Disclaimer - I'm not a typical Elektron 'fanboy' - I hate that term full stop, but I do love what they make. They get a fair few mentions here purely because from what I can see, the Toraiz and most of it's current OS/feature set does not compete.
Definitely one for the DJS rather than the producers.
So I went to the West End/Soho in London today and had a play. Interestingly it was in West End DJ, but not on display in West End Production - which tells me first off (backing up my other views below) that it's more aimed at DJs than producers. This doesn't justify it's huge price tag - if it's the machine it's been often quoted as being (game changer/MPC killer etc), then I'm not sure if Pioneer themselves would agree. I may be wrong, but I'd be surprised if they are claiming it is better than any other hardware sampler out there - maybe on the DJ market, but certainly not the pro-audio/electronic instrument market.
I don't particularly like the look of it, the coloured pad lights make it look gimmicky - and it's overall physical size make it seem cumbersome compared to the Elektrons - the step sequencer buttons remind me of the ones on the Roland MC808, which you may or may not like, I didn't. The coloured pads make it look cheaper than it is, and felt no better or worse than my MPC5000. Ok, my MPC5000 is huge, but it's so huge, you respect it - and it looks chunky, tough, technical and sure of itself. The Toraiz looks like a typical product you'd find in the DJ controller market. It also has a non-tilting (is that a word?) screen, and on first look I couldn't see a top panel knob to adjust the contrast. The lights in the shop were glaring, and as a result I couldn't see the screen at all without moving away from the unit into an inconvenient and actually quite silly looking position.
Overall it looks a bit 'toy' - it has a brushed metal finish which is kind of glossy - not a patch on the scientific look of the Octatrack or even the semi-matt finish on my MPC5000. I look at my MPC and think 'it looks like the **** mothership, I look at my OT and think I'm a scientist - the Toraiz makes me think I'm a huge club DJ or a 15 year old, of which I am neither.
I really can't see how it has received remarks elsewhere like 'MPC Killer' and 'Game changing' - the Octatrack has it's flaws (polyphony, slightly thin sound and limited outputs in comparison to the beef and connectivity of an MPC), but is miles ahead of anything out there.
Even my Yamaha SU700 feels more physically solid and in usage, more technical. At present, the Toraiz feels more geared towards DJ controller people who want an extension of the basic sampling found on some DJ mixers and are happy using pre-prepared and/or pre-looped/timed material, presets and the like. It's like a slightly better built and slightly more solid and heavy feeling Roland TR8, with a touch screen and a Dave Smith filter. Hooray.
Maybe Pioneer embarked on this project to compete with Akai's Touch when they realised it wasn't standalone - but seemed to have forgotten about the Octatrack (which only falls short in a few areas but outshines most of it's flaws in general by being so flexible). The Octatrack caters for DJs, producers, live musicians, synthesists, sound designers, anyone who want to manipulate sound either tightly, loosely or both.
There seemed to be no in depth sample mangling features, like automating interesting parameters like the start/end points of samples (always a winner). Even if this is a soon to come feature, releasing a machine of this price bracket with an underdeveloped OS is poor.
Wasn't really impressed with the sound, couldn't give a **** about an analogue filter as that seems to be one of the biggest plus points - bizarre.
I'm also wondering if this whole touch screen thing is being ridiculously overhyped as the analogue filter is - I'd rather have a super charged sampler that can mangle the **** out of anything you throw at it. I owned an MPC Touch for a short time and this also seemed to rely on the touch screen rather than anything groundbreaking in terms of sound manipulation or workflow - ridiculous considering it interfaces with your computer. Plus it crashed far too much.
Ultimately, until the OS starts showing signs it could be an Octatrack kilier, I'm not interested (I'm also no longer a DJ).
I could go on but I have a life, so to round up - I'm really not sure where this machine sits in the array of current devices.
What do I think is needed? I've been saying it for years, an MPC5000 mixed with an Octatrack and a Boss RC505 - right there you have a workstation synth, sampler and live looper - what's so difficult about that?
16 pads (not 12 like the Rytm)
Multiple outs (like a good MPC)
A built in analogue or analogue modelling synth (like the 5000), but more adsvanced (automation of pretty much everything)
A live overdubbing looper (not like the current and cumbersome Pick UP machines in the Octatrack)