Koala Sampler For iOS Inspired By BOSS Dr Sample & The Music Of J Dilla

Elf Audio has introduced Koala, an app they describe as ‘the ultimate pocket sampler for iOS’.

Developer Marek Bereza says Koala was inspired by the BOSS SP-303 Dr Sample, and the music of J Dilla.

Some time in 2015-2016, I learned that the notorious (late) hip-hop producer J Dilla had been the hugely influential driving musical force behind many of the hip-hop tunes I grew up with. I’d always marveled at the way these tracks were so simple in their construction – but the art was in the expert discovery and curation of a handful of samples that sound like they were born to be together, even if they were from different ends of the musical universe. And it seems J Dilla was the king of that.

Sadly, in 2006, he died after a lengthy battle with a particularly nasty blood disease. During all the time he had to spend in hospital hooked up to a dialysis machine, he would make tracks, which eventually turned into his last album – Donuts. Most of the tracks (29 of 31), he made with a BOSS SP-303, and a bunch of records.

When I heard that he’d made Donuts on an SP-303, my jaw dropped. I’d never used one, but if you look at the front panel, you can see how straight-forward it is – no undo, no sample libraries, no piano roll input, or all the other functionality we’re used to these days. Yet it was enough of a vehicle for him to make such a stellar album.

What the SP-303 does have, though, is a workflow that forces you to just get on with it and make some music. This is the essence I wanted to capture in Koala. It has the ability to sample itself, “resampling” – which I love, and have incorporated. Also, you can put effects directly onto the input, so you can really turn sounds from your mic into anything. And of course, once you’ve recorded with those effects, they’re baked in, there’s no going back!!


  • Record up to 64 different samples with your mic
  • Transform your voice or any other sound with 8 superb built-in fx
  • Adjust trim, pan, pitch and volume of your samples
  • 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

Pricing and Availability

Koala is available now for US $2.99.

24 thoughts on “Koala Sampler For iOS Inspired By BOSS Dr Sample & The Music Of J Dilla

  1. Nice! If you ever come across an SP-303 or its cousin the DR-202 (a drum machine made around the same time) at a nice price, don’t hesitate to pick it up. They’re well built and very fun instruments to jam with for any sort of beat-driven music. The only thing I disliked about the 202 was that the LCD screen is a little hard to read and has no backlight which can get tiring during long programming sessions.

      1. Sorry if that seemed serious. It’s not. The myth is that Dilla made (most of) Donuts with a 303. There’s not a lot out there to support that claim. There’s a photo of him standing in front of one and that anecdote from Karriem Riggins. His mom mentions bringing him a fairly new (at the time) red sampler while in the hospital. The 303 does have red accents but in the Behind the Beat book you can see the small studio he had set up in Common’s L.A. home (IIRC this is where Ma Dukes said they picked the sampler up from) which featured his MPC 3000 and a Korg Electribe ESX-1, the latter being very red. The ESX-1 has also been mentioned by other people who worked closely with him at that time (Dave Cooley notably, who also had quite an influence over the sound of Donuts). It’s also known that he used Pro Tools extensively and had a laptop equipped with it while in the hospital but that’s rarely mentioned. Furthermore, not all the beats present on Donuts were made in the hospital either. There’s a good interview where Peanut Butter Wolf talks about this, some of the tracks being done or at least conceptualized well before. I’m not saying the 303 wasn’t used at all. It very well could have been but its use is definitely overstated. I think it’s more entertaining for people to believe in the legend of a master on his deathbed crafting some of the most emotive and psychedelic hip-hop ever conceived on one of the most unassuming samplers available. J Dilla and Donuts specifically is the stuff of legend but not for that reason. Also, to those who say the record is all just simple loops, you’re not listening hard enough. There have been similar claims circling the web regarding Boards of Canada and the Korg Poly61 (especially ever since that Legowelt video) but there’s also no proof there. None of this is that important. I just feel like it should be stated for the record.

        1. Didn’t expect you to have all of this intel. Thanks for sharing. I always had my doubts, just didnt go deep enough to make a solid argument. I still wonder if Madlib and Doom made Madvilian in a few days. Thats the next myth I may sink my teeth into.

          And yes, Donuts is not simple loops, he was definitely a craftsman and those subtle intricacies are surely there when you listen and dissect. Even though I hate the idea of WhoSampled.com, I still check it out and when you find a surprise sample, you can really identify a skilled sampling artist by how well the sample is unified or mangled into the complete track.

          Dilla was a mastermind but Id find it hard to believe he made all those chops on a 303. A single beat on donuts would need like 3-4 smart media cards to handle the cuts.

        2. I’m curious to find out myself. Since everything is like 1 degree of separation, I’ll hit up my peeps that were actually there in the hospital. In my opinion, even if the 303 wasn’t used for all Donuts, Madlib’s work with the machine is enough of a stamp of approval. He’s the real reason everybody started using the SP-303 (and later 404) to make complete beats. Most of these young “lofi” producers are just trying to capture his aesthetic.

          1. Exactly! Any of those classic Madlib records are enough to turn your brain inside-out and definitely showcase what the SPs are capable of in the right hands. Please be sure to report back here with your findings, contrary or not. I’m sure plenty of folks, including myself, would love to know for certain what the process was.

          2. Also, I should say that I have nothing against the app that this post was about. It actually looks like a lot fun, especially for $3, and it does remind me a lot of the SP workflow.

            1. Not really…I just have issue with the statement, “Donuts was made using a laptop computer and a Numark PT-01 only.”

              Dilla almost certainly NEVER made a beat just using a laptop. His whole style and rhythmic innovations where based on his ear for samples plus his personal feel on the drums. He didn’t click his drums in with a mouse and then edit to try to make it feel human…he simply played that shit by hand. That’s why Questlove said Dilla was his favorite drummer. He played the drum machine.

  2. Just downloaded this to use with the shure mv-88 I purchased.
    Also got WerkBench which I had somehow missed as well. Good to see some iOS info on Synthtopia..
    Sidenote – Aphelian Labs is awesome as well as the new waveshaper app. JMO.

      1. “Mobile music software isn’t going to go away. So, while we’ve got a lot of readers that aren’t interested in it, we still think it’s important to be aware of the trend and to have a healthy discussion around what’s happening with the technology.”
        – synthhead / 10/29/2010

        Thanks I always appreciate the iOS info and coverage.

        PS – Aphelian Labs is a really amazing iOS app.

  3. I’d like to see Behringer come out with an improved clone of the SP line. Roland have been selling and re-releasing the 404 with little or no improvements for how long now? The demand is there. Look at 202’s going for $200+ on ebay. 303’s even more.

  4. though Dilla most likely had a 303 and no doubt crushed it on that machine, the 303 has been more closely associated with Madlib and the 3000LE with Dilla. you can hear the texture of the 303 in Madlibs work and the sound of the 3K in Dilla’s but both of those guys had multiple machines. with that said i could totally see how Dilla could have utilized the 303 for certain things on donuts, but like someone said above it’s the genius behind the machine that brings it to life. RIP Dilla.

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