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Akai S2800 and S3000 Digital Samplers (part 6)

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Edit Program

The graphics have been tidied up to a considerable degree here. Whereas the
old program editing pages were cluttered and difficult to work your way around,
these are much friendlier and enticing to the eye. Let me go directly to the
major areas of change, one of which is the filter. The old 18dB/octave fixed
Q filters are out and new 12dB/octave resonant filters are in. Ordinarily, I
would say that lessening the slope of the filter is a bad thing, but for some
reason I never did like the sound of the old Akai filters anyway and the new
ones, whether or not the slope has changed, sound a whole lot better and they’re
more versatile too. One of the first things you will notice is that you will
need a much greater numerical change to achieve the same degree of filtering.
The second thing is that the resonance control is wonderful. This makes the
S3000 into a synthesiser in its own right, using your samples as source material.
In fact, you can achieve a much wider range of sounds with less of a sample
library than with Akai’s older products. In the manual, Akai print a diagram
showing how the S3000 would appear if it were a synthesiser with a knob or switch
for each function. It’s certainly very impressive and makes you realise
what you can do with this beast. (Let’s have a Cubase MIDI Mixer Map from
someone quickly please!). Finding your way around the undoubtedly powerful functions
takes a little effort. With an old fashioned knob and switch synthesiser it
was usual to have one hand on the filter frequency control and the other feverishly
manipulating the envelope. You have to swap between two pages here, although
I do admit that the Mark/Jump buttons make life a little easier. Another slight
change is that if you assign something like key velocity or pressure to the
filter, then you can hear the change straight away. Before, you had to bring
down the filter frequency to a value that would become starting point for any
changes.

Moving onto the envelopes, of which there are two – one for level and one for
the filter – Akai have had the brilliant idea of providing envelope ‘templates’.
If you can’t be bothered setting the Attack, Decay, Sustain and Release
times by hand, just dial in a template and make adjustments from there. The
templates available include Piano, Clav/Harpsi, Electric organ, Pipe organ,
String/Vox, Slow string, Woodwind, Panpipe, Brass, Brass swell, Short percussion,
Dry drum, Long drum, Ambient drum, Cymbal/Gong, Tuned percussion, Guitar/Bass
and three synth bass settings. Although a number of these are rather similar,
they do offer a good short cut to getting exactly the sound you want, or for
making new sounds from old. Envelope 2, for the filter, instead of having ADSR
characteristics has four rate and four level settings which appear to be more
appropriate for filter envelopes. For the record, selecting samples for the
keygroups is the same as the S1000. You can have up to four samples per keygroup,
divided into four velocity zones. Samples can track the keyboard or play at
constant pitch, they can be tuned in semitones and cents, adjusted for loudness,
filter, pan and individual output, and set to play: as sampled, with the loop
in the release phase, loop until release, with no loops or all the way to the
end.

For more information about program editing, consult the panel entitled Assignable
Program Modulation – there’s something interesting going on!

David Mellor

Dynamics

Dynamics

Learn the art and science of compression, limiting and expansion in this deep listening course by the engineers at Singing Canary and Modern World Recording.

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David Mellor