Are people still using Hardare Samplers?

Discussions about anything related to samplers and sampling techniques.
User avatar
HideawayStudio
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 1397
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:41 pm
Real name: Dani Wilson
Gear: 163 tubes in a large wooden box!
Band: Shortwave
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: Are people still using Hardare Samplers?

Post by HideawayStudio » Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:32 pm

There has been an interesting rift opening up in the land of hardware samplers over the past decade. The painful truth is that all of those who forked out thousands for the latest gigabyte hardware sampler will be crying into their pint as they are more often than not worth anything now. You can buy EIVs these days for chicken feed. WHY?? - simple the last two generations of samplers are as close as you'll ever get to PC based samplers - they have tons of memory, are capable of running at high sample rates and are all 16 bits+ with squeeky clean sampling and playback. And here's the point - why use what is essentially an embedded PC with a limited display, less memory and slower/lesser hard drive support when a PC will do it so much better.... BUT they both have no character whatsoever... :D

All the way at the other extreme are now the EII, EIII, EMAX I, S900, S950, S-330, S-550, FZ-1, Fairlight & Prophet 2000/20002 who's owners are grinning as these units are gaining value fast. At this end of the spectrum the 1st and 2nd gen samplers all have highly coloured sound, are mostly 8 or 12 bit, and have a habit of making everything synthesized sound wonderful sampled. Nothing beats old hardware samplers for adding punch, aliasing, grunge, dirt, harmonics galore... you just can't get this sound out of a PC. A PC emulating 8 bits just doesn't sound the same as real 8 bit DACs - it's always too clinical. By this I don't mean just lacking in noise - it's lacking in life! This is what separated home computers from professional gear - yes it's 8/12 bits but with very good signal to noise ratios. And to make it even more wonderful, many of the earlier samplers such as the Prophet 2002, EMAX I and EII & III have analog resonant filters for fatness - in fact some are also stackable like the Prophet samplers! Since some of these samplers have seriosly limited amounts of RAM but do have filters and stack functions I like to think of them more as synths and in some way they are far more creative as a result.

Please don't get me wrong - I'm extremely impressed with some of the newer software samplers - my point is that this software will NEVER become valuable or cherished in years to come. The sound of the early gear was not defined by software, or indeed firmware, it was the very hardware itself. These samplers were often expensive and not made in large quantities for studios, not home users. It's therefore obvious as more get snapped up the they weill become harder and harder to obtain - it's TB-303 all over again....

So in short - if was a hardware sampler released before 1989 - it probably rocks!! :)

Userfriend
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 135
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 12:54 am

Re: Are people still using Hardare Samplers?

Post by Userfriend » Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:10 am

And this could be a reason for manufacturers to make hardware samplers again; in these days of remakes of vintage synths, I think it´s just a question of time til we see a 8 or 12 bit hardware sampler with large memory on the market.

Hugo76
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1433
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2007 10:57 pm

Re: Are people still using Hardare Samplers?

Post by Hugo76 » Mon Jan 19, 2009 7:56 pm

Userfriend wrote:And this could be a reason for manufacturers to make hardware samplers again; in these days of remakes of vintage synths, I think it´s just a question of time til we see a 8 or 12 bit hardware sampler with large memory on the market.
I strongly doubt that will happen. But a sampler with the ability to do 8 and/or 12 bit sampling could happen. Anyways, I think we won't see more standalone racksamplers ever again. But groovebox gear will probably - hopefully - still be released. I would personally love to see Yamaha release something new here, incorporating and expanding the Ax000 technology.

User avatar
Yoozer
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1390
Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2005 1:31 pm

Re: Are people still using Hardare Samplers?

Post by Yoozer » Mon Jan 19, 2009 8:37 pm

Userfriend wrote:And this could be a reason for manufacturers to make hardware samplers again; in these days of remakes of vintage synths, I think it´s just a question of time til we see a 8 or 12 bit hardware sampler with large memory on the market.
It'd be far cheaper to make a box with an abrasive 8/12-bit converter with digital I/O, the rest of the sampler is a bunch of standardized computer parts anyway.
"Part of an instrument is what it can do, and part of it is what you do to it" - Suzanne Ciani, 197x.

User avatar
HideawayStudio
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 1397
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:41 pm
Real name: Dani Wilson
Gear: 163 tubes in a large wooden box!
Band: Shortwave
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: Are people still using Hardare Samplers?

Post by HideawayStudio » Mon Jan 19, 2009 10:12 pm

Hugo76 wrote:
Userfriend wrote:And this could be a reason for manufacturers to make hardware samplers again; in these days of remakes of vintage synths, I think it´s just a question of time til we see a 8 or 12 bit hardware sampler with large memory on the market.
I strongly doubt that will happen. But a sampler with the ability to do 8 and/or 12 bit sampling could happen. Anyways, I think we won't see more standalone racksamplers ever again. But groovebox gear will probably - hopefully - still be released. I would personally love to see Yamaha release something new here, incorporating and expanding the Ax000 technology.


Actually - I don't agree AT ALL - in fact this attitude saddens me. To make something with 8 or 12 bit DACs and real analog resonant filter output stages similar to the Prophet 2002 or Waldorf Microwave and a large memory would be well within the grasp of a small, more imaginative, synth manufacturer. We really must forget the idea that somehow hardware synths/sampler are gone forever - this trend is in fact reversing. Yes the like of AKAI and E-mu have pulled out but that just leaves a space for the producers of interesting niche hardware. High performance MCUs such as STM32 and nice displays are dirt cheap thesedays and both 8 and 12 bit DACs still very easy/cheap to purchase - h**l if someone wrote the ARM firmware for me I'd gladly design any one of you the electronics and metal rack enclosure to boot! :)

Userfriend
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 135
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 12:54 am

Re: Are people still using Hardare Samplers?

Post by Userfriend » Mon Jan 19, 2009 10:18 pm

Yoozer wrote:
Userfriend wrote:And this could be a reason for manufacturers to make hardware samplers again; in these days of remakes of vintage synths, I think it´s just a question of time til we see a 8 or 12 bit hardware sampler with large memory on the market.
It'd be far cheaper to make a box with an abrasive 8/12-bit converter with digital I/O, the rest of the sampler is a bunch of standardized computer parts anyway.
Yes it´s cheaper, but I would´nt be surprised anyway. Who believed in the P08 five-ten years ago?

The low bit resolution is just one part of it. A second part is individual real analog filter per voice, a third part would be a far more hands-on/real knobs interface than the old samplers had. Add to this plenty of RAM and HD, 76 note kbd, velocity and AT, and it´s not just a "remake", it´s infact a sampler which has´nt existed before at all! I think that´s hard enough to withstand to build and to use. And there´s one manufacturer today who would be most probable to make one. You know who ;)

Hugo76
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1433
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2007 10:57 pm

Re: Are people still using Hardare Samplers?

Post by Hugo76 » Tue Jan 20, 2009 12:50 am

@ HideawayStudio:
I'm not saying I don't want it to happen, all I'm saying is that it probably won't. But as you say, some smaller company may do it if they see there's a market for them.

User avatar
matia
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 346
Joined: Thu Feb 05, 2009 12:02 am
Real name: matia
Gear: Forum said that I exceeded 150 characters. Here's a partial:
Serge Modular 9 pannels SMS Modular almost all modules
ARP 2600
Roland Tr 808 ....
Location: SF Bay Area
Contact:

Re: Are people still using Hardare Samplers?

Post by matia » Sat Mar 21, 2009 1:02 am

Yoozer wrote: It'd be far cheaper to make a box with an abrasive 8/12-bit converter with digital I/O, the rest of the sampler is a bunch of standardized computer parts anyway.
That's basically what the Elektron MachineDrum UserWave does. It is a new 12 bit sampler.


-matia

User avatar
Sir Ruff
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 3519
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 11:55 pm

Re: Are people still using Hardare Samplers?

Post by Sir Ruff » Sat Mar 21, 2009 6:14 am

matia wrote:
Yoozer wrote: It'd be far cheaper to make a box with an abrasive 8/12-bit converter with digital I/O, the rest of the sampler is a bunch of standardized computer parts anyway.
That's basically what the Elektron MachineDrum UserWave does. It is a new 12 bit sampler.
Yeah, I'm surprised no one picked up on this. Admittedly, they reduce the editing features to nil (who really wants to edit outside of a pc screen anyways?) but the "sound" is there. I haven't heard one directly, but I have a feeling they sound pretty good!

Jomox 888 samples too, and it's 8-bit, but I think that's more of a load and play scenario. But again, that makes the most sense if all you want is the sound.
Do you even post on vse bro?

User avatar
matia
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 346
Joined: Thu Feb 05, 2009 12:02 am
Real name: matia
Gear: Forum said that I exceeded 150 characters. Here's a partial:
Serge Modular 9 pannels SMS Modular almost all modules
ARP 2600
Roland Tr 808 ....
Location: SF Bay Area
Contact:

Re: Are people still using Hardare Samplers?

Post by matia » Sun Mar 22, 2009 12:13 am

We have a MachineDrum MK2 with the userwave. The whole way of loading samples to the md is seriously eloquent concise and functional. The sound is great. Very punch and very much colored along the elektron lines. I think the coolest feature about machinedrum's sampling is not necessarily the fact that you can drop in your own samples, but the fact that you can re-sample as you are performing and then mess with the recording all the while the machine runs.

-matia

User avatar
HideawayStudio
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 1397
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:41 pm
Real name: Dani Wilson
Gear: 163 tubes in a large wooden box!
Band: Shortwave
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: Are people still using Hardare Samplers?

Post by HideawayStudio » Sun Mar 22, 2009 10:14 am

Userfriend wrote:
Yoozer wrote:
Userfriend wrote:And this could be a reason for manufacturers to make hardware samplers again; in these days of remakes of vintage synths, I think it´s just a question of time til we see a 8 or 12 bit hardware sampler with large memory on the market.
It'd be far cheaper to make a box with an abrasive 8/12-bit converter with digital I/O, the rest of the sampler is a bunch of standardized computer parts anyway.
Yes it´s cheaper, but I would´nt be surprised anyway. Who believed in the P08 five-ten years ago?

The low bit resolution is just one part of it. A second part is individual real analog filter per voice, a third part would be a far more hands-on/real knobs interface than the old samplers had. Add to this plenty of RAM and HD, 76 note kbd, velocity and AT, and it´s not just a "remake", it´s infact a sampler which has´nt existed before at all! I think that´s hard enough to withstand to build and to use. And there´s one manufacturer today who would be most probable to make one. You know who ;)
Actually I would not agree with the "standardized computer bits" thing - only the much later samplers resembled computers - even the Fairlight's sole - which was based on a 6809 computer running MDOS was down to huge amounts of hybrid circuitry following the computer section. Clearly many have an over simplistic idea of how the 8 and 12bit pro samplers worked. As Userfriend says, low bit DACs are only part of the "sound" of an early sampler. Many earlier samplers used tricks to improve their transposition range such as hardware oversampling with interpolation running, as Userfriend says, into discrete analog resonant filters which often went into self oscillation. In the Sequential Prophet 2000 there are over 100 components AFTER the 12 bit DACs! The analog output stages in the Emulator III are impressive - the thing was a beast. :D

The main point is that much of the real time dynamics of an old hardware sampler are performed in the analog domain - this is what makes them special - you feed highly harmonically rich sounds (due to aliasing) into super smooth filtered analog output stages. It's basically subtractive synthesis but using a mixture of digital and analog tricks. If you just expose your raw 8 bit DACs directly to the analog outputs you end up with an Amiga 500 - which was impressive in it's day but definitely not a match for an 8 bit pro sampler :)

This is why no software based sampler will ever quite sound like an Emulator II and having listened to some more demos recently I dearly want one - shame it's so huge though!

The picture is of the Sequential Prophet 2002's input/output pcb. The MC68B09 based computer section is on a separate, equally sized, pcb. The 6809 was a very popular processor in early 80's arcade machines - including the famous machines by Williams such as Defender :D
Attachments
P2002 Output PCB.jpg

Userfriend
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 135
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 12:54 am

Re: Are people still using Hardare Samplers?

Post by Userfriend » Sun Mar 22, 2009 2:09 pm

But is´nt it the ADC:s and the internal path rather than the DAC:s which should be lo-fi if we want a lo-fi sound? if it´s just simple 8 bit all the way, it sounds like a Mirage, but an 8-bit machine like the Emulator II does something more with the sound at the DAC:s and outputs so that it sounds like 12-14 bits. So low res AD and hi res DA may be the thing.

The ideal sampler for thick sound could be an EIII with a possibility to switch over to 8-bit sampling at the input/AD as it already has so great filters, DAC:s and outputs. Some samplers, like the KORG DSS-1, does it the other way around and have the feature to replay at lo res, but that just results in noisy c**p. I have one and have tried it. It´s equipped with just a single DAC as well.

User avatar
Yoozer
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1390
Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2005 1:31 pm

Re: Are people still using Hardare Samplers?

Post by Yoozer » Sun Mar 22, 2009 6:49 pm

HideawayStudio wrote: Actually I would not agree with the "standardized computer bits" thing - only the much later samplers resembled computers - even the Fairlight's sole - which was based on a 6809 computer running MDOS was down to huge amounts of hybrid circuitry following the computer section. Clearly many have an over simplistic idea of how the 8 and 12bit pro samplers worked. As Userfriend says, low bit DACs are only part of the "sound" of an early sampler. Many earlier samplers used tricks to improve their transposition range such as hardware oversampling with interpolation running, as Userfriend says, into discrete analog resonant filters which often went into self oscillation. In the Sequential Prophet 2000 there are over 100 components AFTER the 12 bit DACs! The analog output stages in the Emulator III are impressive - the thing was a beast. :D
This was interesting and I must admit that I did not know this. I assumed all interpolation tricks were either nearest-neighbour because of speed (which would explain the rougher character), and that later samplers got enough horsepower to do this kind of stuff in software, and better/smoother.

However, the 100-component part of the story pretty much ensures that nobody's ever going to rebuild this; to be feasible, parts would have to be integrated, which might ruin the character.
"Part of an instrument is what it can do, and part of it is what you do to it" - Suzanne Ciani, 197x.

User avatar
aeon
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 881
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 8:18 am
Location: a lily-pad in the pool of my mind.
Contact:

Re: Are people still using Hardare Samplers?

Post by aeon » Sun Mar 22, 2009 8:09 pm

Yoozer wrote:This was interesting and I must admit that I did not know this. I assumed all interpolation tricks were either nearest-neighbour because of speed (which would explain the rougher character), and that later samplers got enough horsepower to do this kind of stuff in software, and better/smoother.
Indeed, some vintage samplers do no interpolation at all - they change the crystal clock speed on the fly to change the playback rate. This is a very characteristic sound that is quite difficult to emulate.


cheers,
Ian

gcoudert
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1198
Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2007 1:24 pm
Real name: Gilles
Gear: Roland Fantom X7 with Ultimate Keys expansion, Yamaha TX802, Roland JP-8080, Tascam DP-24SD.
Location: SE England

Re: Are people still using Hardare Samplers?

Post by gcoudert » Sun Mar 22, 2009 8:28 pm

The E4K is very much the centrepiece of my set-up and gets used for all sorts of things such as drums, bass, synths, ambient pads and various acoustic instruments. I make extensive use of its separate outputs and effect routings.

If I had enough mixer inputs, I would use the S1000's separate outputs for drums. It is mainly used for acoustic sounds and synth sounds created from short samples with its own synth engine. If filter resonance is required, the S2800i takes over. The latter sees very little use nowadays. I might consider selling it.

Gilles
GC

Post Reply