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Most extensive sample manipulation (In hardware samplers)
Old 14th October 2013
  #1
Most extensive sample manipulation (In hardware samplers)

Hi guys

There are a number of choices for someone if they (for whatever reason) want a hardware sampler.

I am asking for a little bit of information from anyone with experience of a number of units and who's worked with samples a lot. What are some of the most versatile and featured hardware samplers out there?

For example I would like something that would allow you to modulate a samples start point with an LFO, or even a random source. Battery4 for example can do this. I would also like something that is fairly straight forward to use and not too hard to obtain.

I used an EMU 4000 briefly but was very impressed with it's ability to manipulate the samples and I enjoyed used it. But there are many other features and ways to manipulate samples that I probably have not even thought of, so I am looking to hear what you guys know about certain gear.

It be thing something like Blofeld, Nord wave or an MPC or an old rack mount.

Sami
Old 14th October 2013
  #2
Gear Addict
 
Bonkks's Avatar
 

Octatrack would be your best option.
Old 14th October 2013
  #3
Gear Nut
 

Octatrack is great if design around sequencer works for you. I's not that great if you don't use sequencer but trigger samples from keyboard for example. Not sure if the LFOs run when sequencer is stopped or if you can sync them to input from keyboard. But if sequencer is what you want, there's great sonic world to discover with powerful LFOs, parameter locks and scenes.
Old 14th October 2013
  #4
Sounds good! Sequencer is a plus. I keep forgetting just how many interesting features Octotrack has. However it's expensive. My budget could go that high but it would be quite some time. I was sort of hoping for something cheap and cheerful ala rackmount stuff from the 90's etc
Old 14th October 2013
  #5
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lampmeister's Avatar
Yamaha A4000/5000 and Ensoniq ASR-10 spring to mind as allowing a high degree of sample mangling, you might want to look into the Yamaha SU700 and RS7000 too, but as with many older hardware samplers, sample storage might be an issue for you.
Old 14th October 2013
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by lampmeister View Post
Yamaha A4000/5000 and Ensoniq ASR-10 spring to mind as allowing a high degree of sample mangling, you might want to look into the Yamaha SU700 and RS7000 too, but as with many older hardware samplers, sample storage might be an issue for you.
Actually no sample storage is not so much a problem as I'd likely use it as a scratch pad to create loops. So it would not need to be stocked with many samples at any one time.

If you post recommendations could you tell me if they meet my requirement for being able to modulate start and loop points?

Not trying to be fussy, but I could research all the samples out there and read their manuals, but I posted this thread to get some specifics from people who've shopped around before me to save some time and effort.

Thank you for posting though.
Old 14th October 2013
  #7
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Bonkks's Avatar
 

Akai Z8 or S6000 are good, less expensive rack options. No sequencers though.
Old 15th October 2013
  #8
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jbuonacc's Avatar
Elektron Octatrack
E-mu EOS sampler (e4/5)

those are THE best options for sample manipulation in the hardware world, specifically for what you're looking for. Ensoniq ESQ/ASR are also nice and sound great, as well as the previously mentioned Yamaha A-series samplers.

stay away from Akai if you want to do much of anything with sample start/end points (though an s612 might be a good idea if you can find one cheap). great samplers, but really weak as far as modulation options. same with the Nord Wave and most any other sampler besides those mentioned.

E-mu EOS is nuts, with the "modular" mod scheme and a million sources and destinations. possibly the most advanced samplers ever made (?).

if it'll work with your budget, i'd go with the Octatrack. not as many options as the E-mu, but in a league of its own.
Old 15th October 2013
  #9
Lives for gear
 

I'd look very seriously at the Emu E4XT/Ultra series. If memory serves, every parameter can be mapped to a "cord" and subsequently modulated via MIDI CC. They're professional instruments designed for serious use.

The Yamaha A series is not that great by comparison, although sample start time is one of about 14 parameters that are available to assign to a midi CC in the modulation matrix.

However the Yamaha samplers' filters, LFOs, and especially its envelopes are nowhere near as analog-sounding or as flexible and capable as the Emu E4 series (also the envelopes are very slow and can make clicking noises!). Another problem with the Yamaha samplers is that they are a bit underpowered and the timing will go awry if you send too many MIDI CCs at them.

I've never owned an Octatrack but have always heard good things.
Old 15th October 2013
  #10
Ah thank you very much guys, I heard Emu e series were very advanced especially for synthesis.

You guys make it sound very exciting, and price wise it fits the bill. So It will be the e series, ultra or E4XT (I very nearly bought one of these before)

I had a feeling the Akais were a little weak in that department as I've had one briefly and read the manual too.
Old 15th October 2013
  #11
Lives for gear
 

One big plus point for the Yamaha samplers is their effects - some interesting buffer-type effects where the loop can be rearranged on the fly, some nice lofi effects and more - they're dirt cheap and a nice pick-up for using as an effect processor.

For everything else sampler and rack based, E-Mu IMO.
Old 15th October 2013
  #12
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DJRAZZ's Avatar
 

V-Synth--kaossolator and kaoss pads.
Old 15th October 2013
  #13
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Rust Creep's Avatar
 

Any emu command station

Sent from my HTC6435LVW
Old 15th October 2013
  #14
Also quite interestedin this thread. I have an OT but kind of want a more synth like sampler to go along side it. I was looking at the V-synth XT but people seem to really love these old E-mu boxes. Found a relativley cheap E-MU E4X, looks like a programming nightmare though.
Old 15th October 2013
  #15
What is a fair price for the E4XT Ultra?

And I know I could search through the forums but if anyone want's to give the lowdown quickly on the e series that would be great, as in whats in the different models and price points.

Sami
Old 15th October 2013
  #16
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anigbrowl's Avatar
 

E-mu Ultra series are your best bet. Kurzweils are also super-programmable. Ensoniq, Yamaha, Akai in decreasing order of programmability. Downside with these old samplers is parts availability plus you're back to working SCSI and button-driven interfaces - you'll want to have some sort of knobby MIDI controller mapped to its various parameters. It's slow and is going to involve an awful lot of button-pushing and encoder-twiddling no matter how you slice it. Upside is low cost, many units are available 20% or even 10% of what they used to cost, and they were built like tanks to start with.

I love the OT to death and it can certainly do what you want, but there's a tradeoff between immediacy and total programming depth. Rack samplers will give youfar more pure sound-mangling power, an Octatrack will make it dead easy to do 90% of what you want and occasionally frustrate you on the remaining 10%.

If you like computers one other option to consider is Reason, the NN-XT sampler in there is super-powerful and a lot more user- and CPU- friendly than Kontakt, not to mention you get all sort of other synth and effect tools. It works very like an old-school rack sampler and definitely has the option to modulate sample start time - I know because I built a whole track around that way back when I was using Reason 3.
Old 15th October 2013
  #17
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anigbrowl's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiyn Zahav View Post
What is a fair price for the E4XT Ultra?
$3-400 naked, up to $5-600 if it is mint and has extras installed like the E-synth card, hard disk, or RFX32 card (by far the most desirable upgrade). If you're pateint you may be able to score one for under $300.
Old 15th October 2013
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by anigbrowl View Post
$3-400 naked, up to $5-600 if it is mint and has extras installed like the E-synth card, hard disk, or RFX32 card (by far the most desirable upgrade). If you're pateint you may be able to score one for under $300.
Thanks man. Yes reason is an option too I do like it's interface. Actually I have Essentials I should have a closer look.

Still It would be nice to have something a bit special for me, I'd like to hear the emu filters and so on.

I am the kind of guy who learns things pretty easily though and I've used hardware and know how much slower it can be programming and so on but I'm pretty focused.

actually I kind of like that about hardware, you have to slow down a little and I tend to pay attention more that way or discover things I wasn't going for.
Old 15th October 2013
  #19
If you get a chance to try out an Octatrack, I'm pretty sure you're going to want it. It can do some incredible things to sounds. Automating the parameters on it with the built in sequencer, re-sample, rinse and repeat is just a magic potion kind of thing. Start saving up, it's awesome. (check out my reviews for a short review of it, by the way)
Old 15th October 2013
  #20
Oh I've probably read it! Don't get me wrong I'd go for an Octo if it made sense financially, but it doesn't.

I'll probably pick up an Emu of some kind.
Old 15th October 2013
  #21
Lives for gear
I'm not sure if you want an E-mu sampler as your scratchpad as you will be dealing with keygroup and sample assignments and all kinds of tedious tasks before you even get to making a loop and then you don't have a useful onboard sequencer for starters. After all that work you certainly want to save the sounds so start looking for a cf drive

If you're on budget and absolutely have to have some hardware unit the SU700 is a reasonable option. It's very fast to operate, has some nice effects with the ability to resample through them. You have a scarce but useful scratchpad sequencer and a few ways to manipulate sounds realtime (though not sample start). It even has tracks that autoloop and adjust to the tempo. You will be hating the unit many times but it's still fun to use if you only use it as a scratchpad.

I use it a lot to sample random crap out of YouTube for example and make loops from them.
Old 15th October 2013
  #22
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Can't see how you could recommend the SU700 for sample manipulation -- it barely has envelopes? For recording snippets and making loops, sure, but for messing with the recordings it seems like a very bad choice...
Old 15th October 2013
  #23
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by niklasni1 View Post
Can't see how you could recommend the SU700 for sample manipulation -- it barely has envelopes? For recording snippets and making loops, sure, but for messing with the recordings it seems like a very bad choice...
I see what you mean but I wouldn't want to spend time fine tuning an 8 point envelope just for some scratchpad work. The thing is the SU700 is so fast to work with that you can overcome a lot of the limitations just by thinking a bit differently. Just adjust the AR envelope, resample to other track and do it again if you still need to adjust it. Not hifi but works for me.
Old 15th October 2013
  #24
Gear Head
 

I'll put in one more vote for the Emu samplers. They are very powerful and, most importantly, sound great. A nice warm sound, which is a weird thing to say about an old sampler but makes sense if you compare it to e.g. Akai. Emu's sample-based synthesis engine was fantastic in terms of sound manipulation as well.

I miss the Emu gear. That company exists in name only now.
Old 15th October 2013
  #25
Lives for gear
Funny.. Got an OT and waiting for an e5000 ultra to come join us ^_^

There's no difference in cpu/functions between the ultra series (e5000, E4XT and e6400). It's only the amount of preinstalled expansions at the back that's different. For your needs i dont think you need more than 16 midi channels at once. 8 outputs may be overkill etc.

What's more important is probably the harddrive and memory as those can be a bit hard to acquire these days. Here's a site where they sell the right ram: E-MU E5000 Ultra Sampler Memory - E-MU E5000 Ultra

There's a nice fx expansion for the units so maybe if you're lucky you can find a unit with it.
I found the manuals for the base unit and EOS. It's a good read, gives you an idea what you're up against

I've been trying to figure out how to add a flash card reader and from what i can tell, it's pretty expensive and hard to find the parts.


This shows what you can do with basic waveforms.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2fX...7CD7B5DCDBA6CC
Pretty impressive!

Glad you started this thread. Gonna be a trip to learn this new toy
Old 15th October 2013
  #26
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anigbrowl's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiyn Zahav View Post
Still It would be nice to have something a bit special for me, I'd like to hear the emu filters and so on.
The best part of the Emus is the modulation Matrix. The filters are OK, but while it founds awesome that it! has! 40+! filters! most of them are 'special FX' things like formant filters, or phaser/flanger sounding things that are not all that versatile. In practice you end up using the same few low- high- and band-pass options as on every other synth. Also be warned that on most Emu gear, you cannot adjust the resonance while the note is playing, it's fixed at note-on (a consequence of how the filters are designed...altering the resonance in real time means a bunch of extra DSP work to recalculate the filter kernel).

There is a beta OS 4.7 you can find easily enough on the net where this is fixed, BUT if you have the RFX-32 card (which is a must-have unless you have plenty of outboard) then you should stick with OS 4.6 because there's a bug in 4.7 that causes RFX-equipped units to emit screeches of noise at random and frequent intervals. It's a great machine but it's a bit like an old car
Old 15th October 2013
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anigbrowl View Post
The best part of the Emus is the modulation Matrix. The filters are OK, but while it founds awesome that it! has! 40+! filters! most of them are 'special FX' things like formant filters, or phaser/flanger sounding things that are not all that versatile. In practice you end up using the same few low- high- and band-pass options as on every other synth.
Not to go to far off topic, but have you ever used a Roland S-760/770? They have very good-sounding filters too, the same ones as the JD-990 supposedly.

I never owned an Emu and an S-760 at the same time, so not sure which is the more analog-sounding.

(to the OP, FYI as great as they sound, the Rolands are not good choices for your criteria since like most early 90s samplers, the modulation options are much more limited)
Old 16th October 2013
  #28
Gear Maniac
 

VSynth.
Old 16th October 2013
  #29
165099
Guest
as the majority have already said, when it comes to rack mount samplers there is really nothing that beats E-mu's E4 Ultra line (E4XT, E6400, E5000)

however, Kurzweil's K2x00 sampling synths are incredibly powerful as well.

personally, as the above post, I greatly prefer Roland's V-Synth and even the VP-9000 over just about everything else. if you're looking to warp and twist sounds these are great! if you're looking for something to play multi sampled instruments you'd be better served by just about anything else. the VP-9000 can be found for a steal, but so can just about any sampler these days.

and speaking of that... I also whole heartedly recommend Reason. the NN-XT is such a better sampler than nearly any of the older hardware units and then once you add the rest of Reason on top of it with all of the different ways that you can route your sound, there is no contest and it becomes very clear why these $3000+ samplers are now selling for < $500

IMHO for sample manipulation, the V-Synth and OctaTrack are two hardware units worth using. otherwise for everything else there is Reason, Ableton's Sampler and Alchemy.
Old 16th October 2013
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daisuk View Post
If you get a chance to try out an Octatrack, I'm pretty sure you're going to want it. It can do some incredible things to sounds. Automating the parameters on it with the built in sequencer, re-sample, rinse and repeat is just a magic potion kind of thing. Start saving up, it's awesome. (check out my reviews for a short review of it, by the way)
As a new Octatrack owner, I have to agree 100%. For manipulation especially in real time the Octatrack is an endless "bag of tricks". Every day is a new day with that box, infinite possibilities. Probably the last sampler I'll every buy, until Octatrack II lol.
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