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Akai S1100 Version 2.0: Adding hard disk recording to your sampler (part 4)

There is no better way of testing a piece of equipment than to give it some real work to do. Since I knew that the new software was on the way I had been saving up some projects for it to handle.

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Real work

There is no better way of testing a piece of equipment than to give it some real work to do. Since I knew that the new software was on the way I had been saving up some projects for it to handle. I embarked on these with one hand on the controls and the other one clutching the version 2.0 manual (which is almost as thick as the S1100 manual itself). I found out some good points and not quite so good points along the way.

My first project was to tidy up a recording of a recital by a South American guitar duo. The recital, as these recitals usually are, was full of pauses, tuning, quiet comments from one guitarist to the other - things which were acceptable in the context of performance, but unacceptable as a recording. What I had to do was give every item a clean start, and fade the applause afterwards. The first thing I did was connect the DAT machine to the digital input of my S1100’s accessory IB104 card. This isn’t essential as you can record quite happily from the front panel analogue inputs, but of course I wanted to lose as little quality as possible. Next I turned to the manual, in which I found this screen diagram:

[diagram not available]

Getting here on the S1100 as a simple matter of pressing the Edit Sample page and then the ‘DD’ softkey. This screen gives you information about ‘Takes’, as each recording is called, and access to the disk recording and song sequencing functions. I needed to press ‘DREC’ to further my cause, and this is where it took me:

[diagram not available]

Here, I was able to tell the S1100 that I wanted a stereo recording from the digital input, (not what it suggested at first), and that I wanted it to set the sampling rate (d.rate) automatically. Recording can be triggered manually, or by input level, footswitch, MIDI note or MIDI Song Start. There is also a ‘MIDI note + delay’ mode that can be used make a sequencer-triggered recording and have it play back at exactly the same point in the sequence. I can certainly see the usefulness of this if you are using the S1100 to add, say, a live guitar track to sequenced MIDI tracks. Just place a note in the sequence where you want the S1100 to start recording, and once you have the recording it will automatically play back on cue.

The right hand side of the screen shows you how much recording time there is left on the disk and beneath that you can set the duration of the recording. It puzzles me why so many hard disk recording systems have gone through this phase of asking the user to specify a recording duration, before the designers realise that it’s an irritation. It is always the case that the recording should last simply until the source material finishes, and the machine should only have to be told when to start. In fact, you can set a record duration as long as you like and stop the recording when it reaches its end, but why add this extra complication? The rest of the information on this screen is useful, but not exciting exactly so I’ll move on to the next step:

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By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004
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