Korg Volca Sample Review

In this video,via sonicstateGaz Williams takes a look at the Korg Volca Sample.

The Volca Sample isn’t a sampler, per se – it’s a sample player/sequencer that lets you edit and sequence up to 100 sample sounds in realtime.


  • 16 step keys to enter notes intuitively while maintaining visual confirmation of the timing of the notes in a measure.
  • Real time recording
  • Up to ten of the sequence patterns you create can be stored in internal memory.
  • Motion sequencer records and plays back up to 11 parameters
  • Active Step and Step Jump functions let you insert and remove steps
  • Analog frequency isolator lets you apply powerful changes to the sound
  • Per part reverb
  • Song mode
  • Reverse function lets you play samples backwards
  • Playback can be synchronized with another volca or electribe unit, or with your DAW.
  • Compact size, battery power and built-in speaker for mobile operation

The Korg Volca Sample has a street price of about US $160. See the Korg site for details.

39 thoughts on “Korg Volca Sample Review

  1. Lovely little machine, but indecent midi implementation which makes it basically impossible to use via midi. Also, can’t hardly see the point of having 6 songs all made of a different order of 10 patterns only, where absolutely nothing in the pattern can be changed per song. Shame cause, again, it’s a really lovely little machine …left unfinished!
    Fingers crossed for some firmware update magic…
    At least let me backup these 10 patterns…

    1. hey dan, what do you miss about the midi?
      i have actually started an editor for the ableton and seems to me almost if not all the controls are there.
      reacts nicely

      1. It’s simply unreasonable (and bloody unpractical) for me to dedicate 10 midi channels to the Sample. My sequencer (on ipad) is not as advanced as ableton live but, without adding the Sample to the equation, is happily running another 6 external machines… shame, but apparently that’s it… someone is even happy of this peculiar implementation

  2. For the price you might be able to find a Zoom Sampletrak which has a handful of great effects as well as the ability to sample (that’s the only way you’ll load it up actually).

    1. For iOS users, the Korg SyncKontrol app makes it possible to send swing to a Volca unit. But I don’t know if it then goes through to the Volca’s sync output.

  3. I am usually a huge fane of cheap little sound synthesis machines, as well as big not so cheap ones! But this volca sample without a mini- jack audio input is a shame 🙁
    It is annoying to think that I would be forced to use one of my my android devices for sample file transferring!
    Even the Casio sk-1 had a mini jack audio input, and a mic built in 😉

    1. probably a price point, it would add to price and if you wanted quality sound quite a bit more
      Plus they probably aim at those who use dance loops not pure samples that true samplers use

  4. I think that this is at such a good price point for someone getting into music. I really wish I had the options that kids have today. Yes you can use a laptop but still the tweak ability just makes this so much more appealing. Makes me want to dig out my four track and my karaoke mic, buy a sq 1, and rock out a album with my ms 20 mini.

  5. Love my Volca Sample. Ok with the 4 megabytes, but Korg…. you really screwed up BAD on the midi implementation. Wtf is anyone going to do with a box that responds on several midi channels?

    1. get a midi interface with a dedicaded port for the volca.
      i agree that it may have been better but, honestly i am happy the did not skimp on the midi.
      also you can actually sequence this with the electribe 2 really well, since it follow the same midi scheme.

  6. The reason it’s controlled on several MIDI channels is actualy rather cool… it allows every sample to be controlled individualy from each channel, being able to automate all parameters via MIDI individualy for each sample.

    I don’t think there are free MIDI controller numbers enough to control all 10 samples via a single MIDI channel (like channel 10).

    Also… many are complaining that the samples cannot be played chromatically… if that was to be implemented in firmware, you’d have to have each sample on it’s own MIDI channel to use that feature anyway.

    In my view, what they’ve done is right… they just need to update the firmware to allow for triggering the samples in the normal way using just channel 10, and allow chromatically playable samples on the separate channels for each sample as well. That way you’d have it all.

    1. This is absolutely spot on – this little wonder box pairs beautifully with the Midi side of the Octatrack from Elektron – 8 tracks of seriously good CC mangling fun!!! 🙂

      Korg – you got it right!!!

      1. i sold my octatrack mainly because the voice limit which i used up fast when laying down drums. you are right, this is the perfect companion for it, or even the center piece for a volca based setup.

        1. This setup for midi stuff, track per channel, is absolutely the correct way to do it, as mentioned above it would be a nice bonus to have a universal channel for note based midi triggering of each track, but really, you’re losing all the power of this machine in one fell swoop by doing this.

          Seriously, it makes absolutely no sense to cripple the machine in this way, other than as a nice additional feature that may come in useful for some very basic sample triggering.

          Otherwise, as it is, it’s very easy to set up LFO’s, envelopes, etc… for every parameter – it really wakes the sounds up. It should even be possible to get some nice stuff going with single cycle waveforms used as oscillators – but I’ve not tried this yet.

          One thing that doesn’t work very well is sync over midi, it’s very slow to start, but I don’t use this anyway, it’s way more fun to sequence this little box with external control.

          1. Sorry mate… again: happy for you if this works straight off the box with your setup.
            For me (and apparently not only me) it still doesnt make the slightest practical sense. The actual implementation cripples the machine, not the one many of us would prefer. Any real issues in doing what I’m saying a couple of messages down with a single channels CCs?

            1. I understand what you say, and yes, there are very real issues with this.

              The reason every track/channel is separate is so that the CCs can be assigned individually:

              Track 1 Channel 1 CC45
              Track 2 Channel 2 CC45

              If you sent all this information down one channel first of all there wouldn’t be enough CCs to control everything, and secondly, the same controls would have different CC numbers making any programming a pain in the ass. The midi implementation chart would be a mess too.

              The only thing you would get with one channel for all tracks is either a small selection of CC parameters on some of the tracks – or maybe just one track – or global changes to all CCs on every track – obviously not desirable.

              There’s plenty of gear that does it the right way, the Nord Drum 2 for example does exactly the same as the Sample. It does have the individual channel option built in, but it’s pretty boring and not that useful at all.

              It’s far better to have complete control of everything,

              There are other options, if you really wanted to be able to trigger samples on one midi channel you could use a computer/tablet/hardware to route your midi.

              Sorry it’s not working for you, hope you can sort something!

              1. Baddcr, thanks for your reply (does synthtopia send notifications?). These “very real issues” you talk about still sound like a matter of convenience. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but the Sample doesn’t do anything with, let’s say, a breath control, or a volume, it couldn’t care less if you send a CC13 (effect control) or CC14 (undefined), that gives us the entire 128 CCs to be used. The only real issue I could potentially see here is your controlling device not been able to send arbitrary CCs. Personally I can easily do that while I can’t reserve 10 midi channels to this machine. The rest is pure convenience, in the same way, let’s say, sample length is CC45 (just a random number): to multiply by 11 for me is pretty easy… 5th sound , sample length = 2nd parameter, 55+2=57. Could you see Any “real issues” with this? You’d still have control of everything. Cheers

  7. Excuse my ignorance, but what are the consequences of using all the CCs (free or predefined) of a single midi channel to operate on all samples? Some controlling devices not able to send these CCs? you’d need 110 and the Sample is definitely not doing anything special with the predefined CCs. Apart from that, I personally would find more useful to play a sample per note, in a drum machine style, rather then a single sample chromatically. I’m seriously thinking about building an arduino midi translator to operate this way… considering my setup I really can’t find any actual use the way midi is implemented now. Sorry, they didn’t even let you freely pick the 10 midi channels… it’s like saying “change everything in your studio to accomodate this new machine” or, more simply, “forget about it”

    1. I have used their DI box and the MX36 Cam Mix, which is a special mixer for video cameras, and both seem to work well.

      They are relatively cheap and battery powered. They specialize in A/V type gear used for live and camera work mostly.

      Never seen this mini-mixer with sliders…they have one similar with knobs. Looks like B&H carries it for 60 bucks.

      All these take 1/4″ jacks though, so you would need either 3.5 to 1/4 cables or adapters, which isn’t ideal obviously, in a really small setup.

        1. Actually all the small mixers do have stereo 3.5mm jacks for inputs also.

          That’s something that most of the small Yamahas and Behringers don’t have.

          That and battery power.

          1. hey caligari,

            thanks for your opinions and that link.
            i am trying to research but its not easy finding info.
            it looks like the business though:
            stereo with 1/8 and 1/4 jacks and battery powered.
            seems like an ideal volca companion.

  8. I love my volca sample, but I am running into issues with a drone a note at about 248hz as well as unwanted noise and harmonics. Anyone else have this problem?

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