Tap tempo? Advanced granular controls? Deep delay? 4-band parametric EQ? All the deep features crammed into the beautifully compact Blackbox sampler features have now moved from beta to stable, and 1.9 to 2.0. Here’s a look.

So if you missed it, yeah, the feature set here for the 1010music Blackbox we covered last month, completely with some beautiful chilled-out sounds from our resident 1010music fan, Andreas. (Go ahead and cue up that music – I’ll wait.)

But now, firmware 2.0 is here. It is basically the same upgrade, feature for feature, as 1.9. But whereas 1.9 was a beta build, 2.0 is the stable firmware – so with tons of fixes.

If you didn’t want to deal with the bugs, or just missed last month’s update, now’s the time to grab them.

And if you’re been considering the Blackbox, here’s the full feature list for you. You can find that + instructions + discussion on the Blackbox forum site, but you will need to register your account first. (You don’t need to own the hardware to browse, but you do need to register first, before the link works.)

Tap Tempo. Be sure to look for the small tempo button in the upper left of the SONG page. Press this button at least three times to change the current tempo
LFO per voice with the option for beat sync. This applies to sample, clip, granular, and slicer modes
4-band Parametric EQ on the master output. Press the FX button twice to find it.
Modulation of the envelope Attack, Decay, and Release, including control via MIDI CC
Resonance control on the filter, including the ability to modulate it
Enhanced Delay algorithm with integrated band-pass filter and the ability to play just a single echo
More advanced granular controls, including density, scatter, and pan spread
MIDI-only sequences. Choose MIDI as the cell type in the upper left and the sequence will not play internal pads.
MIDI-based recording of cells. Be sure to switch MIDI Rec to ON in the TOOLS/Rec page.

Here’s that MIDI layout, too:

Notes 68-83: Record pads 1-16. The pad needs to be empty in order for recording to happen.
Notes 84-99: Clear pads 1-16
Note 100: Select the previous pad
Note 101: Select the next pad
Note 102: Play the currently selected pad
Note 103: Record the currently selected pad assuming it is empty
Note 104: Clear the currently selected pad

blackbox 2.0 – 1010music Forums [free registration + login required]

https://1010music.com/blackboxdocs with PDF update guide

I mean, it just looks great – it really feels like an indie rival to Elektron’s Digitakt, if in a smaller form factor. I think ultimately you’ll choose based on personality (including each box’s own sonic character) and workflow.

Here’s what Andreas has to say about it, now as he works with that 2.0 final build:

It’s a fantastic update. It’s fundamentally changed how I work with the Blackbox. While it introduces a lot of new things, now that I’ve made some music with this update for awhile, there are three main things that stand out for me – first, the LFO’s. Their implementation is brilliant and flexible, where each samples has a master LFO setting which can then be applied with percentage nuance to most, if not all, parameters in the sample. Essentially, this gives you the option to modulate multiple parameters per sample, and each sample also controlled by its own LFO waveform and trigger parameter. That’s like modular mind blowing stuff.

Then, there’s the master EQ which now allows you with four bands to hone your mix into something that can compete with any digital competitor. It’s a fantastic way to get the mix ready for the club or just prepare it for final mastering, if you want to make sure it’s as clean as can be on its own, before you take it to a more high end context.

And finally the updated interface. Workflow’s faster, more smooth and just generally feels bit more mature, due to the new controls.

I’ve been so productive with this kit now, I’m close to wrapping up my third EP with this one. It’s tempting to do the full master on the Blackbox just because I can. I won’t, but I probably could 🙂 

But it is great to me that we have these new-generation takes on the sampler workflow. Now, if you were a big fan of something more like the Roland SP-404, this is not an SP-404 story, but… if you were to wait around for such a thing, presumably eventually one might appear. And you know which site to bookmark if you were to look for that story, I’m sure. Hypothetically speaking.

Bonus – yeah, it really does run the game Doom, even though that was announced on April Fools’ Day. We saw it running at Superbooth.

So, Elektron, if you really want to win me over, make a machine that also plays Marathon (or specifically the open-source Aleph One build). This comment will likely make sense to all of one or two readers, but – hi there. You’re worth it.

For Elektron’s engineers, though, I’ll attempt to translate that to Swedish: Elektron, lägg till Marathon i din maskin.