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Akai S1100 Version 2.0: Adding hard disk recording to your sampler (part 3)

During multitrack recording of ‘real’ instruments and vocals, there are a multitude of problems that could be ameliorated by a hard disk recorder which could sync to the tape. The classic one is spinning in repeated choruses to save masses of hard work.

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During multitrack recording of ‘real’ instruments and vocals, there are a multitude of problems that could be ameliorated by a hard disk recorder which could sync to the tape. The classic one is spinning in repeated choruses to save masses of hard work. Another is correcting the timing of a line that took forty takes just to get in tune. You can do this with a sampler. But a suitable hard disk system, even more so, would make child’s play of tasks such as compiling several vocal takes into one complete good one. For this and stereo editing applications, I have been longing for a suitable hard disk system to install in my personal studio. I don’t have a mass of money to spend, and since I have an S1100, the new version 2.0 has got to be very interesting. I suspect a few others are in a similar situation.

Modifications

So far, updates to the S1100 operating system have been free. This one costs money. Unfortunately, updating fully to version 2.0 requires some new chips, although you can get version 2.0 benefits other than hard disk recording just by loading in the software from disk. I hope that Akai decide to release the version 2.0 software, without the hardware modification, free of charge since otherwise S1100 owners who choose not to have the hard disk mod will feel like they are being left out in the cold.

Apart from the modification, you’ll need to have a suitable hard disk to record onto. Many S1100 owners will have a hard disk anyway, but remember that you will need approximately 10 megabytes for every minute of stereo you want to record so a 45 meg cartridge isn’t going to go very far. Akai lent me one of their optical disk drives to try out the new system with, and I have to report that I was very pleased with its performance. There have apparently been problems in the past with optical drives, such as back up to DAT, but these have now been solved (and one residual problem with the pre-release version 1.79 that I tested - restoring edit points properly - will be fixed by the time version 2.0 is finalised). With 300 megabytes on each side of a disk there is ample room for most of the stereo editing you are likely to want to do, and when one cartridge is full, you just slot in another one (and try not to think about the expense!). The disk simply plugs into the SCSI port at the back and then it acts as though it’s an integral part of the S1100. Cleverly, one disk can be partitioned for sample and program storage, and for digital audio recording.

By David Mellor Tuesday June 20, 2006
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