Review: Korg ElectribeS Rhythm Production Sampler
When Musician.com recently visited A Guy Called Gerald, the seminal junglist was busy exhorting sounds from a Korg Electribe EA-1 analog synth. But Gerald's not the only one. Korg's EA-1 analog synth and ER-1 rhythm synth have found favor with many artists for their unique sounds and ease of use. Now comes Korg's first sampler, following in the lineage and design of its trusty predecessors.
With the ElectribeS, Korg matches sequencer and a phrase sampler in one unit along with the companies' usual array of acclaimed effects. The ElectribeS looks almost exactly like its siblings, but with a change of color from hot pink to murky British green. Front panel service belongs to a three-character LED with big control dial, over 50 buttons including transport controls and step-sequencer pads, and ten control knobs which access performance margins of the samples and effects. Back panel includes left and right outputs, headphone jack, and MIDI in, out, and thru offerings. The device also features a Smart Media slot for sample storage.
The ElectribeS has ten multi-timbral parts, each of which can be assigned a single sample. It utilizes step-programming with 16 pads corresponding to the 16 notes of a bar. As the sequencer is playing, a light zooms through the pads in time with the loop, easily letting you zero in on any problems. Each sample can be manipulated in a variety of functions: Pitch/speed, filter, effect, roll, reverse, level and pan. This method of playing melodies can seem clunky at first, but once you master the technique, you can make pretty good use of what the ElectribeS has to offer.
Like its siblings, the ElectribeS also uses motion sequencers, which allow the user to incorporate front panel effects as part of a pattern. All of the unit's presets make hefty use of the motion sequencers so you can create all manner of swooshing, swooping and brain-addling effects. Sampling is a breeze with the ElectribeS, featuring a unique "Slice" function for automatic loop chopping.
The biggest pain with the ElectribeS, besides its maddeningly jumbled manual, is its practice of taking liberties regarding memory. For most, full knowledge of onboard sampling memory is an essential ingredient in music-making, but the ElectribeS will leave you clueless. The manual never cites the exact memory, but after much gleaming of the text, you can figure that the unit's Smart Media storage will take an average memory dump of 4Mb. The ElectribeS holds up to 95 second of samples so the rate is around the 22-30kHz mark, below the 44.1kHz rate of CD.
Will this lack of attention to detail sink the ElectribeS? Not hardly. Korg knows their market and what makes it tick. Look for the ElectribeS Rhythm Production Sampler to pop up alongside those other cool Korg toys of the trade.