A lil box that packs a punch
The Korg Volca Sample – First off, there’s no beating the purchase price. It’s mega cheap. Especially for what it does.
Each of the 16 the Korg Volca Sample’s buttons along the bottom of the unit can be programmed to a sample of the Artists’ choosing. Thanks to the help of a program called Vosyr, you’re not limited to only stock. Vosyr allows you to build your own sample packs with the intention of adding these in at a later point. Armed with only an 1/8″ cable you can connect the Volca Sample directly into the headphone jack on your computer. That is quite literally all that’s required in order to load one’s own samples. That and some patience as it stores the data. The important part here is not only that it is easy but it is accessible. Anyone can build a sample pack with just a little bit of time.
Price be Damned
The Korg Volca Sample sports a few bells and whistles too. For it’s extremely affordable price (prices vary from what I’ve noticed but I got mine for $120 used) these are a pleasant surprise. It’s not only about it’s capacity to allow you to arrange the sounds. It’s also about having a wide span of parameter settings to fuck with.
Tweak your pre-loaded sounds
Is your hi-hat hit a slight bit off the beat? Don’t sweat it! The Start Point and Length knobs allow you to ‘slide’ your hit on over a bit to suit the beat. To boot, you have Analog Bass and Treble knobs to your far-left. Beef up or thin out your samples using the bass and treble knobs. Do NOT neglect this feature. It is extremely handy. Is your pitch off? Doesn’t quite fit melodically with the rest of the samples being used? Again, don’t sweat it. Thanks to the Level knob you can change your pitch up or down to match your needs. You have control over attack, decay and the EG, amongst other parameters. What’s also super cool is that you can add reverb or a swing tempo on the fly. This is thanks to the knobs of the same namesake to your upper-right.
Korg Volca Sample Pack Versatility
Aside from creating badass rhythms you can make this device into something wholly different every time you use it (if you wish). It’s my favorite concept behind this instrument. Literally each time you pick it up you can have a different instrument in your hands from the one you had when first picking it up. Very intriguing notion.
Warning About Sample Pack Replacement
If you do overwrite your current programmed sounds, they are gone. If you saved your sample pack in Vosyr, you’re good. You can reload that pack in whenever you like. However, if you don’t have your sounds saved, kiss them bye-bye when you overwrite. Now that we’ve got that out of the way – Since this is a basic sampler, it stores your sounds and it is a matter of RAM being utilized that determines how many sounds you can house. In other words, it only holds a maximum of 4 MB, or 65 seconds, Keep this in mind when creating your sample packs.
Using it in your Full Setup
You can store 10 banks of patterns across a 16 key step sequencer. You can save 6 ‘songs’, or arrangements of your sequences across the keys above 10. If you’re a big analog user like me, the sync I/O is an indispensable resource on the sample which works fantastically. I frequently use the Out to go into my SQ1‘s sync so in effect, the Sample is the brain over tempo for my entire set up.
Give a Digital Boost to Analog
Since the Sample also happens to be digital in nature, you will never need to guess your BPM again. Even on devices which don’t necessarily ‘tell’ you their tempo, like the Moog Mother 32, or DFAM, you’ll never lose track rhythmically again with the Sample properly chained into them. To put it simply, tempo knob = matched tempo across devices (if patched properly). This f***er even has a MIDI in on it. Korg really hit the ball out of the park with this one. I’ve owned the Volca Keys and FM in the past. Honestly, they are a joke compared to the Sample, which is a beast.
Creating a Sample Pack
Please don’t let me influence your usage of this amazing device, but I’d like to explain how I handle storage so it won’t ever really be an issue for you. I follow a few simple rules when creating a sample pack
1. – Set boundaries on your Korg Volca Sample. I never use a clip that goes over one second. Even if the sample stems from a longer sound, I will go into Logic and trim that sucker down to 1 second flat.
2. – No matter how spacey you may want to get with the Sample (and you can get waaaay out there), leave yourself at least a few percussive sounds. I always try to leave a closed hi-hat, snare hit, hand clap, and a nice thick bass drum amongst my first few loaded sounds and go from there.
3. – Think about what you’re adding into the sampler. Am I loading in two sounds that are too close to one another? Was this intentional? Will I actually use this noise practically? Is it so long that it will span the entire beat once triggered? Is it so short that I can’t fit it in anywhere? These are all valid considerations when building your sample pack(s).
All in all, I’d recommend the Korg Volca Sample as a great jumping off point for your setup. I’d recommend it no matter what point in your setup you may be. Again, you can’t beat the price for the functionality. It’s small enough to toss in a backpack and bring around with you. It even has a built in-speaker and runs on battery (with optional power supply) to enhance portability. Do yourself the favor and pick one of these up. You won’t regret it from either a musical or wallet standpoint.
I hope you’ve found this post helpful! Please feel free to leave comments within that section of the page and keep rockin’ and rollin’!