The 10 Best Audio Samplers
This wiki has been updated 7 times since it was first published in May of 2020. As the revival of old school synthesizers has grown, the call for hardware samplers has grown as well. Our list has options for almost any budget, and we've included both dedicated machines and combination units that also offer sequencing and synthesis capabilities. Whether you want a portable device for beat making on the go, or a robust piece of studio gear, we've got options to fit your needs. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
June 19, 2020:
There's no doubt that many of the models on our list have price tags that may shock a curious new musician. If you're new to the world of hardware electronic music, the most affordable options to help you get started would be the Teenage Engineering PO-33 or the Korg Volca Sample. These machines are definitely basic, but their sampling abilities are more than robust enough to create interesting beats, and learn the basics of how more advanced options work. Though their price point makes them friendly to beginners, these devices are also popular amongst experienced musicians as metaphorical sketch pads, which can be used to quickly explore musical ideas while away from the studio.
On the other side of the spectrum we have extremely high-end pieces of gear that are essentially a studio in a box. Though their workflows may be slightly more limited than a software based DAW, it is completely conceivable that one could make a complete song with just one of these devices. The Elektron Octatrack MKII, Akai Professional MPC Live II, and Teenage Engineering OP-1 are all extremely feature rich devices with immense creative potentials. The latter two feature digital synthesis engines in addition to their sampling abilities, and while the Octatrak MKII may lack this particular feature it cannot be discounted due to its powerful performance features and excellent build quality.
Models like the 1010music Blackbox, Elektron Digitakt, and Electribe 2S lie somewhere in between the previously mentioned categories. While these devices generally have limitations compared to the most expensive models, such as fewer parts, less varied inputs and outputs, or an inability to timestretch, they should not be underestimated. These grooveboxes are all more than capable enough to fulfill most people's sampling and sequencing needs, and they work excellently in concert with a DAW or an array of other hardware instruments.
Polyend Tracker The Polyend Tracker is a recently released device that has excited many because of its reasonable price, build quality, and unique sequencing format. It's a purpose built machine that isn't as versatile as some other grooveboxes on the market, but those who are interested in tracker style music creation will be hard pressed to find another piece of hardware that emulates it so effectively. polyend.com
Elektron Model:Samples Elektron has traditionally been known as a company that only makes very high-end and expensive devices, but the Model:Samples represents their first foray into making relatively affordable options. Its workflow, control parameters, and build quality land it somewhere between something like a Korg Volca Sample and the more expensive Elektron Digitakt. elektron.se