tommypiper

I inherited an E-mu ESI-32 sampler, apparently in near pristine shape with all kinds of Jaz drives and floppies with samples for it.  (version 2.10 software with upgraded  memory to the max)  It seems to work and power up fine, but I can't get past the manual instructions to load a sample and try it out... it's soo 1990s for my head... the instructions appear clear, but leave gaps and takes forever to figure out where to find the info... :)

Back in the day, I remember being very impressed with the ability of these hardware samplers as I observed friends in the studio -- to transpose audio to different pitches with no artifacts, it was amazing.  To my ear I've never heard a software sampler or DAW do anything nearly as clean.  Is this ignorance on my part, or is there still an advantage in transposing audio for HW samplers versus modern SW samplers and DAWs?   

These are not worth much on evilbay so I'm trying to figure out if I can use it or what to do with it....  any experiences and opinions welcome. 
Imagine a wet, slightly chilled from its gas release and decompression, with water droplets condensing, sucking surface tension, slowly sliding down the side, capped by a healthy virgin froth on top..


living sounds

Re: ESI-32 sampler - what to do with it? ...And HW vs SW samplers...
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2017, 10:35:15 AM »
I've got 6 different hardware samplers, they've all got their special sound and fill a different niche. What comes out of them and what you can do with them is way more interesting than software sample players (VSTi are not really samplers).  Some really old (mid-80s) samplers like the Prophet2000 or the S950 transpose by changing the clocking speed, this sounds much better than algorithmic transpose. Some hardware samplers like the SP1200 or EMAX have very bad transpose algorithms that produce cool sounding aliasing byproducts.

Best way to find out if a hardware sampler is for you is to play and experiment with it.  ???

abbey road d enfer

Re: ESI-32 sampler - what to do with it? ...And HW vs SW samplers...
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2017, 07:58:02 PM »
Some really old (mid-80s) samplers like the Prophet2000 or the S950 transpose by changing the clocking speed, this sounds much better than algorithmic transpose.
Changing the clock speed changes both pitch and duration. Transposers should not change duration (anyway not in the same proportion as pitch change). They all change the clock frequecy for pitch alteration, and have to find a way to fill the gaps (if clock is increased) or discard the redundant audio fragments (when clock is decreased. Whether it's done in hardware or in software is irrelevant, although software allows much more tweaking. An algorithm is just a piece of code that does virtually what a piece of hardware used to do.
Who's right or wrong is irrelevant. What matters is what's right or wrong.
Star ground is for electricians.

living sounds

Re: ESI-32 sampler - what to do with it? ...And HW vs SW samplers...
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2017, 11:14:13 AM »
Changing the clock speed changes both pitch and duration. Transposers should not change duration (anyway not in the same proportion as pitch change). They all change the clock frequecy for pitch alteration, and have to find a way to fill the gaps (if clock is increased) or discard the redundant audio fragments (when clock is decreased. Whether it's done in hardware or in software is irrelevant, although software allows much more tweaking. An algorithm is just a piece of code that does virtually what a piece of hardware used to do.

Well, software transposition requires processing within the confines of the samplerate and the limited processing power.  It's a tradeoff between aliasing and the effects of heavy filtering, especially in real time. In the S950 for example the DAC (there's one for each voice) simply plays back the sample faster or slower, and the post filtering is done by an analog filter. Sounds really smooth and natural, you can get a great sound with just one simple sample.

This is just a single guitar sample played back via the S900 (same architecture):

https://www.dropbox.com/s/txw6rioj78olo12/Guitar900.mp3?dl=1

Try this with Kontakt, sounds bland and annoying in comparison.

Re: ESI-32 sampler - what to do with it? ...And HW vs SW samplers...
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2017, 09:21:26 AM »
Question..  why does Kontakt sound bland in comparison to a hardware sampler like the S900?

Surely in this modern age of tech HW & SW.. it should blow an old 90's sampler into the ground.. no?

I recently saw JunkieXL on YT say exactly the same.. modern gear just doesn't sound as good as the old stuff...

abbey road d enfer

Re: ESI-32 sampler - what to do with it? ...And HW vs SW samplers...
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2017, 08:16:57 PM »
Question..  why does Kontakt sound bland in comparison to a hardware sampler like the S900?
Did you actually compare the sound of identical samples?

Who's right or wrong is irrelevant. What matters is what's right or wrong.
Star ground is for electricians.

KrIVIUM2323

Re: ESI-32 sampler - what to do with it? ...And HW vs SW samplers...
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2017, 09:00:26 PM »
Quote
Surely in this modern age of tech HW & SW.. it should blow an old 90's sampler into the ground.. no?

No it doesn't.

 Sampler hardware (ad/da) play a role but algorythm used for sound treatment too, being realtime or offline.
I still have my E6400 classic and K2000 and nothing software blow them for what they do best (Emu for bass/sub bass, realtime filter duty (Zplane filters are sick) Kurzweil for extreme destruction of sound -waveshaper, fun(ction), distortion,etc,etc...).

I've tried most SW sampler and never find anything like this two ones.

 And entire musical genre where based around them for good reason (Emu: Drum & Bass Neurofunk and Techstep scene, Illbient (Listen to Scorn 'Logghi Baroghy' or 'Gyral'; Kurzweil K series: whole Industrial music scene, NIN, Skinny Puppy, etc,etc...)

 Yes working with them is sometime iritating : workflow is slow, not really ergonomic - both are modular but especially the Kurzweil which is so powerfull-, a nightmare to have some kind of reliable storage (well i think i've find an answer to that: i've updated the Emu with a dedicated cardreader cf and eveything is smoother now: http://www.artmix.com/CF_SCSI_RaizinMonster.html)... and the Emu is very NOISY because of the 4.5cm fan stock (but with a drilling machine, some hardmetal drill and a Noctua fan this can be taken care of). 

I think about the algorythms used that they were developped by musicians and this make a big difference with some pieces of software.... But that is my point of view. 

Quote
Did you actually compare the sound of identical samples?

I've done with many old school sampler (not so easy with pre Akai S1000 area as they were not 16bit/44.1 or 48 khz but it can be done with some headache with scsi or midi sample dump and dedicated software...) and as Living Sound i found differences.

 Those are smaller with the last generation of hardware sampler ( after 1995 approximately) but still there (hardware being 'better' speced this is more algorythm related for them imho).

Anyway i think this is the same why some reverb are still sought after... an Rmx16 or 300/480 are still some kind of reference beside being prehistoric digital technology against modern standard.

benb

Re: ESI-32 sampler - what to do with it? ...And HW vs SW samplers...
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2017, 11:30:19 PM »
I inherited an E-mu ESI-32 sampler, apparently in near pristine shape with all kinds of Jaz drives and floppies with samples for it.  (version 2.10 software with upgraded  memory to the max)  It seems to work and power up fine, but I can't get past the manual instructions to load a sample and try it out... it's soo 1990s for my head... the instructions appear clear, but leave gaps and takes forever to figure out where to find the info... :)
Are you sure it's actually working? I recall those ZIP drive (100MB and 250MB floppies in their own special cassettes) and JAZ (removable hard disk (!!!)) drives were quite delicate and more fragile than glass, and could easily be made to not work if dropped a short distance or bumped too hard. I presume this is why Iomega went out of business (looking online, it didn't quite go out of business, but compared to earlier success it has dropped off the map).

abbey road d enfer

Re: ESI-32 sampler - what to do with it? ...And HW vs SW samplers...
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2017, 03:51:09 AM »

"Did you actually compare the sound of identical samples? "
I've done with many old school sampler (not so easy with pre Akai S1000 area as they were not 16bit/44.1 or 48 khz but it can be done with some headache with scsi or midi sample dump and dedicated software...) and as Living Sound i found differences.

So basically, you're saying that the bass samples in your Emu sound better than the NI bass in Kontakt. Aren't you neglecting some "minor" aspects of the process such as the player, the instrument, the captation?
Who's right or wrong is irrelevant. What matters is what's right or wrong.
Star ground is for electricians.

KrIVIUM2323

Re: ESI-32 sampler - what to do with it? ...And HW vs SW samplers...
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2017, 04:32:51 AM »
Ok i ve not been clear enough.
let s say using a common sample from a library and load it in the sampler (using scsi or midi sample dump) and in the software player, then play it through your monitoring without anything in the signal path.
Basically this will give you clues about the da behavior.
Then after use transposition (real time, playing keyboard) within both engine to hear differences, including  some extreme things ( like an octave or more) and listen for results.
I discovered differences between both my hardware samplers and even more with software.
Then you can try the offline transposion/time strech/pitchshift too and there is differences here too.

Try same things using the ad of sampler to record the soundfile, sme differences occurs... But this is anticipated, we are comparing adc after all...

When i talked about the sound of each hardware sampler i kept (like Living Note i owned a lot of them and only kept the one i liked the most) this is more a trend about the overall sound not saying i use the Emu only for bass ( in fact the Emu is quite good when you use it for layering sounds) or Kurzweil for effect ( the K serie is incredible for acoustic instrument too -the pianos presets are quite good as some strings-, often see them on stagewith jazz keyboard players).

The overall sound of the Emulator can be heard in this as this is the only source used for this album and i found it to be representative of sounds you can easily have from it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jHT95pdFxg

And about Drum & Bass and how it's used for it (layering and realtime mod) here is nice video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yheX4yrOOQI&t=123s

For the Kurzweil you can here it in there, but it is sometime difficult to discern from other synths (Skinny Puppy use a lot of analog and modulars, but you can spot samples and the white noise madness/mayehm the VAST architechture is able to give, and the waveshapers own particular sound with the guitars of the first track- you can here them on Trent Raznor voice in early NIN release too):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUHpaJxlyBY

There is differences within timing too. My emu is much slower responding to midi than the Kurzweil or the Akai i owned. This make some annoying difference when playing back sequences and is a pity given the specification of the beast...to use it for mono timbral mode!
And this is a point software sampler have a definitive advantage.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2017, 10:32:30 AM by KrIVIUM2323 »


KrIVIUM2323

Re: ESI-32 sampler - what to do with it? ...And HW vs SW samplers...
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2017, 04:50:24 AM »
Oh and i forgot to say, i don t use samplers for getting rid of acoustical instruments.
I truly see them like instruments on theyre own, to modify sound and get something 'new' from anything you throw at them. That is the reason i love the k2000 and thelast iteration of Emulator: basically the synthetizer engine is modular for both of them and you ve got the better of romplayers synthesizer with theability to have your own source in them.

Some hip hop producer rely on the 'grain' of sampler to add character to the sample (akai s900/950, SP1200,MPC60), which i don't even if i understand why. This all depend of style you do and how you work with them in the end...
« Last Edit: July 09, 2017, 05:56:24 AM by KrIVIUM2323 »

living sounds

Re: ESI-32 sampler - what to do with it? ...And HW vs SW samplers...
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2017, 06:28:04 PM »
There are many different aspects to hardware samplers. Often the magic is in recording a sample hot (overdriving the inputs). But even without this they sound very diffferent. At least samplers from the mid 80s to early 90s. After that they all used off the shelf sigma delta AD DA and processors.

The 900/S950 does not use any software processing to transpose. They simple modified the clocking speed, like increasing or decrasing the turntables rotation. Combined with the analog VCA and filter you get this very alive sounding response from a one shot sample.

There's a comparison with Kontakt here (using the Fairlight voice sample):
https://www.amazona.de/green-box-akai-s900-s950-12-bit-sampler/



Axelerator

Re: ESI-32 sampler - what to do with it? ...And HW vs SW samplers...
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2017, 02:09:06 PM »
..had a ASR-10 back than and you could sample anything and transpose it for more than an octave without getting unmusical..
now i have a Octatrack, and while i love the  Features and workflow, i never can transpose anything for more than maybe 3-5 halftones , beyond that the Timbre changes and the ´Feeling´of the sample is gone..
I remember the Sound of a 5 octaves downpitched keychain (sequential Studio one  ,)  )gave us a whole song and i have to hear something like that from a modern sampler.
Most softsamplers using gigabyte-libarys with multiple layered  sounds where every note was recorded , so no need for
good sounding pitch i think.
Had alway a lot of fun with a Dat Recorder and Micro, sampling City sounds and make crazy stuff.
Nowadays this is not possible this way i have done it before.
Yes you have much more lfo´s, *****rushers, mod-sources and filtertypes now, but no good pitch-algo´s..
A friend of mine did put my ASR in the garbage (!) way back.. I lended him the sampler because i just started making Music
on a powermac...
Now you guys fired some Major re- aquisition GAS here

Greets
Axel