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Sampling Keyboard for Live?
Old 29th June 2009
Here for the gear

Sampling Keyboard for Live?

Hey g slutz...

So, I just finished recording an album where I used a ton of sampled sounds to create my own insturments, now I'm looking to find the best way to play these sounds live without having to use the Laptop.

I have been using main stage and the sampler from logic to get by during rehearsals, but I really want to get away from the computer and just have a keyboard setup and some pedal effects.

What do you recommend for a sampling keyboard for live? I have been looking at the Ensoniq ASR 10 and Kurzweil K2500. I actually picked up an ASR 10 on eBay recently but it didn't work when got it, so I had to return. I'm looking for a sampler that is warm sounding and durable for road travel. The ASR's are old, so I'm concerned about reliability.

Should I be looking more towards a modern Waldorf Blofeld Keyboard and just load all my samples via software?

I also don't want to use any rack mounted gear and run via a controller. I'm basically looking for a good keyboard with sampling capabilities.

Any good suggestions??

Old 29th June 2009
Gear Guru
Yoozer's Avatar
By now all hardware samplers except for those integrated in keyboards like the Fantom/Motif/etc are old - but it's a good thing that in some cases you can replace the harddisk with a flash drive.

If you want something warm - well, E-mu made a nice keyboard called the E-Synth.

What's the size of your sample set? Do you have a lot of velocity layers and zones going on? There's not a lot of info yet on the Blofeld's sample expansion and editor, so it's the question whether it's for simple single-cycle/percussion waveforms or 3-layer (assuming they replace the oscillator model with samples) sampling.
Old 29th June 2009
As you may have noticed, dedicated hardware samplers have become a thing of the past. It's obvious that because they were more of a studio thing, software has for the most part replaced the true samplers. Sure there are akai drum machines and roland groovesamplers but you wont be multisample mapping on those guys. Tritons, Motifs, and Fantoms can all do it but are pricey and still not as comprehensive in the programming ability department as the big guns of the past.

So am I saying bring a laptop live?.... I 'd never trust one. Maybe get a Muse receptor, which is a hardware module that plays the software synths from something thats not a computer. If you want a true hardware sampler and not spend a ton on it, the thing to get is definitely the EMU E4XT Ultra. This is probably the best full hardware sampler ever made and I should know because I was the Emu (and others) sample programmer for one of the most well known playable sample sound companies and have been sampling for over 14 years.

It has 128 polyphony stock, audio quality still better than the computer last time I checked, filters that are famous, modulation possibilites that rule, and it's operating system is so easy to use. Emu practically invented the idea of a sampler and although newer stuff like a Fantom or something might load faster, the price tag will be high and it's programming ability is less comprehensive.

An E4xt ultra like I'm mentioning cost about $4500 new and can be had for less than $600 now. I've seen lesser E4 models for under $300. It's true that software is more convenient if your in the studio. It's why the super pro hardware samplers went away although emu's went ITB. Even still, other than maybe the Emu software sampler, software based samplers don't hold a candle to the programmability of the hardware E4. I've programmed Kurzweil 2500, ASR10, Akai s3000 and the 5000/6000, the mpcs of course Yamaha a4000/5000, all emus samplers, tritons, motifs and almost every software sampler. The only major ones I've never tried are a little older and or ungodly expensive like the fairlight and syclavier. I've used a few hardware samplers you could say. I definitely maintain Emu E4 best hardware sampler of all time.

I forgot to mention it has a built in hard drive, is also available in a keyboard version though rare to find, and out of the 3 E4 models I've owned not one has crashed ever in the almost ten years I've had them and work like brand new. Also the post above wasn't there when I started this post. He's right the E-synth is one version of the Emu sampling keyboard but what makes that one special is that the E-synth has a small library of sounds that are loaded in flash memory. The other versions I believe are call the E4k and an earlier less desirable version of the e64 in a keyboard.

more info on legacy emu samplers can be found here:
Old 30th June 2009
Here for the gear

Wow...thanks so much for the informative replies. The Emu E-Synth or E4K are exactly what I'm looking for. Seems like these units are not for sale very often. I'm still leaning towards possibly an Ensoniq ASR10, as there seems to be a number of these for sale quite often, I'm just worried about the fragility of these units for live.

If anyone is looking to sell, or knows where to score an Emu E-Synth or E4K keyboard for a reasonalbe price, please let me know!

Thanks again!
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