So, Pioneer DJ and Dave Smith Instruments teamed up in the last year or so to develop a standalone sampler with the obligatory 16 pads. It’s called the Toraiz SP-16. It has an all analog Dave Smith Instruments filter in it. It also has a huge colorful touch screen that makes navigation a cinch.
Pioneer DJ sent me one of the Toraiz SP-16 demo units recently. I took a look. I made it do what it do and herein lies my thoughts on the SP-16.
For starters, the Toraiz SP-16 boasts the following specs.
- – Pitch / Chromatic mode
- – Easy chopping to 16 pads
- – 256 patterns
- – 16-step sequencer
- – 7″ full-color touchscreen
- – Multicolored pads with velocity sensitivity
- – 8GB of flash memory
- – 2GB of Loopmasters content
- – Real-time processing
- – Touch strip controller
- – Analog highpass and lowpass filters from the DSI Prophet-6 synthesizer
- – Drive circuit
- – Pro DJ Link
- – I/O – 2 x 1/4″ inputs – 2 x 1/4″ (main out), 6 x 1/4″ (3 stereo outputs)
- – USB Flash drive
- – Midi in and out
- – 1 x Ethernet (Pro DJ Link)
Not a bad set of specs at all.
To be honest, my initial thoughts on the Toraiz SP-16 were sort of dismissive. That was mainly due to the obvious resemblance to the MPC Touch which preceded the Toraiz SP-16 to market. However, I was enlightened during Winter NAMM 2017 when I met with the Pioneer DJ rep for a demo of the Toraiz SP-16 and Toraiz AS-1. What I found was that the SP-16 was much more full featured than I’d initially understood. That was undoubtedly due to a mix of misinformation and the result of subsequent OS / Firmware updates.
Having recently spent some time with the Toraiz SP-16, I can definitely form a more informed first hand opinion about it now.
First things first. I do not like the pads on the Toraiz SP-16. I don’t know how they compare to other DJ equipment with pads but the pads as they are will not win any awards from any beatmakers that I know. In comparison to MPC pads (MPC X & MPC Live) the Toraiz SP-16 pads are tough-ish and not rubbery / spongy like MPC pads. Maybe that works for some but it certainly was a difficult transition for me. The pads don’t grip the finger tips well and they feel rather cheap. The response not pleasant either. I really had to adjust the sensitivity to get them to a more usable state.
Sequencing on the Toraiz SP-16 is pretty intuitive. It will allow live recording MPC style sequencing as well as the more classic X0X style step sequencing.
The 7+ inch vivid color screen is nice. There is a lot of feedback and data there. But perhaps, most importantly, its a touch screen. The screen is relatively responsive but I did find that I had to tap some of the smaller items several times before getting a good response. So, that wasn’t always fun. But I worked through it.
The Toraiz SP-16 made quick work of some of the bread and butter functionality such as chopping a sample across 16 pads and pitching sounds across pads for a sort of chromatic mode.
The effects are pretty good. Love the reverb. The mixer facility together with the touch screen and soft knobs beneath the screen made it pretty easy and painless to get around quickly on the mixer. It also was a pretty comprehensive workflow in terms of navigated the mixer to send effects.
My favorite thing about the Toraiz SP-16 was the analog filter with distortion circuit by Dave Smith Instruments. The filter was taken directly from the Sequential Prophet 6 – six voice analog synth. Having this filter on-board made a world of difference in the best possible way. I love how it adds so much flexibility to the texture of the beats, samples and instruments. I used the distortion, Frequency and Resonance to create grittier beats. It was mad fun for tweaking too.
Overall, the Toraiz SP-16 was better than I anticipated. If I could change anything about it, my first order of business would be to improve the pads. That’s such a huge thing for me and I know my BeatPPL would feel the same. Other than that I think the SP-16 is a viable alternative to the usual suspects in the groovebox category. If you were looking for a standalone sampler drum machine with a load of dope sounds included on the internal hard drive, the Toraiz SP-16 could be what you are looking for. However, I’d be sure to compare specs and feature set with joints like MPC Live or Octatrack. Considering the price point, $1499, you’d definitely want to be sure that this is the machine and company to get your hard-earned cash.
The Toraiz SP-16 weighs in at 7 lbs with dimensions at approximately 10″x17″x3″. It’s portable but I’d mostly recommend it for Pioneer DJ customers with other Pioneer DJ gear that may be partial to their build and aesthetic. I guess it really comes down to the fact that the Toraiz SP-16 has potential to be dope but its not really ready for primetime yet. This is one to watch for future improvements.