Joined the Tribe

Posted in hardware by szachname on 07 March 2018

I am very happy with all the elements of my setup. the roles that my synthesizers and gear play, as it covers a lot of different sounds. I have two separate lead synth voices, separate decent pad/string source, two separate bass voices and two separate drum synths + a bunch of effects. All controllable, synced and ready for live performance.

I am always trying to avoid falling into the GAS scheme (from Wikipedia), the Gear Acquisition Syndrome, which has been defined as the all-consuming desire to expand your collection of gear. I try to follow the rule which once Adrian Utley mentioned (by the way - standing in a room full of synthesizers) - If I do not use this piece of gear, it got to go.

For me, having a limited setup is an inspiring, a more creative approach, so I am not looking at new gear and what kind of new sounds it could bring, but rather - how to achieve a similar effect using what I have and if I am unhappy with the results, I exchange the gear. In this regard, I am much keener on eg. sticking to TR-8 rather than buying a new TR-8S (the first model is basic as shit, while the TR-8S is a TR-8 + sampler with almost full automatization).

However, I broke the Utley's rule this year. Luckily I cannot afford to break it more than once a year, as tax income doesn't happen more frequently ;)

In my opinion, the most important sound in club music is drums. You can make a whole set using only one drum machine and a reverb or delay (this) or even taking it to the extreme. Just two weeks ago during one rave (Forest People), the crowd went mad when for few minutes the artist played a very heavy 4x4 bass drum only...

So the drums.

I had two drum machines - the rhythm performer TR-8 and the drum synth in JD-Xi. Actually, you can look at it as one and a half, as the JD-Xi, despite having excellent quality sounds, is a menu-diving synthesizer, so you usually just set additive loops of drums, rather than controlling separately parts of it like hi-hats, toms etc.

I had an intensive few weeks of looking for a piece of gear which would fill the gaps - various (not only Roland legacy sounds) drum sounds, one-shot samples, field recordings, a gear which can allow me to separately control as much as possible (number of steps, tempo, effects etc). and which is small (did I mention it always needs to be used or as cheap as possible? Music is not my only addiction). There is only one thing that comes to my mind when I think of all these qualities - a sampler/rompler (ROM player - a synthesizer which uses one-shot samples to create sounds).

One got most of my attention - KORG Electribe. They are usually used as jacks of all trades, the groove boxes (you have all types of one-shot samples and sample loops of different kind of sounds, bass, leads, drums etc. and you can compose or perform using only one piece of gear). Jack of all trades, master of none. I finally decided on getting an Electribe 2 Sampler. Here is why.

Having all other gear in my setup doing their role quite good, I decided to give Electribe sampler a specific role. To devote it to become a drum sampler/rompler only. I wiped all stock samples and patterns and recorded a set of my own sounds and variations. All of the sounds are only one-shot samples, not ready-made breaks or loops because I need a drum machine not a sampler per se. Therefore, the sampler changed to a drum machine or a rompler drum synthesizer. It is amazingly doing well in that role.

Why not TR-8S? It costs more, plus concentrating all drum sounds in one instrument, will make it much more limited to operate/adjust them individually. Why not a regular sampler like SP-404? Because it does not have the flexibility of groove box nor synthesizer, which I am looking for. Not to mention that both cost at least €250+ more. I also had to get a larger mixer so money was (luckily) a game changer.

Electribe 2S is limited, but as a drum synthesizer, it works amazingly well. A very common problem is that, despite having 16 pads, some sounds "consume" other and if you use many pads + effects at once the gear becomes unreliable. I have prepared mono (smaller) samples which did not last longer than 1 second? maybe 1,8? Problem is gone.

I love the fact that each pad is like a separate line - separate sound filter mods, effects, and length (the whole pattern might have eg. 16 steps, but each part can have its own length eg. 8, 14, which is excellent!). Electribe 2S also has a very limited memory - 240 seconds? However, you can load different sets of sounds live renaming the /KORG/e2SSample.all file on the sd-card. So you can have 240 sec x whatever you prepared. It takes around 30 seconds to open a new kit, while other gear is playing. My Electribe 2S shines.