Pioneer’s DJ-inspired performance sampler is the start of something new.
At last year’s Musikmesse I made a beeline for the Pioneer booth to check out a prototype of their new performance sampler. Like many I was intrigued by the idea of a hardware sampler with 4x4 pads, a touchscreen and USB storage connectivity: could this fill the gap left by stand-alone MPCs? One year on and the SP‑16 is out in the wild, along with a Toraiz sibling — the AS-1 Monosynth — but the landscape has changed a bit, with the launch of the MPC X and MPC Live. In any case the SP‑16 has a fairly focussed drum sampler feature-set, and doesn’t overlap that much into production workstation territory; instead Pioneer are carving a new niche with instruments that enable DJs and EDM performers to be more actively engaged in their sets.
The SP‑16 makes a real impression when you turn it on. The colourful pads, sequencer buttons and screen are BRIGHT. This, the general solidity of the hardware, and the clearly laid out panel all point to an instrument born for the stage. There are pads to hit, dedicated filter knobs to twiddle, a touch strip with self-explanatory modes, and a row of buttons for sequencing and pattern triggering. With one of the demo projects...
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