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Sampler for Smooth Jazz


K.C.

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I am going to purchase my first sampler. I have been searching around lately and found this list which is in my budget:

 

E-mu E6400 ultra

E-mu E6400 classic

Akai S5000

Yamaha A4000

Roland XV3080

 

I would use it mainly to do smooth jazz/fusion stuff.

What I already owned it just SC-88vl and E-mu Planet Phatt and Korg SG-ProX.

 

Please give me advice on which one to include in my rack.

live with music, die with music

www.mp3.com/K_C_Lau

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Are you going to use this live, in the studio, or both?

 

If it's live (or both), a hardware sampler is a good idea. I can't recommend one as I don't own a HW sampler at this time (though I had a few of the classics). I gig with a QS8 (ROMPler) right now, and it does the trick for me.

 

If you're just using it in the studio I would spend the $$$ on something like Gigasampler, good libraries and use the $$$ left over to buy an extra computer to run it. ;)

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thanks,

 

I would use it mainly for studio works. However, virtual sampler is not in my consideration. I just can't imagine its value compare to hardware. To get better result and quality, I would have to spend more on my PC, like better audio interface and better processor.

live with music, die with music

www.mp3.com/K_C_Lau

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Hi K.C.,

 

Originally posted by K.C.:

I am going to purchase my first sampler. I have been searching around lately and found this list which is in my budget:

 

E-mu E6400 ultra

E-mu E6400 classic

Akai S5000

Yamaha A4000

Roland XV3080

Well, first of all, the Roland XV-3080 is not a sampler. Perhaps you mean the XV-5080? It, too, is not a sampler but a sample playback module. It can load samples in but has no sampling capabilities whatsoever.

 

Having said that, all of these units should do the job adequately, especially if you have never used a sampler before. What you need to look for next is how do they sound, what synth programming features do they have, how much memory, compatibility, etc.

 

I strongly suggest that you do your homework on these before you buy. Good places to find out information are on Yahoo Groups . Many of these samplers will have lists dedicated to discussing their features, how to use them, and problems. Keep in mind that a lot of people use these types of lists to complain about things that they don't like. That does not mean that they are not good. Read things for what they are.

 

Only one of the above units that I would maybe hesitate on is the Yamaha. The Yamaha samplers are notorious for extremely slow SCSI load times (loading samples). Also, there is no other sampler or conversion utility that will read Yamaha format samples. The Yamaha samplers may read Akai CD Roms but how do you get any custom samples into a different sampler. If you find after a while that you do not like it, you may have a tough time loading your custom sample sets into an Akai, E-mu, Roland, or WHY.

 

I think that these are important issues and a reason why I didn't ever consider a Yamaha sampler for purchase. Aside from that, they have some cool features and, if you plan on creating your own samples, some good manipulation and fx tools.

 

Then again, most of the others have some good tools as well. I would recommend looking closely at the E-mu or Akai. If you need a synth that can load in samples, the Roland XV-5080 is good too. However, its sample file organization is not that great. When using lots of samples, or as a main sampler, I don't feel that it works that intuitively. I should know since I own one. I also own an E-mu E5000 Ultra sampler (possibly another choice for you).

 

If you think that you may ever dabble in software samplers, E-mu is supposed to release one by this summer which will load samples from their EOS line of samplers (ie E5000, E6400, E4, etc.) and have similar capabilities. It could be a good enhancement.

 

The Akai S-5000 sampler is no slouch too, especially with its latest OS. Earlier versions were buggy but Akai seems to have fixed a lot of the problems.

 

Hope I have given you some useful info. I've tried to not be too subjective and provide some details. However, there's a lot of information to find out on these units. I really do recommend that you check them out on mailing lists as well as visit your dealer and spend some time with each unit.

 

Another consideration is if the samplers come with any CD's. Sample CD Roms can cost quite a bit of money so, if you get some that come with the sampler, it helps when you start out. The Roland XV-5080 does not come with any. Last time I checked I believe that the Yamaha came with one. At one time (I don't know if it is still in effect), the E-mu samplers came with 20 CDRoms from the EIII library. While not the greatest samples, there are many usable and good samples in there. The S-5000 also comes with one CDRom. Most of the sample CDRoms that are included don't have better quality than what you can find in some of the 3rd party sample sets available online, but many have some good bread-and-butter starting out samples.

 

HTH,

fv

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I would choose the E-mu 6400 Ultra over the Classic becasue of expandability.

 

Yamaha may come with the best collection of sample CD's and the unit can be found at a good price now, but they seem to have abandoned the format. I believe the Motu line converts samples from the Yamaha S series but does not use that format.

 

Akai has maybe the biggest collection of CD's available for purchase but many consider the sound thin in comparison to the E-mu, Roland and Yamaha. I don't know if this changes with the Z series. If you get the USB card for the 5000, or get a Z series then it will connect to your computer and sample transfer is easy. This is a big bonus for anyone new to sampling.

 

I am using a XV-5080 and do very little sample playback with it. Things have improved with recent bios updates but managing samples is still a headach. One nice thing, I found a collection of orchestral samples at half price. Roland format samples are frequently sold at overstock prices. My goal is to build a 110 meg orchestra set and stor it on a smart media card. Then, no more loading from CD or HD unless I want a special sound.

 

E-mu is the most expensive of the bunch, but may have the best sound and the most programming depth. I am looking forward to seeing the software version. Hopefully it will make it easy to create custom sound sets for quick loading into hardware.

 

Robert

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thanks Robert and FV. I did actually check all their specs and read all the feedback reviews at harmony central, and often online to check their prices at some online store, even ebay.

 

I am neutral with S5000, E-mu E6400 ultra, XV5080. Since XV5080 and Korg Triton is out of my budget, I already excluded them. After your comments, I excluded the XV3080 as well. I did know about the slow sample loading of Yamaha sampler and your comments about it really make me forget about yamaha series.

 

It is please to listen you who have been using these samplers. I will look out for a great deal on either the Emu e6400 ultra / e5000 ultra or S5000.

 

Thank you very much.

 

p/s ..

some review praises on akai because it reproduces the sample exactly as loaded ( maybe some think that it is thin) ... and the e-mu sounds warmer ( that's how it change the original) ..

 

what do you prefer? .. exactly the same or should it be warmer?

live with music, die with music

www.mp3.com/K_C_Lau

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Hi,

 

I actually find both samplers coloured. I find that the Akai's have their highs and lows hyped. The E-mu's have their own sound too (I'll agree that it is warmer). In terms of what I prefer, I can't say. I prefer the Akai on certain things (like drums, loops, etc.) while I prefer the E-mu on others (pads, acoustic instruments, strings, etc.).

 

In the end, I think you need to listen to both, think about what sounds you will most likely load into them and take it from there. At the end of the day, either sampler is great.

 

HTH and good luck,

fv

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Can't go wrong with either the Akai or Emu. I personally prefer the Emu. Have a couple of Ultras and they have been extremely reliabe, user friendly, and load samples quickly. I still prefer my Roland samplers in term of richness and roundness of sound (bank of SP700's and S760s), but the Emu's are very powerful and easier to get along with compared to the Akai, which could be important if this is your first sampler.

Gigastudio has really impressed me, and am building up my library. But I guess you do need to be open to the idea of virtual before committing to that platform (even though its probably the fastest growing platform in sampler history). Especially if you don't yet have a hardware sampler...

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One thing to consider is the Yamaha Motif. The 61-key keyboard is inexpensive, and the sample has looping functions that might be useful.

 

Also, consider a second hand or "B-stock" Kurzweil K2600. The Kurz is very powerful, reads a large number of sample libraries, and sounds great on this kind of music. I have some Roland samples, and they sound better on my K2500 than on the Roland S760.

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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Dan makes a good point.

 

I make my living in this genre.

While I have too much shit (gear) The things that are getting the most use are my motif and 5080.

 

For a pure sampler I love my e6400 ultra.

Motif is a bugger to use and is crippled as a workstation but has some great sounds.

I love my gigastudio but you have to invest in libraries for it. They are worth it but my credit card still hurts.

 

If I had to pick just one the 5080 would win.

get the srx strings board for it (worth the money)

and the srx drums (made up of spectrasonics sounds!)

 

The 5080 with those boards would have a ton of really usable sounds plus 128 megs of ram to load in other libraries.

 

If you are doing the sampling yourself then check ebay for either an akai S5000 (cant beat 256 megs of ram!!) or the emu.

I have seen the akai sell for as little as $650! I did not need it but was damn tempted!

If my wife hadnt saw me reach for the credit card and stopped me I would have bid $660.......$670.........$680.........

 

(is there an "ebay anonomous" 12 step program anywhere?)

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I just bidded on ebay on an e6400 ultra .. fully loaded with RAM and with 20 Gig hard disk .. but seems nobody bidded on it .. only me .. but sadly the reserve price just over my budget .. I lost it !!!

 

have to wait until the next good offer then.

live with music, die with music

www.mp3.com/K_C_Lau

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just bought an Emu E6400 ultra sampler at ebay .. really excited about it ... it comes with 72 MB Ram ... could anyone recommed the suitable SCSI CD-ROM drive for it?

 

I am wondering whether it works with both internal and external CD-Rom drive .. ? ..

live with music, die with music

www.mp3.com/K_C_Lau

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Go to the Emu site and see if they have a list of tested CD/RW drives that work with the machine. The list is not all inclusive, but can give you a start. I picked up a Plextor for my Roland XV-5080 because it seemed to be listed by most sampler manufacturers as compatable. I got a RW so I have the choice to burn sample sets to CD, rather than saving them on a zip or jazz drive.

 

Robert

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Also consider a Zip drive. They are very handy. Just be aware that you have to be careful when buying SCSI cables. Check the specs for the connector on the back of the Emu, the CD/RW, and the zip drive. The three units may all have different connectors. This happens to me a lot. The cable I use to connect the zip directly to the sampler is different than the cable I use to chain the Zip to the CD. SCSI cables are expensive.

 

Robert

 

Edit: Oh, definately check on putting a HD in the sampler.

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Hi Robert,

 

I am wondering what is the model of the plextor CD-RW drive you use for your Emu. I found that there are so many model with different speed. At E-mu homepage, there is not even one Plextor CD-RW listed. Only Plextor CD-ROM drive which is only 6,12,32,40 speed only .. how about 8X , 16X .. are they not compatible?

 

I have a Seagate IDE HD 3.2G which is not in use. I also check the E-mu site but only stated some other capacity. The nearest is Seagate 4.3G. I just wonder whether it is usable.

 

My sampler is still on the way. I think I can only get it next week. I hope that I can get the CD drive at the same time my sampler arrives ..

live with music, die with music

www.mp3.com/K_C_Lau

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As for the HD, install it, format it, and see if it works. If not, take it back out.

 

When I get home from work I will check the model number on my external CDRW. Not that I'm,... ummmm ... posting from work.

 

Robert

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Hi,

 

Just so no one gets into some false thinking here. A CDRW drive will _NOT_ allow you to burn the samples directly to CD from the sampler. No samplers other than the Yamaha ones support burning to CD. You first need to store the samples on a hard drive or a Zip drive or WHY and then use a PC program or a Mac program to burn an image of the drive (assuming the drive or partition is smaller than 650 MB).

 

The CDRW drive can be used to load samples by the sampler but not write any. I've seen quite a few people who didn't know that this is the case and bought a CDRW thinking that they could kill 2 birds with one stone. Ain't gonna happen.

 

fv

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thanks fv,

 

I read from Emu site that it is just like you said, a CD-RW drive is not able to write sample from the sampler. But since Robert said he did that, I just assume that it is possible. Maybe Robert has some explanation for this.

live with music, die with music

www.mp3.com/K_C_Lau

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I get a CD/RW because the difference in price is minimal, and the drive is portable. I can load, tweek and save favorite samples onto the zip drive, take it and my CDRW to a friend with a Mac, and create one master CD of the sounds I continuously use. I started doing this after having two jazz disk go bad. CD/R's are much more dependable than Jazz or Zip drives over time. I love not having to go through my stack of Emu sample CD's to keep pulling out single samples. I should probably say CD/R instead of CD/RW. With CD/R disks being so cheap now there is no real need to write over one.

 

RobertToo

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KC,

 

Do you really need a sampler for smooth jazz/fusion?

 

I understand that it would be very handy to have a good range of samples you can play back: piano, Rhodes, B3, sax, various drum kits, etc. As long as you have well done sounds to choose from in playback, do you really need to pay extra to be able to record your own additional sounds into the unit? When I think of fusion & smooth jazz, I think of straightforward, standard sounds played with intricacy in the arrangement, and tightness and showmanship in the performance - but not of a variety of custom-sampled, uniquely tweaked sounds (as I'd expect in techno-pop/dance, or prog rock).

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K.C.,

 

I like to think of synths in one of four different categories. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Sorry if you already knew all this, I'm guessing from your questions that you could use an overview here.

 

1. Samples aren't involved at all. Miscellaneous electronic pieces - capacitors, etc. - are used to make and process sounds (analog synthesis). Or a computer program simulates these components and their sounds (virtual analog, either in hardware or a software synth). Or abstract components such as oscillators and envelope generators are mixed together (FM, additive, vector, etc.), again in either software or hardware. Or a special computer program mathematically simulates particular acoustic instruments (like Yamaha's VL line, or the Roland V-Drums). I'd put the Hammond organ in this category too.

 

Advantages: Some of these sounds are very powerful, expressive, and unique. Some of these ways of making sounds are easy to understand, since there's usually a small number of components. Simple editing changes can radically change the character of the sound. Some of the emulations of acoustic instruments are spectactucular.

 

Drawbacks: Except for a few of the acoustic emulators, the sounds don't sound very much like real instruments. (For example, FM is wonderful for metallic and wooden percussion sounds, like electric piano and marimba type of timbres, but really sucks for realistic strings or brasses.) For matching with live instruments, the synthetic nature of the sounds may be a drawback. Learning how to play and program the sounds can be tricky, if you don't have that kind of technical mind set. Finally, some of the sounds are too sensitive to how you play (Yamaha's VL sax simulations can squeak as obnoxiously as a badly played real sax, if you aren't careful), or not sensitive enough.

 

2. Samples are available in the instrument for playback, but there's no way to add new samples. Since the samples are in read-only memory chips inside the instrument, you'll often see them called "ROMplers" in these discussion forums.

 

Advantages: If enough well-chosen, long enough samples are in the memory, you can get some very realistic sounds. You might have editing features to adjust the overall duration, brightness, etc. of the sound, or even advanced tweaking to use modulation routings, effects etc. to really twist around sounds insto special effects.

 

Drawbacks: If the original instrument that was sampled has problems (buzzes, out of tune on some notes, etc.), or the recording wasn't done really well (some notes too loud), or the samples aren't long enough (every note sounds the same, or loops are obvious) then you get limitations to how well things sounds. Also you're stuck with the range of samples built into the instrument.

 

3. You can also add additional sounds by purchasing them from third party developers, or from the original manufacturer. This applies to most of the samplers and ROMplers available now.

 

Advantages: As new sound libraries are available, you can add them without having to replace your investment in the basic hardware, or in your computer setup. The new sounds should be all set up to play without your having to do any programming.

 

Drawbacks: Expense of adding the new sound libraries. Time researching & buying new sounds could have been spent playing & composing music. Expense of new ROM chips, service calls to install chips, or additional hard drive capacity, etc.

 

4. You can record new sounds into the system any time you like - this is a full sampler as opposed to just a sample playback system.

 

Advantages: Great for special effects and unusual instruments that you have access to, which aren't likely to be in anyone's library you could buy. Virtually endless creative possibilities for music genres where "cool new sound effects" are a key feature. Can also capture cool sounds from other synths and add them to your library.

 

Drawbacks: Making a good set of samples is very time consuming. First you need a good performance, recorded well, then you need to map the samples across the keyboard, adjust envelopes and filters, balance the volumes, etc. etc. Need to buy additional disks to hold all your samples, and to spend time keeping track of them all. Time spent learning how to program, doing the programming, and tweaking your custom libraries could have been spent making music with other live people! Sounds captured from other synths might not be as expressive as on the original, if your sampler doesn't have the same sound modulation options as the original.

 

So for your smooth jazz, I'd recommend getting good sounds in ROM, with hardware that can accept new libraries; or a program like Gigasampler or HALion that has lots of third party developers releasing new sound libraries for it, and a dedicated computer for this music creation. Unless you want to push the genre, blending fusion with dance/pop, techno, prog rock, etc. there's not really a need for the endless editing options and the custom sound creation you get in a high-end sampler.

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Thanks BassGuy,

 

after reading your long analysis, I really don't know how to express my gratitute.

 

Since I am doing music in Malaysia ( where smooth jazz is not popular, they only know Kenny G), there are few people who can really do this kind of music. I hardly find a drummer or bassist that can play this kind of music.

 

I am going to produce my own album without real player to back up. Maybe just a guitarist. I have to depends much more on the gears I have.

 

Since buying a software to do music is not going to save me a lot since I still need to upgrade my audio interface and PC, a used sampler might be a good start. I can bring it to recording studio.

 

I think a mixture of both hard and soft would be a good setup.

 

What do you use?

 

p/s Robert, did you check out your plextor CD-RW drive?

live with music, die with music

www.mp3.com/K_C_Lau

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Oops. Sorry. It is a PX-W1210TSE. So far I have used it with an Emu ESI-32, Roland XV-5080, PC's running Win 98 and 2K, and two different older Macs that I am not sure of the model.

 

Robert

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