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Yamaha A4000 user reports?
Old 26th June 2010
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Yamaha A4000 user reports?

Have an opportunity to maybe buy one of these but I've been able to find very little in the way of reviews either here or elsewhere online. The one I'm looking at comes with maxed out RAM, a 2.1gig internal HD, a SCSI CD drive, and version 2 OS.

Just wondered if anyone had any experiences to share, how easy is it to use and are there any pitfalls? The specs seem impressive......for info, I would be sequencing it with a Machinedrum (at least initially).

Thanks in advance
Old 26th June 2010
  #2
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MonoBrow's Avatar
 

They are great! We own a a3000-5000.
Very underrated sampler.
Old 26th June 2010
  #3
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Barfunkel's Avatar
 

I used to have a A3000 (paid something like 3000€ for it back in the day, inflation-adjusted). Great sampler, nice filters, the only bad thing about it is are the low-quality encoders that wear out in a few years. I got no idea if they (or anyone else) make replacement encoders anymore, if they don't, I wouldn't get any of the A-series samplers.

I kind of miss mine.
Old 26th June 2010
  #4
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I've got a couple of A4000's. Sounds great. Can be a bit tricky to work with if you don't have the right accessories. Latest OS is v. 1.5 afaik.

Make sure you get the factory CD's (think there are 9) with the sampler before you buy it. The official (slow) way to load the factory sounds is with an external SCSI CDROM but there are 3d party Windows tools like disky and cdbonk which allow you to access the internal harddrive (SCSI only) via the computer's scsi port. Imo the fastest and optimal way to upload the factory CD's to the sampler (or backing up the contents of the SCSI drive) is using a PC + SCSI Card + Disky or CDBonk connected to the sampler. This way you don't need a SCSI CDROM because you can use the PC's. Alternatively you could make ISO's of the factory CD's and mount them with Daemontools and let cdbonk read these.

Max RAM is 128MB (4 x 32MB). Sample loading times aren't the fastest. Apparently using an internal IDE drive instead of SCSI gives one faster loading times but should you connect a computer via SCSI to the A4000 you won't be able to access the IDE drive. This only works with SCSI afaik.

Another limitation, at least as far as the factory CD's are concerned, is that the harddisk is formatted with a Yamaha proprietary filesystem with a limited number of Y-Nodes (presumably Yamaha speak for inodes). So..... the disk is formatted with a maximum of 8 x 1GB partitions which often cannot be filled up with the factory sampledata before the file number limit has been reached.

Be aware that it's almost certain that the rotary encoders on the front panel will skip. It's an inherent design flaw in the AxK series. This usually starts happening once they become dirty and as dust works its way in.

Some people recommend spraying them with Deoxit but I'd be wary of doing this. It is possible (if one is careful) to pry the encoders open and to clean them with surgical alcohol. There is also another fix involving soldering components to the encoder board which apparently circumvents the skipping problem. Alternatively one could use software like A5000 remote or Bzone to control the sampler via MIDI instead of editing from the front panel.

In the UK the going rate for the A4000's are now +- 120 quid or less if you're lucky. Not sure what US prices are like, could be a bit more.

You can get yourself some cheap old compaq server scsi drives off EBay to replace the 2.1 GB drive. Try to buy them in as new as possible condition though because ones which have been spinning for years in servers are bound to fail. 9.1GB, 18GB, probably 36GB should all work although the sampler can only use the first 8GB. (You'll need an adapter for the compaq drives so it will connect to the 50 pin cable.)

IDE drives are another option, they're quieter than SCSI drives (spin slower) and load faster.

There used to be more resources for the AxK series but many of the sites have disappeared / closed. Your best bet for info is the A5000 Yahoo mail list.

YamahaA5000 : YamahaSamplers A5000 A4000 A3000
Old 27th June 2010
  #5
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dlmorley's Avatar
I have the A5000 with an IDE drive. A bit slow loading but a GREAT sampler with a load of synth functions and FX.
Very pleased with mine.
Old 27th June 2010
  #6
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Those yamies are fine samplers. One of my fav feature is the parametric eq in addition to the filter for each sound.

Also, user interface is excellent. Eg, when setting your eq you have an encoder for selecting the shape, another one for the gain, another for the frequency and the last one for the Q. It feel almost like a real one. Same when setting adsr's.

Quote:
I got no idea if they (or anyone else) make replacement encoders anymore
ALPS|EC11B15242|ENCODER, ROTARY, 11MM | Farnell United Kingdom thumbsup
Old 27th June 2010
  #7
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aeonlux's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dlmorley View Post
I have the A5000 with an IDE drive. A bit slow loading but a GREAT sampler with a load of synth functions and FX.
Very pleased with mine.
The same, and agreed.




cheers,
Ian
Old 27th June 2010
  #8
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depulse's Avatar
I've got an A5000 too. The effects are incredible. The synthesis power is big, you can see it as a Motif with user modifiable ROM.

Just the very slooooow loading, even when using an internal IDE drive.
Old 28th June 2010
  #9
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Quote:

Quote:
Unit Price: £6.66
heh


There's an Emu hardware hack for the encoder problem which I think also works on the AxK series but do your own research.... have no idea whether attempting this is a good idea or not.

http://www.jsigle.com/musicol/emufix.htm


Probably worth checking the Yahoo A5000 board here:

http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/YamahaA5000/

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/elect...s-pad-3-a.html
Old 28th June 2010
  #10
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by asbak View Post
heh


There's an Emu hardware hack for the encoder problem which I think also works on the AxK series but do your own research.... have no idea whether attempting this is a good idea or not.

Jrg Sigle's Colours&Notes - Emulator Ultra rotary wheel fix
it is

like others have said, slow loading times (i always shoot my own samples over via scsi from sound forge or recycle anyway) and cool synthesis options. the fx alone are worth the few bucks they go for nowadays. some excellent grainy glitchery to be had with the fx mapped to a knob or two
Old 28th June 2010
  #11
Gear Nut
 

Thanks to everybody for their help, some very useful information here. My earlier Googling didn't produce much useful, but a couple of things did interest me:

- I read a post on some random site where this guy reckoned that an OS update significantly sped sample loading times up and effectively made the item functional.

-on the same site someone reckoned that the knob problems (fnar fnar) mostly affected the 3000 rather than the 4 or 5000.

Can anyone confirm or deny this info?

Also, if SCSI speeds up sample loading, does that mean a SCSI hard disk would represent an advantage over the internal?

I suspect it's worth a punt anyway, should be able to get it for a shade over a hundred quid.....

Thanks again everyone
Old 28th June 2010
  #12
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aeonlux's Avatar
 

The OS update does speed things up - from glacially slow to just slow. While I love my A5K, my E6400Ultra and S-760 smoke it as it concerns disk I/O.

Knob problems affect all A-series units. If the A3Ks have the problem moreso, it is because they are older and have seen more use. After 6 years, my A5K has no knob problems. If it develops any, it will be easy to address.

Both SCSI and IDE are slow. Neither has any real advantage.

You can use an A-series machine for anything you would with just about any other sampler. That said, I think it excels when you use it as a synthesizer with programmable oscs. That's what it is, really. Push the features of the main engine and the effects blocks, and it can really give up the goods! thumbsup


cheers,
Ian
Old 28th June 2010
  #13
Gear Nut
 

Jesus wept. While I've been fannying around trying to figure out if it's any good or not, someone else has bought it
Old 28th June 2010
  #14
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Yeah so it goes... you snooze you lose. It's probably happened to all of us. Just keep a beady eye on the 'Bay.... it's bound to show up again sooner or later as owners "upgrade" to "working inside the box". Ideally get an A5000. More fx blocks and polyphony but they are not as common to find though. I wouldn't bother with an A3000. It's not bad but the going rate isn't going to be much different to that of an A4000 and it's a bit more limited. Also, the older version (pre V2) should be avoided.

For the prices A4000's are going for (130 quid or less) one can't really go wrong. However, keep in mind that you'll probably need to invest in accessories if you don't already have them to use the sampler.

Some choices:

- SCSI CDROM or some kind of alternative workaround system to load factory content to internal drive.

- SCSI card and cable (but don't use an LVD type) to transfer sample data from comp.

- PC running XP although newer Microsoft OS's *may* also work (don't know)

- Internal Drives, either scsi, ide or both. Afaik they have to be < 80GB in size. Only the first 8GB is usable anyway. They're only going to become scarcer as time goes by so best to stock up with a few cheapos now.

- External SCSI hard drive to backup samples to in case main drive fails.

- Memory upgrade to (4 x 32MB) 128MB. It's quite likely that the sampler will have (4 x 16MB) 64MB.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seamus303 View Post
on the same site someone reckoned that the knob problems (fnar fnar) mostly affected the 3000 rather than the 4 or 5000.
As has been stated already, all AxK's are affected by this issue, not only the 3000 series. I believe that the 3000 uses a different type of encoder than the 4000 and 5000.
Old 28th June 2010
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by watari banzai View Post
it is

like others have said, slow loading times (i always shoot my own samples over via scsi from sound forge or recycle anyway) and cool synthesis options. the fx alone are worth the few bucks they go for nowadays. some excellent grainy glitchery to be had with the fx mapped to a knob or two
Ahhh dear fellow gearslut, a question!

May I ask what version of Sound Forge you use? I've only been able to get sample transfers working with TWE 2.3.1. Also, is it possible to transfer multiple samples (batch xfer?) at once with SF or can only one at a time be sent?

(apologies for the newb questions)
Old 29th June 2010
  #16
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by asbak View Post
Ahhh dear fellow gearslut, a question!

May I ask what version of Sound Forge you use? I've only been able to get sample transfers working with TWE 2.3.1. Also, is it possible to transfer multiple samples (batch xfer?) at once with SF or can only one at a time be sent?

(apologies for the newb questions)
i use sound forge 7. i recall having to install some new aspi layer or other to get my scsi card working with winxp. batch transfers arent possible with sound forge afaik, i use A3k disky for that
Old 29th June 2010
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by watari banzai View Post
i use sound forge 7. i recall having to install some new aspi layer or other to get my scsi card working with winxp. batch transfers arent possible with sound forge afaik, i use A3k disky for that
Much obliged.
Old 29th June 2010
  #18
Gear Guru
 
Yoozer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by aeonlux View Post
Knob problems affect all A-series units.
I've seen a "solution" to the knob problem that consists of simply removing the assembly out of the case; while they weren't working properly previously, having them "out of the box" heh apparently made 'm go again.
Old 29th June 2010
  #19
Oli
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Oli's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by aeonlux View Post
While I love my A5K, my E6400Ultra and S-760 smoke it as it concerns disk I/O.
You seem to love your hardware samplers.

I also have an E6400Ultra (under repair), as well as an S950 (and an RS7000). Used to use a friend's S760. Loved the filter on that one. I was so impressed with it at the time, particularly compared to other digital filters of the period. From memory, it would still stand up well today. I don't think it had the character of the wilder analogue filters available, but was smooth, and good sounding in its own right.
Old 29th June 2010
  #20
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dlmorley's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oli View Post
You seem to love your hardware samplers.

I also have an E6400Ultra (under repair), as well as an S950 (and an RS7000). Used to use a friend's S760. Loved the filter on that one. I was so impressed with it at the time, particularly compared to other digital filters of the period. From memory, it would still stand up well today. I don't think it had the character of the wilder analogue filters available, but was smooth, and good sounding in its own right.
The Roland S-750/S-770 are the best around as far as digital filters go and overall great sounding samplers (better than the 760). I used mine for YEARS and was always pleased with it.

Roland S-750
Emulator III
Fairlight IIx and III

For me, those are where it is at!
Old 29th June 2010
  #21
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aeonlux's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oli View Post
You seem to love your hardware samplers.
I don't think I particularly like the idea of hardware samplers in and of themselves, but each of those 3 machines offer things that end up being very pleasing to my ear.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oli View Post
Used to use a friend's S760. Loved the filter on that one. I was so impressed with it at the time, particularly compared to other digital filters of the period. From memory, it would still stand up well today. I don't think it had the character of the wilder analogue filters available, but was smooth, and good sounding in its own right.
That filter, which is present in the JD-800, JD-990, S-770, S-750, S-760, SP-700, DJ-70, and DJ-70mkII, is a nice piece of work from Roland, no doubt.


cheers,
Ian
Old 7th July 2010
  #22
Gear Guru
 
Muser's Avatar
I just got hold of a Akai Z8.

It's the easiest sampler I have used by a long chalk. the tuning of the Q control knobs is absolute perfection. it also has an auxiliary ADSR which is 8 stage, extremely handy. The detachable front end controller is genius.

It takes thumb sticks and USB CD Rom drives via the front end USB. it also has a great software editor via external USB. reads nearly everything you can throw at it (except) Audio CDs.

a big thumbsup on this one.
Old 7th July 2010
  #23
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dlmorley's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser View Post
I just got hold of a Akai Z8.

It's the easiest sampler I have used by a long chalk. the tuning of the Q control knobs is absolute perfection. it also has an auxiliary ADSR which is 8 stage, extremely handy. The detachable front end controller is genius.

It takes thumb sticks and USB CD Rom drives via the front end USB. it also has a great software editor via external USB. reads nearly everything you can throw at it (except) Audio CDs.

a big thumbsup on this one.
Would like to try one out too.
Not a fan of Akai in general, but maybe the Z8 sounds good??
Old 7th July 2010
  #24
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Muser's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dlmorley View Post
Would like to try one out too.
Not a fan of Akai in general, but maybe the Z8 sounds good??
Akai's are brilliant for Drums and Bass.. they excel at that in a pop context. especially the S1000 & S3000. Most of Madonnas Ray of Light was constructed in S3000's.

Tricky made His Albums by just using an S1000 a record deck and an Atari.
YouTube - Tricky - Overcome

The Z8 sounds really good to me. thumbsup

32 Filters. not brilliant Filters but the usual very Audio friendly and workmanlike Akai Filters. The resonants are ringy, not squishy, which are better for Drums and acoustic instruments I guess.
so yes, all in all it sounds just fine.. no real issues there imo.

The ease of use though, is outstanding. I think I might get a Yamaha QY700 and do most of my work like that in future. it's just too enjoyable not to..
Old 7th July 2010
  #25
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Muser's Avatar
I'll try to post some examples at some stage. I've found out though that, because of the way this thing is configured you can tell the 4 FX processors to all listen to the same send (or) you can tell them to listen to each other. That basically means that they are even more flexible than algorithmic FX processors like a DP4 etc. it also means that you can set up 4 different reverb processors and have them all coming out of individual outputs or just within the same stereo field, subject to their own pans and internal mixing. Thats basically a Quad Processor.. thumbsup

They aren't brilliant on their own but their limitations look like they give a certain character & when you start to tier them up it starts to get really interesting.

This thing is going to be a lot of Fun..
Old 8th July 2010
  #26
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Muser's Avatar
The Z8. 4 FX processors.

1,2,3 two reverbs a Dual Pitcher and Leslie Sim + assigned knobs for tweaking.

4. FX re-routing with a distortion and flanger, reverb and pitcher.
left side sample replaced with a different beat loop + filter tweaks.
Attached Files

Sample 1.mp3 (681.0 KB, 6013 views)

Sample 2.mp3 (1.15 MB, 5926 views)

Sample 3.mp3 (449.9 KB, 5693 views)

Sample 4.mp3 (979.5 KB, 5837 views)

Old 8th July 2010
  #27
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Pick up an Akai Z4 on the cheap and run it through the A4000 for FX processing.
Old 8th July 2010
  #28
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dlmorley's Avatar
I still think the A5000 FX (6 of them) are the most advanced in a sampler
Old 8th July 2010
  #29
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Muser's Avatar
I like all of these samplers to be honest.. I just chose the Z8 because of the interface and general acceptance of it's performance.

I've heard some great things coming of the Yamaha's. well nearly all samplers to be fair.
Old 8th July 2010
  #30
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aeonlux's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser View Post
I just chose the Z8 because of the interface and general acceptance of it's performance.
Interface is a great reason to choose the Akai, as it does well in that department. The Yamaha - not nearly as well.

For the sound and power of the engine and effects, I'll take the Yamaha A5K. Especially for the effects - those 6 effects blocks and the algorithms they run make the UI hassles worth it for this effects slut. thumbsup

Enjoy your sampler! The Z8 is kinda the last gasp of the hardware world, but with a good degree of integration that all the previous machines lack to varying (severe?) degrees.


cheers,
Ian
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