sampler if you didn’t have the ability to play one sample polyphonicallly across the keys. ‘Keyboard mode’ does exactly that, though don’t expect to play a single, short sample like a full-fledged sample library. As with timestretching, the closer you stay to the original sample, the better it will sound.

Sample mode will load up sample banks as one-shots across the keyboard enabling you for example to record a drum loop with your keys. In sample mode you can also reverse, loop and add fx to your sample in realtime.

Sequencing & Effects

The way you would typically build up a track with your sampled audio is by having one or several samples run on loop while recording your performance, overdubbing in keyboard or sample mode. You can then sequence your performance on the 16 available patterns with a max of 99 bars per pattern. There is only one undo level allowing you to re-record a take. You can also choose to have everything auto-quantized when you’re sequencing your samples for those that have problems timing their performance. Effect-wise you can tune in one effect per time, there are a wide range of them available, from reverb to straight-up distorting, flanging and phasing your sounds. These are all neatly hauled over from the Kaoss Pad series and with your resampling ability you can really get freaky.

The Verdict

The Korg microSAMPLER really breathes fun. Everything is laid out so you can instantly sample your voice or a piece of audio, play it back, resample, sequence and put crazy effects on your samples. Just don’t expect it to be a full sequencing workhorse or a high-end sampler for in your studio. It’s made to complement your live gig setup or be a great toy to breathe new life into your composition.

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