The Roland SP-404 Sampling Workstation is an iconic piece of gear in the Lo-Fi Hip-Hop community. The pad completely dominates the global beat scene and is known to be a powerful instrument in both a studio setup and live on stage. The unfortunate news is the 404 comes with a $549.00 USD price tag and that’s not a little bit of money. What if I told you $3.99 could get you practically the exact same thing the SP-404 gives in function? Well, I wouldn’t be lying.
Meet the Koala Sampler
Koala is the ultimate pocket-sized sampler. Record anything with your phone’s mic instantly. Use Koala to create beats with those samples, add effects and create a track! Koala’s super intuitive interface helps you make tracks in a flash, there is no brake pedal. You can also resample the output of the app back into the output, through the effects, so the sonic possibilities are endless. Its design focuses totally on making the music making progress instant, keeping you in the flow and keeping it fun, not getting bogged down by pages of parameters and micro-editing.
- Record up to 64 different samples with your mic
- Transform your voice or any other sound with 8 superb built-in fx
- Resample the output of the app back into a new sample
- Export loops or entire tracks as professional quality WAV files
- Copy/paste or merge sequences just by dragging them
- Create beats with the high-resolution sequencer
- Keyboard mode lets you play chromatically or one of 9 scales
- Quantize, add swing to get the right feel
- Add any (or all) of the 8 effects to the entire mix
- AudioBus 3.0 compatible
- MIDI controllable
- Jam with others over WiFi with Ableton Link
- Built-in Microphone FX: more bass, more treble, fuzz, robot, reverb, octave up, octave down & Synthesizer
- Built-in DJ Mix-FX: bit-crusher, pitch-shift, comb filter, ring modulator, reverb, stutter, gate, resonant high/low pass filters
As an SP-404 owner and a Koala Sampler user, I can say it’s not ridiculous to use both. Chopping samples and running effects feels great on a physical piece of hardware. Tapping on a touch screen alone doesn’t give the same analog satisfaction. However, the SP-404’s pitch function leaves a helluva lot to be desired. I load my samples into Koala, shift the pitch there and resample into the 404. I’ve always wanted to own a 404 and I love using it, but Koala does a great job filling in for the 404 in a pinch or on-the-go. If you have a iOS or Android device and want to save $547 USD, go for Koala.