Making music on your phone for under $4 – KOALA SAMPLER

I recently purchased the Koala Sampler.
The ease of which I can bust out beats on this thing astounds me.

What is the KOALA Sampler app?


The Koala Sampler is an app that turns your phone into a pocket-sized sampler.
By using your phone’s onboard mic, you can sample anything and then sequence your sounds into full beats.
From there you can build full tracks with or without FX, save or resample, and even import your work to Ableton Live.

Although the Koala Sampler uses your internal phone mic for recording (make sure you give the app access to your microphone), you can plug your phone into an audio interface and use an external mic too.
However, you’ll need to have the right cables, adapters and devices for that.
And I don’t.
So I stuck with the internal mic, works great :)

I originally found the app because I was looking for a way to get an Ableton Live Lite license for a friend.
I kept the app because it's such fun to use!


Favorite Parts

-Price point ($3.99 today)
-Free Ableton Live Lite license included
-User friendly (but like, REALLY user friendly)
-Quick way to store ideas
-Easy to sequence
-Ableton Link enabled
-So many banks for samples
-Somehow makes my mouth-made kicks sound extra punchy. Nice.

Not-so-favorite parts

-I have to hold a pad to record, meaning I can’t use both hands to play an instrument (a double tap feature to activate recording without holding would be nice)

-I don’t have a metronome function while I record samples (a flashing metronome during sampling would be rad)

-My iPhone can’t record the internal audio coming from the app in ‘perform’ mode. Not sure why, could be an apple DRM thing?

Here's a quick demonstration of me making a beat with the Koala Sampler.


Keen to get started?

A quick overview of the KOALA sampler

Koala has 3 modes:


Sample Mode

In sample mode simply tap an empty pad and hold it while you record. Releasing your finger from the pad stops the recording.

Listen to what you recorded by holding the now populated pad. Once you have some samples, you can duplicate or mix samples together by tapping and dragging them onto empty pads or samples.

You can also change the pitch, length, attack and release times of the samples (amongst other things) and make use of 6 choke groups.
Ya girl loves choke groups.

To record a sound with an effect, tap on 'FX', choose the effect you want, then proceed to record. The fx gets added to your recording automatically and you’ll find out what it sounds like once you listen to your recorded sample. You cannot add an fx after recording.


You can turn your samples into a song by sequencing them into a pattern.
Choose your sequence length, your BPM, whether you want quantize or swing and start sequencing.

Also, by tapping on the keyboard icon the Koala Sampler lets you choose a sample which then maps the sample into a full, sampled instrument.

From there you can play melodies via the grid that appears. Want to choose a different scale? No problem, you can change that too on the bottom left.

Once you have some sequences, you can duplicate them, mix them, join them or change their length under ‘bars’.



Now you’re ready to become the DJ! In perform mode you can add real time effects as your sequence plays.

There are currently two banks of performance fx you can choose from: 'vanilla' and 'strawberry'. Choose a bank and move your finger across your chosen fx as the sequence plays. You can combine effects by dragging more than one slider at the same time. If you’d like to hold an effect in place instead of having it turn off whenever you release your finger, tap the hold button.

If you love what you’ve made you can record your performance (menu > record song), export to Ableton for further editing or even resample your sequence onto a new pad to chop up and process further...

Being able to sample and build ideas like this, on the fly, for only $4, is serious value for money.

I used it on my somewhat dated iPhone SE and haven’t encountered any problems yet.


Shout out to elf-audio for making this!





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