Fairlight Revisisted

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mikewelch7
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Fairlight Revisisted

Post by mikewelch7 » Sun Oct 14, 2007 6:25 pm

Read an article earlier this week in Sound on Sound magazine about the latest project by Darren Hayes, formerly of Savage Garden. He bought a used Fairlight CMI off of eBay, which he gave to his producer, Justin Shave. He was seeking to rediscover the sounds of some of his favorite recordings, including those by Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel (two of my favorite artists).

The two used the Fairlight extensively in the production of the finest recording I've heard in two years, entitled "This Delicate Thing We've Made." I'm blown away by how they used the Fairlight, which I have considered a gen_1 sampler left largely on the dust heap or kept as a museum piece. They've taken it's limitations and made them musical in a way that recalls their earlier influences, while taking advantage of modern recording techniques.

In short, as a fan of vintage synth sounds, I cannot recommend this recording highly enough. I bought the MP3 version Wednesday off iTunes. The next day, I had to buy the CD as well to fully grasp the sonic depth they projected.

Here is a link to the Sound on Sound article that introduced me to their ambitious project: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/oct07/a ... nhayes.htm

Hope you enjoy this!

:D

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Post by Yoozer » Sun Oct 14, 2007 8:43 pm

I usually skip these, but this one was a very interesting read. Thanks!

I wonder which Massive preset he's talking about ;)
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Post by MrFrodo » Sun Oct 14, 2007 11:27 pm

That's probably one of the reasons I wanted one to begin with. I've heard its sonic limitations have made it unequaled, even by the best gear of today.
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Post by Roberto » Mon Oct 15, 2007 7:17 pm

Many people write off the Fairlight as a viable tool nowadays because they consider it to have been surpassed many times over. A very learned friend and colleague of mine often jokingly says his laptop soundcard has more power than a fully expanded CMI, and to a point, it's true, but the fatal mistake that people make is that they only see the Fairlight as a sampler.

It was WAY more than that. In fact, it's synthesis capabilities were probably far more groundbreaking, although the sampling facility made all the waves (no pun intended ;) ). It was the first real DAW, with on board sequencing, sampling, synthesis and sound processing. And yes, those samples were only 8 bit (or 16 bit in later models) but it was the sonic capabilities that made the Fairlight what it was. It had (has) an amazing sonic bandwidth (100KHz in most cases) and a unique character that many of today's devices severely lack. Ok, so when you sampled a trumpet in to it, there was no fancy multisampling capabilities or clever anti aliasing algo's to sort things out, but the resulting sound was as unique as the original sound itself, and often vastly different.

I have spent many years building a collection of Fairlight samples, but sadly, whilst they retain something of the uniquness of the original, they aren't quite the same as hearing them from the beast itself, which is indeed a joy to behold.

I have never had the pleasure of owning one, but it is my dream to do so one day soon. Yes, it will be for nostalgia for the most part, but Darren Hayes & Justin Shave have proven that it's still a viable, if somewhat expensive, creative tool today.

Funnily enough, I was re-reading that very article this morning whilst having my "first of the morning" dump ;)

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Post by MrFrodo » Mon Oct 15, 2007 9:27 pm

If I had, say the Fairlight III, I'd want much more to *synthesize* sounds with it than to *sample* sounds. After all, what's the point of sampling what you can get for real, somehow? Unless there's a sound from the Prophet 5 that you just have to have but you don't have one of your own.

I say that as more of an analog synthesist than a digital one. The CMI should've been more promoted for all the other functions Rob listed above, other than its sampling feature(s). It could quite easily be approached from the same point of view that people approach analog sound creation. I thinkl, anyway.
The greatest thing we ever have is the will to survive.

Rest in peace, Dr. Robert Moog.

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http://cdbaby.com/cd/ebgordon
http://www.myspace.com/ericbenjamingordon

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Post by Roberto » Tue Oct 16, 2007 8:00 pm

The sampling features on the Fairlight were pretty much an after thought, almost not making it to the finished product :shock: :o

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Post by synthetic88 » Sun Oct 21, 2007 4:43 am

Thanks, I just bought the album and it's fantastic!
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Post by hageir » Mon Oct 22, 2007 12:56 pm

Roberto wrote:Many people write off the Fairlight as a viable tool nowadays because they consider it to have been surpassed many times over. A very learned friend and colleague of mine often jokingly says his laptop soundcard has more power than a fully expanded CMI, and to a point, it's true, but the fatal mistake that people make is that they only see the Fairlight as a sampler.

It was WAY more than that. In fact, it's synthesis capabilities were probably far more groundbreaking, although the sampling facility made all the waves (no pun intended ;) ). It was the first real DAW, with on board sequencing, sampling, synthesis and sound processing. And yes, those samples were only 8 bit (or 16 bit in later models) but it was the sonic capabilities that made the Fairlight what it was. It had (has) an amazing sonic bandwidth (100KHz in most cases) and a unique character that many of today's devices severely lack. Ok, so when you sampled a trumpet in to it, there was no fancy multisampling capabilities or clever anti aliasing algo's to sort things out, but the resulting sound was as unique as the original sound itself, and often vastly different.

I have spent many years building a collection of Fairlight samples, but sadly, whilst they retain something of the uniquness of the original, they aren't quite the same as hearing them from the beast itself, which is indeed a joy to behold.

I have never had the pleasure of owning one, but it is my dream to do so one day soon. Yes, it will be for nostalgia for the most part, but Darren Hayes & Justin Shave have proven that it's still a viable, if somewhat expensive, creative tool today.

Funnily enough, I was re-reading that very article this morning whilst having my "first of the morning" dump ;)
hey, what's the best fairlight sample library out there? (the IIx)
the prorec one?
or something else I haven't found?

ps. he said in an interview, that he picked it up for $400 on ebay :S
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Post by Roberto » Tue Oct 23, 2007 8:45 am

hageir wrote:hey, what's the best fairlight sample library out there? (the IIx)
the prorec one?
or something else I haven't found?
The Pro Rec is probably the most extensive but not the easiest to work with. I also have stuff that Hollow Sun did, and then there's the Cult Sampler VSTi and it's ProSamples little brother, Retro Sampler.

I hear that you can buy the entire Fairlight library on a Fairlight formatted hard disk.

http://www.ghservices.com/hz/parts.html

I also heard that there is a PC program that can convert these files into wav, but I've not seen it running nor do I know if it would work with these drives.
hageir wrote:ps. he said in an interview, that he picked it up for $400 on ebay :S
Yeah, spawny git !! ;o) He should share that love and sell it on to me for the same price !!

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Post by madtheory » Sun Oct 28, 2007 7:45 pm

Roberto wrote:It had (has) an amazing sonic bandwidth (100KHz in most cases)
Not quite- the series III can sample at a rate of 100kHz, giving a bandwidth of 50kHz. The IIx max sampling rate is either 28kHz or 32kHz, I can't remember which.

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Post by JB » Sun Oct 28, 2007 10:44 pm

.... the Series III could only sample at 100kHz for mono samples,
Stereo sampling halved that rate to 50kHz.

I also read that the Series III doesn't have all of the synthesis functionality of the IIx.

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