Best Groovebox for Electric Piano Sounds?

Hello all,

For better or worse I’ve been listening to some acid jazz and really taken by some of the electric piano sounds.

I’m not after something large or even with a keyboard, so not a Yamaha reface cp or anything; I really am thinking about grooveboxes. I have a keystep to play keys if I want.

So, which groovebox has the best electric piano sounds? These are the ones I’ve thought about:

Roland SH-4D / MC101
Akai MPC One
Novation Circuit Tracks

Any experiences to share on the EP sounds on the above machines? I’ve not found many demos of these sounds on these boxes. Any other boxes to consider?


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an mpc one would allow you to autosample any eps you like from anywhere, like demo apps or other midi capable hardware


MPC also has built-in EP plugin (and deeper instruments with the paid Fabric/Studio Stage EP ones)


I can’t compare to the others but the MC-101 offers lots of choice, 97 presets spread over the categories E.Piano1 (Rhodes/Wurly) and E.Piano2 (fm-ish)


Sampling is the affordable answer if you strongly desire a compact groovebox form factor, the more capable the sampler/sequencer the better the results.


Do you have a sampler? Digitakt would be a good option. And there’s a great DX7 sound pack out there for the Digitone with some nice 80s FM piano sounds on there.


Not the strength of the circuit tracks.

The MC-101 has loads of nice piano sounds.


Hadn’t considered the MPC could multi sample something but that sounds like more work, and the mc-101 would give me a lot of easy presets.

Did anyone try an SH-4D for EP sounds?

@Mistercharlie I have an op-z which has a sampler but cannot multi sample and velocity isn’t going to be able to modulate any parameter to change the character of the sound.

op-z already has an EP engine which I need to work with and see what results I can get compared to better synths. I really just want easy access to a great sounding EP though.

Probably, the MC-707/101 due to Roland’s heritage in stage pianos. Do you prefer tine (Rhode) or reed (Wurlitzer) type of EP sounds?

Although not a groovebox and possibly out of budget, the Dexibell SX8 is a good module for EP sounds. Essentially, it is a stage piano sound module. There are also legacy sound modules available on the used market, such as the Kurzweil ME1.


101/707 has some pretty good sounding PCM based piano presets.

The SH-4D doesn’t for some reason, the PCM model has only a fraction of the sounds I was expecting, I think there’s a single piano. Weird.

The Circuit Tracks would be an abysmal choice

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Nah, creating multisampled keygroups is actually pretty easy. If you’re just working from wav files it can be tedious. But if you’re doing something like sampling a plug in from your computer, it’s really straightforward to do. People also have all kinds of keygroups for sale or for free download. In that case, all you would have to do is import it.

However you do it, you’d only need to do it once. It would just be a preset that’s ready to go after that.

It’s probably worth pointing out that my experience with the MPC platform is with MPC Beats, which is free. You’re just limited to 8 tracks. So it doesn’t cost you anything to check it out.


Stage ep on mpc wipes the floor with the opz plug thing.

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I use this all the time with the new midi controller I got… Its an SL88… hammer weighted…

and I also like the phaser e piano on the 101…

Here are some examples… with spitfire audio in there as well


Not a groovebox but I love Analog Lab’s EP sounds, and if you have a Keystep, you probably already have access to them. Plus the knobs are already mapped.

My bizzarro suggestion: Find the cheapest used laptop you can that will run Analog Lab and use that with your Keystep. Spray paint it your favorite color and pretend it’s a piece of boutique gear.

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A digitakt isn’t capable of playing sounds polyphonically via MIDI IN. It’s obviously not the best choice as a sampler.

While the MPC One does have 1 free and 1 paid plugins for Electric piano sounds (along with sampled pianos), it demands a certain investment. None of the other choices listed are arguably the best for electric piano sound, you should get a dedicated module for that, with either a Reface DX or a Reface CP, or a workstation like the ModX or the Fantom-0


I also second this approach. EPs sound very good on the Digitakt. It’s not velocity-sensitive but your keystep is of course. Also makes sequencing/composing easy if you’re like me and not very good at piano.

SP404mk2 is velocity sensitive, and has chromatic and (limited?) polyphonic sample playback. Plus all that various dusty or glitchy character you can put on top. EP samples sound very, very good on it so far. That said, entering and editing sequences on it is, uh, not fun. More suited if you’re comfortable live recording stuff in. Quantize helps of course.

I think a lot depends on how you want to enter notes, and what kind of modulation or effects you want to be able to add or control.

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No it’s really easy, an automated process that only takes a couple of minutes. Check out the AutoSampler videos on the tube, the mpc will quickly make the Ep for you, you’ll build a library out of any sounds you find that you like and on top of that being that you only want to use a groove box interface the mpc has the best groove box performance interface for playing keys… it’s performance mode of chords progressions scales and play modes is quite exstensive


I think jorb might have done a video to this effect. it’s certainly covered in one of his mpc videos.


I like jorbs clips, will have to check it out

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