Sonic Union checks out the Korg Electribe 2

What is it?

A 16 part music production station

Price?

£329 RRP

It’s been over sixteen years since the first Electribe was released so the the brand is well overdue a refresh. The Electribe 2 consists of 16 velocity sensitive pads, knobs for oscillator editing, modulation, Amp/Envelope Generator (EG) and insert FX, an LCD screen for pattern info and settings. It also has a Kaos style XY pad used for effect triggering as well for triggering the built in arpeggiator.

All this is housed in a solid metal chassis weighting around 1.6kg. Underneath the unit are 4 multicoloured LED lights that blink in sync with the music which give the unit a cool rave feel when using in dark rooms or clubs (can be turned of in energy saving mode) as well as a battery compartment making the unit extra flexible as it can be battery powered for live shows or for coming up with new ideas on the road. There is also MIDI in and out through mini jacks with supplied 5 pin converters, sync jacks for syncing KORG Volca units and a USB port (MIDI control only), SD card slot and Line In which can operate in two ways; as a straight up line in with a volume knob, routing an external sound source through the Electribe 2 or work as an ‘oscillator’, which means you could sequence the input and apply effects.

The Electribe 2 has just over 400 ‘oscillator’ sounds split between regular PCM samples and modelled technology with sounds divided into groups like ‘kicks’, ‘snare’, ‘synth hit’ etc and targets a wide audience from Hip Hop to EDM, Dubstep and Techno. There are 250 patterns to save your work to and an SD card can be used to export loops, to use in your regular DAW. Just like the Korg Gadgets iOS app the Electribe 2 can export to an Ableton Live project (Ableton Live 9 Lite is included in the package) and 48 kHz,16bit wave file.

preview

The Electribe 2 has 24 voice polyphony shared over its 16 parts so some voice stealing is bound to happen when using all parts, the Electribe 2 also supports a sort of pseudo-polyphony with 4 notes on a step and a chord mode with up to 5 notes. Parts can have a priority either ‘normal’ or ‘high’ to make sure that vital sounds are not stolen when running when max polyphony is reached. The more intense sounds and effects will eat up more voices and there is no way to gauge how much you are using in realtime so you will have to wing it a little here.

There are 38 different insert FX available per part ranging from various types of distortion to bit crushers, EQs, compressors and filters. Each FX has a edit setting from 0 to 127 that can drastically change the result of the FX. You can also toggle each part on or off for the Master FX Send which consists of 32 different effects from reverbs, delays, EQs, grain shifters, filters etc. The manual is just 16 pages long and more of a getting started manual so a lot of trial and error and testing things out is needed. However, as a result this can lead to some very interesting sounds and through this exploration I found myself coming up with new ideas for songs that would not have occurred normally. The unit is really fun to work with and instantly inspires when sitting down with it.

The sound quality is very high and as mentioned above the variety is very good. The only real problem I have with it is that there is quite a bit of menu diving to change settings. I also wish that a reverb was available for the insert FX on the channels, only the master has reverb.The Electribe 2 is really meant as a performance tool so there is no ‘song’ mode available, but as it has 16 parts it could work really well as a central hub controlling other hardware and if KORG keeps supporting and updating the OS, effects and ‘oscillators’ it could have a very long life indeed.


About the Author

Sweden’s Erik Pettersson is better known as DJ/producer Sonic Union, one half of prolific progressive house pair Bastards of Funk and Sonic Union and co-founder, label owner and manager of Lowbit Records.