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Micro Monster!

Alex Greggs of electro-dancehall kings South Rakkas Crew road-tests Korg’s new Micro Sampler…

The Korg Micro Sampler is the newest addition to Korg’s already successful Micro series. But does this mini unit deliver the goods? DJmag asked production wiz Alex Greggs of electro dancehall champs South Rakkas Crew — famed for releases on Diplo’s Mad Decent label, and fresh from a studio collaboration with BPM Tech Awards judge Pete Gooding — to put the machine through its paces…

“After a 10-minute initial session, we had this thing rocking and grooving, with its built-in pattern sequencer and filters. Once you’ve messed with the Korg for a while, it is pretty simple to use. It’s like the other keyboards in the Micro range, in that there isn’t a steep learning curve to get this thing sounding pretty cool.

The front panel seams pretty straightforward — there is the standard volume dial, a ‘pattern select’ knob for the built-in sequencer, a ‘sample type’ knob for the five types of sampling that can be selected, a ‘one-hit sample’ button and FX knobs, but what was missing for us was separate knobs for added tweaking of the filters. To access these, dive into the menu to select the filter of choice, then use the value and parameter knobs to modulate the sound.

There is a range of effects on offer, with one of the cooler effects being the ‘decimator’, with editable controls that allow progressions from a clean sound all the way to a 4-bit-Justice-meets-Atari-madness type-sound. Other effects include your standard delays and reverbs.

We like the quick way you can sample and assign the sounds to the keys of the Korg. The Micro Sampler can sample from three different sources: Line input from the rear of the box for direct input from keyboards or computers; Mic input from the built-in mic or any XLR mic that can be plugged in allowing sampling of vox or external noises; or Re-sample from the internal outputs, for sampling internal sounds with the Kaos FX on.

Once sampled, it’s possible to apply standard settings, such as playback modes, like ‘one-shot’ for drums and FX, or ‘loop’ mode for pads and string sounds that can be held for a lifetime of decay. ‘Sample start’ and ‘end’, ‘truncate’, and ‘reverse’ can also be set for each sample. This unit has some built-in sounds, such as strings, bass and electric pianos — they are OK, but not going to win any prizes. The built-in drums and loops are not quite on the cutting-edge, either. The bottom line with the presets is that Korg needs to get more modern in the range of sounds that are shipped with the Micro Sampler, to show off its full potential.

The Micro Sampler is a great little keyboard for those needing a machine that sits on stage, or in-between DJ decks, allowing DJs to sample and enhance their DJ or MC skills on-the-fly. Sampling is easy and designed to be quick and functional.

It needs a minimal amount of leads and desktop space, so integrating this with a live rig is a breeze. It’s also a great Midi controller for soft synths with USB connection and/or real Midi connecters. The free software editor is cool, but more for home use than serious on-the-road editing.

The price point is a little high if you think of the Micro Sampler as a Midi controller that has a mic that can be fed to your mixer with sample capabilities. Korg have gone out to make something for everyone, and almost made it with the Micro Sampler but we think it fell a little short, as there could have been a few extra features that would have made this unit a killer. What would make this the ‘must have’ box that everybody would want would be a built-in Vocoder and extra knobs and sliders for the filters, but space is at a premium on this little unit. An actual Kaos Pad on the front that would allow control of the FX would have been ace, but this is a wish list, and you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

All this being said, we like the Micro Sampler, it’s not going to replace the samplers that we would use in the studio, but it’s a cool keyboard that can add some extra production and performance elements to our live gigs.”

Verdict

Price   £436.00
Contact   korg.com
Build Quality
  4.0
Ease of Use   4.0
Features   3.5
Value for Money   3.5
Sound Quality   3.5
Hype   A great, simple sampler for use in DJ or Live sets to add extra performance.
Gripe   Would have liked a few more knobs and sliders to make this even more tweak-able.
Conclusion   A good unit that is slightly pushing it on the pricey side for what it does. Nonetheless, it’s a useful option for DJs who want to get a little more creative with their sets.
Overall Score   3.5/5