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Akai S2800 and S3000 Digital Samplers (part 6)

Edit Program: The graphics have been tidied up to a considerable degree here. Whereas the old program editing pages were cluttered and difficult to work your way around, these are much friendlier and enticing to the eye.

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Edit Program

The graphics have been tidied up to a considerable degree here. Whereas the old program editing pages were cluttered and difficult to work your way around, these are much friendlier and enticing to the eye. Let me go directly to the major areas of change, one of which is the filter. The old 18dB/octave fixed Q filters are out and new 12dB/octave resonant filters are in. Ordinarily, I would say that lessening the slope of the filter is a bad thing, but for some reason I never did like the sound of the old Akai filters anyway and the new ones, whether or not the slope has changed, sound a whole lot better and they’re more versatile too. One of the first things you will notice is that you will need a much greater numerical change to achieve the same degree of filtering. The second thing is that the resonance control is wonderful. This makes the S3000 into a synthesiser in its own right, using your samples as source material. In fact, you can achieve a much wider range of sounds with less of a sample library than with Akai’s older products. In the manual, Akai print a diagram showing how the S3000 would appear if it were a synthesiser with a knob or switch for each function. It’s certainly very impressive and makes you realise what you can do with this beast. (Let’s have a Cubase MIDI Mixer Map from someone quickly please!). Finding your way around the undoubtedly powerful functions takes a little effort. With an old fashioned knob and switch synthesiser it was usual to have one hand on the filter frequency control and the other feverishly manipulating the envelope. You have to swap between two pages here, although I do admit that the Mark/Jump buttons make life a little easier. Another slight change is that if you assign something like key velocity or pressure to the filter, then you can hear the change straight away. Before, you had to bring down the filter frequency to a value that would become starting point for any changes.

Moving onto the envelopes, of which there are two - one for level and one for the filter - Akai have had the brilliant idea of providing envelope ‘templates’. If you can’t be bothered setting the Attack, Decay, Sustain and Release times by hand, just dial in a template and make adjustments from there. The templates available include Piano, Clav/Harpsi, Electric organ, Pipe organ, String/Vox, Slow string, Woodwind, Panpipe, Brass, Brass swell, Short percussion, Dry drum, Long drum, Ambient drum, Cymbal/Gong, Tuned percussion, Guitar/Bass and three synth bass settings. Although a number of these are rather similar, they do offer a good short cut to getting exactly the sound you want, or for making new sounds from old. Envelope 2, for the filter, instead of having ADSR characteristics has four rate and four level settings which appear to be more appropriate for filter envelopes. For the record, selecting samples for the keygroups is the same as the S1000. You can have up to four samples per keygroup, divided into four velocity zones. Samples can track the keyboard or play at constant pitch, they can be tuned in semitones and cents, adjusted for loudness, filter, pan and individual output, and set to play: as sampled, with the loop in the release phase, loop until release, with no loops or all the way to the end.

For more information about program editing, consult the panel entitled Assignable Program Modulation - there’s something interesting going on!

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004
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