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Akai S2800 and S3000 Digital Samplers (part 3)

Whoever thought up that saying ‘Less is more’ obviously didn’t have a great deal of experience of life in the real world. What every synthesiser and sampler user is crying out for, among other things, is to have more voices.

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Whoever thought up that saying ‘Less is more’ obviously didn’t have a great deal of experience of life in the real world. What every synthesiser and sampler user is crying out for, among other things, is to have more voices. Sixteen voices seemed like a fair provision on the S1000 but it’s amazing how quickly they can get used up, especially when you have extra memory installed. The S3000 has doubled the provision to thirty-two simultaneous voices, although you have to be aware that using the chorus or pitch shifting effects will entail a reduction to twenty-seven and using delay means a reduction to thirty. Still not a bad number though. Multitimbralists will revel in the possibilities here, and even those who use their samplers on just one musical part at a time will enjoy a new freedom in layering up programs or samples to achieve sounds of previously unknown thickness and complexity. As I shall explain shortly, the multitimbral capabilities are more usable then before in another way too. Some other things you get more of are samples, keygroups and programs. The S1000 could cope with only 400 such items, the S3000 offers 1022. A combination of 400 programs, keygroups and samples sounds like a reasonable number, and it is - but I still found myself running out on occasion. Will anyone run out now I wonder? While I’m on the subject of specifications, I’ll add that A-D conversion is now 16 bit/64 times oversampling. Output is 20 bit/8x on the left and right outputs and 18 bit/8x on the individual outputs. Having extra bits on the outputs is useful because internal processing can increase the dynamic range of the signal beyond 16 bits. Among other improvements which I’ll mention in due course, the S3000 now has a digital effects section with stereo flanging, chorus, multi-tap delay, delay and pitch shifting. What, no reverb?

Guided tour

Operation of the S3000 revolves around the eight named buttons and eight function keys below the LCD display. The named buttons are Select Program, Edit Sample, Edit Program, MIDI, Disk, Tune Level, Utility and Help. I’ll go through the first three, the most important ones, in turn.

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004
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