Author Topic: Hardware Samplers [split topic]  (Read 1355 times)

the

Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« on: January 16, 2020, 06:51:49 PM »
It's easy to forget how spoilt you are when sampling using a computer (doing accurate editing and things with timing and pitch etc.). Hardware samplers were more inscrutable when you needed to dig into the sample and try to rearrange what was going on inside it and make it fit.

momatt

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Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2020, 08:12:02 AM »
It's easy to forget how spoilt you are when sampling using a computer (doing accurate editing and things with timing and pitch etc.). Hardware samplers were more inscrutable when you needed to dig into the sample and try to rearrange what was going on inside it and make it fit.

This is true.  I've made loops with a few hardware samplers and even made some nice seamless loops with a minidisc player.  It's a bit of a pain.
Still, I reckon I'd put the effort in if it was my job.  Or pretend it was intentionally rubbish.

buzby

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Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2020, 10:30:58 AM »
It's easy to forget how spoilt you are when sampling using a computer (doing accurate editing and things with timing and pitch etc.). Hardware samplers were more inscrutable when you needed to dig into the sample and try to rearrange what was going on inside it and make it fit.
Unless you had a Synclavier, Fairlight, PPG Waveterm or later on Roland S-series samplers that had ports for an external monitor and mouse or tablet. I always felt that was a big advantage the Rolands had over Akai's samplers.

I came to sampling via the Datel Sampler 64 interface for my C64 and the Replay cartridge on my ST so I've never had to wrangle with a tiny LCD and data wheel. The only hardware sampler I've ever had is the Casio RZ1 which just has a simple 'Record' button and not enough memory to even consider looping.

the

Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2020, 10:58:06 AM »
Not to mention the arseache of connecting up what you want to sample from, setting levels, cueing what you want to sample, arming the sampler, recording the sample, trimming the sample (usually by ear), and saving it to a floppy disk (pausing to laboriously enter a filename using buttons and, if you're lucky, a data wheel). All while managing how much memory and disk space you've got left. That's all before you really get to do anything with it.

Better Midlands

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Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2020, 11:08:40 AM »
Unless you had a Synclavier, Fairlight, PPG Waveterm or later on Roland S-series samplers that had ports for an external monitor and mouse or tablet. I always felt that was a big advantage the Rolands had over Akai's samplers.

I came to sampling via the Datel Sampler 64 interface for my C64 and the Replay cartridge on my ST so I've never had to wrangle with a tiny LCD and data wheel. The only hardware sampler I've ever had is the Casio RZ1 which just has a simple 'Record' button and not enough memory to even consider looping.

That Casio is increasing in popularity/value rapidly at the moment due to its crunchy sound, people love the Todd Terry (it's all over Dreams Of Santa Anna https://youtu.be/csDzaxsFjVs)
/Steve Poindexter drum sounds you can get.

Good video here https://youtu.be/bGaB7eBG9D8

I love using the old samplers, the limitations are what made then enjoyable (they didn't feel limited at the time), I never had so much fun making sample based music as I did on an Akai S950 or using Octamed on my friends Amiga.

It was pretty simple to loop synth sounds BITD, this video shows someone doing it on an Akai S700 and the slight imperfection in the loop (which I personally think adds character to the sound) would have been easy to eliminate using crossfade looping in the S950.

https://youtu.be/uLZ3_XKqYFw
« Last Edit: January 17, 2020, 11:18:51 AM by Better Midlands »

Better Midlands

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Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2020, 11:15:43 AM »
Not to mention the arseache of connecting up what you want to sample from, setting levels, cueing what you want to sample, arming the sampler, recording the sample, trimming the sample (usually by ear), and saving it to a floppy disk (pausing to laboriously enter a filename using buttons and, if you're lucky, a data wheel). All while managing how much memory and disk space you've got left. That's all before you really get to do anything with it.

Honestly once you had the sampler set up permanently this wasn't an issue, when you knew the hardware and were on muscle memory auto pilot you used to make tracks quicker using a hardware sampler than ever in a DAW

NoSleep

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Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2020, 11:21:27 AM »
True. I haven't used my Akai S950 for years, but, if I did, my fingers would remember what to do before my brain. I knew somebody whose S950 LED display had ceased to function and they had no problem using it. It was using theirs that I discovered I could do the same.

The main thing about those old hardware samplers was that you used your ears, which is not a bad thing in music. As the plugin company, Airwindows, who are not into fancy GUI's for their plugins, says, "In mix, no-one can hear your screen."

Better Midlands

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Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2020, 11:33:49 AM »
True. I haven't used my Akai S950 for years, but, if I did, my fingers would remember what to do before my brain.

I got mine going last year after getting it out of a cellar which flooded five years ago, I'd also dropped it on a concrete floor about five years before that. The floppy drive was fucked from the water damage (and time probably - it hadn't been turned on for twenty years) but was chopping up breaks and key grouping like a pro within thirty minutes.

Better Midlands

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Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2020, 11:37:26 AM »
I knew somebody whose S950 LED display had ceased to function and they had no problem using it. It was using theirs that I discovered I could do the same.

Mine's definitely dimmer than I remember it, you can get nice backlit replacements now


the

Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2020, 11:44:00 AM »
Honestly once you had the sampler set up permanently this wasn't an issue, when you knew the hardware and were on muscle memory auto pilot you used to make tracks quicker using a hardware sampler than ever in a DAW

I was just pointing out the litany of things that you no longer need to do in order to sample something. People tend to not mention these when they're romanticising the old way of doing things. (And things like auditioning samples from a box of floppies.)

Have you thought about a USB floppy emulator to replace the drive?

     

If you've just tuned in, you're watching Old Cunts Talk About Samplers

Better Midlands

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Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2020, 12:22:58 PM »
I was just pointing out the litany of things that you no longer need to do in order to sample something. People tend to not mention these when they're romanticising the old way of doing things. (And things like auditioning samples from a box of floppies.)

We tended to sample everything from vinyl fresh for each new track then so that process would take pretty much the same time as to DAW now, I had some breaks and drum samples on disks so would know what to expect when I looking at apache/amen or 909 clap etc, although as you say if you wanted to try lots of different samples from disk it would take longer to audtion and keygroup.

Have you thought about a USB floppy emulator to replace the drive?

     



I got that exact one! Would highly recommend it, I think it was about £50 with USB stick, simple to install and cheaper than buying 99 floppy discs.

I've read a lot of people romantising about old samplers online and in my opinion the (desirable?) 12 bit sound isn't really that noticeable (except on the Emu SP1200) to make a difference. What makes them good is the limitations they have and the way you have to operate them, that different workflow makes you create differently. Having said that if your not sampling from vinyl/CD and you've grown up using a DAW I'd imagine they'd be incredibly frustrating if you weren't fully committed to getting to know them inside out and in all honesty not with the bother.

NoSleep

  • feat. Keith Jarrett and his singing parrot
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Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2020, 12:48:51 PM »
The SP1200 sound isn't just down to the 12-bits, there's also filters and eq on the output (dependent on which output you go to). If you want a sample to sound like it's from an SP1200 just notch out a little 2K.

Better Midlands

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Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2020, 01:06:43 PM »
The SP1200 sound isn't just down to the 12-bits, there's also filters and eq on the output (dependent on which output you go to). If you want a sample to sound like it's from an SP1200 just notch out a little 2K.

It's more about the "ringing" tone you get from it as well as what you mention above, this can be achieved by sampling LP tracks at 45rpm and then slowing them down in the SP1200, IIRC it doesn't have any anti aliasing control giving it that distinctive sound.

 https://youtu.be/aJnuEv36A5s

Fetishsied by people wanting to emulate 90's hip hop and French house.

NoSleep

  • feat. Keith Jarrett and his singing parrot
    • Space Is The Place
Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2020, 01:40:20 PM »
It's more about the "ringing" tone you get from it as well as what you mention above, this can be achieved by sampling LP tracks at 45rpm and then slowing them down in the SP1200, IIRC it doesn't have any anti aliasing control giving it that distinctive sound.

 https://youtu.be/aJnuEv36A5s

Fetishsied by people wanting to emulate 90's hip hop and French house.

I think you can outwit most anti-aliasing filters from that era by sampling at high speed and slowing it down. I'm the proud owner of an 8-bit Oberheim Prommer that gives you that sound virtually straight out the box. Its maximum sample rate is 32kHz but the real fun begins at 16kHz. Tomtoms that sound like somebody is breaking a window at the same time!

Better Midlands

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Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2020, 02:14:48 PM »
I think you can outwit most anti-aliasing filters from that era by sampling at high speed and slowing it down. I'm the proud owner of an 8-bit Oberheim Prommer that gives you that sound virtually straight out the box. Its maximum sample rate is 32kHz but the real fun begins at 16kHz. Tomtoms that sound like somebody is breaking a window at the same time!

That looks nice :)

You can do it on other 12 bit samplers to varying degrees, the Akais are a bit too good to get *that* sound. You know what it's like with vintage gear, people wil pay through the nose for something that they think will sprinkle stardust over their music when you can get decent plugins which take you 95% of the way.

The last SP1200 went for £3,500 on Ebay

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F123980827355

the

Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2020, 12:23:59 PM »
Cheers for splitting the thread Barry


There's a guy on YT called '12 Bit Jungle Out There' who tends to gravitate around hardware samplers and trackers - here's a little video of him talking about a small bedroom setup.

In a later video he plays the finished track, and in the description he says that he went to backup the disk with the track on it but formatted it instead, and had to recreate it. Ouch :(

Better Midlands

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Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #16 on: February 12, 2020, 12:38:45 PM »
Cheers for splitting the thread Barry

In a later video he plays the finished track, and in the description he says that he went to backup the disk with the track on it but formatted it instead, and had to recreate it. Ouch :(

I did that once with a zip disk on my S3000XL the night before we were meant to be going to studio in Brighton to recreate a track for a video game/music program - big fuck up.

This guy does a pair of videos that show the Ocatamed/Amiga process really well.

Part 1 https://youtu.be/NP88z_rulYk
Part 2 https://youtu.be/XftY1WzTeTw

I love the 8 bit quality you get from the Amiga, it's the sound of white label 91/92 hardcore for sure.

the

Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2020, 01:50:16 PM »
Maybe I just used to have bad luck with Zip disks, but I always found them to be pretty unreliable anyway. They'd frequently conk out and become unreadable for no reason.


In terms of the cost/complexity to capability ratio, an Amiga with a tracker was pretty much the most powerful out-of-the-box solution at the time. Four channel sampler plus sequencing in one unit for a few hundred quid, you couldn't beat that.

The next step then is to get a hardware sampler and use Octamed only as a sequencer. Then separate outs to a mixer, then effects...

I know I shouldn't think this but whenever I hear really well-produced or sonically complex electronic music from the early-mid 90s I just think 'tchuh, bloody rich kids'. :)

Better Midlands

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Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2020, 03:41:03 PM »

In terms of the cost/complexity to capability ratio, an Amiga with a tracker was pretty much the most powerful out-of-the-box solution at the time. Four channel sampler plus sequencing in one unit for a few hundred quid, you couldn't beat that.

I remember going round a friend's house in late '90/early' 91 and him showing me a 4 track tracker program running on an Amiga and I didn't realise the potential. He had sampled in the Run DMC - I'm Not Going Out Like That break sped up and was using either the Brazil or Vamp stab from an R&S record. I wasn't into that kind of sound at the time and as far as I was aware no one made records in their bedroom.

It's only in the last few years that I've come to appreciate how many tunes were made this way, apart from Urban Shakedown which was considered an abnormally I thought all the hardcore tunes were being made on Akai's.

Thinking back and listening to the old tracks I can hear it all over them. Bizzy B had a good little series on YouTube explaining his early days and how they made tunes on Amiga's. https://youtu.be/5A6FCs0Q6iI

Like you say used correctly they were a cracking investment for under £500 back then, you'd have recouped your investment immediately if you could have churned out a decent 4-track white label rave EP, the average profit would have been roughly £1000 on that.


I know I shouldn't think this but whenever I hear really well-produced or sonically complex electronic music from the early-mid 90s I just think 'tchuh, bloody rich kids'. :)

Most stuff was done on cheap gear, keyboards and drum machines were a pittance - I got a Juno 6 and 606 for £150 in 94 but never used them on anything, they sounded old fashioned.

It was only when the likes of Underworld came through that you could hear the money on UK records.

the

Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2020, 04:33:13 PM »
(trackers) It's only in the last few years that I've come to appreciate how many tunes were made this way

I know what you mean about the suddenly hearing the tracker construction in familiar productions, and it took me a while to twig that people like Scanty Sandwich and Aphex Twin were using them too.

Funnily enough this thread has led me to dig out an old trial copy of MED SoundStudio (on the PC) and listen to tracks I made around 1999/2000. I made what you might loosely call a 'big beat' album back then :) It's a bumpy ride

Most stuff was done on cheap gear, keyboards and drum machines were a pittance - I got a Juno 6 and 606 for £150 in 94 but never used them on anything, they sounded old fashioned.

Yeah individual items of by-then-old gear were cheap (especially in contrast to their 'analogue' price inflation as the 90s wore on), but building a capable MIDI studio (ie. not just using samples in a DIY sort of way) was not a cheap, easy thing. Listening to nicely built stuff on say, Ninja Tune, I just get mental images of a load of trust fund kids :)

Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #20 on: February 12, 2020, 08:30:09 PM »
I don't do much sampling (I thought I would when I bought it)  but I use an MPC live and work strictly in standalone mode (augmented with  minilogue xd), and despite some shortcomings which do annoy me, I can honestly say that I've completed more tracks with it since buying it last April than I did with Ableton and endless soft synths during my last spell of music making which ended about 5 years ago. There's a lot to be said for keeping things simple.

Also, when I do sample, I love the process of actually plugging in a device, getting the levels right, arming it, chopping manually etc  just like back when I was learning on an S3000 20 years ago. Nice and tactile and feels like you're earning it a bit more.

Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2020, 11:38:39 PM »
I know what you mean about the suddenly hearing the tracker construction in familiar productions, and it took me a while to twig that people like Scanty Sandwich and Aphex Twin were using them too.

Funnily enough this thread has led me to dig out an old trial copy of MED SoundStudio (on the PC) and listen to tracks I made around 1999/2000. I made what you might loosely call a 'big beat' album back then :) It's a bumpy ride

Yeah individual items of by-then-old gear were cheap (especially in contrast to their 'analogue' price inflation as the 90s wore on), but building a capable MIDI studio (ie. not just using samples in a DIY sort of way) was not a cheap, easy thing. Listening to nicely built stuff on say, Ninja Tune, I just get mental images of a load of trust fund kids :)

It's the outboard gear where the costs really started to rack up (no pun intended) I presume. Yes, you could pick up a synth and drum machine for bobbins, but without a decent reverb, and maybe more crucially, a decent compression unit you weren't going to make things sound "expensive", and you had to have at least a bit of a producer's ear to know how to get the best out of them. That's where plugin revolution really came into its own. To put it into perspective, a Fairlight once cost the same as a house, but the samples still sounded like mince prior to being put through outboard processing.

Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #22 on: February 12, 2020, 11:56:15 PM »
That Casio is increasing in popularity/value rapidly at the moment due to its crunchy sound, people love the Todd Terry (it's all over Dreams Of Santa Anna https://youtu.be/csDzaxsFjVs)
/Steve Poindexter drum sounds you can get.

Good video here https://youtu.be/bGaB7eBG9D8

I love using the old samplers, the limitations are what made then enjoyable (they didn't feel limited at the time), I never had so much fun making sample based music as I did on an Akai S950 or using Octamed on my friends Amiga.

It was pretty simple to loop synth sounds BITD, this video shows someone doing it on an Akai S700 and the slight imperfection in the loop (which I personally think adds character to the sound) would have been easy to eliminate using crossfade looping in the S950.

https://youtu.be/uLZ3_XKqYFw

Paradox was playing live with an Akai and an Amiga around 2010.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2e0wg_618ac

Still at it in 2016 according to RA.

NoSleep

  • feat. Keith Jarrett and his singing parrot
    • Space Is The Place
Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #23 on: February 13, 2020, 08:25:01 AM »
It's the outboard gear where the costs really started to rack up (no pun intended) I presume. Yes, you could pick up a synth and drum machine for bobbins, but without a decent reverb, and maybe more crucially, a decent compression unit you weren't going to make things sound "expensive", and you had to have at least a bit of a producer's ear to know how to get the best out of them. That's where plugin revolution really came into its own. To put it into perspective, a Fairlight once cost the same as a house, but the samples still sounded like mince prior to being put through outboard processing.

The most expensive outboard would be the desk you'd need to bring it all together. Cheap desks tend not to sound as nice as expensive ones (with the Soundcraft Ghost being a marvellous exception, at least until they downgraded the components in later units). Even the Ghost would set you back a couple of grand but it sounded like ten. Once you get into the pro desk market the initial cost (>10K-15K) is only part of the story as it's going to rinse around £5000 a year in electricity.

the

Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #24 on: March 21, 2020, 03:16:13 PM »
We were chatting about both trackers and hardware samplers - an interesting convergence of this is that someone's developed a standalone hardware tracker:

      https://polyend.com/tracker/

     

There are some vids knocking around, though haven't seen anyone making jungle on it yet.

Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #25 on: March 21, 2020, 10:41:02 PM »
Aye looks interesting that.

Dewt

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Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #26 on: March 22, 2020, 01:18:16 AM »
If we had easy to use, high-quality, cheap samplers 40 years ago we would have lost a lot of great music created with the limitations of those early samplers.

Fortunately by 1994 I got my hands on a Technosound Turbo II so I was able to make that cover of Kiss From A Rose in FastTracker 2.

NoSleep

  • feat. Keith Jarrett and his singing parrot
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Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #27 on: March 22, 2020, 02:40:40 PM »
glitch

Re: Hardware Samplers [split topic]
« Reply #28 on: March 22, 2020, 05:50:45 PM »
If we had easy to use, high-quality, cheap samplers 40 years ago we would have lost a lot of great music created with the limitations of those early samplers.

Fortunately by 1994 I got my hands on a Technosound Turbo II so I was able to make that cover of Kiss From A Rose in FastTracker 2.

Imagine if 'voodoo ray' wasn't truncated.

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