The Korg ESX-1 is a sweet groove-oriented hardware sampler for electronic musicians or DJs producing any genre of electronic music.
I had an opportunity to test drive the Korg ESX-1 music production sampler. I hooked it up at my home studio. I was first impressed with its sweet-hot look and the built-to-last feel. I quickly learned how to get around, browse the pre-loaded samples and patterns, as well as how to manipulate the sounds with the filter, modulation, and effects sections. I wanted to try sampling something – anything. I happened to have an insert Y cable, which was good because the input is a single 1/4″ TRS input (it handles either stereo or mono). With a microphone linked, I sampled myself talking. Within a few minutes, I was able to take words like “one, two, three, four” and twist and shape them into an odd, yet cool groove that sounded nothing like speech. I like that! I enjoy taking the ordinary and turning into something totally different than the original sample. That was just with a few changes using the filter and FX.
I could have easily gone much further, especially if I delved into the resampling feature. However, I wanted to try out the basics first. I had played around with the pre-loaded drum loops enough to be totally convinced it’s an excellent tool for chopping up and messing around with your own grooves. I actually had recorded an electronic music artist in the past that used an earlier version of the ESX-1 and already knew it was powerful for going crazy with editing loops and grooves.
I knew it would sync just fine via MIDI, but I wanted to see how well it worked with staying in sync with the audio input. I played a song off of a CD that had a strong kick drum doing the “4 on the floor” thing. It will indeed detect the tempo by sensing the material coming in the audio input, but you need to stay on top of it. My conclusion is that a DJ could make good use of this feature if he/she sets aside a few seconds to make sure the ESX-1 is in sync with the music playing before allowing the ESX-1 to put out sound to the crowd. Like most things, it boils down to the person behind the technology. Other artists have done and will do amazing things with this!
Overall, I was impressed. It was easy and fun to use. Utilizing the three powerful effects engines, synthesizer-type control and modulation, and resampling, you can put out some awesome music with the ESX-1 alone! There’s also the twin tube feature. I found myself turning up the tube channel to about 1/4 of the way most of the time. It really does give it a “warm and beefy” sound. That’s just one of the things at your control though. There’s so much more to try out. I liked it. Turn it on, sample, ocean-deep sound shaping options, make music!!