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Best samplers of 2020

2020 was a difficult year, but it also blessed us with some outstanding new studio equipment releases. As we prepare for 2021, we take a look back at some of the best releases of the last 12 months, picking out our favourites.

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Third place: Korg Volca Sample 2

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We were fans of the original Volca Sample, but Korg’s 2020 update brings this affordable little sampler-groovebox up to date. The changes are fairly subtle, but they make all the difference, mostly in the case of the new USB socket which allows you to upload your own samples much more quickly and easily than before. Aside from the updates, it’s still the same quick and fun instrument we know and love.

Read our full review of the Korg Volca Sample 2 here.

Runner-up: 1010music Blackbox

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Hailed by some as a modern take on the original MPC concept, the 1010music Blackbox is a simple but highly capable instrument. The touchscreen is the key here, and although the graphics aren’t much to write home about, it’s the centre of the action. Load up a bunch of sounds, bang out some beats and jam them into entire song arrangements. It’s a tiny little powerhouse.

Read our full review of the 1010music Blackbox here.

Winner: Polyend Tracker

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Tracker programs are niche even by the hardcore standards of music tech nerds. Polyend’s refreshingly original approach revitalises the sample-based sequencing approach for the 21st century. The Tracker is a completely modern take on the 80s software format, packaged this time around in a standalone hardware box rather than an Amiga 500 floppy disk. It’s different to anything else on the market, which might not necessarily be a good thing, but it’s executed so well here that it’s worth the effort to get to grips with its unorthodox approach. The Tracker forces you to work in different ways, but that’s a big part of its appeal.

Read our full review of the Polyend Tracker here.

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