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Akai MPC 3000 MIDI Production Centre (part 5)

Sampling can be a pleasure or it can be a chore, but when was the last time you found it a pleasure? Probably when you first bought a sampler and the novelty hadn’t worn off.


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Sampling can be a pleasure or it can be a chore, but when was the last time you found it a pleasure? Probably when you first bought a sampler and the novelty hadn’t worn off. I find sampling fun when I am in the middle of a production and I have one particular thing I need to achieve. Then I find it challenging and enjoyable to create exactly the right sample or combination of samples and lay them into the track.

Otherwise, compiling collections of samples and mapping them out seems to be a time consuming and often long winded process. It follows then that if Akai can make sampling as straightforward and short a procedure as possible on the MPC 3000, then the more value a user is going to get out of the machine. And in fact, I can’t see how it could be simpler. Since the MPC 3000 is dedicated as a drum sampler, you won’t find a looping option. (Is there such a thing as a sustained percussion sound?), and since there is no keyboard on the unit, mapping the samples to the pads is a doddle.

And if you want sounds to respond to particular MIDI note numbers, as well you may, then you’ll find that each pad has an assignable number which you can leave as it is or change as you wish. Of the various ways pad and note number assignment could have been implemented, I think this is optimum. If I go through the sampling procedure in a little detail, this will also give you an idea of how the unit as a whole works.

In the top right corner of the MPC 3000 is a bank of buttons labelled commands. One of these is the Program/Sounds button which you press to get to the sampling and programming functions. Once pressed the display will offer a numbered list of eight options. To sample a new sound select option 5 on the blue data entry buttons to the left of the command keys. The display will now offer options such as analogue or digital input, mono or stereo samping, sample duration and a couple of other items. There is also a stereo meter display with 'T’ and 'P’ indicators for the sample triggering threshold level and peak level. If you give the input too much level then the 'P’ peak display will go all the way over to the right and change to 'P!’ as a warning.

As with most of the screens of the MPC 3000, the Sample New Sound screen has soft keys, in this case one to arm the sampler and another to reset the peak display. Unlike a conventional sampler there is no need to set the MIDI pitch of the note being sampled, since for percussion sources the concept of pitch has a somewhat reduced meaning. Once the sample is taken, the soft keys change to 'Playback’, 'Keep & Name’ and 'Discard’, whose functions are obvious.

One negative point here which could easily be fixed in a software update is that if you are dealing with long samples, then once you start playback then it will go all the way through to the end. This applies to when a sequence is running too. I would have thought that the Stop key of the sequencer ought to mean that sample playback is stopped too, since there really isn’t any point in continuing the sample once you have made up your mind that you want to stop and do something else. For short sounds of course it makes no difference.

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004