Best (or least worst) vintage samplers

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Best (or least worst) vintage samplers

Post by Nakatsu_Hime » Wed Feb 03, 2016 4:50 pm

In an attempt to get some sampling hardware, I would welcome suggestions for sample recording/playback kit that
1) is NOT PC-based
2) of 80s-90s vintage
3) does not require another mortgage...

The two ranges I remember were the Casio FZs, and the Akai S1000s, et-all.

Are either of these worth the effort and funds nowadays, just for that 'vintage' feel?
Are there any others that I could consider scouring musical shops or eBay for?

I know you lot are clever :)

xxx

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Re: Best (or least worst) vintage samplers

Post by madtheory » Wed Feb 03, 2016 5:33 pm

You have the VZ and CZ, so you'l definitely like the FZ. Unique filter, distorts very nicely. Currently cheap.

Akai S1000 is quite clean, filter doesn't really distort and there's no resonance. Big library as it was the most popular format. But Kontakt will load these too, much better IMO.

Ensoniq Mirage is a great character machine, bit of a pig to use, and getting stupidly pricey.

The other Ensoniq's like ASR are amazing, especially with Waveboy add on effects. Big money for those though.

Emu ESI 32/ 2000/ 4000 very warm sound, great filters.
Emu E4XT as above only better. They all have sluggish MIDI though.
Emu Emax 1 and 2- over rated IMO, especially at the prices they go for.

Akai S612 looks like fun to me, but I've never used one. Popular as well, so expensive.

Casio SK5 has a great sound. Don't bother with filter bypass mod. The filter is part of the charm. Do install the Highly Liquid MIDI kit.

Yamaha TX16W is really easy to use if you've Typhoon OS (forget about original Yamaha OS it is crucifyingly awful) and is great for layering and a bit of synthesis with the wierdo filters. Nice transposing, can sound quite digital but also it can sound a bit dull. Sonic Charge Cyclone is a spot on plugin emulation of it.

Dynacord ADS seems cool, never used one.

Propher 2000 ya it's got an analogue filter, but is horrible to use and is otherwise quite hifi sounding I think, although I've never used one (just heard recordings).

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Re: Best (or least worst) vintage samplers

Post by desmond » Wed Feb 03, 2016 5:58 pm

Don't forget the Rolands!

S-50/S-550 (I probably wouldn't bother with the less-featured Roland's of that time eg S-10, so little RAM and features it's very very limiing) but the 50's/550's have enough weapons to do damage with.

As you move later they become more like modern samplers, eg, S-760 (and the bigger guns of the 770/750)...

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Re: Best (or least worst) vintage samplers

Post by madtheory » Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:00 pm

Yes the wonderful Roland digital filters. I often wondered if the S-50 used the same filter tech as the D-50.

Alesis Quadraverb Plus has a wonderfully disgusting sounding mono sampler. Looses the sample when you switch it off.

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Re: Best (or least worst) vintage samplers

Post by meatballfulton » Wed Feb 03, 2016 8:01 pm

Ensoniq EPS or EPS-16. Polyphonic aftertouch and multitrack sequencer are unique features.
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Re: Best (or least worst) vintage samplers

Post by piRoN » Thu Feb 04, 2016 3:10 am

meatballfulton wrote:Ensoniq EPS or EPS-16. Polyphonic aftertouch and multitrack sequencer are unique features.
Nice crunchy aliasing / transposition too (the original EPS, anyway). They're got a meaty sound generally. Even the non-resonant digital filters have a nice character of their own.
madtheory wrote:Yes the wonderful Roland digital filters. I often wondered if the S-50 used the same filter tech as the D-50.
No real-time filters in the S-50, it's the 550 only - the S-50 has offline filtering which is not terribly useful.

The S-50 is kind of fun with the monitor and tablet (graphical envelope editing!), but don't really feel it's much more than an interesting historical piece for the modern user. It doesn't have the instant useability of a lot of the other vintage samplers out there, and the sound's not hugely characterful.
madtheory wrote:Akai S612 looks like fun to me, but I've never used one. Popular as well, so expensive.
S700 and X7000 are also very similar but more fully featured (multisampling, etc). Same lo-fi Akai sound though, and a similarly immediate interface (nothing is more than two button presses away). Quickdisks are usually dead by now, so it's only really an option if you're happy baking fresh samples every time (but like I said, that's super easy on these).
madtheory wrote:Propher 2000 ya it's got an analogue filter, but is horrible to use and is otherwise quite hifi sounding I think, although I've never used one (just heard recordings).
Yup, sounds great but induces embolisms to use. If you can get Prophet 2012 working with it, it's a revelation. Fun for squelchy percussion with those shrieky CEMs. On the lower sample rate you can definitely get some crunch out of it, with the right samples.
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Re: Best (or least worst) vintage samplers

Post by synthroom » Thu Feb 04, 2016 5:50 am

For inexpensive, I'm partial to the S-50 / 550. They both can use a monitor and the S50 can use a tablet with pen for some functions, but the S550 can use a mouse for all the functions. They are both like little Fairlights, and even have multitrack sequencers available. The S50 has a large library and the S550 has an even bigger one as it can play the S50 library too. They don't sound as lofi as the Emulator II, S612, or Mirage, but they aren't as clean as a 16 bit sampler.

I bought a used S612 about 1990. It was a good buy as I got the floppy drive with it, but it is so basic I wouldn't recommend one. You have one slider for sample start point and one for sample end point. That's about it, and without the disk drive, no way to save sounds. But it is grungy.

I had an Akai S900 in the early 90s and it was very functional and way more user friendly than the S612!

I briefly had a P2000 a few years ago but didn't get into it. At the time there was no P2012 software and I had only a few disks for it.

I like the EMax II a lot. Not lofi, but I find the menu system easy to use. The ESI e-mus are very affordable but not lofi by any measure. I bought an ESI-4000 with 128 meg of memory for $70 last year. Lots of power for dirt cheap.

I have a Mirage and I haven't used it for many years. Not user friendly at all.

If you want to really go for it, the EII is great sounding and pretty easy to use.
Last edited by synthroom on Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Best (or least worst) vintage samplers

Post by V301H » Thu Feb 04, 2016 7:16 am

The Roland S760 can read S550 samples as well as Akai. Look for a fully-loaded specimen with 32MB RAM, OP760/1 video/digital I/O, and DA-400 Output Expander. If you want lo-fi there is Bit-Convert that can reduce the data format of samples to as low as 1 Bit. The digital filter is among the best on any Sampler and able to operate as LP, BP, or HP with Resonance in all modes.
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Re: Best (or least worst) vintage samplers

Post by Nakatsu_Hime » Sat Feb 06, 2016 8:45 pm

Thanks for all your feedback !

I noticed the reference to the Casio SK5, which amused me as the only sampler I ever had was the good old SK1.
I never used it in my later stuff as it was reasonably limited, even using the line input.

I would go probably head more for the FZ-10M rather than the FZ1, as I don't really need the huge and heavy keyboard. I can use my CZ1000 as a MIDI keyboard.
The S1000 still seems tempting.

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Re: Best (or least worst) vintage samplers

Post by madtheory » Sat Feb 06, 2016 9:30 pm

Nakatsu_Hime wrote:I would go probably head more for the FZ-10M rather than the FZ1, as I don't really need the huge and heavy keyboard.
I would too, except that the price difference is more huger and heavier ;) ! So I ended up with the FZ-1 :)

The S1000 has an interesting workflow- very easy to layer sounds on it, you just assign MIDI channels. Personally I found them clunkier to use than an Emu, and the filter is nowhere near as good as... well anything really.

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Re: Best (or least worst) vintage samplers

Post by ninja6485 » Wed Apr 13, 2016 3:32 pm

madtheory wrote:
Nakatsu_Hime wrote:I would go probably head more for the FZ-10M rather than the FZ1, as I don't really need the huge and heavy keyboard.
I would too, except that the price difference is more huger and heavier ;) ! So I ended up with the FZ-1 :)

The S1000 has an interesting workflow- very easy to layer sounds on it, you just assign MIDI channels. Personally I found them clunkier to use than an Emu, and the filter is nowhere near as good as... well anything really.
I'm using 2 later Emu samplers, the ESI4000, and the E6400 ultra along side the s1000 (among other things), and I find the s1000 to be the easiest of those 3. There are some features that the s1000 has that stand out over some other samplers of the era, namely that you have 9 loop points! And you have external fx send + return that you can use instead of an internal FX card. If you're diving into the world of vintage samplers, you no doubt are already prepared to fiddle with menus and mini view screen complexity. It's all part of the fun! I also like the sound of the s1000's filters. They lack resonance, but the character is something that I'm really drawn to. An interest in 88-94 style ambient house/ techno/ trance./ jungle style music perhaps facilitates this. Really, they're all to be enjoyed, and so I would recommend looking into the one that excites you most, or that you're most initially drawn to.

As for what else I can contribute from personal experience:
I've used/ own
Mirage
S1000
S2000
S5000
ESI4000
E6400 Ultra

(software section, only applicable for reference)
NI maschine
Ni Kontakt
Short circuit

Of these, the s1000 has had an issue or 2, the mirage and the s5000 have had issues, and the ESI4000 is tempermental. The most solid of the group is the s2000, and for the price they're going for, I would have to recommend that as a balance between features, price, and the way it sounds (Which I love), at the cost of some ease of use. The s5000 is the easiest, most powerful, and most fun to use, and sounds awesome. Mine sadly smokes when I turn it on, so it's on the waiting for repairs list! My favorites are then S1000, S5000, and the E6400Ultra, with special mention for the S2000 for being nearly as good as the 1 & 5, but at a much cheaper cost if you're prepared to use the small display. I should also mention my s2000 has a number of upgrades that make it much more powerful than the stock unit, including a digital in which allows you to sample directly in via spdf if you want to bypass the (cool) sound of the Analog inputs.
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...

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Re: Best (or least worst) vintage samplers

Post by AdamAnt316 » Thu Apr 14, 2016 5:53 am

Nakatsu_Hime wrote:Thanks for all your feedback !

I noticed the reference to the Casio SK5, which amused me as the only sampler I ever had was the good old SK1.
I never used it in my later stuff as it was reasonably limited, even using the line input.

I would go probably head more for the FZ-10M rather than the FZ1, as I don't really need the huge and heavy keyboard. I can use my CZ1000 as a MIDI keyboard.
The S1000 still seems tempting.
The SK-5, as well as the harder-to-find SK-8, are much more advanced sampler-wise than the SK-1. Unlike the SK-1, which stores one single 0.8 second sample which disappears when the power is turned off, the SK-5 and SK-8 can store four 0.8 second samples (or two 1.6 second ones) which persist as long as the batteries (or AC adapter) aren't removed. However, they do lack some of the more interesting non-sampling features of the SK-1 like the synthesizer section, portamento and envelope selection for the preset sounds. I generally tend towards the SK-5 for its rhythm sounds, though the SK-8's rhythms are a bit better in some respects, and the ROM cartridge function is nice.
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Re: Best (or least worst) vintage samplers

Post by JeEA » Sat Apr 30, 2016 5:45 pm

I would go for the S2000
Have two of Them and they work great.
The sk casio Series are toys In my opinion.
My daughter has one. ☺️
I also have Roland S-330 and Emulator IIIxp which sounds cool.
There is one thing about many samplers
You need to load the os system before playing.
I do not know ensoniq samplers, but there data looks good
Prophet 2000 is great but expensive. Had one and it is
Easy to use.
Pick one with hard drive or zip drive. Floppy disk Will
Kill You unless You buy with max 1 mb

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Re: Best (or least worst) vintage samplers

Post by ninja6485 » Sun May 01, 2016 6:20 am

If you do go the s2000 route, and you only have a floppy drive, don't be afraid to sample in mono at10k, sample short, and get clever with looping. Also, everything can be pitched up and then sampled before being transposed down on the sampler itself to save space. With a sampler like the s2000, it all just gives the samples more of that character that makes old samplers like that desirable. You can easily do a basic track on a single floppy.

I have one now with a break, a bass drum, open and closed high hats, snare, clap, 3 or 4 notes for a multi sampled bass program, and a lead that can also do harmony tasks like chords or pads, all on a single floppy.
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...

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Re: Best (or least worst) vintage samplers

Post by Mrcrappypantson » Tue May 10, 2016 8:00 pm

Akai s2000s are really great samplers. It and motu performer served me well for years back in the 90s/early 2000s. I then thought all software was the way to go but it wasn't for me. I just recently returned to hardware using Logic for midi sequencing only. Emu ultras are also a recommended sampler. Lovely filters and mod matrixes.

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