electribesamplerangle

Few pieces of music hardware ever have had the impact that KORG’s electribe series has. And there was a time when playing live almost equated to showing up with this gear. Today, KORG has a genuinely new generation of that hardware, long awaited by fans. The engines under the hood are new, finally taking the tech we’ve seen on various KORG gadgets and building it into the flagship production gizmos. They allow for more live performance scenarios.

And in a first, you can use an electribe to build patterns for Ableton Live, creating on-the-go or onstage patterns you can bring back into your live studio.

And in a nod to the endless rise of the MPC-style grid, these are electribes with pads on them. There’s still an X/Y pad, but it’s shrunk to dimensions resembling a trackpad. And there are loads of knobs, the effect being oddly reminiscent of Swedish drum machine maker Elektron as much as something from KORG.

There are actually two electribes today: one called simply “electribe,” the other “electribe sampler.” (Yes, that new capitalization is official, too.)

electribe

Pad workflow. The 16 pads (2×8) can be a real-time recording keyboard or step sequencer. And you can use “step jump,” inspired by the volca series, or change length. True to KORG, there’s also motion sequencing for knobs and buttons.

These pads are apparently inherited from the taktile keyboards (yes, by popular demand, we’ll have a CDM review of that). They’re velocity-sensitive, though you can switch that off if your finger drumming chops are deficient.

electribetop

electribeback

electribeside

Touch pad. That X/Y pad now uses a touch scale from the kaossilator – jam with your fingers without any wrong notes.

New synth engine. Yes, there’s a serious synth inside. 409 oscillator waveforms cover both analog modeling and PCM. The analog-modeled synth engine includes basic waves as well as dual, unison, sync, ring modulation, and cross modulation combinations. PCM KORG says focuses mainly on rhythm but also has multisamples for melodic material. And there’s the filter engine from the KingKORG, too – with the ability to route drums through the same filter.

Now, this isn’t really a full-blown synth as far as control; think macro-style controls of a deeper engine. That makes the electribe synth into more of a preset box than a sound programmer’s dream, but this is an electribe, after all. (KORG promises presets covering the genres you kids like so much like “trap” and “EDM,” which makes us shudder. But as with KORG gear of yore, I’m sure we’ll dial our way to the stuff we actually like.)

Per-part effects, grooves; live performance features. Of course, you really get into electribe territory once you start adding effects and such and actually jamming.

There’s now per-part compression and overdrive, per-part insert effects, and per-part groove templates, so not everything is master-bus stuff.

This being an electribe, when you do start applying master effects, you get KAOSS Pad-style control on the touch pad. Seq Reverse and Odd Stepper apply even to the sequencer. And, so you can alienate your friends, there’s a “Vinyl Break” effect. (Yay! Actually – augh! No! Turn it off!)

The performance additions look really nice. “pattern set” lets you switch patterns with the trigger pads. You can then record that sequence of pads as an “event recording” – so you can jam on arrangements with the pads, then save that jam (either to store a performance live or to experiment with arrangements).

I/O and batteries. MIDI in/out, sync in/out for the volca, mono tribe, and MS-20/MS-20 mini, and battery operation on 6 AA’s. This is simply a killer mobile unit.

electribe sampler

electribesampler

The electribe sampler is basically the same as the electribe; the easiest way to tell it apart is its darker gray color.

The difference is the sound engine, which on the sampler (versus the standard electribe) is a hybrid sampler-synth engine.

You still get analog modeling sound engine. (It seems this is missing all the PCM melodic content, but that’s it.)

In place of the preset PCM engine, you can add your own samples – 999 preset and user samples, with a maximum 270 seconds of sampling time (in mono, or half that for stereo).

Time Slice automatically detects attack transients, so you don’t have to do any work to slice things up. And there’s of course pitch-independent tempo changes. You can take slices and add them to steps or parts, or add per-sample effects.

There’s also resampling, with knobs controlling pitch or modulation.

synthsamplercontrols

All in all, the sampling workflow looks terrific, intuitive, and very electribe-ish. Add that to the enhanced performance features, and to me, electribe sampler looks like a real winner.

You can also see the differentiation here between the volca sampler and electribe sampler. I don’t think that’s so much market differentiation between the two – there’s little risk of the volca cannibalizing electric sales – as it is that fundamentally, the volca is a different animal. It’s really designed to be simpler and cheaper philosophically.

Sample rate is 16-bit/48K. There’s a stereo minijack line input for sampling.

Both units feature USB, MIDI in and out jacks, and an SD card for storage.

When Ableton met electribe

electribeableton

It used to be, if someone said they were playing a live set, they actually meant they were showing up with ElecTribes. These days, of course, it’s Ableton Live. And Live is a wonderful tool, especially when combined with hardware like Push. But … yeah, we miss the old hardware days.

Then again – why choose?

What may turn out to be the killer feature of the new electribe generation is that it now exports to Ableton Live sets. KORG even says it’s a collaboration with the folks at Ableton.

Your patterns and parts are saved to scenes and clips. Open these files on your computer, and you see them inside a Live Set.

There’s even a copy of Live Lite in the box, but — yeah, you probably don’t need that.

No need for explanation here – this is huge. You now have a battery-powered unit you can use away from Ableton Live that can make drum parts, melodic parts, and even live sample, and then you can finish off songs and arrangements back on your machine. If you like starting songs on hardware and getting away from the computer, or if you want to integrate KORG’s hardware with your live set and then later turn jams into songs, it’ll be a beautiful combination.

All in all, I think the electribe is some of the best news on the market in a long time for hardware workflows.

No word yet on price or availability, but I hope we’ll be first in line for a review.

electribe

electribe sampler

  • Paul Rose

    want one!

  • Paul Rose

    would be great if it works the other way round and I get to paste my live set from the computer into the electribe and can play it live without a computer.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Eep – yes, it’d be nice, but no chance. I actually took a look inside the Live file format. It’s… complicated. And there are too many variables going computer->export, anyway (plug-ins?)

      I think in this case, what you really want is just an electribe set. Have to look at how the sample import workflow would go in that case.

    • Normalised

      looking inside complicated file formats sounds just like my kind of fun. quite tempted now. :)

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Anyone can look. Open up the ALS file – it’s a package, so just show contents on Mac – and inside you’ll find XML. ;)

    • http://sequadion.com/ Sequadion

      Well, at least it’s XML and not a proprietary binary format… I have made a hack for Music Hack Day Berlin last week, that lets you choose a track from SoundCloud, analyzes that track with the Echo Nest API and generates an Ableton Live project with pre-sliced clips for you to download. Creating the ALS file was only tricky because there is no public documentation for it, but it’s easy enough to figure out with some trial and error.

      Demo: http://mash.cfs.im/

      Code: https://github.com/zstorok/mash-for-live

    • Aaron

      A developer would have access to the file format specfications that would make it very easy to read. The difficulty would come in the implementation of the device loading such a file.
      Anyways, I would bet my ass that “load out” technologies/hardware will become more and more common place in the not to distant future…even full daw load outs. For example, theres no reason that Propellerheads as a easy example (since Reason is mostly self contained/proprietary) couldnt start work on that today if they haven’t already.

  • Eric Ameres

    Just when I was feeling “satisfied” with my hardware setup, hope they’re priced no more than the volcas !!!

  • Michael Aldridge

    If their MIDI-out capabilities for controlling external gear (perhaps not the main point of the gear I know), is similar to what’s available on the majority of Elektron’s gear (again, not the main point) then that would be fantastic.

    I owned an Electribe EMX-1 for a bit and while I liked using it as a standalone box, it was also great for computer-free external hardware sequencing!

    Can’t wait to find out the price!

    • Cables

      This was the first question for me also: will it be able to sequence external gear? I think many people buy the Octatrack to use it as a standalone Midi sequencer and use the sample engines for percussion / resampling. I would be pleased if KORG is offering a cheaper solution for this purpose.

    • Michael Aldridge

      @disqus_b8gfPQU6Ob:disqus yea that’s basically what I would like. Having owned an Octatrack in the past, that was one of the things I enjoyed most about it. Something nice about having a hardware method of controlling outboard gear rather than always using the computer!

    • max

      Exactly.. I use the OCTA as a midi sequencer / hub in my hardware setup , but rarely use the sampler , coz i find it unintuitive. If this little fellow can do a similar job i’m ditching the OCTA instantly. Please say it can !

    • David LaBrie

      I’m also REALLY interested in knowing this. If I could send midi out to a midibox and control two or three other synths independently of each other with the Sampler it’d be unreal. It’d be the new “brain” in my setup and I could be completely OTB.

  • Aaron

    Curious to see more about this. FYI – “Touch pad. That X/Y pad now uses a touch scale from the kaossilator – jam with your fingers without any wrong notes.” — Korg ESX/EMX touch strip also did this before the Kaossilator came out (and can be combo’d with the retrig).

    • Aaron

      Also, considering these are basically the 2 long awaited follow ups to the ESX/EMX it is worth noting that those 2 machines also have this – “There’s now per-part compression and overdrive, per-part insert effects, and per-part groove templates, so not everything is master-bus stuff. ” Hopefully the fx are well expanded upon though.

    • Aaron

      er..minus the groove templates..

  • AreWeNotmen?

    Can’t wait to see more demos of this. If the functionality is just deep enough and the sounds are right, it looks like it might be a cheaper digital alternative to what the Dave Smith Tempest actually offers.

  • DBM

    I imagine there will be other differences to the sound engine to set these apart ( I’m sure they want you to want them both , right ?) the sampler version only has 3 filter types according to the spec page as were the other has 16 . I assume the modulation and fx ” presets/ templates ” will differ as well .

    What I am most curious about is the ” pseudo polyphonic ” parts . Is there some actual poly or paaraphonic parts to play or just a new way to explaine the old electribe osc’s that mimic chords or fiths ?

  • raulduke

    Oh Korg, how I love thee for making cool sh*t none of the other big manufacturers think of.

    These both look awesome. Integration with Ableton Live is the icing on the cake IMO.

  • Alex Juno

    I’m so glad that I wasn’t the only one who shuddered at the mention of “Trap”!

  • Andres

    So, this is suposed to work with Ableton Live. Ok, and how should I sync it? I see no midi in or out….

    • SFM

      They are using the 3.5mm midi just like the new Akai products. Probably comes with adaptors, but it has in and out if you zoom in on the image.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      From the specs: “Use an included MIDI adapter cable”

      So there really is MIDI in and out. There’s also a micro USB port, so you could also run MIDI over USB.

    • David Schroeter

      They are the two ports on the back labelled In and Out with the MIDI logo on top, comes with the adapter cables.

    • Ashley Brown

      on the back of the machine is clearly a midi in and out using the sterojack size cable.

  • David Schroeter

    Oh, wow. What a dream for producing on the go or live performance! Two questions: can it function as a MIDI controller (doubtful) and are the four big lights underneath in the video from the device itself??

    • DPrty

      The Electribe MX functioned as a Midi controller so I don’t see why these wouldn’t.

    • David Schroeter

      Looks like yes and yes!

  • djkm

    For those asking, the price, according to one site, at least, is £329 – http://www.guitarguitar.co.uk/digital-drums/detail.asp?stock=14090410150432

    • David Schroeter

      That seems high. My immediate thought was $350 retail, $300 street USD. If they can get it to $250 street they’d sell freightloads.

    • djkm

      I didn’t expect it to be cheap, but 2x a volca would seem reasonable.

      Hey, it’s korg’s own fault for setting unreasonably high expectations when it comes to ‘bang for your buck’ with the volcas in the first place!

    • David Schroeter

      That’s true! Although (good) analog is expensive. I think most of the hardware cost for these would come from the display and pads. All the digital internals are cheap.

    • echolevel

      Bear in mind that you can’t really do an exchange rate calculation on a UK guide price to get a US price; even though our tax is fixed throughout the country and almost always included in the price (unlike US per-state sales tax), prices are still always much higher than in the US. We’re used to getting ripped off. $350 retail – actually, I think you might be near the mark for a US price there. The UK price might come down a wee bit closer to release (although loads of outlets have the same price listed for preorder, so maybe not) but I think US customers will probably do relatively well out of this one. As usual…

    • David LaBrie

      Really? $400 street seems like a steal to me for the Sampler. The original Electribes cost more than this new 10+ years ago and these do so much more.

    • Neil Mitchell-Goodson

      My Electribes (ER1 & EA1) were both more like £189 new, 13 years ago.

    • http://vrpr.org/ Henry

      Yes, but 13 years ago, £189 were much more worth than they are today. So, don’t compare apples with pears.

    • David LaBrie

      The EMX and ESX were $500+. The SD versions even cost that much when they were released four years ago.

    • Neil Mitchell-Goodson

      Yeah, I’m way old school! I do remember the ES1 being a lot more expensive – around £249 or so – noticeably more than the EA1 and ER1, which were both around £159 – £189. I remember thinking they were good value at the time.

    • David Schroeter

      I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, then. Again, the internals here are dirt-cheap now. Flash memory and microprocessors have plummeted since the originals. But hopefully we’ll find out soon enough!

  • jef l.

    This is one of the most beautiful hardware designs I’ve seen on music gear since maybe Push. Looks lovely. I had no interest in Electribes before but that just changed!

    • Pablo

      So you buy the hardware depending on the design?

    • jef l.

      So you redefine the term “interest” to mean “buy”? WIth gear, like girls, the hardware catches my eye and then I check it out. It’s called being human.

  • André et Michèle

    Would love to see a vid of the sampler for comparison w/ the volca sampler . . . Watching the electribe vid makes me nostalgic for the metal Electribes: while Korg is nailing it w/ pricing/size in these newer units, it’s too bad it’s at the expense of more rugged/ergonomic hardware. Curious to learn more all the same though!

    • squaretooth

      It has a metal chassis. “Chassis: Zinc die cast.”

    • André et Michèle

      Nice, will have to wait and see/feel in person!

  • http://vrpr.org/ Henry

    Errr… Good looking? These guys look more plasticky than an SH-101.

    • Will

      I thought the same at first; then I watched the video. It looks lovely.

    • Edward On-Robinson

      I thought the same, but the case is made out of die-cast zinc, which is a massive plus.

  • Moody

    Need to see Denkitribe have a go at them.

  • FitFreddy

    where’s the valve?

  • Virtual Flannel

    Hey guys some prices are showing up. http://www.interstatemusic.com/958843-Korg-Electribe-Music-Sampling-Workstation-ELECTRIBES.aspx Looks like $400 for the Electribe sampler. Game changer at that price.

  • cooptrol

    I was really put off lately with the groovebox type hw availability.. I tried Elektrons but their logic doesnt make sense to me, I thought I was gonna have to stick to my old EMX for ever… but today is a great day, this was big news all morning long, and I’m not a bit dissappointed.. They nailed it: the new features are killer, and at $ 400 it’s a beautiful deal.. Korg please: fire that Volca team (only iOS for the volca sampler?? cmon!!) and keep the Tribe guys…

    • ej

      why would you want them to fire the volca team? think about product diferentiation for a brief moment and i am sure you will figure out why they did not include direct sampling in that sample playback volca unit…

    • cooptrol

      well not that Korg is gonna listen to me and those guys will lose their jobs, i’ts a hyperbole

  • Ashley Brown

    awesome. i used to use an EA1 and then EA1 mk2 was synced with ableton live for my live show. The integration for live / production on this is awesome feature and at £350 would be a really cool piece of kit.

  • Six Fingered Deformity

    didn’t read anywhere if you can port ableton live sets to the electribe. that would be very nice!

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      That’s because you can’t. ;)

      Seriously, much too complicated to implement that.

  • Al Dub

    take my money you bastards!

  • Aiki

    As a long time user of both the ESX and EMX this is exactly what Ive been waiting for, the only things that arent covered in the specs that Id like to see is more than 1 LFO per voice and a decent quality reverb as the reverb on the older models was a bit too grainy for some styles of music. I have an elektron RYTM and I think its likely to get replaced by the new electribe sampler when it comes out.

  • jef l.
  • http://theditchparty.tumblr.com/ evolakim

    Now this is exciting. I will definitely be getting the Sampler!! I too, miss the hardware days. But my hardware set up is becoming pretty sweet. I was just thinking about who was going to make a hardware sampler that could be useful and not insanely expensive (Octatrack). Looks like I found it.

  • Best Legs

    @peterkirn:disqus any idea if this will include the ChordScale feature that is on the new Korg Taktile keyboards?

  • Tekknovator

    any news about the price? This looks sooo much like a load of fun :D
    About the LIVE import feature, I can import from my Yamaha Motif into Cubase complete projects and then control the motif with a plugin. Not that new really though…

  • Joe

    Per the Sweetwater “Korg expects to begin shipping the new Electribe Sampler in March, 2015.”

  • Gabriel Rey-Goodlatte

    I wonder what the Live export is like? Does it just export loops as audio files (for each part or something)? Or does it export the samples to a drum rack or sampler, and export the patterns as MIDI (which I’d much prefer – would give you a lot more flexibility to start patterns on the electribe then be able to continue working with them creatively in Live).

  • LA

    from Sweetwater:

    “$399.99″

    “Korg expects to begin shipping the new Electribe Sampler in March, 2015″

    http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/ElectribeS

    pardon if this info is already in this thread. this thing looks great.

  • Svmdddm

    Polyphony finally but korg really needs to quit the marketing term ‘analog modeling’ they do that everytime they have something that’s not analog they it’s absolutely top of the bill analog modeling which means you can use knobs. You would never hear clavia talk about analog modeling like a little biitch just make a good synth analog or not but dont be such a fake aass sbiitch about it.

    • Leroy Jenkins

      Derp

  • http://theditchparty.tumblr.com/ evolakim

    I’m so excited about this. When are they coming out