Converting sampler disk images

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logix
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Converting sampler disk images

Post by logix » Wed Dec 22, 2021 12:22 am

There are many sample libraries online which come in the form of disk images. Obviously they're made for the specific sampler in question.
Since I'd like to use "classic" sample library sounds (Emulator I, II, Emax etc., Ensoniq Mirage, Akai S-700/612/900/950/1000 etc. Fairlight, Synclavier and so on) for use with my Yamaha TX-16W (or the Cyclone plugin) or some other DAW plugin I'm wondering if those disk images can somehow be converted for use with other samplers (retaining the keyboard mappings, loop-points etc) or simply converted into a more universal audio format such as AIFF or WAV?

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Re: Converting sampler disk images

Post by desmond » Wed Dec 22, 2021 12:48 am

It really depends on what disk images you have, from which source systems, in which format, and the intended target format (and to a certain extent, your computer platform, as to the availability of tools).

Probably the most complete single solution is Chicken' Systems Translator. You might need a bunch of other tools to read/burn/mount disk images, but you'll need to check what formats the software supports.

There are a lot of other tools out there made by enthusiasts to read and convert different formats, really, you'll just need to take it on a case by case basis and do your research and find the various tools required. Eg the Fairlight community have built lots of tools to read/convert Fairlight formats, the Akai community did the same for various Akai samplers - a lot of these things are enthusiast driven.

You won't find an easy one-click read/convert anything perfectly to anything else application if you want to read and convert legacy formats, it's always the way that you'll need to google around and find the tools you need to do what you want.

Also note that the Yamaha isn't necessarily the most popular of widely supported sample playback system, so finding things to convert to it's native formats might e difficult. It's generally far easier for more widely used tools, like Kontakt/Logic Sampler/Ableton Sampler/wave files etc...

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Re: Converting sampler disk images

Post by logix » Wed Dec 22, 2021 1:00 pm

Thanks for replying.
What you say about the difficulty of converting makes perfectly sense (unfortunately).
I assume the biggest challenge is if I want to convert not only the audio itself but also whatever else has been included in the disk images such as loop-points, envelope generators, key-mapping and so on.

Fortunately I'm not expecting anything other than being able to use the audio sample itself, then redoing all the other things on my own sampler (if I have to). Luckily the TX-16W (with the (now free) replacement "Typhoon" operating system) can take standard AIFF files, and transferring files from the computer is via (almost) standard MSDOS compatible floppies.

As far as I can see, the disk images are made for HxC/Gotek type disk emulating hardware for the various samplers and I assume the first step is getting the actual sample files off those disk images and over to the computer, then look into converting those into AIFF or whatever else I can use.
Do you know of any tools that can do the first thing (transfer the disk image contents over to the computer)? I'm on a Mac.

I looked into Chicken Systems Translator again. I had heard about it numerous times in the past, but being a Mac user I never bothered since it was Windows only as far as I remember. But now I was positively surprised to see it works on both Windows and Macs!
So that might be something to seriously look into once I get past hurdle number one (accessing the disk image files on my Mac) and if there haven't been made any dedicated tools for the various platforms already.
I'm particularly interested in the Akai X-7000/S-700 and S-612 factory sounds and Emulator I and II factory sounds. I believe several libraries have been compiled already, but none of them cater for other samplers than they're intended for.

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Re: Converting sampler disk images

Post by meatballfulton » Wed Dec 22, 2021 8:03 pm

If the transfer from Mac to Yamaha must be via floppies, you have a problem...Apple hasn't been supporting floppy drives for a loooooong time. While they still sell an external USB CD/DVD drive, there's no floppy drives from Apple any more. Even if you can find one, then the question is whether a modern Mac OS will talk to it.

Meanwhile you can get Chinese made external USB floppy drives for Windows for as cheap as $20 and modern Windows machines can still mount the disks. Plenty of NOS floppies still on Amazon and eBay. Perhaps a cheap Windows laptop is in your future?
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Re: Converting sampler disk images

Post by desmond » Thu Dec 23, 2021 12:25 am

logix wrote:
Wed Dec 22, 2021 1:00 pm
I assume the biggest challenge is if I want to convert not only the audio itself but also whatever else has been included in the disk images such as loop-points, envelope generators, key-mapping and so on.
Yes, and with some formats and conversion tools, they will preserve some of those things, other times not. Like I say, support varies across different machine types.
logix wrote:
Wed Dec 22, 2021 1:00 pm
As far as I can see, the disk images are made for HxC/Gotek type disk emulating hardware for the various samplers and I assume the first step is getting the actual sample files off those disk images and over to the computer, then look into converting those into AIFF or whatever else I can use.
Do you know of any tools that can do the first thing (transfer the disk image contents over to the computer)? I'm on a Mac.
I refer you to my previous post. There is no one easy tool that will read everything. I was recently investigating some Fairlight disk images - there's a guy who's built some very cool tools to read those Fairlight disks and extract the samples, instruments, and sequences into more modern formats. That's because that guy, a Fairlight enthusiast, built those tools for that purpose. So if you were reading old Fairlight disks, they are a good set of tools to use.

But they would be useless for anything else - for that, you'd investigate the next sampler format, and find enthusiasts who have done the work to reverse the format and build conversions tools. Emulator II? There's a whole bunch of disk library images out there, and whole lot of them have already been converted to wavs etc. Same for the Mirage and so on. As I say, you'll ned to investigate this on a case by case basis for the machines/libraries you are interested in, but there is a *lot* of stuff out there that will not require conversion work by you to access, as others before you have already done it.
logix wrote:
Wed Dec 22, 2021 1:00 pm
So that might be something to seriously look into once I get past hurdle number one (accessing the disk image files on my Mac) and if there haven't been made any dedicated tools for the various platforms already.
I haven't looked at exactly what machines and formats it supports, it's probably good at the middle sampler era, but I'm not sure it has much for the super early stuff - support will be listed on their website. Yes it works on Mac.
logix wrote:
Wed Dec 22, 2021 1:00 pm
I'm particularly interested in the Akai X-7000/S-700 and S-612 factory sounds and Emulator I and II factory sounds. I believe several libraries have been compiled already, but none of them cater for other samplers than they're intended for.
Pretty much all the Emulator libraries are out there, factory and third-party. There's an EII thread on GS where a guy has compiled all these, and you can find them in native disk formats, converted to WAVs etc. All that stuff is out there, and an evening of googling will turn up all the stuff you could ever use.

The early Akai factory sounds from Quikdisks I haven't seen around, though there have been a few efforts to curate these (including on here). I know of someone who has them all but they are really only interested in keeping them for themselves, than sharing them to the community so everyone can access them, unfortunately.

But even without these, between the easily available Fairlight, Mirage, Emulator and other early sampler libraries, you should have *plenty* to work through and to use in your sampler, without having to bother with legacy disk image format conversion.

So I'd do the work in finding all this stuff, rather than buying conversion software and attempting to do all that work again for yourself - though if you want to, you are free to do that of course!

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Re: Converting sampler disk images

Post by logix » Thu Dec 23, 2021 12:08 pm

meatballfulton wrote:
Wed Dec 22, 2021 8:03 pm
If the transfer from Mac to Yamaha must be via floppies, you have a problem...Apple hasn't been supporting floppy drives for a loooooong time.
It's true that Macs haven't had built-in floppy drives for years, but I've been using an external USB floppy drive for this.

I can't remember if later MacOS versions have removed or "hidden" floppy drive features present before (deemed as "no longer unnecessary" our "outdated" by Apple and deciding this applies to everybody), but at least in 10.13 High Sierra which I'm on (I still rely on some 32-bit apps which I can't get on more recents OS versions) I can still use it.
I've also purchased the BlueHarvest software which prevents all those "invisible" Mac related files all over the floppies. They're a real nuisance to remove, so this is really essential if you use a floppy disk (which isn't write-protected) with a Mac. There are free alternatives, but BlueHarvest is the best as far as I know.

Oh, I also have an Atari ST with a floppy disk drive :)
And if I decide to keep my TX-16W hardware sampler I might look into replacing the floppy with a floppy drive emulator. That would probably be the closest thing to a hard drive (which the TX-16W never had as it only came with an RS-422 connector but no SCSI or IDE).
But right now I'm playing around with the Cyclone TX-16W plugin to see what it can do and how it compares to the real thing.

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Re: Converting sampler disk images

Post by madtheory » Sat Dec 25, 2021 1:40 pm

logix wrote:
Wed Dec 22, 2021 1:00 pm
I'm particularly interested in the Akai X-7000/S-700 and S-612 factory sounds and Emulator I and II factory sounds. I believe several libraries have been compiled already, but none of them cater for other samplers than they're intended for.
I've done it. And actually they DO cater for a wide range of samplers, as I will explain. Akai, EI and EII disc images can be converter to SF2 using EMXP (which is free), and that format is widely supported. Sforzando and Kontakt (via import) for example.

I would not bother with putting them into Cyclone. It's an awful lot of manual labour. Unless you're good at scripting/ programming? Cyclone is an interesting curiousity, emulates the real thing perfectly. Some mileage to be had with extreme transposing but that's it. They sound a lot better in SFZ or Kontakt and you can do more with them in there. When I want sampler grunge, Arturia CMIV is my go to (having tried almost everything else). I only use Cyclone when I need to get back an old sound from my TX16W days. Then I use AIFF export to put it into Kontakt :) I copied over all of my TX16W floppies to Mac with a Dell USB crive that could read DD disks. That was probably High Sierra? The drive works in Mojave, I haven't tried it with laterOS X yet.

EII factory is a great library. Emu were clever to gather a lot of user contributions, so there is a lot of skill in these sounds. The Akai factory library is not that great, since the real gems are in the third party CD ROM libraries. Many of which have been re-released for Kontakt. Kontakt 4 can import disc images.

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Re: Converting sampler disk images

Post by meatballfulton » Sat Dec 25, 2021 6:11 pm

logix wrote:
Thu Dec 23, 2021 12:08 pm
It's true that Macs haven't had built-in floppy drives for years, but I've been using an external USB floppy drive for this.
...
at least in 10.13 High Sierra which I'm on (I still rely on some 32-bit apps which I can't get on more recents OS versions) I can still use it.
Thanks for mentioning this. My iMac is stuck at High Sierra as well and has a CD drive, which I still make use of. I don't need floppies for anything but it's good to know it can work.
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Re: Converting sampler disk images

Post by logix » Sun Dec 26, 2021 2:17 pm

desmond wrote:
Thu Dec 23, 2021 12:25 am
Pretty much all the Emulator libraries are out there, factory and third-party. There's an EII thread on GS where a guy has compiled all these, and you can find them in native disk formats, converted to WAVs etc. All that stuff is out there, and an evening of googling will turn up all the stuff you could ever use.

The early Akai factory sounds from Quikdisks I haven't seen around, though there have been a few efforts to curate these (including on here). I know of someone who has them all but they are really only interested in keeping them for themselves, than sharing them to the community so everyone can access them, unfortunately.

But even without these, between the easily available Fairlight, Mirage, Emulator and other early sampler libraries, you should have *plenty* to work through and to use in your sampler, without having to bother with legacy disk image format conversion.
That all sounds promising though those converted sample libraries must have been well hidden. Believe me, I've spent more than an evening of googling to find this stuff. The closest I usually come is some geeky discussions where someone has uploaded a bunch of samples in their native format and there are theoretical discussions on what kind of scripts or what have you is needed to convert them.
I'm certainly going to look for that GS thread about Emulator II sounds though.

I don't want to stir up any trouble, but is all this actually some sort of "gray area" so links directly to already converted WAV/AIFF libraries are out of the question? Sorry if i'm out of line here.

So I'd do the work in finding all this stuff, rather than buying conversion software and attempting to do all that work again for yourself - though if you want to, you are free to do that of course!
I agree. Why make it hard if you can do it easy!
I'm not looking into building up entire sound libraries either as not all sounds from those legendary samplers are worth their while. But they all have some unique sounds.

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Re: Converting sampler disk images

Post by logix » Sun Dec 26, 2021 3:03 pm

madtheory wrote:
Sat Dec 25, 2021 1:40 pm
logix wrote:
Wed Dec 22, 2021 1:00 pm
I'm particularly interested in the Akai X-7000/S-700 and S-612 factory sounds and Emulator I and II factory sounds. I believe several libraries have been compiled already, but none of them cater for other samplers than they're intended for.
I've done it. And actually they DO cater for a wide range of samplers, as I will explain. Akai, EI and EII disc images can be converter to SF2 using EMXP (which is free), and that format is widely supported. Sforzando and Kontakt (via import) for example.
You mean you've converted various disk images from the mentioned libraries?
I looked up EMXP and came up with this site.
Apparently it's a Windows app and I currently don't have the ability to run Windows on my Mac (though I'm considering buying a Windows 10 installer and run it through a BootCamp partition, but so far haven't had enough need to justify the cost).

So EMXP can be used to convert the contents of disk images from Akai, Emulator etc. samplers after their contents have been extracted from the disk image files?
I was hoping I could use the "HxC floppy emulator" app on my Mac (downloaded for free from the HxC site) in order to open a disk image, then drag/drop the files contained inside over to my Mac desktop or something for further converting or use, but so far no luck with that. So far I've only tried the Akai S-612/S-700 .QD disk mages so maybe I should try some other types first. How did you do it?


I would not bother with putting them into Cyclone. It's an awful lot of manual labour. Unless you're good at scripting/ programming?
No. I've done my fair bit of that kind of thing, but I've never been trained in that field, so every time I get into such a task it means a LOT of time reading through "how to" guides, experimentation and plenty of hair-pulling :D
I'm perfectly fine with using another format than Cyclone/TX-16W hardware. I'm still new to DAWs and am just starting to scratch the surface of sampler plugins, and so far I haven't found anything which is simple enough to be self-explanetory in use as I was hoping.
Logic does have the EXS24 sampler which I've played around with some of its presets, but it seems a bit complex to go beyond that. There's a "quick sampler" in the latest version of Logic but my version (10.4.8) doesn't have it and as far as I know EXS24 is the only sampler that comes with the DAW.

Ideally I'd like to have a sampler plugin where I could just drag & drop just about any kind of standard audio file (WAV, AIFF MP3 etc), perhaps to keyboard zone which I define on the fly than use right away. With these two wishes granted I could use samples in my music without too much preparation (I was hoping that kind of "office work" was over from back in the 80's/90s). Is there such a thing that won't cost a fortune and work on a Mac with Logic Pro X?
I looked up Kontakt and seeing how much it costs I don't know if I'll bother. Sforzando is priced right, but as far as I can tell it won't take standard audio sample formats.

EII factory is a great library. Emu were clever to gather a lot of user contributions, so there is a lot of skill in these sounds. The Akai factory library is not that great, since the real gems are in the third party CD ROM libraries. Many of which have been re-released for Kontakt. Kontakt 4 can import disc images.
The Akai X-7000 was my very first sampler and I fondly remember a few Akai factory preset disks that I would like to use again. I don't care to spend lots of time converting an entire Akai or Emu library only to end up using 5 or 6 sounds.
Getting back to Kontakt; there' s a free "Kontakt player" (I think I've downloaded/installed it but never taken the time to investigate it properly) but as far as I've read it's very limited because it won't take the majority of sample libraries out there.

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Re: Converting sampler disk images

Post by madtheory » Sun Dec 26, 2021 8:03 pm

EMXP runs fine in Wine on Mac (scroll down the home page it mentions it). You can also set up a Windows Virtual Machine, check out VM Ware Fusion it's really good and free. You do have to buy Windows but it's not expensive.

I used it to convert EII and EI disc images directly. It extracts the programs to SF2 for you. For the Akai stuff I had, I used Kontakt 4 but that was a while back.

Logic EXS24 will do all you need. drag'n'drop etc. RTFM :)

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Re: Converting sampler disk images

Post by desmond » Sun Dec 26, 2021 8:10 pm

logix wrote:
Sun Dec 26, 2021 3:03 pm
Logic does have the EXS24 sampler which I've played around with some of its presets, but it seems a bit complex to go beyond that. There's a "quick sampler" in the latest version of Logic but my version (10.4.8) doesn't have it and as far as I know EXS24 is the only sampler that comes with the DAW.
If you are using Logic, then upgrading to 10.5.x is *strongly* recommended, because Sampler and QuickSampler make working with samples 1000% quicker and more fun than the old EXS24...

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Re: Converting sampler disk images

Post by logix » Sun Dec 26, 2021 10:04 pm

desmond wrote:
Sun Dec 26, 2021 8:10 pm
If you are using Logic, then upgrading to 10.5.x is *strongly* recommended, because Sampler and QuickSampler make working with samples 1000% quicker and more fun than the old EXS24...
Yes, but I believe MacOS 10.14 Mojave is needed for that and with my Mac Pro (mid-2010) I'd need to replace my existing graphic card for "metal" compatibility. That's my every-use, main computer.
Besides losing compatibility with my 32-bit apps I still use I don't think I can reboot into an older OS either (as the "metal" graphic card wouldn't be recognized there.

I also have a 13" mid-2012 MacBook Pro (2.5 GHz i5 processor) and believe I can run MacOS 10.14 on it, but I'm unsure if the i5 processor is considered powerful enough for a DAW and then I'd also have the problem of not being able to continue working on a song made on it, with the Mac Pro (MacOS 10.13/Logic 10.4). Tricky...

From the screenshots/reviews I've seen of Logic 10.5 it does look very tempting though ;)

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Re: Converting sampler disk images

Post by desmond » Sun Dec 26, 2021 10:21 pm

Yes, it's not straightforward in this instance.

I currently have a (broken) non-metal machine, running a patched Mojave (which still runs 32-bit apps BTW - it's Catalina that kills those), and Logic 10.5.x.

However, there are two areas in Logic that require and expect Metal to work, and running 10.5.x on a patched Mojave without Metal will just hard crash Logic in these areas - these are the smart controls panel, and drum machine designer (with the control panel open). So those stay closed (I dislike, and don't use, smart controls anyway, so no real biggie for me).

It's worth the tradeoff for me until I get a new machine though, as QuickSampler is (apart from one implementation detail) the sampler to work with these old libraries that I always wanted and couldn't find a good third-party solution. Also that a lot of Redmatica's Keymap Pro functionality is now built in to the samplers is also very cool.

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Re: Converting sampler disk images

Post by logix » Sun Jan 23, 2022 3:32 pm

Desmond: Indeed, Logic 10.5 with its Quicksampler does look very nice! :D
I had a brief look at it when attaching and booting into an external USB hard drive with MacOS 10.14 and Logic 10.5 on my 13" Macbook Pro (mid-2012).
What's doable right now is to upgrade that laptop from 10.13 to 10.14 (I'm not sure if it can run 10.15 or if that's desirable anyway) in order to gain access to Quicksampler in Logic, but with its specs (2.5 GHz i5 processor/16 GB RAM/1TB SSD) it might not be the best solution. And practical-wise my Mac Pro (mid-2010) is my everyday computer which is probably more powerful (upgraded to a 3.46 GHz 6-core Xeon processor/24 GB RAM, multiple SSDs and large 7200 RPM hard drives) and more practical as it's attached to my rack audio/MIDI interface (Focusrite 18i20), speakers, keyboards, 24" display etc.).
If I were to take the plunge and upgrade the Mac Pro to 10.14 I'd have to buy a new graphic card which at the moment costs quite a bit as far as I can see.
Ah... decisions, decisions...... then again people have made great music with Logic 10.5 (and earlier) including with EXS24 I'm sure, and even though it's not the flashiest solution out there today it might still be useable if I properly learn how to use it.


Madtheory: Success! =D>. I finally got Windows to work on my Mac! Not via Bootcamp (which turns out to be a real pain to install although I have succeeded in the past), but via Oracle's Virtualbox (free) and a trial version of Windows 7 (ISO disk image file) downloaded from Microsoft. That and some good online guides made it possible for me to run EMXP as you suggested earlier and (unlike a Bootcamp installation) allowed me to easily transfer files between the Mac and Windows environments. Definitely not as responsive as with a Bootcamp installation, but good enough for casual use and the "shared folder" file-transfer is much more important for this sort of thing.

So with EXMP I've been able to convert Emulator I/II and Emax disk images to Soundfont (.SF2) files as well as WAV files. The Soundfont files open directly within EXS24 in Logic and once they're selected they get converted to an EXS file, so there's no need to go through a separate conversion process. Very nice!
I haven't yet tried any Akai S-1000 disk image files with it, but am sure it'll be just as effective.

For Fairlight sounds I really wasn't getting anywhere until I came across the CMI series III and IIx library by Tomas Mulcahy which had sounds already converted to the EXS24 format (and some other soft-sampler formats as well). So finally I can use Fairlight sounds straight away although I was disappointed to see that the most famous/legendary sounds such as SARARR and ORCH5 weren't there.
(I just noticed that you posted about this library in the first place in the KVR forums and the reason why those sounds weren't made into patches!).
Fortunately that library also came with WAV files, so I once I figure out how to actually use EXR24 (so far I've only used it to select already made patches in addition to adding new patches and auditing those) I believe I can make my own patches with those sounds. I really just need to set up a patch with a simple envelope (i.e. a little release) for a sounds like SARARR. Maybe it's possible to do this once, then copy/paste the same setup for different sounds, effectively and quickly making up new patches?

Following this I remembered the Fairlight sound database library which I looked up again. Upon closer inspection I noticed that there's actually a conversion option (SFZ file-format) there! I was hoping for a further conversion option elsewhere from SFZ to the EXS24 format (or an intermediate format such as .SF2 which EXS24 could use) but to no avail.
So I remembered having already downloaded the free Plogue Sforzando plugin (SFZ player). This worked! But as far as I can see it's just a very crude sample-file player with no envelope or anything like that, so maybe the solution to this is just to dive in and make my own EXS24 patches for SARARR, ORCH5 (unless someone else has beat me to it and made EXS24 patches of those available online).
OK, I'm done :lol:

What's left to convert now are those Akai S-612/700/X-7000 Quickdisk image files (.QD). They're in the Flashfloppy and HXC formats, but from my understanding that's got nothing to do with the audio part, just the disk format, right? If I'm not mistaken they'll just work with the original hardware samplers once transferred to their floppy-drive replaced floppy emulator hardware. I haven't found any of the usual audio file converters supporting them (luckily now I can also look into Windows software), so is this just considered a "closed format" meaning they'll only work with said hardware samplers and case closed, or are there ways of converting those to WAV or whatever like with EXMP? As far as I remember from my X-7000 days it didn't have much of parameters to adjust, so I assume it shouldn't take too much time to turn them into EXS24 patches (transferring the original loop-point would be helpful though).

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