Elektron’s Model:Samples was always appealing – some of the best bits of an Elektron groovebox, but with a smaller size and price tag. But one limitation might hold you back: six tracks, and only six samples? That changes with an update: now you can change samples inside a pattern. Sample locks are here.
1.02 shipped quietly on the 29th of last month; Andreas, our reviewer, got an early build. There’s not much in the way of documentation:
Sample locks functionality has been added. It lets you assign a specific sample on any step of the sequencer. It is possible to sample lock up to 26 different samples in each pattern.
But this is a big deal. Six parts with only one sample per part is pretty restrictive. Now, instead, you could take a sample, slice it into 26 bits, and then play the various slices. Or you could slice up melodies. Or you could add more complex percussion parts. The thing is, this is more or less exactly what you want – restricting to six parts can be genuinely musically useful (as more can get overly dense), but now each of those parts need not be quite so, you know, repetitive.
How does it work? Our tester Andreas fills us in:
While pressing a trig, just browse the sample library. Once you’ve found a sample you like, let go of the trig and it plays that sample instead of the default one assigned to the track.
They’ve made a clever addition to the file system where sample locked sounds are stored separately, making it easy for you to find them again if you just love that particular snare and want to lock it to kingdom come, over all your patterns.
Plus he made a track with this – and the multiple time signatures and polyrhythms the Model:Samples also boasts. (Take note, sequencer makers!)
This release also includes a number of bug fixes. But sample locks might just be the thing that tempts us over to this device.
Keep in mind the 1.01 OS (as we tested) included some other improvements, including separate MIDI channel configuration (ideal for use with other gear) and simplified LFO locks.
I also like that the Model:Samples has a transfer utility for custom samples. Roland. Cough. TR-8S. Like any day now. Thanks! (and let’s not even start in on the volca sample’s awful sample loading mechanism… just no.)
Sure, it’s still not a sampler – no record capability. And yes, there are boxes that do more. And… well, if you’re on a budget, you should also check out used KORG machines. But this is still something unlike anything else at the price, with Elektron workflows and serious polyrhythmic capabilities plus lots of hands-on fun and great sound.
And definitely check our hands-on review. It’d be easy to dismiss this hardware, but I think Andreas really explains why it’s cool. (And yeah, I personally like it more than even the more-capable Digitakt.)
Our friends at Synthtopia got a demo of the new feature at Synthplex: