1010 Music's Razzmatazz, a Tiny Pink Groovebox, Looks Like a Perfect Pocket Plaything

It’s small, but totally serious

  • 1010’s Nanobox Razzmatazz is a tiny pink drum machine. 
  • Despite its pocket-friendly size, the Razzmatazz is a serious studio instrument. 
  • Copious I/O, knobs, and a touch screen make it superior to a phone or tablet. 
Nanobox’s Razzamataz box in a bowl of raspberry candies

1010 Music

The iPhone is an amazing pocket-sized music-making companion. But do you know what's even better? This little pink Razzmatazz. 

1010 has a reputation built on making small, exquisitely thought-out, and endlessly useful musical gadgets. The latest of these is the Nanobox Razzmatazz, aka "The World's Juiciest Groovebox." It doesn't do anything a couple of iPhone apps couldn't manage, but because it's a piece of hardware, it does it way better. For making music on the go, and also in the studio, it looks to be just about perfect. 

"Portable grooveboxes give you the power to create studio-quality beats wherever you go. They come loaded with great sounds and creative tools that make creating music fast, easy and fun," Janna Pugh of Vintage King Audio told Lifewire via email.


Input/Output on the Razzamataz

1010 Music

The Nanobox Razzmatazz is a drum sampler and synthesizer with a sequencer, a touch screen, and a bunch of connectivity out back. It also has something no iPhone or Android phone has—knobs. 

Let’s start with those connections because they are what makes this better than a phone or even an iPad for making music. You get MIDI in and out, line (audio) in and out, a USB-C port for power and connecting to a computer, a microSD card slot for loading samples and making recordings, and a clock sync port for hooking up to more esoteric instruments that don’t use MIDI. 

Immediately, these connections enable all kinds of neat uses. You can hook up headphones or speakers, and you can also connect any sound source and then sample it into the Nanobox Razzmatazz. MIDI lets you connect other instruments or connect drum pads or other controllers. None of this is possible on the iPhone without adding a bulky USB-based adapter or interfaces box, and doing them all at once is such a pain that you may as well just grab your Mac or PC instead. 

Immediately, these connections enable all kinds of neat uses.

The Nanobox Razzmatazz also has a touch screen, which is honestly a bit too small compared to the expansive phone screens we’re all used to now. This is where you adjust your sounds, play them using on-screen drum pads, and arrange them into sequences. But even the screen has a secret weapon. Instead of having to fiddle with those tiny controls, you instead hit a parameter on the on-screen controller, then use the knobs to adjust it.

This two-handed approach looks faster and less fiddly, and a knob gives you more accuracy than dragging on-screen controls. It also means that you can twist the knob with one hand while you play a beat with another, which requires a lot more concentration and coordination on a screen-only setup. 

Small Box, Big Sound

The Razzamataz controlling a keyboard

1010 Music

1010 makes some of the best-loved and most essential music gear of recent times. Its Black Box sampler and Blue Box digital mixer and recorder, for example, are standard issue for many electronic musicians and combine usability with depth of features and solid build quality. Which is to say that the Nanobox Razzmatazz has a pedigree, and despite its small size and cute looks, it is a serious musical instrument, as you can hear in the accompanying video, combining FM synthesis with samples and adding distortion effects to produce some great beats. 

But some people are stuck in an old-fashioned mindset where only the pre-established tools that they themselves prefer can be considered “real” instruments. For some people, only acoustic instruments like guitars and pianos count, and any synthesizer is just a toy. 

“These machines make everybody think that they’re artists and creators, but that’s not the case at all,” professional musician Farees told Lifewire via email. “The only thing you can do with this kind of toy is a photocopied copy of a photocopy. Painting your vision requires real instruments and musicianship. People think these devices are the future of music, but they really are the past. Real artists and musicians are going back to real instruments cause that’s where the spirit is and always will be.”

Looks can be deceiving. We haven’t yet tried the Nanobox Razzmatazz, but it looks easy to use, and deep enough to offer some real substance. Add in the fact that you can sample and sequence any sound from anything you connect to it, and it also goes way beyond drums. And it’s also only $399, which makes it hard not to try.

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