Blackbox is a new standalone sampler/sequencer/looper from 1010music – known for their powerful and flexible eurorack modules. It can play back samples chromatically and polyphonically, so you can play it like an instrument (including using single cycle waveforms) and it supports sample and clip slicing and time stretching for loops. You can sequence external gear with it, and it also has built in delay and reverb effects.
Here’s a full review, and check out the summary below if you prefer to read rather than watch:
On the pros side for Blackbox is how easy it is to use, compared to how powerful it is. If you consider what Blackbox does – sampling and slicing, looping and time stretching, sequencing and multi timbre polyphony – that on its own is a lot, now add to that, the fact that these features are very accessible, and you get something that’s quite rare.
If you’re in to anything from beat making to generative soundscapes and polyrhythmic sequencing, Blackbox will be a dream come true, letting you launch different length sample loops and sequence with ease. The Ableton live-style grid for launching sample and sequencing loops is also very intuitive and flexible as a tool for musicmaking.
With the small form factor, multiple outputs and inputs as well as small size, there’s just a lot of value packed into Black box, and it’s very eurorack friendly as well.
On the cons side – unless you play live using an external keyboard or controller, the touch screen is a relatively small interface for piano roll style sequencing. That’s where hardware with dedicated per step buttons supports a quicker workflow. In addition, from a parameter sequencing perspective, the sequencer in Blackbox is relatively simple compared to most other “sample playback” grooveboxes, like, the Elektron machines, Novation circuit or Korg Electribes. While it does support flexible sequence lengths and timings and unlimited sample sizes, which you don’t see a lot on other machines, the sequencer in Blackbox, at least as of version 1.0, is just a note sequencer. You can’t sequence any other parameters, like velocity, the filter, ADSR and so on (though it does record velocity when you play with an external keyboard).
That said, Blackbox is to be a mashup of two eurorack modules from 1010Music – Toolbox and Bitbox , and since the platforms are very similar, one could expect that additional features from both those platforms would eventually find their way to Blackbox, and hopefully they can all grow together
The good news is that on what can’t be changed, which is the hardware – the physical input and output selection, touch screen and controls are excellent. Hopefully future firmware updates will see more parameter sequencing control, modulation and randomization.