Roland’s 2021 reboot of their classic SP-404 sampler was one of the big music gear stories of 2021 and it looks like Roland have a hit product on their hands but how does the new SP-404MKII stand up against one of its big rivals: the Korg Electribe 2 Sampler?
While both the SP-404MKII and the Korg Electribe 2 Sampler have plenty to offer the creative producer, in terms of features and workflow the Roland SP-404MKII has the clear edge over its older Korg Electribe rival.
I’ll start my comparison with a look at one of the key features of these samplers – the pads. The Roland SP-404MKII has the edge here thanks to its 6 velocity-sensitive, 9-color RGB pads. The Korg Electribe meanwhile has 16 x velocity sensitive trigger pads plus 1 x X/Y touch pad for effects control.
With the Electribe Sampler you can use the pads as a keyboard to realtime-record phrases, and perform step recording by entering the pitch and rhythmic value one note at a time.
5 Cool Features of the SP-404MKII:
- Can actually sample! Sample from your mobile devices via USB-C or stream audio directly to the SP-404.
- 16GB onboard storage.
- Impressive OLED screen.
- Improved and expanded effects including Lo-fi, Cassette Simulation, and Resonator.
- DJ mode lets you mix and manipulate 2 audio files and play with 8 controls per ‘deck’.
5 Cool features of the Korg Electribe Sampler 2:
- Hands-on Korg Kaoss style effects manipulation.
- Export your projects to Ableton Live.
- Modulation sequencer.
- Hynbrid synth engine as well sampler.
- Use the pads as a keyboard to create riffs.
The Roland SP-404MKII features 6GB onboard storage and support for 32GB SD cards.
The Electribe sampler has 999 sample slots and 270 seconds total sampling time with support for SD card and SDHC cards.
The SP-404 has always boasted plenty of Roland’s high quality effects and the enhanced MKII adds even more toys to get creative with. New effects include Lo-fi, Cassette Simulation, and Resonator and the Mic/Guitar input benefit from new Vocoder, Auto-Tune, and Guitar Amp Simulator effects. The SP-404MKII’s updated resampling workflow mean it’s fast and easy to process your audio on the fly and bring the resampled audio into your arrangement. In total you get 37 x Multi-FX, 2 x Input FX plus a Vocoder, Vinyl Simulator, Auto Pitch and Guitar Amp Simulator.
The Electribe sampler is no slouch in the effects department either. It boasts 32 insert effects and 38 master effects with Delay, Chorus, Flange, Overdrive, EQ and Reverb.
The Electribe sampler also boasts a Kaoss-style X/Y pad (replacing the ribbon controller found on previous Electribe models) for hands-on control over the main effects parameters. Use the X/Y pad to create filter sweeps and play scales and arpeggiations. The Electribe features an internal modulation sequencer that lets you record your hands-on manipulations onto your pattern for even more creative potential.
The SP-404 features 32-voice polyphony. The Electribe has 24 voice polyphony.
File formats supported:
The new SP-404 is the clear winner here with support for the most common file formats WAV, AIFF, MP3 ; App: FLAC & M4A
Below you can see a table showing the main inputs/ouputs of both samplers:
|Korg Electribe Sampler:||Roland SP-404MKII Sampler:|
|1 x 1/8″ (audio In), 1 x 1/8″ (sync in)||2 x 1/4″ (L/mono, R), 1 x 1/4″ (mic/guitar)|
|2 x 1/4″ (main Out), 1 x 1/8″ (headphones), 1 x 1/8″ (sync out).||2 x 1/4″ TRS (L/mono, R)|
|MIDI I/O||2 x 1/8″ Type A (In, Out), USB|
|USB: 1 x Micro-B||USB: 1 x USB-C|
The Electribe sampler is powered by AC Adaptor or 6 x AA Battery. The SP-404 is powered by AC adapter and can also be powered by 6 x AA battery or USB bus power.
|Korg Electribe 2 Sampler:||Roland SP-404MKII Sampler:|
|Weight:||3.53 lbs.||2.42 lbs.|
Expect to pay around $499.99 for a box fresh SP-404MKII and the Electribe. If you’re on a tight budget then a used Electribe Sampler can be picked for less than $300.
Summary: Roland’s SP-404 has always enjoyed a cult following but it’s a machine whose limitations made it a somewhat frustrating tool for many, especially those producers who had become spoilt by the near infinite possibilities of a computer and DAW setup.
The new 2021 SP-404MKII model brings some much needed and thoughtful updates and helps establish Roland as a major player in sampler based music production once again. Expect the SP-404MKII to become a much sought after sampler in the years ahead.
In contrast, the older Korg Electribe Sampler is starting to show its age now (and was a somewhat flawed machine right from day one) but it still has a few tricks up its sleeve and it’s an incredibly easy piece of gear to get to grips with too so don’t dismiss it as a cheap toy. It’d be great to see Korg launch an updated and enhanced version sometime soon but for the time being the SP-404MKII is King.