March 8

Best Samplers in 2024: Buying Guide

As musicians, we know that finding the perfect gear can be a game changer. One essential piece of equipment for any aspiring artist, producer, or songwriter is a quality sampler. With the best samplers at your fingertips, your creative possibilities are endless.

Samplers allow you to record, manipulate, and play back audio samples, opening up a world of sound and texture. They’re a fantastic tool for making music, and with so many options out there, you might be wondering which one is right for you. When shopping for a sampler, consider factors such as ease of use, sound quality, storage capacity, and compatibility with your existing setup.

We’ve done the research for you and tested multiple samplers to help you find the top choices in the market. So let’s dive into our findings and explore the world of samplers together!

Types of Samplers

Hardware Samplers

You’ve got two main types of samplers: hardware and software. Let’s start with hardware samplers. These are standalone devices that record and playback sounds. They’ve got a built-in memory to store sound samples and can be connected to loudspeakers or headphones.

  • MPC series: Iconic samplers used by hip-hop and electronic music producers.
  • SP-404: A popular choice among beatmakers and live performers.

You’ll find controls on the device to manipulate the sound, like pitch, loop points, and filter. Hardware samplers have been the go-to option for many producers, especially in the past.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Can be more expensive.
  • Limited by hardware specs.

Software Samplers

Now, let’s talk about software samplers. As the name suggests, these run on your computer as part of a digital audio workstation (DAW). You can also find free and paid standalone apps.

Examples:

  • Native Instruments Kontakt
  • Ableton Live’s Simpler & Sampler

Software samplers offer a user-friendly and visually appealing interface that can load a wide variety of sample formats. You can edit, manipulate, and even create multi-sample instruments using your computer’s resources.

User Tip: Make use of SSDs to ensure smooth and fast sample loading!

We’ve compiled a list of some benefits and drawbacks of software samplers to help you decide:

Pros Cons
Unlimited resources (depending on PC) Requires a computer
Easier organization and editing Less “hands-on” tactile experience
More affordable (usually) Possibility of software compatibility issues

Now that you know the differences, it’s time to explore which type of sampler suits your needs best. There’s no right or wrong answer, just different preferences. Happy sampling!

Budget-Friendly Samplers Under $500

We’ve compiled a list of the best samplers for aspiring musicians and producers like you.

Teenage Engineering PO-33 K.O.! Bundle

Grab this bundle for an all-in-one portable sampling experience with great sound quality.

Pros

  • Pocket-sized versatility
  • 40-second sample memory
  • Sequence and add effects

Cons

  • Needs 2xAAA batteries
  • Limited to 16 sample slots
  • No built-in battery protection

We tried out the Teenage Engineering PO-33 K.O.! sampler and drum machine bundle and it didn’t disappoint. The pocket-sized device allows you to sample any sound source using the 3.5mm line in or the built-in microphone. With melodic and drum modes, you can create diverse beats on the fly.

The 40-second sample memory is impressive for such a small device. You can store up to 8 melodic samples and 8 drum slots, perfect for experimenting with different sounds. Adding effects and sequencing is a breeze, thanks to the 16 built-in effects.

Despite needing 2xAAA batteries, this sampler has a lot to offer. The bundle includes a black CA-X case and a 3-pack of MC-3 mini sync cables, making your setup even more convenient. However, keep in mind that the device itself doesn’t come with built-in battery protection.

Overall, if you’re looking for a portable sampler with studio-quality sound, the Teenage Engineering PO-33 K.O.! bundle is worth considering. Its compact size, sound quality, and creative options make it a great choice for any aspiring musician.

Korg VOLCA SAMPLE2 Digital Sampler

This sampler is perfect for aspiring musicians seeking an affordable, yet powerful option for beat making.

Pros

  • Doubled memory with added features
  • Enhanced connectivity
  • Pre-loaded samples for various genres

Cons

  • Limited to 16-step pattern
  • Import process can be tricky
  • 8 MB memory capacity

We recently tried out the Korg VOLCA SAMPLE2 Digital Sampler. With increased memory, improved workflow, and added connectivity, it’s a solid choice for your next sampler. The compact and user-friendly design makes it perfect for both beginners and experienced musicians alike.

The Korg VOLCA Sample is an advanced sampler with 8 voice polyphony, digital reverb, and double filter. It comes with pre-loaded samples suited for various genres. With the added connectivity, you can easily sync it to your computer, making it even more versatile.

However, it’s important to mention the sampler’s limitations, like its 16-step pattern and 8 MB memory capacity. Although it might be a minor drawback for some, it’s still a great option for its price and ease of use. Overall, the Korg VOLCA SAMPLE2 Digital Sampler is a reliable and efficient choice in the world of samplers.

Elektron Model Groovebox

We think this sampler is great for beginners and experienced musicians alike due to its user-friendly features and powerful capabilities.

Pros

  • Easy to load and tweak samples
  • Inspires creativity and new ideas
  • Great build quality and value for money

Cons

  • Has some limitations in functionality
  • May take time to adjust to the interface
  • Preloaded samples could be better

We recently got our hands on the Elektron Model groovebox, and it’s quite impressive. From the get-go, it was simple to load our own samples and tweak their individual sound parameters. This sampler definitely sparked new ideas and made our creative process a lot more enjoyable.

The build quality of the Elektron Model is top-notch. It feels sturdy in our hands and proved its worth with the customization and precision it offers. We found that it pairs well with other gear, making it a versatile addition to our music setup.

However, it’s worth noting that this sampler has some limitations in functionality. Although it’s great for beginners, more advanced musicians might desire additional features. Also, adjusting to the interface has a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes an invaluable tool. Lastly, while you can load your own samples, the preloaded ones could be better.

In conclusion, the Elektron Model Groovebox is a reliable, user-friendly sampler that works well for both beginners and seasoned musicians. Its inspiring features and solid build make it a valuable addition to any music setup. Give it a try and explore the endless creative possibilities!

Mid-Range Samplers Between $500 and $1000

AKAI Professional MPC One+

You should grab the AKAI Professional MPC One+ for an exceptional standalone music-making experience.

Pros

  • Standalone and powerful
  • WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity
  • Compact and travel-friendly

Cons

  • Smaller pad size
  • Steep learning curve
  • Limited built-in storage

The AKAI Professional MPC One+ offers a world of possibilities in a compact package. We love the standalone nature of this device, giving you freedom from being tied to a computer while making music.

Connectivity is one of the highlights of the MPC One+. With WiFi and Bluetooth compatibility, syncing your devices is a breeze. This sampler works well with studio speakers, keyboards, synths, and multiple external devices.

However, the smaller pad size might take getting used to if you’re transitioning from a full-sized unit. Moreover, newcomers might find the MPC One+ a bit overwhelming at first, so expect a learning curve.

Despite the limited built-in storage of 16GB, the AKAI MPC One+ still delivers on performance and versatility. It’s perfect if you’re looking to elevate your music production capabilities on the go.

Elektron Digitakt 8-Voice Digital Drum Computer and Sampler

In our opinion, the Elektron Digitakt is definitely worth considering for your sampling needs.

Pros

  • High quality sound engine
  • Compatible with external MIDI gear
  • Rugged, durable construction

Cons

  • No time stretch feature
  • Mono samples only
  • Learning curve

We got our hands on the Elektron Digitakt, and we were impressed! Its sound engine is top-notch, providing amazing flexibility in creating beats.

Connecting it with external MIDI gear was a breeze. This feature opens up a world of possibilities for any aspiring musician.

But, the construction quality really had us sold. It feels sturdy and well-made. The encoders and back-lit buttons are designed to last through countless hours of use.

However, this gadget isn’t without its drawbacks. The absence of a time stretch feature and the mono samples may feel outdated compared to some alternatives. Moreover, the learning curve might intimidate beginners.

Overall, it offers great value for the price. If you can overlook its shortcomings, the Elektron Digitakt might be the perfect addition to your music setup.

Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 Drum Controller

Get your hands on this powerful, versatile sampler for an amazing music production experience.

Pros

  • Integrated hardware/software system
  • 25 GB KOMPLETE 11 SELECT library
  • Pro-grade audio interface

Cons

  • Steep learning curve
  • Software installation issues
  • Standalone mode limitations

We recently tried the Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 Drum Controller and we’re quite impressed. This top-notch device allows you to create and perform music with ease. The integrated hardware/software system gives you access to a sampler, arranger, mixer, FX, and more, all in one platform.

One thing we loved was the 25 GB KOMPLETE 11 SELECT library that’s included. It features 25 pro-quality studio and creative FX, perfect for upping your game in music production. Additionally, the audio interface is professional grade, with 96 kHz / 24-bit quality and numerous input/output options.

That said, we did find that there’s a steep learning curve when starting out with the Maschine Mk3. Don’t worry, though, once you’ve mastered it, you’ll definitely appreciate all it offers. Some users also reported issues with software installation, so keep that in mind and seek support if needed. Finally, the standalone mode has limitations, but when paired with a computer and software, it really shines.

So, if you’re ready to invest both time and money into a powerful music production tool, the Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 Drum Controller might be the perfect fit for you. With its advanced features and intuitive design, you’ll soon discover new creative possibilities and elevate your music.

Professional Samplers Over $1000

Elektron Octatrack MKII

We think it’s a top choice for those seeking a powerful sampler with extensive functionality.

Pros

  • Versatile 8-track performance
  • Unique sampling workstation
  • Sturdy build

Cons

  • Steep learning curve
  • Expensive for older technology
  • No significant upgrades from the original

The Elektron Octatrack MKII is a reliable sampler that offers creative possibilities. With 8 tracks to work with, it’s an asset for any aspiring musician, producer, or singer-songwriter. The workstation feels sturdy, which ensures long-lasting durability.

However, new users may find it quite challenging to master. It takes some time to get accustomed to the interface, especially if you’re coming from another DAW or sampler. Having said that, once you get the hang of it, it’s a powerful tool with endless possibilities.

Another drawback is the hefty price tag, despite it being an older model. While it offers plenty of features, the MKII doesn’t have any significant upgrades compared to the original. So, it’s essential to weigh the value against the cost before diving into this sampler.

Overall, the Elektron Octatrack MKII is a fantastic choice for musicians who are willing to invest their time and money into an outstanding sampling workstation.

AKAI Professional FORCE

Get your creative juices flowing with this versatile, standalone music production powerhouse.

Pros

  • Standalone music production system
  • 64 pads for playing, sequencing, and performing
  • Excellent integration with studio equipment

Cons

  • Learning curve
  • Pricey
  • Heavy

Are you an aspiring musician looking to create and perform your music seamlessly? Look no further! We highly recommend the AKAI Professional FORCE. This standalone music production system features a 7-inch full-color touchscreen, making it easy to navigate and edit your work.

With the 8×8 clip launch matrix, you can trigger scenes/clips, step sequence, finger drum, and play note data on 64 pads. The built-in synth engines offer endless sound possibilities, while the system’s connectivity options keep you integrated with your studio setup.

But beware, the FORCE has a relatively steep learning curve. It might take some time to master all its features and controls. The price might also intimidate some, but for the quality and performance it offers, it’s worth the investment. So, if you don’t mind carrying around a heavier device, the AKAI Professional FORCE could be the ultimate companion for your music production journey.

Teenage Engineering OP-1 Field

We’d recommend this sampler for its cutting-edge features and ultra-portable design!

Pros

  • All-in-one ultra-portable synthesizer
  • 12 different synth engines and built-in effects
  • 24-hour battery life

Cons

  • Expensive price tag
  • May not be suitable for complete beginners
  • Quality issues reported by some users

As aspiring musicians and producers, we know how essential it is to have a versatile, powerful, and portable sampler. The Teenage Engineering OP-1 Field is all that and more! With an all-in-one synthesizer, sampler, drum machine, and sequencer, it offers a do-it-all solution in a very compact form factor.

What sets the OP-1 Field apart are the 12 different synth engines and built-in effects. These features give you endless creative possibilities to shape your sound or mix it up with different styles. From delays and reverbs to filters and vocoders, this sampler has got you covered.

However, the high price tag can be a significant drawback for some users. Be aware that this sampler may not be the best option for complete beginners due to its extensive features and somewhat complex interface. There have also been some reports of quality issues, which may affect your overall experience with the product.

On the whole, if you’re willing to invest in this powerful and lightweight sampler, the Teenage Engineering OP-1 Field can be a game-changer in your music making journey. Just remember to weigh the pros and cons carefully before making a decision.

Best Sampler for DJs

Pioneer DJ DJS-1000 Standalone DJ Sampler

Take your DJ skills to new heights with the powerful and intuitive Pioneer DJ DJS-1000.

Pros

  • Standalone DJ sampler with 16-step sequencer
  • 7-inch color touchscreen
  • 16 performance pads

Cons

  • Supports old DJ Link protocol
  • Relatively heavy
  • Not for beginners

We got our hands on the Pioneer DJ DJS-1000, and let us tell you – this thing is a game changer! It’ll elevate your DJ sets, making them stand out in the crowd.

The 7-inch color touchscreen is user-friendly and perfect for looping and sequencing your samples. Plus, the 16 multicolored performance pads give you total control over your beats.

But if you’re new to the DJ game or have a smaller setup, this sampler might not be ideal for you. It’s on the heavier side and works best with CDJ-3000 or other high-end DJ gear.

In summary, the Pioneer DJ DJS-1000 is a fantastic addition for experienced DJs looking to bring more creativity and versatility to their sets. Keep rocking on, musicians!

Best Sampler for Studio Use

AKAI Professional MPC Live II

This MPC Live II is perfect for producers craving portability and versatility.

Pros

  • Built-in speaker system
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities

Cons

  • Slightly heavy
  • High price point
  • May require some learning

Meet the game-changer: AKAI Professional MPC Live II. It’s a powerhouse sampler that allows you to carry your ideas wherever inspiration strikes. You can create and edit beats on-the-go thanks to its streamlined design that incorporates a built-in stereo speaker system, rechargeable battery, and wireless connectivity.

MPC Live II shines with its 16 velocity-sensitive RGB drum pads and high-resolution 7-inch touch display. You’ll find that this sampler provides the ultimate blend of control and creativity. The added Wi-Fi functionality allows integration with online platforms like Splice, expanding your sound library with ease.

The only downside to this stellar piece of gear is its weight and price. Weighing in at 8.8 pounds, it might be cumbersome for some. Additionally, with a higher price point, it may not be suitable for those on a tight budget. That being said, if you’re serious about making music, the AKAI MPC Live II is well worth the investment.

Best Sampler for Live Performance

Roland VERSELAB MV-1 Music Workstation

This all-in-one music workstation is perfect for modern music makers at any level.

Pros

  • All-in-one song production studio
  • High-quality Roland sounds and tools
  • Fluid, hands-on workflow

Cons

  • Overwhelming for beginners
  • MIDI input is 5 pins, not USB
  • Slight learning curve

We can’t help but be impressed by the Roland VERSELAB MV-1 Music Workstation. From its vast collection of over 3000 sounds to its array of modern vocal recording tools, this workstation has it all.

The fluid, hands-on workflow simplifies your music-making process. You’ll love the auto-pitch, harmonizer, and various other modern effects that’ll make your vocals shine. Moreover, the 4×4 pads and TR-REC step sequencer allow you to create great drums, basslines, and melodic parts.

However, be prepared for a slight learning curve. While this workstation is ideal for experienced producers, beginners might find it a bit overwhelming. Additionally, the MIDI input is a 5-pin connector, so if your controllers have USB, you’ll need an adapter. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll appreciate everything the Roland VERSELAB MV-1 Music Workstation has to offer.

Buying Guide: Key Features to Look For When Choosing a Sampler

Number of Pads

When searching for a sampler, you want to consider the number of pads. More pads give you more flexibility. Having various options will help you create a wide range of unique sounds and beats.

  • 4-8 pads: Good for beginners
  • 8-16 pads: Perfect for intermediate users
  • 16+ pads: Ideal for professionals

Storage Options

We can’t stress enough how important storage is! You need adequate room to store your samples and projects. Most samplers offer built-in memory, but having expandable storage options is a plus. Invest in a device with SD card slots or USB ports if possible.

Inputs and Outputs

To get the best experience, keep an eye on available inputs and outputs. You want multiple options for connecting your devices and instruments. Ideally, look for:

  • Audio inputs (1/4″ or XLR)
  • MIDI I/Os
  • USB ports

Connectivity Options

Nowadays, wireless technology is influencing the music industry. Having Bluetooth or Wi-Fi-enabled samplers helps you interface with apps and other devices. However, don’t let this feature be a deal-breaker; reliable wired connectivity is still crucial.

Sampling Capabilities

Finally, let’s talk about the heart of a sampler – its sampling capabilities. You need varied options for sampling rates, bit depths, and editing features. Make sure you can easily adjust the pitch and tempo as well. Trust us, having freedom in sampling choices will open up a world of creative possibilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is sampling?

In music production, sampling means taking a small part of an existing sound or music piece. We then incorporate it into our creations. Editing, chopping or looping the sample helps us create unique and engaging music.

We often use samples from different sources, such as records, live instruments, or even movies. But, always remember to respect copyrights and seek permission when needed.

What’s the difference between a drum machine and a sampler?

A drum machine produces percussive sounds. We use it to create beats and rhythms for our music. It generally has built-in patterns and a sequencer to program our drum patterns.

On the other hand, a sampler lets us import and manipulate sounds from various sources. We can edit, pitch, and warp these imported samples according to our needs. It has more flexibility, as it can process any type of audio, not just drums.

While drum machines focus on beat-making, samplers give us creative freedom to incorporate various sounds into our music. Both can be great tools for aspiring musicians and producers.


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