Korg ElecTribe SX (ESX-1)

Korg ElecTribe SX Image

The ELECTRIBE SX is a major step up in power and quality from the original ElecTribe series of dance music sequencer/synthesizers from Korg. The ESX-1 comes in a sturdy metal chassis with larger back-lit LCD display, expanded memory, voices & multitimbrality, more real-time controllers and vacuum tubes! Effects, Motion Sequencing, and Pattern length have also been expanded. And a new ribbon controller and slider have been added, providing a remarkable realtime interface for accessing the powerful arpeggiator.

Using sample based sound creation, the ESX-1 can generate a total of 16 parts that can be used for building patterns. A generous 285 seconds of memory (at 44.1kHz) can be used to create up to 384 of your own samples. Nine parts are set up to play as "one-shot" samples, or Drum Parts. Two additional Keyboard Parts allow samples to be played melodically at various pitches right from the step keys or a MIDI input device. Sampled loops can be assigned to the Stretch Parts. As Stretch Parts, their tempos can be freely adjusted without affecting their pitch. This allows two sample loops recorded at different tempos to be used in the same piece of music. Phrase samples can be "Sliced," or divided up at the rhythmic peaks of the sample. Once sliced, individual samples can be muted to generate new grooves. Pitch, filter and effect settings can be applied to the individual sliced samples (or Motion Sequenced) to transform the original phrase into something unique. Two Accent parts introduce added dynamics. Reverse and Roll commands can be used to quickly generate complex sounding patterns. Additional Sample edit commands include Normalize, Truncate and Start Point. The ESX-1 ships with 196 preloaded samples covering a wide variety of styles. All samples (.WAV/AIFF format) can be imported and exported via SmartMedia cards.

The two Vacuum tubes (Valve Force Circuitry) create an analog tube circuit to add warmth and presence to your sounds. The tube gain knob adjusts the level of the output signal passing through the vacuum tubes, creating dynamic sounds with the distinctive tonal quality that only tubes deliver. Three stereo effect processors are available for simultaneous use. Each part can be independently routed to any of the three effects processors, and you can even use the Chain function to link multiple effects in series. Each processor offers 16 effect types including reverb, delay, flanger and chorus, tempo-based delay, talking modulator, grain shifter, decimator and more. The edits you make to each of the effects processors can be saved with each pattern. A brand-new filter lets you chose Low Pass, High Pass, Band Pass or Band Pass Plus. Audio inputs allow you to process external signals through the on-board filter and effects, and an extra pair of assignable outputs has been added as well.

Korg ESX-1 Image

As for the sequencing capabilities, up to 256 patterns can be created and stored to the internal memory. The ESX-1 ships with 128 assorted patterns covering house, hip-hop, R&B, electronica, drum n bass, techno, trance and more. You can combine patterns, add mute data and knob movements to create up to 64 songs, the ESX-1 ships with 3 demo songs. Favorite patterns can be assigned to Pattern Sets for instant access. Data can be quickly saved and loaded via SmartMedia cards. Realtime recording lets you record phrases as you perform, and step recording allows you to input the timing, pitch and duration one note at a time. Motion Sequencing records your realtime knob tweaks and plays them back as part of the pattern. Two types of motion sequence are provided; one for effects and one for parts, and you can also edit the value of individual steps. Up to 24 motion sequences can be used in a single pattern, allowing you to control virtually every sound parameter. And, using Auto BPM detection, the ESX-1 can follow the tempo of an external audio source. You can also use Tap Tempo to input the beat, set the tempo internally, or sync up to an external MIDI clock.

The ESX-1 is a fantastic dance production machine best suited for live performances. The samples it ships with are excellent, but the ability to load your own samples and make its sounds your own open up far more unique and almost limitless possibilities for your music. Easy and intuitive to use, flexible, fun and inspiring. Click on the YouTube link above to see and hear it in action!

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70 Visitor comments
December 31, 2013 @ 4:46 am
I've owned and abused my ESX for over 6 years. Other gear have come and go, but this remains the single most fun and inspirational musical device I have ever used.

Yes, it has limitations but considered as a whole, and compared with the famed analogue drum boxes, it is feature-rich and can sound absolutely incredible if you put the work in. Start by replacing the factory samples with your own and re-sample the bejaysus out of them. Replacing the tubes does make a difference - the stock tubes are horrible.

Pair it up with a synth such as monomachine for a killer live rig.
Sian Howard
October 3, 2013 @ 5:20 pm
The ESX-1 is (mostly) amazing and a bit frustrating. It is my main-stay drum box and using good drum samples + the individual voice sends on the three effects + the tubes for warmth I get amazing drum tracks that so far I can't reproduce with any of my other gear (I have a house full of synth/drum box/workstation hardware). I wiped all factory samples, they are crap, I replaced them with my own. Frustrating is the 16Mb sample memory limitation, you have to use slow smart media, and the daft voice allocation structure that only allows two stereo samples. Stupidly cheap on eBay - just get one!!
June 17, 2013 @ 4:51 pm
Or everyone still interested.
1. yes the tubes work! Dont trust on anybody saying something different. Tubes in a guitar amp also work - they are not made for the optic.
2. you can use electro harmonix tubes for the esx i recommend matched pairs(look on the internet for the best model from EH)

Hope they release another model with better fx and more outputs and really single parts not that alternate garbage....
Still looking for a esx1 sd but i think, if im getting the esx1 they will release a new Tribe;) so im going to buy a Ms20 and two volcas first.
June 3, 2013 @ 1:08 am
Yes you can only load the memory from the card then play seq etc. afterward. can't do it on the fly. Also no sampling on the fly but you can resample sequences or what you play until mem runs out. It retains the memory until you load it again if you global save. Its memory is limited but its still pretty dope.
And you can 'chop' on it despite what some people say. You use the slice part to chop a samle up then those slices can be loaded individually into the drum parts.
May 1, 2013 @ 4:49 am
"384 (100 mono, 128 stereo) - is it enough? SD card is only for communication with computer? Any experiences?"

same question here! can you load and play samples from the sd-card / smart media card on the fly or only the internal memory? didnt find any proper information on this topic!
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Rated 4.14 (367 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 16 voices
  • Multitimbral - 16 total; 2 synth parts, 9 drum parts, 1 drum accent part, 2 stretch part, 1 slice part, 1 audio in part
  • Samples - 384 (100 mono, 128 stereo), Maximum 285 (mono) seconds; Sample Frequency: 44.1 kHz
  • Memory - Internal + External Memory: SmartMedia (4-128 MB, 3V)
  • Patterns - 256 patterns (128 preload), Maximum 128 steps by part, Maximum 24 motion sequence by pattern
  • Songs - 64 songs (3 preload), Maximum 256 patterns, Maximum 20,000 event recording
  • Filter - 4 types (synth part): Low Pass, High Pass, Band Pass or Band Pass Plus
  • Keyboard - 16 soft pads
  • Effects - 16 types x 3 (Chain)
  • Control - MIDI (In, Out, Thru)
  • Date Produced - 2003
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from Korg - USA and

    Reviewed August 2008.

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