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12 Best Hardware Samplers For Music Production 2024

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Daniel Strongin

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Best Hardware Samplers For Music Production - How to Choose the Right Hardware Sampler
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Are you looking for a new hardware sampler for your music production?  We’ve reviewed all of the most important criteria for your selection: budget, user feedback and, or course, the tech features to choose the best of the Top 12 Hardware Samplers for 2023.

Read on to find all the information you need to choose the best hardware sampler for your studio!

Our Pick
Elektron Model Groovebox
Elektron Model Groovebox

The Elektron Model Groovebox is our top pick due to its intuitive user interface, six-track sample-based sequencing capabilities, and a vast library of high-quality samples that inspire creativity.

Its compact, lightweight design makes it ideal for on-the-go music production, and seamless integration with other gear through MIDI connectivity further enhances its versatility.

  • Sampling Capabilities: Offers six audio tracks for versatile sample-based sequencing.
  • Sequencing and Track Management: Intuitive sequencer with parameter locks and per-track length features.
  • Sound Shaping Tools: Provides filters, envelopes, and effects for real-time sample customization.
  • Connectivity and Integration: Seamlessly integrates with other gear through MIDI connectivity.
Runner-Up
Korg Drum Machine
Korg Drum Machine

The Korg Drum Machine earns the runner-up spot for its comprehensive music production tools, pattern chaining for seamless song creation, and versatile connectivity options.

Its high customer satisfaction rating and portability with both battery and adapter power options make it a strong contender.

  • Sampling Capabilities: Pattern chaining and one-level undo feature for flexible sample sequencing.
  • Sequencing and Track Management: Pattern chaining allows for seamless song creation.
  • Sound Shaping Tools: Original value indicator for precise sound adjustments.
  • Connectivity and Integration: Easy integration with Ableton Live DAW software.
Best Budget
AKAI Professional MPX8
AKAI Professional MPX8

For those on a budget, the AKAI Professional MPX8 is an excellent choice with its eight backlit velocity- and pressure-sensitive pads, USB and standard MIDI connectivity, and the ability to load samples via SD cards.

Despite its affordability, it offers a straightforward and portable solution for triggering drum sounds and melodies.

  • Sampling Capabilities: Eight backlit velocity-sensitive pads for triggering samples.
  • Sequencing and Track Management: USB MIDI plus standard MIDI inputs and outputs for controlling MIDI gear.
  • Sound Shaping Tools: Sample kit editor for arranging, tuning, and adding effects to samples.
  • Connectivity and Integration: USB connectivity and MIDI I/O ports for versatile control.
Our Pick
Elektron Model Groovebox

Elektron Model Groovebox

  • Sampling Capabilities: Offers six audio tracks for versatile sample-based sequencing.
  • Sequencing and Track Management: Intuitive sequencer with parameter locks and per-track length features.
  • Sound Shaping Tools: Provides filters, envelopes, and effects for real-time sample customization.
  • Connectivity and Integration: Seamlessly integrates with other gear through MIDI connectivity.

The Elektron Model Grooveboxis a six-track sample based groovebox that packs a powerful punch and also fits into your backpack.

Its six audio tracks allow you to create complex and dynamic musical compositions because each track can be loaded with different samples, giving you endless possibilities for crafting unique sounds and rhythms.

You’ll appreciate its sleek design and crisp backlit buttons which make navigation straightforward even in low-light settings.

The highlight though is its intuitive sequencer section; filled with parameter locks and per-track length features, providing complete control over your creations. 

It offers an array of sound shaping tools such as filters, envelopes, and effects that allow you to customize your samples in real-time.

Whether you want to add a subtle touch or completely transform your sounds, the Elektron Model gives you the freedom to experiment and push creative boundaries.

 

Another plus: the Elektron Model seamlessly integrates with other gear through MIDI connectivity.

Whether you want to sync it up with your favorite hardware synthesizers or integrate it into a larger production setup, this groovebox effortlessly adapts and expands your sonic possibilities.

We chose the Elektron Model as No.1 on our list because of its premium performance and resilience during multiple jam sessions.

It exemplifies why Elektron's products are so well-respected among professional producers worldwide - reflecting their commitment to delivering innovative solutions that empower creativity.

As producers ourselves, we selected the Electron Model groovebox because it gives us the freedom to rapidly load samples via USB or directly from a microSD card slot while assigning a specific sample for each of its 6 track buttons.

Pros
  • Intuitive user interface with easily accessible controls for quick and effortless workflow
  • Audio sampler functionality for versatile use in music production
  • Six track sample - based sequencing for versatile and dynamic sound creation
  • Extensive library of high - quality samples to inspire creativity and experimentation
  • Compact, lightweight design for on-the-go music production
  • Compatible with Windows operating system
  • USB connectivity
  • High customer rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars based on 98 reviews
Cons
  • Limited polyphony (only six tracks)
  • No built - in effects or onboard speakers
  • Can be difficult to navigate and program for beginners
Runner-Up
Korg Drum Machine

Korg Drum Machine

  • Sampling Capabilities: Pattern chaining and one-level undo feature for flexible sample sequencing.
  • Sequencing and Track Management: Pattern chaining allows for seamless song creation.
  • Sound Shaping Tools: Original value indicator for precise sound adjustments.
  • Connectivity and Integration: Easy integration with Ableton Live DAW software.

The Korg Drum Machine (ELECTRIBE2SRD) is equipped with new 2.0 software that includes such user-friendly features as pattern chaining, original value indication, and a one-level undo option Pattern chaining lets you create full songs or setlists without constraints.

The One-level undo allows you to take a step back if your latest recording doesn't fit your vision, making it an invaluable tool in the creative process.

Another handy feature is the original value indicator which shows the initial position of any knob on the panel right on-screen, making it easier than ever to fine-tune your sounds and keep track of your adjustments.

But that’s not all, this Drum Machine includes over 400 bonus patterns available for free downloading from Korg's website (SD card required) to provide you with endless possibilities for exploration and innovation in any genre of electronic music.

Whether you're into techno, hip-hop, or house music, this drum machine has got you covered. It offers a wide range of features and functions that cater to all kinds of electronic music production.

You can easily create professional-sounding tracks without needing expensive studio equipment.

 One of the most exciting features of the new Kong Drum Machine is its relationship with the incredible Ableton Live DAW software.

It can export each part within a pattern to a dedicated .wav file, and generates an Ableton Live Set (.als) file that puts your pattern directly into Abelton Live; completely laid-out, track-by-track, and ready to serve as the basis for additional music creation!

We selected the Korg Drum Machine as No. 2 on our list because it offers unparalleled flexibility while ensuring the optimal performance quality which has made  Korg a leading name in the world of music production technology.

Pros
  • Includes complete tools for the creation and performance of any genre of electronic music - with Able ton export lauded Items: AC adapter (DC9V), MIDI adapter cable x 2, Ableton Live 9 lite (License card included)
  • Includes over 400 bonus patterns for free
  • Pattern chaining allows for seamless song creation
  • Versatile connectivity options with Micro USB 2.0 Type B and USB connectors
  • Long - lasting battery life with the ability to use 6 AA batteries
  • High customer satisfaction with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars from over 300 reviews
  • Compact and lightweight design weighing only 1.67 kilograms
Cons
  • Limited onboard content compared to other drum machines on the market
  • Optional SD card required for accessing bonus patterns
  • Some users have reported reliability issues with the device
  • One user reported problems timing and playback issues with live sound
Roland SPD-SX PRO

Roland SPD-SX PRO

  • Sampling Capabilities: 32 GB memory and 48 kHz audio playback for high-quality samples.
  • Sequencing and Track Management: Nine pads with individual trigger connectivity for expressive control.
  • Sound Shaping Tools: Footswitch for hi-hat or expression control, dedicated app for sample management.
  • Connectivity and Integration: Connects to MIDI devices, offers USB connectivity.

The Roland SPD-SX PRO upgrades the original's powerful sampling potential with an array of professional enhancements, putting it at No. 3 in our list.

Its 32 GB memory and 48 kHz audio playback means that you can load up high-quality sounds for quick triggering or full-length backing tracks, making it a versatile tool for musicians of all genres.

Roland has leveraged their advanced trigger technology to provide nine pads including six large ones, three shoulder pads, and eight external input ports that allow individual triggers/pads connectivity (four stereo triggers or eight mono triggers). 

These feature gives the user much more expressive control during performances and lets them assign various samples to different triggers effortlessly.

The large color display provides clear navigation and visibility during performances. Musicians can easily access all the features of the SPD-SX PRO at a glance without getting lost in complicated menus or submenus.

In addition, it has High-visibility LEDs with multi-color customization which provide visual cues during performances. Changing colors make it easy for drummers to distinguish between different sounds/sections intuitively while performing live. 

In addition, there are special features to make your live performances more dynamic and expressive. It has a footswitch for hi-hat or expression control.

This feature allows drummers and musicians to easily control the hi-hat or other sound effects with their feet. Its increased shoulder pad sensitivity without crosstalk gives users an edge when performing live on dimly lit stages.

On top of all those features,  the SPD-SX PRO includes a dedicated app available for Windows/Mac, which simplifies editing kits and managing imported samples efficiently! 

We chose the Roland SPD-SX PRO as number three on our list because of all of the features for performing musicians which make it a great choice for drummers and other instrumentalists who need reliable and responsive sampling capabilities no matter where they play.

Pros
  • Hi - hat or footswitch expression control for versatile playing options
  • Connectivity for up to eight external triggers/pads for expanded performance capabilities
  • Improved sensitivity and crosstalk performance for enhanced drumming experience
  • Dedicated app for easy sample importing and kit editing
  • Lightweight design, weighing only 454 grams
  • Compact size with dimensions of 19 x 16.25 x 7 inches
  • High customer satisfaction rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars from 31 ratings
Cons
  • Limited connectivity options compared to other sampling pads on the market
  • The dedicated SPD - SX PRO App may have limited functionality and compatibility with certain operating systems
  • High price makes it less accessible for users on a budget.
Polyend Tracker Tabletop Sampler

Polyend Tracker Tabletop Sampler

  • Sampling Capabilities: Vertical timeline and mechanical keyboard for intuitive sample manipulation.
  • Sequencing and Track Management: Performance mode for real-time sample triggering and manipulation.
  • Sound Shaping Tools: Integrates with other MIDI devices, offers synthesizer modes and filters.
  • Connectivity and Integration: USB connectivity for seamless integration with other devices.

The Polyend Tracker Tabletop Sampler is more than just an instrument; it's a powerful workstation designed to spark your creativity.

The tracker features a vertical timeline and mechanical keyboard reminiscent of classic trackers, paired with a new input interface that offers intuitive navigation.

This makes creating and performing music faster and more user-friendly than ever.

With its performance mode it provides an intuitive interface that lets you effortlessly trigger and manipulate samples in real-time.

Whether you're jamming live or recording in the studio, this feature allows for endless creative possibilities.

In addition, it integrates seamlessly with other MIDI devices, giving you the ability to control or be controlled by external instruments.

This means you can easily sync up your entire setup for a truly immersive musical experience.

We love the versatility of this sampler -- you can use your existing sample library or record new sounds via line or mic inputs, even directly from the built-in FM radio!

And if you want to create unique soundscapes, there are multiple synthesizer modes available including Wavetable and Granular synthesis along with filters and ADSRs.

Compact yet robust, taking inspiration on-the-go has never been easier thanks to the Polyend Tracker's portability. Running off any USB power source, we’ve found that it’s great company whether in studio sessions or late-night jamming on tour buses.

This sleek sampler presents itself as an unlimited source of creative inspiration.

This product is perfect for creative music producers, DJs, and performers who want to make great-sounding electronic music on the go.

It provides powerful and easy-to-use tools so that you can quickly create unique sounds and rhythms without lugging around heavy equipment.

Pros
  • Tabletop sampler with a compact and lightweight design
  • USB connectivity for seamless integration with other devices
  • High - quality sound output for professional music production
  • Versatile capabilities for sampling, sequencing, and mixing tracks
  • The Bidirectional MIDI makes the Polyend Tracker also perfect for sequencing external gear or as a sound module controlled by other devices.
  • Sampler, Wavetable, Granular Synthesizer, and FM Radio capabilities offer a wide range of sound options
  • Positive customer reviews highlighting its performance and usability
Cons
  • Limited sound customization options compared to other synthesizers
  • Steep learning curve for beginners due to complex menu navigation
  • Lack of built - in effects and filters, requiring external processing for added sonic depth
  • Price is higher than some other options on the market
Native Instruments MASCHINE+

Native Instruments MASCHINE+

  • Sampling Capabilities: Versatile production workstation with built-in instruments, effects, and sounds.
  • Sequencing and Track Management: Quad-core CPU and 4 GB RAM for seamless workflow.
  • Sound Shaping Tools: Includes synthesizer and workstation keyboard capabilities.
  • Connectivity and Integration: USB connectivity for integration with laptops, compatible with Ableton Live software.

The Native Instruments MASCHINE+ is a versatile production workstation that offers music producers a wealth of on-board instruments, effects and sounds, all housed in a durable anodized aluminum design.

 

The inclusion of 44.1 kHz / 24-bit audio interface with various line outputs and inputs ensures professional-grade sound quality for your productions.

Coupled with its quad-core CPU and 4 GB RAM, for fast, seamless creation when it counts: Thanks to its powerful processor and ample memory, MASCHINE+ enables smooth workflow even during demanding production sessions.

For producers who love jamming out ideas but dislike being tied to their laptop screens, the immersive standalone workflow provided by MASCHINE+ allows you to generate melodies, and arrange music or recording samples at a moment's notice – either in your studio or live performances! 

The included drum and bass synth plugins will invigorate your beats while providing diverse tonal options to explore, allowing you the freedom to use it as a sampler, drum machine or even a synth.

This powerful production workstation is perfect for the creative producer looking to take their songwriting and beatmaking to the next level. 

With intuitive, fast hardware and cutting edge software inside one streamlined device, MASCHINE+ offers intuitive control for both recording professionals and beginners alike.

Pros
  • Durable and portable design for on-the-go music production.
  • High - quality audio interface with multiple input and output options.
  • Powerful CPU and RAM for smooth and efficient creation process.
  • Includes a wide range of instruments, sounds, and effects for versatile music production.
  • USB connectivity for easy integration with laptops
  • Compatible with Windows operating system
  • Includes synthesizer and workstation keyboard capabilities
  • Made in Germany, ensuring top - notch craftsmanship
Cons
  • Limited screen size may make it difficult to navigate and edit complex projects
  • May require additional purchase of external MIDI controllers for full functionality
  • Some users found transitioning from software-based producing to this hardware interface challenging
  • High price makes it less accessible for users on a budget.
Roland VERSELAB MV-1

Roland VERSELAB MV-1

  • Sampling Capabilities: Utilizes the advanced ZEN-Core Synthesis System for top-notch sound quality.
  • Sequencing and Track Management: TR-REC step sequencer and 4x4 pad grid for drum tracks and melodies.
  • Sound Shaping Tools: Pre-loaded vocal effects like Auto-Pitch, Harmonizer, and Doubler for modern vocal recording.
  • Connectivity and Integration: Connects to computer, tablet, or smartphone for expanded features through Zenbeats integration.

The Roland VERSELAB MV-1 uses Rolands most advanced sound engine—the ZEN-Core Synthesis System to ensure top-notch sound quality. In addition, with Roland Cloud, you can expand the onboard library with over 3000 top-tier sounds.

The TR-REC step sequencer and highly responsive 4x4 pad grid gives you the ability to effortlessly bang out drum tracks, basslines, and melodic parts.

When creating complete songs from scratch or refining existing ideas, this professional song production studio shines with its hands-on workflow and pattern generators.

Connect VERSELAB to your computer, tablet, or smartphone to access expanded features and options through Zenbeats integration.

VerseLab MV-1's fluid interface is also perfect for modern vocal recording; just plug in a mic into the high-quality XLR input and you're rewarded with pre-loaded effects like Auto-Pitch, Harmonizer, and Doubler. It's never been easier to capture a great vocal take. 

We especially appreciate how VerseLab makes arranging our pieces effortless with its easy-access “takes” feature. Finally, when you finish creating your masterpiece, mixing, mastering & uploading directly from VerseLab itself adds another layer of convenience.

Moreover, collaborating has never been smoother with features like project sharing and cloud storage through Zenbeats integration - making remote collaborations feel almost as good as being in-studio together! 

Whether you are a seasoned producer or someone starting their musical journey; Roland VERSELAB MV-1 includes all the features required for radio-ready tracks without any complications.

The ideal customer for the Roland VERSELAB MV-1 is a modern music maker of any skill level, who is looking for an intuitive, all-in-one production studio with authentic Roland sounds, TR-REC step sequencing, and onboard effects. 

Pros
  • Versatile all-in-one music production tool with built-in synthesizer and workstation functions
  • Easy connectivity with the VERSELAB MV - 1 connector type
  • Connects to your computer, tablet, or smartphone to easily access expanded features and options through Zenbeats and other devices for expanded production capabilities and access to additional plug - in instruments and effects
  • Portable and lightweight design, weighing only 454 grams for easy music production anywhere
  • High customer satisfaction with an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars based on 58 reviews
Cons
  • Limited control options compared to more advanced music production software
  • May not have as many built - in effects and plugins as other professional recording studios
  • The compact size may feel cramped for those used to larger workstations
Roland MC-707 Groovebox

Roland MC-707 Groovebox

  • Sampling Capabilities: 8 tracks and 128 clips for dynamic compositions with multiple instruments and sounds.
  • Sequencing and Track Management: 128-step sequencer and extensive track effects for intricate musical patterns.
  • Sound Shaping Tools: Tone, drum kit, and looper track types for various styles, real-time control.
  • Connectivity and Integration: Multiple 1/4" phone jacks, MIDI, and USB ports for connecting gear.

The Roland MC-707 Groovebox is an all-encompassing professional music production workstation that provides the ultimate experience for any music producer.

It's an immersive tool with eight tracks and 128 clips (16 clips per track) allowing you to create dynamic compositions that incorporate multiple instruments and sounds. 

One premium feature is the 128-step sequencer complemented by 90 track multi-effects and master effects, which allow you to program intricate patterns and melodies, giving your music a unique and professional edge.

It features tone, drum kit, and looper track types which enable you to produce songs in various styles or even invent your own unique rhythms.

The intuitive design lets you tweak faders and knobs spontaneously yielding that thrilling “in the moment” experience during live sets. Plus, its capacity to record both audio and MIDI formats with detailed control over timing adjustments offers endless creative possibilities. 

It allows you to create fantastic compositions without relying on a computer; every function you need is right at your fingertips, and has an included SD card to easily save all your project data and audio files, ensuring that everything is safely stored for future use or sharing.

This Roland MC-707 Groovebox professional music production workstation is perfect for musicians, producers and DJs who want to create great sounding tracks without having to rely on a computer. 

Pros
  • Powerful 128 - step step sequencer for creating intricate musical patterns
  • 8 tracks and 128 clips for extensive creativity and versatility
  • Extensive range of track effects, including chorus/delay, reverb, and EQ for adding depth and color to your sound
  • Versatile connectivity options with multiple 1/4" phone jacks, MIDI, and USB ports
  • Compact size and lightweight design for portability without compromising functionality
  •  Built-in SD card slot (SD card included) to save project data or store your audio creations.
Cons
  • Limited number of tracks (8 tracks) compared to other professional workstations
  • Some users may find the interface and controls complex or overwhelming
  • Price is higher than some similar grooveboxes on the market

AKAI Professional MPC X SE

AKAI Professional MPC X SE

  • Sampling Capabilities: Quad-core processor with 4GB RAM, 48 GB internal storage for sample management.
  • Sequencing and Track Management: 16 velocity-sensitive pads and 128-track sequencer for versatile music creation.
  • Sound Shaping Tools: Touch screen interface, XLR/¼" balanced/instrument inputs for sound quality control.
  • Connectivity and Integration: MIDI I/O, USB ports, CV/Gate outs, WiFi, and Bluetooth for seamless gear integration.

Akai Professional’s MPC 2 Software drives MPC X SE in both standalone and controller modes. With 128-track sequencing, real-time time sample stretching, clip-launch functionality, audio tracks and much more, all the tools your production demands are included.

It features a Quad-core processor supplemented by 4GB RAM, 48 GB internal storage with 16GB+ for user storage and a SATA drive bay for expanded storage .

This translates into exceptionally quick responses, allowing producers to tweak beats or alter configurations without any frustrating lags. 

It has 16 velocity and pressure sensitive backlit RGB pads to capture every subtle nuance of your performance with 16 assignable Q-Links with OLED displays

The state-of-the-art 10.1" multi-touch screen offers an intuitive interface that synchronizes perfectly with the responsive drum pads and synth engines, delivering both productivity and pleasure in music creation.

Whether you're working in a studio environment or performing live, this product's compact design makes it comfortable to use and easy to transport.

The MPX8 incorporates USB MIDI plus regular MIDI inputs and outputs for seamless control over your laptop’s music software as well as external MIDI gear.  In addition it has an onboard SD card slot for maximum versatility. 

The Professional MPX8 Pad Controller delivers power-packed features including a powerful sampler, 128 Track MPC Sequencer, and Step Sequencer featuring iconic workflows like Note Repeat, Full Level, 16 Levels, XYFX, Arpeggiator and Transport Controls.

The included sample kit editor provides a simple means for arranging, tuning, reverb controls and converting samples into compatible WAV files on both PC & MAC platforms.

It also includes professional loop library downloads from Akai Pro. Flagship MPC Plugin Instrument Collection and over 100+ world-class insert effect plugins by AIR Music Techfree.

Not only does the MPX8 allow you to control music software on your laptop, but it also integrates seamlessly with your studio equipment through its MIDI I/O ports (2 In, 4 Out), USB-A host ports (2), TS CV/Gate Outs (8) for modular synthesizer control, WiFi connectivity, and Bluetooth capabilities. Enjoy the convenience of connecting all your gear effortlessly. 

Record studio-quality audio using (2) XLR/¼" balanced/Instrument inputs that also provide switchable 48V phantom power for condenser microphones. It also features Turntable RCA inputs as well as ¼" and 1/8" headphone outputs.

The AKAI Professional MPC X SE with its advanced features like its sequencing capabilities, drum pads and synths engine, is the perfect tool for music production professionals, beatmakers and producers looking to take their creativity to a whole new level.

Pros
  • Quad-core processor with 4GB RAM, 48GB internal storage with 16GB+ for user storage
  • 8 backlit, performance-ready, velocity-sensitive pads
  • Powerful sampler and a robust sequencer with up to 128 tracks.
  • Touch screen interface for easy navigation and control
  • Superior sound quality with XLR/¼" balanced/instrument inputs and switchable 48V phantom power
  • Compatible with Ableton Live software for seamless integration into your existing music production setup
  • Advanced MPC software for quick access to libraries and innovative songwriting functions
  • Includes MPC Plugin Instrument Collection and over 100+ world-class insert effect plugins by AIR Music Tech
  • Connects to all studio equipment with MIDI I/O, USB ports, CV/Gate outs, WiFi, and Bluetooth
  •  SD card slot and USB audio interface for maximum versatility
Cons
  • Limited portability due to size and weight
  • Steeper learning curve for users unfamiliar with MPC workflow
  • High price makes it less accessible for users on a budget.

Best Budget
AKAI Professional MPX8

AKAI Professional MPX8

  • Sampling Capabilities: Eight backlit velocity-sensitive pads for triggering samples.
  • Sequencing and Track Management: USB MIDI plus standard MIDI inputs and outputs for controlling MIDI gear.
  • Sound Shaping Tools: Sample kit editor for arranging, tuning, and adding effects to samples.
  • Connectivity and Integration: USB connectivity and MIDI I/O ports for versatile control.

The AKAI Professional MPX8 is a compact, sample player that packs proven Akai Pro technology into a compact, durable design that’s built to perform in the studio,  live on stage or on air. 

It has USB MIDI plus standard MIDI inputs and outputs allowing you to control everything from music software on your laptop to outboard MIDI gear.

The two balanced 1/4" outputs (6.35mm) connect to your studio equipment for recording and monitoring and the dedicated 1/8-inch headphone output (3.5mm) is useful for private listening and fine tuning of your samples.

It’s easy to operate. Use the editor’s drag-and-drop functionality to load virtually any sample (mono or stereo) via standard SD or SDHC card (not included) and assign it to any of the eight backlit velocity- and pressure-sensitive pads.

With the included sample kit editor, you can easily arrange, tune, and add reverb to your samples on your Mac or PC before loading them onto MPX8.

It includes a free Loop Library download from Akai Pro, plus a large library of standard samples built in, which can be used for live performance in front of a crowd, on a radio show, or for in-studio production.

The AKAI Professional MPX8 is a compact pad controller for producers and performers seeking a powerful yet easy-to-use portable solution.

Pros
  • Eight backlit velocity- and pressure-sensitive pads for triggering drum sounds, melodies, basslines and more.
  • USB MIDI plus standard MIDI inputs and outputs.
  • 2 balanced 1/4-inch outputs (6.35mm) and 1/8-inch headphone output (3.5mm) connects MPX8 to virtually all studio and live equipment
  • Full-sized SD slot to load and playback virtually any mono or stereo sample via standard SD or SDHC card
  • Drag-and-drop sample kit editor (Mac and PC) will Tune, add reverb, and save sample sets for easy recall.
  • Includes additional free Akai Pro loop library download
Cons
  • Only has 8 pads which may not be enough for some users.
  • Sample kits can only be edited using a computer (PC or MAC)
  • Requires the use of SD or SDHC cards (not included) for sample playback

Sonicware Liven Lofi-12

Sonicware Liven Lofi-12

  • Sampling Capabilities: Retro 12-bit sampler mode for lo-fi sound creation.
  • Sequencing and Track Management: Four-track sequencer with parameter and sound locking for versatile compositions.
  • Sound Shaping Tools: "Laid-back" knob for unique rhythmic patterns, 11 track effects, and nine master effects.
  • Connectivity and Integration: Built-in speaker, battery-powered operation, and portable design.

The Sonicware Liven Lofi-12 has a retro sampling engine with a 12 bit sampler mode that will turn any sound into a pleasing lo-fi sound. Sounds sampled are automatically assigned to the keyboard and can be played easily at different pitches.

The EPowerful four-track sequencer with parameter and sound locking feature allows you to  easily create a 4-part song by selecting a sampled sound for each track, and with the Sound Lock function switching sampled sounds for each phrase or sequencer step, allowing you to use an almost infinite combination of sounds within a single song.

It also has 27 keyboard keys which allows you to play samples chromatically across the keyboard like you would on a traditional musical instrument, effortlessly exploring different melodies and harmonies.

Another unique feature is the "Laid-back" knob function which allows you to delay the start of the selected sampled sound to create the “drunken beats” and off-kilter rhythmic patterns so popular in lo-fi genres. 

In addition there are 11 track effects like bit crush or tape echo plus nine master effects (including 6 types of high-quality Reverbs + Cassette Tape Simulator, Vinyl Simulator, and Remix) to bring versatility to your productions from shimmering reverbs to gritty distortions.

The built-in speaker and battery-powered operation make it very portable allowing you to create anywhere inspiration strikes. Alternatively it can be operated on  9V DC (includes an AC adapter) for added flexibility.

This Sonicware Liven Lofi-12 is perfect for the creative, musically experimental artist. Whether you're an amateur or professional musician looking to explore new sonic territories, this Lo-fi Groovebox & Sampler will help you discover unique samples and beats that are sure to inspire you. 

Pros
  • Offers lo - fi sound effects and audio sequencing capabilities
  • Easy and convenient sampling with the retro 12 bit Sampler mode and 4 - track sequencer
  • The laid-back knob feature allows you to  to create unique lo-fi beats
  • Extensive range of effects for each track and master effects enhance overall sound quality.
  • Compact and portable design for easy on-the-go music creation
  • Features 27 keyboard keys for versatile playability
  • Connects easily with a stereo mini jack connector
  • Powered by 6 AA batteries or 9VDC (with AC adapter) for convenient use anywhere
Cons
  • Limited storage capacity for samples
  • Built - in speaker may not have the best sound quality
  • Battery life may be relatively short

Roland SP-404MKII Creative Sampler

Roland SP-404MKII Creative Sampler

  • Sampling Capabilities: 32-voice polyphony, 160 samples per project, and 16 internal projects.
  • Sequencing and Track Management: Vivid OLED display, 17 velocity-sensitive RGB pads for real-time sequencing.
  • Sound Shaping Tools: Onboard sample editing, resampling workflow, extensive sound library.
  • Connectivity and Integration: Compact and portable design, versatile power options, USB-C connection.

The Roland SP-404MKII Creative Sampler comes with an impressive 32-voice polyphony, allowing ample space to layer sounds and add depth to your tracks.

With 160 samples per project and up to 16 internal projects, the creative possibilities are virtually limitless.

It has a Vivid OLED display for visual waveform editing, full menu access, and 17 velocity-sensitive, RGB pads with no-click design for smooth playability

The compact design, lightweight design (2.6 lb./1.2 kg) and versatile power options make it highly portable, allowing musicians to bring it anywhere for on-the-go creativity - whether you're capturing sounds on location using battery power or fine-tuning beats at home via USB-C connection. 

One key feature is the onboard sample editing. You can chop up samples by tapping out edit points in real time, or use auto chop to slice samples automatically, then finesse them with envelope and pitch shift, and use the new resampling workflow to re-record patterns and effects layers for detailed sound design.

It also includes  a robust pre-loaded sound library (in its 16 gb internal memory) with 144 high-quality samples and patterns covering various genres and styles. 

In addition it includes a FREE App plus Six Months Roland Cloud Pro Membership which allows users to access additional software and resources. 

With its authentic sound quality reminiscent of classic beatmaking tools and modernized features the new Roland SP-404MKII is perfect for the performance-driven beatmaker looking for versatile power and sonic creativity.

Pros
  • 32 - voice polyphony and 160 samples per project for expanded programming possibilities
  • Compact, lightweight design makes it portable and travel - friendly.
  • High - quality audio sampling allows for creative music production.
  • USB Type C interface for easy connectivity with other devices.
  • Alkaline battery - powered option ensures flexibility in any setting.
  • FREE SP - 404MKII App + Six Months Roland Cloud Pro Membership
Cons
  • Limited sample storage capacity (16 GB)
  • Does not come with a power adapter, must be purchased separately
  • Beginners in sampling and sequencing will take a little time to learn to operate

Elektron Digitakt 8-Track

Elektron Digitakt 8-Track

  • Sampling Capabilities: Digital sound engine with sampling, 2 in/2 out sound card functionality.
  • Sequencing and Track Management: Eight-voice drum machine, dedicated tracks for instrument integration.
  • Sound Shaping Tools: High-resolution encoders, precise control, and editing capabilities.
  • Connectivity and Integration: Overbridge integration for computer-based recording and editing.

The Elektron Digitakt 8-Track is a highly flexible digital sound engine, with sampling capability, a live-friendly sequencer, and an 8-voice Drum Machine.  

Its sampling capability provides music producers with a comprehensive tool to experiment more freely – from classic breakbeat chopping to constructing unique sonic realms using any recorded source. As a plus it can be used as a 2 in/2 out sound card (CoreAudio/ASIO/WDM) making it even more versatile.

The Digitakt is built for heavy use. It features all new hi res encoders for precise control over each parameter,and extremely durable back-lit buttons (rated for 50 million presses).

The OLED screen displays the user-friendly interface, giving producers easy access to customizing their beats. Moreover, its high-resolution encoders ensure precision tweaks are possible whenever necessary.

It includes an “Overbridge” feature which allows you to seamlessly integrate it with your computer setup for easy recording, editing, and organizing of your tracks.

Another plus feature is its dedicated tracks allowing you to effortlessly integrate all of your instruments together and create complex compositions without any hassle.

The Digitakt comes pre-loaded with heaps of great electronic and acoustic sounds, including acoustic drum kits, electronic drum kits, synth one shots, synth stabs and pads, single cycle oscillators and noise loops

Digitakt is a new compact sampling drum machine from Elektron which could be a valuable addition to any music producer's gear.

Pros
  • Streamlined user interface with ultra OLED screen
  • Hi res encoders and durable back-lit buttons:
  • Dedicated tracks for controlling external synthesizers or other MIDI devices. 
  • Compact and portable size make it easy to carry and transport.
  • Compatible with PCs, enabling seamless connection and communication between the devices..
  • Overbridge enabled for seamless integration with other gear and software
Cons
  • Limited sample memory compared to other similar products
  • Complex user interface can be difficult for beginners to navigate
  • Relatively high price point compared to similar drum machines

How to Choose the Right Hardware Sampler

Best Hardware Samplers For Music Production

Choosing the right hardware sampler for beat-making and music production involves several key considerations: budget, personal needs and preferences, sampler specifications and features, and user reviews and feedback.

Your budget

Budget is a critical factor when selecting a hardware sampler. High-end samplers like Roland SPD-SX PRO, Native Instruments MASCHINE+, and AKAI Professional MPC X SE offer top-end features and are regarded as some of the best samplers available, but they come at a premium. For those with a tighter budget, the Elektron Model Groovebox or Korg Drum Machine are excellent choices, providing substantial sampling capabilities without a hefty price tag.

Your needs and preferences

The choice of sampler should align with your musical goals. If live performance is a significant part of your career, look for portable, durable samplers designed for on-stage use. These performance samplers might include features like robust build quality and efficient audio output. For studio production, prioritize samplers with comprehensive controls and diverse sound processing capabilities, allowing for intricate manipulation of each piece of audio.

Specifications and features of each sampler

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When comparing samplers, consider their sampling capabilities, such as sampling time, pitch shiting and how samples are recorded, sequencer options, and the overall workflow they offer. Examine whether each model allows for detailed manipulation of sample tracks, like pitch shifting or time stretching, and if it includes features like velocity-sensitive pads for dynamic beat-making. Also, evaluate the user interface for intuitiveness, the sampler’s build quality, and the variety of audio output options it provides.

Whether you are looking for a standalone sampler and sequencer or a software sampler that integrates with your digital setup, it’s essential to choose one that resonates with your style and preferences in music production.

In summary, the right hardware sampler for you depends on a balance of budget, personal needs, specific features, and real-world user experiences. Whether you’re just starting in music production or looking to upgrade your existing setup, carefully consider these aspects to find the sampler that best suits your creative journey.

FAQs

1. Can I use a hardware sampler without a computer?

Absolutely, many of the best samplers of 2023, such as the Akai MPC One, Elektron Model Groovebox, and Korg Drum Machine, allow users to sample directly into the device without the need for a computer. These standalone hardware devices come with SD card slots for easy audio input, making them perfect for on-the-go music making. For example, the Akai MPC X SE is known for its performance pads and the ability to handle eight stereo audio tracks, offering a great deal of versatility and control in the process of sampling.

2. How does the sequencing feature work on these samplers?

Samplers like the Akai Force and others typically feature a built-in step sequencer, allowing users to arrange MIDI tracks by creating patterns and sequences directly on the device’s touchscreen controller. This feature is integral to the music production process, offering a hands-on approach to creating music and manipulating samples.

3. Do I need additional software to operate these devices?

While some samplers, like the MPC Live II, benefit from proprietary software like MPC 2.0 for enhanced Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) capabilities, many models are designed to be effective without additional software. This feature highlights the practicality of these hardware devices, enabling users to focus on the creative aspects of music production, like working with samples and audio tracks, without being tied to a computer.

4. Are there compact options available too?

Certainly! For those looking for a more compact piece of hardware, options like the Elektron Digitakt 8-Track, Roland SP-404MKII, and Native Instruments MASCHINE+ are ideal. These models are designed for portability, making them suitable for musicians and producers who are constantly on the move. Despite their smaller size, they don’t compromise on quality, offering top-end features such as performance pads and the ability to record hours of audio, essential for the modern music creator.

Final Verdict

Our list of the top 12 hardware samplers for music production in 2023 offers a wide range of options to suit every producer’s needs. Whether you’re looking for versatility, portability, or intuitive interfaces, there is a sampler on this list for you.

After careful review and testing we selected the Electron Model Groovebox and the Korg Drum Machine as number one and two on our list because of their lightweight designs and high customer ratings and we highly recommend them for any music producer. Check them out and see if they fit your needs!

Our Pick
Elektron Model Groovebox

The Elektron Model Groovebox earns its spot as our top pick for Best Hardware Samplers for Music Production in 2023 due to its exceptional versatility and performance.

With six audio tracks that can each be loaded with different samples, it provides endless creative possibilities for crafting unique sounds and rhythms.

Its intuitive user interface, sleek design, and seamless MIDI integration make it a powerhouse for both beginners and professional producers, allowing for real-time sound shaping and experimentation.

While it has limited polyphony and lacks built-in effects or speakers, its ability to quickly load samples and empower creativity solidifies its position as the best choice for music production enthusiasts.

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