SP404 MK2 or Blackbox?

I have a new SP404 MK2. I like it. It’s the only piece of hardware I own now. It works great alongside my iPad and laptop. But I’m still drawn to the Blackbox for the way you can trigger individual patterns and have independent pattern lengths. But I’ve never used one.

Anyone have both and can compare them for me?

I can’t afford both.



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Quick reply here since I’m at work…I have the Roland SP404 MK2 and had the Blackbox 1010 for 6 months. Both instruments are awesome and can make great music. If I were to describe their differences, strengths, weaknesses, etc. here are a few in a nutshell and they are subjective so other Elektronauts might feel different…

SP404 MK2: Great at producing hip hop beats, dub music, experimental tape loop ambient tracks, etc. It serves 3 purposes for my studio. 1) Sampler 2) FX unit 3) Audio interface. I rarely use the sequencer. I resample everything to make tracks. I find the end results very gritty, analog, rough, but powerful and hard hitting. You can finger drum on the SP404 and the FX are good. The editor is super easy and fast to use.

Blackbox: Great at producing electronica, dub, and for me very clean tracks. The SP404 has a tendency to get muddy and gritty as you resample. The Blackbox can produce very clean minimalist tracks if you want. Of course the end result depends on what you feed the devices and how you produce them with FX. The looper functions on the Blackbox are awesome. Whether you are recording synths and other instruments into it or just launching sample clips, the Blackbox does an excellent job managing whatever you throw at it. It has 3 outputs so you can split the audio into 6 different mono tracks for final mix downs.

I found that Logic Live Loops fulfilled all of the needs I had for creating electronica loop based music and sold the Blackbox. I could mimic the workflow I had in the Blackbox just as easily in Logic Live Loops on a Mac laptop. Having said that, the Blackbox is a awesome little sampler/looper. I ran into issues with the CPU maxing out for simple workflow processes and decided that a laptop made more sense. One final note, I feel working with the SP404MK2 is more like playing an instrument. You have pads to drum on, knobs to twist, and buttons to push. The Blackbox uses both a small touchscreen and less buttons and knobs than the 404. I would suggest pushing the 404 to the max. Go deep, not wide. Buy less, play more. Try Live Loops or Ableton lite if you want to try clip based music. Have fun!!



I make deep dubby house, sample based funky house and experimental techno. Think H-Foundation, Riley Reinhold, Wolfgang Voigt and Phil Weeks. Not all together, but depending on my mood.

I have Logic. But I wouldn’t use the BB for audio loops. Just midi loops. I also wouldn’t use the physical outs. Can BB create stems of the 16 tracks for a full song?

As far as I can tell, for my use, the benefits of BB over the SP are that you can do individual pattern lengths and you can do live pattern triggering.

Any other thoughts?


I just wanna thank you for the recommends cause i like house & techno but never heard of any of these artists

Thanks for the tip!


If using logic and making sampled house like the artists you mentioned I highly recommend trying serato sample.

Doesn’t answer your original question but great for the type of music you mentioned


Thanks for the funky house suggestions. I will check them out. When I owned the Blackbox, the only way to export songs was to play them live and route them through the 3 outputs (either 3 stereo or 6 mono). The Blackbox thread on here is active and has excellent tips, hacks, and other useful information. I would check to see if they updated the Blackbox to add an export stems function. When I owned the device, you had to route all 16 clips through the 3 outputs. It made for some interesting performances and improvisation. Limitations can create opportunities.

As you noted, the Blackbox can handle individual pattern lengths. This is a strong suit for sure. It is an inspiring sampler/looper and I do recommend it as long as you know its shortcomings. In the right hands its a beast. Check out @circuitghost. He’s produced some awesome tracks with it that involve different pattern lengths and randomization. Cheers!


Thank you. Appreciate it but Serato isn’t what I’m looking for. Thanks.

So many good albums/tracks by all of them!

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It’s not actually serato as in the dj software, it’s a sampling vst that uses the same key detection.

Yeah, knew it wasn’t the request but just saying it’s excellent to run in logic or a daw for Phil weeks type tracks :grinning:


Thank you

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Thanks for the mention, friend :slightly_smiling_face::heart::pray: that’s very kind of you to say.


What do you think @circuitghost?

Well, I’m not sure about your use case. If you’re not using the blackbox audio capabilities nor its individual outs, but only the midi part, what’s your actual need?

Having said that, for your kind of music, I’d say it’s a good match. Typical examples would be that you easily can trigger free running loops, say field recordings, ambience noise and pads that don’t need to sync to a beat, across tightly synchronized drum loops and one shots.

Since the bbox streams, which not all samplers do (though the SP does), getting those 256 bar loops in place where variations are subtle but important (typical for the genre you’re into), is a very strong case. Synchronized and non-synchronized polyrythms are easy, since you can trigger loops and one shots in many different ways - directly from the sample screen, from sequences that run with their own step count, quantize launch and time signature, and then finally in the song mode where sequences can run across multiple sections without restarting. The bbox sequencer and song section is a bit fiddly, due to its interface, but its inherent power as a song writing tool shouldn’t be underestimated. I’m doing all my work on it now, from first sequences to final song renders.

Stem rendering is not possible, though, but you can easily copy and paste your samples to your computer, or just resample any section from the blackbox to a new wav, which essentially becomes a stem which you can then transfer to your computer. Resampling is somewhat CPU-heavy though, so the more you got going on when you use this technique, the more likely you’ll get a glitch or two when you record.

But there’s no “Export as stems”-feature, or similar. It requires some work to get it done.

Thanks, that’s really useful. Sorry, I didn’t mean external MIDI, I meant internally sequencing samples, rather than just using loops/clips. It sounds like a great machine. I don’t have the money for it right now unless I sell the SP, but I think it would make a great alternative to jump between, if I had both.

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I’d use an MPC. New ones export stems and guys like Weeks use them exclusively for their tracks. Basically can do everything you are looking for.

I use multiple samplers together instead of a DAW though when I compose. I also make House.


Neither of these. Have you seen what Loopy Pro on IOS can do? It just came out. Blows both of these hardware units out of the water.

Very true, specs are not holy though and iPads are not for everybody.

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It’s easier to use, more fluid and more integrated than either of these hardware samplers.

Grab a small pad controller you have the best groovebox and sampler on the market.

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Good you use it to your advantage.

Back on topic. OP is putting SP404mk2 and BB in the balance.

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