“There’s still work to be done” on CHOMPI sampler, say Hainbach and Ricky Tinez

The CHOMPI sampler was one of 2023’s most-anticipated products on Kickstarter.

CHOMPI Sampler

Credit: CHOMPI

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When the $600 CHOMPI sampler, the debut product by fresh-faced brand CHOMPI Club, was published on Kickstarter in March last year, it quickly became one of the platform’s most-anticipated products of 2023. However, early CHOMPI owners, including musicians/product reviewers Ricky Tinez and Hainbach, have already found some issues.

Both Tinez and Hainbach have posted their reviews of the CHOMPI sampler, which is set to start shipping once all pre-order slots have been filled, to YouTube in the past two weeks. In these reviews, it’s clear that the varispeed recording function, which lets you slow a sample up or down and record over that new version, is a hit. However, this is quashed by bugs, recording difficulties, usability issues, and a lack of features, they say.

In case you’re not clued up, the CHOMPI sampler is a characterful chromatic sampler and tape music instrument that echoes Casio’s 1985-launched SK-1 sampler synth. Featuring a distinct sampling engine, versatile multi-effects, tape-style looping, and customisable aesthetics, it offers “immediate fun”, says CHOMPI Club.

According to a YouTube review by Tinez, however, some issues dull this sense of fun. There’s frustratingly no way to change the volume sample control, and he doesn’t like the fact that there’s no sequencer. Also, sampling through the on-board microphone can be difficult due to a noisy Shift button, he points out.

Another issue with recording your own samples, Tinez highlights, lies in the fact you have to hold down the record button while recording, forcing you to play one-handed. It’s also hard to distinguish which level parameters for the filter, for example, are due to a lack of labelling, he says.

It’s not as if CHOMPI Club is blissfully unaware of these issues, we must add. As seen in Tinez’s review, the brand reached out to him to write, “We’ve been compiling a solid list of issues and feature requests over on Discord as well. But it felt like it might be worth mentioning directly as we’re currently working on the next firmware update. In addition to some bug fixes, the update will also include independent volume and pan control per sample. As well as some deeper MIDI implementation config options.”

Hainbach’s review is, on the whole, more positive. However, with his usual happy smile, he does come across obstacles, having to refer back to the manual again and again to overcome these problems. He also points out, as does Tinez, that the lack of labelling on the unit makes learning how to use the CHOMPI sampler a steep learning curve.

It’s not all doom and gloom for those who have pre-ordered the CHOMPI sampler, however. Hainbach is a fan of the simplistic aspect of the sampler.

“Once you’ve set up a bunch of loops, it can be fun,” he concludes in the video. “You have to use your ear and your imagination and there’s no screen – there’s no way you can actually edit anything – so it’s a bit like a very simple MPC in that regard. The simplicity […] forces you to just roll with things instead of overthinking too much, which is something I always enjoy.”

“I love the effects section, the looper – that is absolutely fantastic. It is very tape style and the jog wheel is the perfect interface for that. For a first product, this is impressive.”

Check out the CHOMPI sampler for yourself at Chompi Club.

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