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Akai S1100 Version 2.0: Adding hard disk recording to your sampler (part 3)

During multitrack recording of ‘real’ instruments and vocals, there are a multitude of problems that could be ameliorated by a hard disk recorder which could sync to the tape. The classic one is spinning in repeated choruses to save masses of hard work.

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During multitrack recording of ‘real’ instruments and vocals, there
are a multitude of problems that could be ameliorated by a hard disk recorder
which could sync to the tape. The classic one is spinning in repeated choruses
to save masses of hard work. Another is correcting the timing of a line that
took forty takes just to get in tune. You can do this with a sampler. But a
suitable hard disk system, even more so, would make child’s play of tasks
such as compiling several vocal takes into one complete good one. For this and
stereo editing applications, I have been longing for a suitable hard disk system
to install in my personal studio. I don’t have a mass of money to spend,
and since I have an S1100, the new version 2.0 has got to be very interesting.
I suspect a few others are in a similar situation.

Modifications

So far, updates to the S1100 operating system have been free. This one costs
money. Unfortunately, updating fully to version 2.0 requires some new chips,
although you can get version 2.0 benefits other than hard disk recording just
by loading in the software from disk. I hope that Akai decide to release the
version 2.0 software, without the hardware modification, free of charge since
otherwise S1100 owners who choose not to have the hard disk mod will feel like
they are being left out in the cold.


Apart from the modification, you’ll need to have a suitable hard disk
to record onto. Many S1100 owners will have a hard disk anyway, but remember
that you will need approximately 10 megabytes for every minute of stereo you
want to record so a 45 meg cartridge isn’t going to go very far. Akai lent
me one of their optical disk drives to try out the new system with, and I have
to report that I was very pleased with its performance. There have apparently
been problems in the past with optical drives, such as back up to DAT, but these
have now been solved (and one residual problem with the pre-release version
1.79 that I tested – restoring edit points properly – will be fixed by the time
version 2.0 is finalised). With 300 megabytes on each side of a disk there is
ample room for most of the stereo editing you are likely to want to do, and
when one cartridge is full, you just slot in another one (and try not to think
about the expense!). The disk simply plugs into the SCSI port at the back and
then it acts as though it’s an integral part of the S1100. Cleverly, one
disk can be partitioned for sample and program storage, and for digital audio
recording.

David Mellor

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David Mellor