Korg Electribe EMX-1 SD Sequencer/Synthesizer
When the Korg Electribe EMX-1 (MSRP: $499) sequencer/synthesizer launched, Ableton Live and Reason were only a few years young. Now software's infinite possibilities are ubiquitous, but a dedicated groovebox still provides a certain presence. Indeed, immediacy propels the EMX-1 SD, with an updated SecureDigital card-storage slot and PCM sample banks, introducing contemporary genres such as mnml, chiptune, and dubstep. But what's not changed is key: Slider-ribbon arpeggiator controls inject feeling and an analog tube stage provides saturation. Whether custom-sculpting envelopes or oscillators on each of 16 steps or recording realtime triggers and parameter modulation (knob movement is printable to pattern playback), tone modeling the five mono synths and nine drum parts is intuitive to chain. Ultimately, the best applications are augmenting tempo-synced performances (even as an external audio filter or MIDI time/movement generator) or looping gain-rich parts for a DAW (or sampler such as brother unit ESX-1 SD). The focus is narrow in the best way, concentrating on spurring discovery and drive.