Are there music keyboards with the possibility to import ANY sound onto each key and what are these keyboard / the function called?

Also any information regarding this would be helpful as well.

2 Answers 2


It's called Sampling.

I think the very first was the Akai, or possibly the Bel BD80, but they had no keyboard.

The Emulator was the first widely available keyboard sampler.
They cost about 5 grand at the time & were really rather limited, compared to a modern structure. You might still be able to pick up a second hand one on eBay, but they still fetch a couple of grand.

There were keyboards through the 90's & early 2k's that could do it, Yamaha's PSR 8000, 9000 & later Tyros had a limited sampling capability.

These days, no-one would dream of doing it in hardware, when any PC can do it in software. Systems like Native Instruments' Kontakt are the kind of tool you'd use now.

  • Alright cool, for the keyboard to be able to communicate with the software (on a PC) which would change the key sounds, all the keyboard would need is MIDI compatibility am i correct?
    – user47812
    Feb 3, 2018 at 13:42
  • yup, if you're working in software all you need is a method to get the note input. Midi or direct USB connection, either would work.
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 3, 2018 at 14:04
  • "These days, no-one would dream of doing it in hardware, when any PC can do it in software." The Nord Electro line has a sample playback synth and "doing it in hardware" is so much easier to manage for a live gig. I took a software based rig to a few band practices several months ago and it was a nightmare. I sampled some of my nice analog synths into my Nord Electro 5D just this month and went to a band audition with it and it was awesome. You just turn it on and play your samples. Loading the samples does require a computer, but software sucks for performance, IMHO. Feb 3, 2018 at 16:18


As Tetsujin wrote, it's called sampling. I wanted to add to his answer because it's not all about software these days, as he concluded.

Hardware sampling may be having a bit of a comeback. Many DJs and electronic musicians like the features of looping and sampling software like Ableton Live or Fruity Loops, but don't like working with or gigging with computers.

Two product lines that spring to my mind immediately for hardware based sample playback are the Clavia Nord Electro keyboard line and the Elektron line of hardware samplers.

Clavia just upgraded the sample playback capabilities of the Nord Electro line with the Electro 6. What it lets you do is take one or more sound files on a computer, load them into a sample management software package and determine how you want the keyboard to play the samples back (what notes play what samples, do the samples loop, scale with key pitch, etc.) and then you plug the keyboard in with a USB cable and it loads the samples into a sample bank on the keyboard. Once the sample bank is loaded, you can play the samples with the keyboard without a computer. What you can't do without a computer is record or load samples into the keyboard.

The Elektron products, including the Octatrack, Digitakt, and Rytm products, let you record right into the hardware sampler, change the start and end points of samples, playback rates, etc. All like a traditional hardware sampler. They are not keyboard products, as they are geared more towards DJs and electronic musicians, but you can connect a keyboard with MIDI for sample playback.

Akai still makes at least one hardware sampler, the MPC X.

Finally, many of the instruments that were popular in the 80s and 90s are available on the used market for very little money, including sampling keyboards and rack sampler modules. If you can put up with lower resolution and bit rates, you can get into hardware sampling for not much money.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.