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Software Samplers vs. Hardware samplers


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What are the pros and cons of software samplers versus hardware samplers?


Is there any difference in technology.. i mean are there things that the hardware sampler can do that the computer cant?


I was thinking of buying a akai s6000 and loading it full with the expansion boards and ram but then i though for only a bit more i could probably have a computer to do the very same things... and have a computer!


What do you guys think?



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Originally posted by smedis:


Hardware=roads and studio



RIGHT. Unless you don't mind on taking a PC and a Midi/Audio Interface on the road among with your keyboards, SMEDIS has the right answer. If this is not a problem for you, I'd go a little beyond...


AKAI s600 is a great machine and I have seen Akai always adding features for their newest beasts, so they -perhaps- won't get obsolete in a while.

However, all hardware samplers have their physical limitations like a maximum of RAM and outputs / connectivity. Software updates are not a problem now, thanks God.


If you do have a computer with an USB interface, the ease of use is not an issue, since AKAI provides an excellent program for managing the samples. There are some other incredible programs to edit the sounds in real time.



For a Software sampler, You can always -for less money- add more RAM memory (no hardware sampler at the moment has as much memory capability as a good computer), add the biggest and badest Hard Drive you can afford, the newest or coolest midi/audio usb/firewire/PCI Interface of your choice and, if the computer is powerful enough, run other soft synths at the same time while using the same external hardware resources.


I don't recommend, though, to run a midi/audio sequencer at the same time you do run the sampler and other soft synths, for reliability issues.


An Akai sampler looks cool onstage, but someone could think it is your heart's monitor http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif.

Needles to say, I'm a fan of using computers... at the studio AND onstage.



Have a nice day...


Músico, Productor, Ingeniero, Tecnólogo

Senior Product Manager, América Latina y Caribe - PreSonus

at Fender Musical Instruments Company


Instagram: guslozada

Facebook: Lozada - Música y Tecnología



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Nowadays, people would basically use a computer live for two pieces of software: Gigastudio and Reason. Gigastudio is the only sampler that streams its samples from the Hard drive so that it doesn't matter so much how much RAM you have installed. All other software samplers require RAM the same way as hardware ones do, except iwthout immediate limitations on the ceiling. But even in a decent computer that has only 3 RAM slots, your memory maxes out at 768 Megs (unless you buy really expensive chips), much of which will be gobbled up by the computer anyways so maybe you get 600 Megabytes of sample storage(.6 Gigs). With Gigastudio, you can run several samples that are each over a Gigabyte in length at the same time.


On the hardware side, some of the samplers have unique features in terms of filtering and effects processing. For instance, the Emu E4 series has 12-pole filtering that can't be had on any software sampler. Plus it is 32 part multitimbral/128 note polyphonic and won't choke on any number of notes you pump into it. It now also offers a 16 channel 32-bit efects card, which is much more powerful than the effects included in Gigastudio, or other software samplers, even though those can use plug-in effects. The road worthiness of a hardware sampler is also a plus.



The other side of using a computer is access to software synthesizers, some of which are more flexible than hardware synths, and all of which are much cheaper. You can get software synths that emulate great synthesizers of the past, such as the Minimoog, the Prophet 5, and the PPG Wave. But what really has people excited now is a synthesizer studio called Reason. This piece of software gives you several analog-style synthesizers and sequencers, several sample-playback modules and loop playback samplers, along with lots of effects and mixing power for less than $300. For loop-based music, there is nothing as flexible as Reason and many people, including the head of the musicplayer site Craig Anderton, are using it instead of a sampler to play music live. It's much easier to set up several tracks of loops and pull them in and out of a mix with Reason than it is with a hardware sampler and a mixing console. Even though the software's only been out for a few months, there are certainly people who consider using a laptop live instead of a synthesizer solely because of this product.


So there's a beginner's guide to hardware vs. software issues for ya!

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Yeah i am very into the idea of reason... i have watched it since they announced that they were developing it and kept current on everything... it truly is a stunning peice of software...


i think i have decided to buy a hardware because although a computer setup would be nice the portability of it would be.


Reason is geared (although not meant specifically) for electronic and loop based playing... i need something more real time... i dont plan on playing music live that i dont play live... dont know if that makes sense... but i think in the future (wayyyyyyyyyy future) a computer is going to be something i can see myself buying... but i like the idea of everything in a little box that hardware samplers offer... plus itll give the industy time to start pumping out really really good soft samplers and soft sythns... then ill jump in :P


Thank you steve your thoughts and suggestions are incredibly helpful



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well, there are some drawbacks with Reason. No VST-support, No AKAI-sample import feature. The latter will be fixed(I think), but I don't think VST-support will appear ever.. I mean they have to live off their product now, for 2-3 years. And including VST will make owners use other third-party products, instead of upgrading...


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