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Do you roll your own sampled sounds...?


Ashville.Guru

Your experience with Samplers  

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  1. 1. Your experience with Samplers

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Hey all,

 

I roll many of my own samples. I'm doing a lot of sample work currently, and was curious as to how many of you on the KC do this kind of stuff(*). I'm talking of creating your own sampled, playable instruments - assigning note ranges, bringing in articulations like velocity switches/layers, legato groups, portamento affects, response to wheel/aftertouch/pedal, etc.

 

It's a lot of work, and takes time off from practicing/playing. But it's immensely rewarding - I get a kick out of making a sample respond exactly the way I want it to. Especially when I start with a commercial source that's frustrating, because it sounds right but doesn't play right...!

 

While I'm working with software samplers, I'm curious to know your experiences with hardware, too. I know that boards like the Kronos and the Kurzweils are extremely capable in this regard.

 

I know that @BurningBusch and @Learjeff have released sampled EPs in SF2 format (if I remember correctly). And of course, this forum has guys like Dave Weiser and @jerrythek, who are perhaps masters of this craft. Who else is in this game? Would love to hear your experiences.

 

- Guru

 

(*)I'm not referring to 'sampling' in the hip-hop sense of using loops from other music, etc... :P

This is really what MIDI was originally about encouraging cooperation between companies that make the world a more creative place." - Dave Smith
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Most of the sampling I do is either single shot sound effect stuff or very limited range. Usually I try to create sounds by scratch using some form of synthesis, and tend to rely on factory samples for sampled instruments. But sometimes I'll be able to nail a sound better with one of my analog synths, or can get the sound closer by manipulating it in software. But I'll just create samples covering what I need for a specific song, not an entire set covering the full key and velocity range. Occasionally, if a sound from a song I'm covering is isolated somewhere in the recording, I'll go ahead and sample it.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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I have experience w/ hardware samplers since I had to demo the Ensoniq Mirage on Frankfurt Musikmesse when it came out.

I didn´t like that experience very much though.

 

Today I still own a EMU E64, 2 AKAI S-1100 and 1 S-1000.

The S-1000 was the 1st hardware sampler I buyed because I had to.

It became essential for studiowork.

Before, I also worked w/ a EII but buyed Oberheim DPX-1s to run the library and to get the original filter sound but from more compact units.

I know how to sample but rarely did.

It was very time consuming.

Today, for me there is Kontakt as well as Phead Reason (v6.5) which, in opposite to Kontakt, does sampling and it is much easier as it was w/ the hardware samplers.

The TX16WX freeware sampler is worth a try because it does real sampling too,- and there´s also a Pro-Version available.

So, yes,- I also have some experience w/ software samplers.

 

A.C.

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Most of the sampling I do is either single shot sound effect stuff or very limited range. Usually I try to create sounds by scratch using some form of synthesis

Same for me. I did try my hands ay playable instruments (I did a solo clarinet and a Rhodes in the old times), but by the time you have to deal with loops, stereo imaging, phase coherency, crossfades, and all the array of tasks that are necassary to build detailed instruments, I find it so time-consuming that I gladily leave it to others. I know there are great softwares today for helping in those things, but I'm simply not familiar with them.

 

Perhaps the most creative use of samplers which I've done has been to program very complex and unusual sounds on the computer, using granular synthesis for example, then sampling the result on the K2600 for further mangling and playability.

 

Before selling my Rhodes Chroma, I made a very serious attempt to sample some of the sounds that I had programmed for it.... the results were clean and smooth, but they had *nothing* to do with the thick, moving, lifelike quality that I used to hear from the Chroma itself. I don't think I've ever used those samples.

 

 

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I said "hardware experience" because I had a Prophet 2002 sampler, back in the day. 12-bit samples, and 16x4 array of buttons for all functions, with a small numeric (2-digit? maybe 4?) display, plus 16 + 4 LEDs (matching the button grid). Pretty rudimentary, yet allowed all the most significant features. Just a real PITA to set up. I was glad to see the end of it. With it, I'd sampled classical guitar, Rhodes, and CP70. I used the Rhodes and CP70 samples (played from JX10, with sounds from the JX10 to fill in what the sampler didn't manage.) I never used velocity layered samples, though they were supported there wasn't enough memory (512K 12-bit words).

 

Yeah, I have a soundfont for Rhodes, available sf2 or sfz. That's a layered one, with and without loops, stereo (with baked-in fx because yes we all know Rhodes is a mono instrument), etc.

 

I said "considerable" but only because ... well, that was my 3rd time sampling the Rhodes, and I did considerable study of what soundfont capabilities (which are considerable) plus knowing the format well enough to write code to build it. Also "considerable" because I wrote code to automate the tedious bits (chopping and naming individual samples, detecting the pitch, and building the keyboard/velocity zone map automatically using a very simply "shortest path" algorithm).

 

But I didn't delve into a lot of stuff like release samples, for which I have no use -- I'd prefer the Rhodes have silent release. I also didn't do crossfading of samples in different velocity layers. I have no idea how anyone can do that and not get phase issues, but from stuff I read it sounds common. (I do not get it, and if anyone has a clue please clue me in!)

 

For the Rhodes, there's no need for legato groups etc, though I could have sampled with pedal down to handle that. It would be nice, but at the time I was keeping memory footprint down to avoid disk streaming. I'm looking forward to doing another sampling session where I can use a lot more memory (still avoid disk streaming), but I doubt I'll want to double the memory usage by sampling with pedal down.

 

On guitar, way back when, I did sample both closed and open strings for ADGBE, but I mapped those to the bottom octave. I normally didn't want them but it was nice to have them there for certain chords. I've played a number of freebie guitar soundfonts and hated that most use the open notes by default. Ugh! I remember reading about a sophisticated way to do guitar on MIDI and convey which of several possible fingerings are used.

 

You don't program portamento, do you? I don't know whether soundfonts even supports it. It's up to the software to bend notes.

 

Anyway, for a big multilayer sample set, it is a lot of work, even when a lot of it is automated. The worst is setting the loop points. Thank goodness for enough memory to avoid loops!

 

BTW, I got a copy of a huge Yamaha C6 sample set, which in its basic form is unusable: there's silence before the samples, none of the samples are trimmed (so it wastes space, esp. if you're not streaming from disk) and other issues. I'm considering whipping it into a decent soundfont. Haven't decided yet, since I'm not quite sure the piano was miked well enough to justify it.

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I've almost always created my own samples. I don't do a lot of this, and when I do, they are frequently drums. But I also occasionally contact mic things such as mechanical devices or do field recordings of crickets or frogs or things like that and use them on recordings. For field recordings, I usually use a Zoom Q3 video/audio recorder, which is nice and small and sounds surprisingly good.
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I created my own wavetables before the 80s. Samples, soundfonts, mathematical waves, impulse sample processing, sure. Getting a bunch of .wav files to pass through a resample engine and such isn't that hard, it's what you could do to compute corrections, spectral tunings, and even more important (and almost never done except by pros) getting convoluted sample combinations to work interestingly that would mean serious work. Nobody can by chance sample a piano and expect the soundboard, string interaction and energy distribution to work right just by messing around a bit with the samples, no matter how fun that is (I spent a little time on such hobby too).

 

T.

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I have been using it a bit to load sounds into my Fantom G that it's wavetable doesn't have or from synths I like. Quite a capable sampler. In logic i use exs24 but haven't done much for ages. personally I find sampling a bit tedious when setting up mulitsampled instruments, but when it's done if it's a good sound then it it can be useful for years. I should sample more into the Fantom really...
Roland Fantom G6, D-70, JP-8000, Juno-106, JV-1080, Moog Minitaur, Korg Volca Keys, Yamaha DX-7. TG33, Logic Pro, NI plugs, Arturia plugs etc etc
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I suppose to go along with my earlier post, I should follow suit and list the hardware I've used (note I still have all of it)

 

Akai S3000XL (fully loaded with max memory, filter and FX boards, SCSI jaz drive)

Alesis Fusion 6HD

Kronos 61

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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Most of my sampling is HipHop/MPC-type of stuff. I tried to sample some softsynths into my Fantom last year but wasn't very successful with that. Looping complex waveforms is haaaaaard.

 

It is definitely a skill, it takes time and dedication.

 

 

I have no idea what you guys are talking about.

 

You forgot to add a :whistle:

 

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I have done a couple of samples for my Nords, with the Nord Sample Software, by first recording the instruments directly into Audacity - so I guess that falls in the software category.

Too much stuff, too little time, too few gigs, should spend more time practicing...!  🙄

main instruments: Nord Stage 3 compact, Yamaha CP88, Kurzweil PC4, Viscount KeyB Legend Live

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Thanks everyone, for the very interesting responses.

@Al Coda: Thanks for the TX16WX reference, looks useful. I didn't know about Reason doing sampling, either. Have you attempted scripting with Kontakt?

 

Also "considerable" because I wrote code to automate the tedious bits (chopping and naming individual samples, detecting the pitch, and building the keyboard/velocity zone map automatically using a very simply "shortest path" algorithm).

I've done something similar. Unlike you, I had the samples already available from a commercial library, but were named by note name and octave number (e.g. C#4, etc.). Took me half an hour to write a Python program that mapped the notes across the keyboard range - saved hours and hours of tedium!

 

You don't program portamento, do you? I don't know whether soundfonts even supports it. It's up to the software to bend notes.

Yes and no. SFZ doesn't support portamento, but you there are ways of setting up pitch envelopes to get the glide effect.

 

The worst is setting the loop points. Thank goodness for enough memory to avoid loops!

+1, seriously.

 

@KenElevenShadows: very interesting. What kind of sampler do you use?

 

@Dave Weiser: Riiiiiiight....

 

@J. Dan: It's fascinating that you and I see sampling as a solution in polar opposite contexts. While you're attempting to get a song right, I'm trying to get an instrument right!

 

@Tobbe: I'd forgotten about the Nord sampler software. How much 'scripting' does it allow? I'm referring to building in articulations, like mod wheel/sustain, response to CC, etc...?

 

I've always been curious as to why mosts keyboardists were much more familiar with hardware samplers back in the day, than they are now. Did workstations eliminate the need?

 

Thanks again for the replies, and do keep them coming.

 

- Guru

This is really what MIDI was originally about encouraging cooperation between companies that make the world a more creative place." - Dave Smith
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I just got into sampling for the first time over the last four or five years since I got my Roland Fantom-X7, which makes it very easy, although my usage has also been limited so far to single-shot sound snippets I wanted to borrow from recordings, most often the very beginnings of songs (for instance, in my Billy Joel tribute band, I use my own samples I took of the telephone sound affect that starts "Sometimes a Fantasy" and the steam whistle at the top of "Allentown," among others), or percussive/rhythmic parts I have sliced up into individual elements to play back on the keyboard. When I started doing all that I wished I had done so decades earlier, because it seems to make a big impression on bandmates, anyway it certainly increases one's marketability to have that in your bag of tricks. I have been intending to broaden my horizons to create a playable multi-sample, my motivating situation being that the Fantom-X doesn't have a "bells" sound I particularly love, at least none I find as useful as the one on my old Trinity Plus, so I have been meaning to try sampling that in several ranges and turning it into a patch on the Fantom.

 

Rich Forman

Yamaha MOXF8, Korg Kronos 2-61, Roland Fantom X7, Ferrofish B4000+ organ module, Roland VR-09, EV ZLX12P, K&M Spider Pro stand,

Yamaha S80, Korg Trinity Plus

 

 

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Since my first sampler (Ensoniq Mirage), I've always enjoyed sampling sounds. Of course, the Mirage wasn't the most user-friendly sampler. :laugh:

 

As Z mentioned above, I mainly sample from a Hip-Hop perspective (chop, loop, etc.); not so much to create playable sounds but to have a library of audio around which I can build.

 

In addition to the Mirage, I've had an E-mu Emax II, Kurzweil K2500XS, Ensoniq EPS-M, Akai MPC60II and Akai S5000. Nowadays, I still get busy on the sampling tip with my Motif ES8.

 

IMO, while a computer is easier to use, manipulating audio in a hardware-based instrument is still more fun. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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J.Dan hit the nail on the head... I generally create samples from TV, movies, or even just sounds around the house. But I don't think I would take the time to create my own layered multi-samples of real instruments. For the time it would take me, a pro is going to do a better job, and I can still impart my own originality by adjusting filters, envelopes, effects, etc.

Sundown

 

Working on: The Jupiter Bluff; They Live, We Groove

Main axes: Kawai MP11 and Kurz PC361

DAW Platform: Cubase

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@Tobbe: I'd forgotten about the Nord sampler software. How much 'scripting' does it allow? I'm referring to building in articulations, like mod wheel/sustain, response to CC, etc...?

Haha, none! The Nord sample players are very primitive - like a sampler from 1989... It's a one velocity layer sample player with no special features. The is a very simple velocity sensitve filter that can have one of two settings, or be turned off. That's baically it. What's great about the Nord software though is that is really easy to import samples and assign them to key groups, and to loop the samples. If you have a Wave a Stage 2 you at least can run the samples through the virrtual analog synth engine, but compared to any modern sample it's lightyears behind.

Too much stuff, too little time, too few gigs, should spend more time practicing...!  🙄

main instruments: Nord Stage 3 compact, Yamaha CP88, Kurzweil PC4, Viscount KeyB Legend Live

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I sampled a few favourite XV-5080 PCMs into my Fantom X8, but haven't done much else. I do the odd bit of resampling, e.g. so I can play complex chords with one hand under a solo. I did a fair bit of foley when I was in a Pink Floyd tribute. Spent a very interesting afternoon at the station recording trains and running up and down an empty engine shed in loud shoes for On The Run and Run Like Hell...
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Cut my sampling teeth on a Mirage. Since then worked with everything from Akai MPCs to Emus to Synclaviers (ahh, grad school).

 

Currently have an E5000ultra in the rack but have spent most of my sampling/programming time in Mach5 lately. Love the power in it (the modulation and synthesis options are terrific!), but I wish it were a hardware keyboard that I could carry around easier, that is without monitors, interfaces, dongles, and all the other gear that comes with carrying a computer. I miss the days of sampling directly into the unit. The instant gratification factor was very inspiring!

 

Perhaps I should work on MOTU/UVI to add direct sampling. Of course, I might be one of very few who'd use it.

 

Then again, it might be there already... Off to the rig to investigate!

My rig? A bunch of stuff, mostly old. Good recent bits? Moog Little Phatty, Hammond SK1, Steiner MIDI EVI
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@KenElevenShadows: very interesting. What kind of sampler do you use?

 

Nowadays, I use my DAW as a sampler, I guess you could say. I take the odd samples that I've recorded with my Zoom Q3 (or once in a rare while, a smartphone) and dice 'em up, use 'em as background beds (especially if it's crowd noises like in a restaurant, crickets, frogs around a creek, storms, night creatures, etc.) and loop them if necessary. And if it's the more percussive stuff, I might cut and paste some of the samples and create rhythmic beds or use them in place of where someone might use a snare or a tom or a kick or whatever. Or it might be a low-volume rhythmic element that I sneak under an acoustic drum set, just to add a bit of bizarreness...and I might use that in a completely "wet" manner, only sending the reverb part of it behind. Just whatever. I like field recordings. They add a lot of personality to recordings. I like personality a lot. I do a lot of things that others don't do, such as miking most of my keyboards and creating different sounds. It's a lot of fun to do that.

 

Once in a while, I will pull a sample from a place such as looperman.com, especially if I am in a hurry. I've gotten tympani samples from there before, although the last tympani thing I found from there, we're probably going to replace with a real tympani because I think we have access to a real one now.

 

I used to use a Korg DSS-1. Remember those beasts? It was a 12-bit sampler. I got a lot of mileage out of that, using it for odd sounds while gigging or recording. I cannot believe I used to gig with that thing...between that and hauling around a small PA system, that was a lot of weight.

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I began teaching myself sampling when I bought my (1st of 3) Ensoniq Mirage, shortly after it came out. In those later 80's I was sampling just about anything that made a noise in the basement, to with mainly in percussive ways.

Later in the earlier 90's with my Ensoniq EPS, wanted the sound of a piece of plastic hitting the cement floor. (Sounds simple; basic; not all that useful.) Playing around adjust very short loop points with the plastic tray impact sample though, I came to finding a very strongly 'vocal' type of sustained sound. Adding a chorus effect and mild pitch modulation, I was satisfied with it in background of the tune that I was working on then for a 'choir' type sound.

 

One of my most favourite percussive sounds that I had ever made, had another chap holding my SM58 up inside of an upside down tinfoil potato chips bag, that I then smacked with a wooden spoon. (Sampled into the Mirage.) Without any additional effects, the grungey 'snare drum' that that sample gave me, was instant joy in an industrial tune I was working on.

 

Rambling on. Sorry.

 

Since then - I've owned the Emu Esi32 (loved; heavy usage); the Esi2000 (w 128 meg) that I scored for $100 a few years ago (still own) as well as the Korg Triton that I bought a few months ago, that I haven't sampled into yet.

 

Over the last few years, outside of percussive samples, my main sampling endeavours have been sampling my modular synth, in order to create pads, mainly. No velocity switching done (except for my years working with Reason.)

Other software sampling: Sound Forge for years and Audacity for the last few years.

 

All for hobby only. :)

Ableton Live 9 Standard; Alesis D4; Arturia Spark; Emu Esi2000; Korg: Triton, A2, SDD-2000, 2 x DM1100; Mackie 1604; Zoom R24 and The Deathlehem Machine (mainly CGS/Serge, MFOS) DIY modular synth
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I used to do a ton of it back in my Kurzweil days. Drums, Piano samples and more. If only I could have predicted we would have the memory available that we do today I would have recorded those differently. I didn't let those piano sample ring out indefinitely. I need to listen to those DAT tapes again.

-Mike Martin

 

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The Big Picture Photography Forum on Music Player Network

 

The opinions I post here are my own and do not represent the company I work for.

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I answered "Beginner" to that poll.

 

I enjoy mucking about with apps like Yellofier and Werkbench on the iPad, which is more of a hip-hop mentality to sampling. I also like playing with granular processing apps like iDensity, which break up a sample into lots and lots of tiny bits (grains).

 

My hardware sampler is an Elektron Octatrack, which was also designed for a hip-hop mentality for sampling. It's designed to let you do a lot of wild and crazy stuff to short (20 sec. or less) samples - more of a remixer's tool. I currently use it to record loops of my viola/violin/guitar, chop the loops into shorter samples (slices), then play back the slices in whatever order I choose (or random playback) with effects.

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Sample all the time.

 

With SampleRobot and the Kronos it's really very easy to bring you favorite software soundset into the K. I just set up SampleRobot to sample every note, however long I want it and however many velocity layers. I come back a few hours later and it's done in SF2 format. I then bring it into the Kronos where it converts it. I do few tweaks and it's ready to go. Streaming from SSD makes all the difference. I have few concerns about the size of the library as it's going to be manageable once you employ streaming. Yes there are some compromises that are necessary, but in general you can convert these libraries. Streaming is the only way to go. Everything else is a PITA.

 

Busch.

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I find it interesting that most sample experience comes from one-shots and loops. Ironically, the past couple of years have seen advances in hardware technology that make sampling chromatic instruments and using them live, ridiculously simple.

 

It's a common scenario: we love APs in board A, Rhodes in board B, Wurly in board C and Clav in board D. But can carry only one board to a gig. Sampling allows you to combine your favourite sounds from different hardware, or software sources, into a single hardware board.

 

@BurningBusch mentioned SampleRobot above. I have experience with Extreme Sample Convertor, which automates sampling your hardware/software instruments. A few clicks, go grab your lunch, and by the time you come back your sample is ready.

 

AFAIK, there are several boards that can import sampled instruments:

  • Kronos
  • Motif XF, through John Melas' Waveform Editor
  • MOXF - ditto
  • Kurzweil PC3K - though I'm sketchy on the details of import formats
  • Nords, although severely less capable than the above (thanks, @Tobbe)

All of these have come out in the past couple of years. But surprisingly, I don't see many people doing this kind of stuff, with the exception of @BurningBusch. My guess is most folks here just don't know how easy it is, or that the technology is already available. The tech has arrived, but it hasn't 'caught on' among the community yet.

 

If so, I hope that changes soon...! Perhaps it's a time for revival of interest in sampling - of the chromatic type. Suggestion - if dB agrees, we could have tutorials up as a sticky for a month, or so - to encourage folks to try it out hands on. Or print them out as articles in Keyboard magazine... :idea:

 

@BurningBuch has already posted a howto on his blog; it would be great if he could flesh it out in the form of an article.

 

- Guru

 

This is really what MIDI was originally about encouraging cooperation between companies that make the world a more creative place." - Dave Smith
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That's very interesting. Going to look into that program you mentioned, Extreme Sample Converter. So you are saying something like, you can hook your source synth up to, dial up a patch, and you can get the program to automatically play and sample it at different notes and velocities (I'm guessing that if so, it would have to do it by generating its own midi messages of different note and velocity values to trigger the synth, and then sample the resulting audio) and help you turn that into a patch on a destination instrument? That does sound pretty amazing and useful.

Rich Forman

Yamaha MOXF8, Korg Kronos 2-61, Roland Fantom X7, Ferrofish B4000+ organ module, Roland VR-09, EV ZLX12P, K&M Spider Pro stand,

Yamaha S80, Korg Trinity Plus

 

 

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