Assembling a Song
A song? There has never been such a thing as a thirty minute song since the
early 70s, but since ‘cue list’ has already been taken by one of the
S1100’s other functions, and ‘play list’ sounds so similar, maybe
‘song’ is a good enough term for a list of takes which plays sequentially
without gaps. This is the screen:
[diagram not available]
Unfortunately, this diagram from the manual doesn’t have any takes listed,
but I’m sure you can imagine what might be there, a simple list of take
names. In my project I simply inserted the items in the correct order and, at
the end of each item set a fade time of 9999ms – ten seconds as near as damn
it. Then when I went back to Song Play mode and pressed the Run softkey the
whole thirty minutes worth played through. I simply copied this via the analogue
outputs onto another DAT tape, then repeated the whole procedure until my job
was done. Actually, I did have to do one thing extra – record a silent take
which I called ‘Gap’ to separate the items, but this was no hardship.
Now the question you are undoubtedly asking yourself is, “Why did he
copy it to DAT through the analogue outputs. Why not use the S1100’s main
digital output or the digital output of the IB104?”. Well unfortunately,
I have it from Akai that it wasn’t physically possible to provide this
feature on the S1100, so analogue it has to be. But the sound quality is still
pretty good nonetheless.
Use with multitrack
The other job that I had been holding my breath on while I waited to borrow
a hard disk recorder was to fix a couple of finished mixes which were both very
good and achieved only with much sweat and toil, but in each case there was
one instrument that really should have been louder. I didn’t want to do
the mixes again because I knew that I would never get the same sound and I wouldn’t
be happy. So what I did was to record the offending tracks from the DAT master
onto the disk and also load up the original tape on the multitrack. Then I went
to the S1100’s Utility page and set up a cue list. Yes this can be done
using hard disk takes as well as samples. The list in each case was very short,
just one item, for which I set a SMPTE start point. After a bit of fiddling
around I was able to play the multitrack tape, with only the offending track
coming through the mixer, and sync up the mixed track which was now on the disk.
It was very easy to add a little extra level, although I had to be careful with
phasing. There is a ‘fine tune’ function that can adjust the playback
speed of the take very accurately so that any discrepancies in the speed were
ironed out. Even though I only had myself to blame for the original cock up,
I was very pleased with the end result.
Of course not everything about hard disk recording on the S1100 is perfect.
The main problem for me is that there is no possibility of cross fading. This
is strictly a two channel replay system and I didn’t expect it to be anything
else. The other problem is that Akai don’t seem to have realised that when
you play a series of takes in Song mode, what you will want to listen to most
are the joins between each take. Editing is a fiddly business and it needs to
be made as simple as possible. Here, you have to play each take from the start,
and who wants to wait five minutes to hear an edit point? What I found myself
doing was temporarily changing the start points, but this shouldn’t really
The other function of the revamped S1100 that I have already mentioned, and
certainly a major function, is to play back audio in time with a MIDI sequence,
under MIDI control. Yes, you can do this, and the S1100 will play back samples
at the same time. With a fully expanded S1100 you could have access to over
three minutes of stereo samples, plus as much as fifty minutes of audio (from
the largest hard disk the system can handle).
A significant upgrade?
Yes, and if you have a hard disk already you will probably want to have it.
As a hard disk recording system it doesn’t do everything you would find
yourself wanting, but I feel that in the course of everyday studio events you
will find yourself turning again and again to the problem solving and creative
capabilities of the S1100 v2.0.