TLDR: I like it but I don't expect many others do.
Like many grooveboxes you get a mixed bag of things done right and wrong.
I think I am liking it because the sample selection and the "Reese"-Synth fit my musical taste. It is Lo-Fi, and I like it. I was looking for a machine specifically for Reese-basses and now I got it. Don't expect it to compete with Serum or Vital, it's not even close. You cannot edit the synth and play a sequencer pattern at the same time. You can edit the synth parameters when sequenced by external Midi however.
One effect is just not enough. You can also not automate the single effect parameter there is.
I love the fact that it does NOT use pressure sensitivity pads and the buttons feel good in my opinion.
It's fun and a good value if you don't have super high expectations. I think I made some really cool beats with it.
Here are the gritty details for you:
- Cannot play pattern while editing synth or kit. No live sound design unless sequenced via external midi
- Cannot copy bars. Copying single steps is tedious, I avoid copying all together.
- Only one effect is very limiting, there is no way to apply stereo wideness to the drum samples.
- The single effect is very basic - the FX amount control is confusingly named, I would rather call it FX value, as it sets the frequency or time, depending on the chosen effect
- The tempo-synced LFO tempo cannot be automated / assigned to a knob
- Only two assignable parameters to animate the synth by hand and filter cutoff is not available otherwise
- I wish the switch between pad and select mode was a single button press or a toggle as it is the most frequently used function
- Use of overlays is inconvenient
- Midi cc controls only for performance parameters
- No tap tempo
- Enabling the stutter (ratchet) mode is inconventiently implemented (Need to be in certain mode, then press shift+button combination)
- Parameter locking sometimes requires almost impossible to reach button combos (e.g. velocity)
- No sample start point manipulation
- Can only decrease octave in synth edit mode (need to cycle)
- Need to buy own power adapter unless using batteries
- Having the IO plugs at top of the unit makes cables get in the way
- Backing up 7MB via midi will probably take long
- It would have been nice if there was a mode where the stutter affects both tracks at once
- I find the background-design of the faceplate a bit unappealing
- Cannot replace samples
- Mute mode is confusing, ready to forget when active
- Mini jacks for main output
- This is more of a feature wish:
- The "black" keys are mostly unused in the perform mode - if the user cutoff assign the functions of otherwise harder to reach combos, such as toggling between pad/select mode, that would be a colossal usability improvement IMHO
- The LED colour coding does not work well for red/green blind people (common issue)
- As jumping to the current pattern again causes all sound and pattern changes to be lost, it can be beneficial while performing.
- No arpeggiator
- No randomisation of synth parameters
- No easy way for chromatic play of drum samples, one needs to manually parameter lock to values that are multiples of 5.
- The midi implementation allows remote controlling the same parameter as the knobs in the given context but not explicit parameters beyond that.
- Cannot loop only the selected bar (makes it most difficult to focus on the last bar, needing to wait for it to occur)
- Toggling the metronome is awkward
- The sample-selection and the synth sounds fit my musical preferences (Lo-fi, trap, reese basses).
- Good battery lifespan: Approx. 5 hours with 2500mAh rechargeables
- No unergonomic velocity sensitive pads (Yes, it's a pro in my opinion). The springy buttons feel nice to me.
- Well equipped with IO for tempo synchronicity - has both Midi DIN and Audio in & out sockets.
- The syncing IO, audio input and ducking invite for pairing with other gear, to get a bigger sound palette going
- Ducking (only the kicks are hard wired to act as triggers though)
- Can Parameter-Lock different synth sounds in sequencer
- Can upload own wavetables (have not tried yet)
- Split output L/R - a feature never seen before and is appreciated. The external audio in is unfortunately still coming through on both sides though.
- I like how the drum sounds are grouped for volume control via Potentiometers
- Using the stutter mode does not lose the synchronicity phase of the playhead (unlike the active step in the Korg volca series)
- The ability to bypass "parameter locks" (it's a toggle button) can be fun when performing
- I like that two knobs for coarse and fine adjustments are available in synth editing mode
- It's nice that every pattern has an additional volume gain setting
- The random "block" play mode is effective for adding small variations to rhythm
- Machine gun ((volume LFO) is quite handy and fun
- I like the springy feel of the round part buttons whereas the elongated ones require slightly more force, but they are also quite decent
- Stereo wideness is provided by the dimension setting in the oscillators for the synth.
Competing products in similar price range
- Elektrons Model series
- Novation Circuit series
- Korg electribe 2 series
- Roland TR-6, MC-101
- Volcas (cheaper but only 16 steps!)