Akai S1100 Version 2.0: Adding hard disk recording to your sampler (part 6)
Assembling a Song
A song? There has never been such a thing as a thirty minute song since the early 70s, but since cue list has already been taken by one of the S1100s other functions, and play list sounds so similar, maybe song is a good enough term for a list of takes which plays sequentially without gaps. This is the screen:
[diagram not available]
Unfortunately, this diagram from the manual doesnt have any takes listed, but Im sure you can imagine what might be there, a simple list of take names. In my project I simply inserted the items in the correct order and, at the end of each item set a fade time of 9999ms - ten seconds as near as damn it. Then when I went back to Song Play mode and pressed the Run softkey the whole thirty minutes worth played through. I simply copied this via the analogue outputs onto another DAT tape, then repeated the whole procedure until my job was done. Actually, I did have to do one thing extra - record a silent take which I called Gap to separate the items, but this was no hardship.
Now the question you are undoubtedly asking yourself is, Why did he copy it to DAT through the analogue outputs. Why not use the S1100s main digital output or the digital output of the IB104?. Well unfortunately, I have it from Akai that it wasnt physically possible to provide this feature on the S1100, so analogue it has to be. But the sound quality is still pretty good nonetheless.
Use with multitrack
The other job that I had been holding my breath on while I waited to borrow a hard disk recorder was to fix a couple of finished mixes which were both very good and achieved only with much sweat and toil, but in each case there was one instrument that really should have been louder. I didnt want to do the mixes again because I knew that I would never get the same sound and I wouldnt be happy. So what I did was to record the offending tracks from the DAT master onto the disk and also load up the original tape on the multitrack. Then I went to the S1100s Utility page and set up a cue list. Yes this can be done using hard disk takes as well as samples. The list in each case was very short, just one item, for which I set a SMPTE start point. After a bit of fiddling around I was able to play the multitrack tape, with only the offending track coming through the mixer, and sync up the mixed track which was now on the disk. It was very easy to add a little extra level, although I had to be careful with phasing. There is a fine tune function that can adjust the playback speed of the take very accurately so that any discrepancies in the speed were ironed out. Even though I only had myself to blame for the original cock up, I was very pleased with the end result.
Of course not everything about hard disk recording on the S1100 is perfect. The main problem for me is that there is no possibility of cross fading. This is strictly a two channel replay system and I didnt expect it to be anything else. The other problem is that Akai dont seem to have realised that when you play a series of takes in Song mode, what you will want to listen to most are the joins between each take. Editing is a fiddly business and it needs to be made as simple as possible. Here, you have to play each take from the start, and who wants to wait five minutes to hear an edit point? What I found myself doing was temporarily changing the start points, but this shouldnt really be necessary.
The other function of the revamped S1100 that I have already mentioned, and certainly a major function, is to play back audio in time with a MIDI sequence, under MIDI control. Yes, you can do this, and the S1100 will play back samples at the same time. With a fully expanded S1100 you could have access to over three minutes of stereo samples, plus as much as fifty minutes of audio (from the largest hard disk the system can handle).
A significant upgrade?
Yes, and if you have a hard disk already you will probably want to have it. As a hard disk recording system it doesnt do everything you would find yourself wanting, but I feel that in the course of everyday studio events you will find yourself turning again and again to the problem solving and creative capabilities of the S1100 v2.0.