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Akai S2800 and S3000 Digital Samplers (part 7)


Does it deliver?

The further we get up the stairway to sampling heaven, the more demanding we
become, well I do anyway and I’m very picky. The S3000 is obviously a very
thoroughly refined version of what has gone before and most people will very
much appreciate the new features and streamlined operation. Going back to the
S1000 and S1100, one area where they were not perfect was in the way they switched
sample playback on and off. Often a sample would play back with a slight but
noticeable click at the end which could only be removed by setting a long release
time or by tricky manipulation of the filter and envelope. I am pleased to report
that this problem has been cured and samples which click on my S1100 don’t
when transferred to the S3000. Another problem with the old machinery was a
similar sort of click, but this time when operating multitimbrally with note
stealing going on. If a voice had to be brought to an abrupt end to enable another
note to play, there would be a slight but audible click. I have to say that
this hasn’t changed, but fortunately since there are now thirty-two voices
it is much less likely to occur. I must stress that I wouldn’t want anyone
to read too much into this. The vast majority of users will never notice anything
at all, and I had to work quite hard to get it to happen.

All in all, the S3000 is a very sweet sounding instrument and if I didn’t
have an S1100 already I would certainly be putting it on my acquisition list
(maybe the forthcoming S3200 will be on my list – I’ll have to wait and
see). Akai deserve every credit for listening to what musicians and engineers
want, and then giving us exactly that – and more.

Akai S2800 – an S3000 for less dosh?

Yes it, as long as you can do without a few of the peripheral features. The
S2800 has everything the S3000 has except:

  • only 2 individual outputs
  • no XLR connectors
  • expandable memory only to 16 Megabytes
  • no SMPTE option, therefore no cue list

As far as I can see, that’s it. Sounds like a bargain to me!

S1000 and S1100 – Lame Ducks Now?

High tech musicians always welcome progress. Always, except when their expensive
state of the art equipment is suddenly turned into last year’s thing by
the introduction of an even more sophisticated model! S1000 owners, and S1100
owners in particular, will no longer be able to say that they have the latest
and the best now that the Akai S3000 is out and the S3200 is imminent. Of course
if you have an older model you can always sell it and upgrade. But what if you
have added a SCSI card, a DAT interface and extra memory? You’ll have to
order replacements since your old accessories are not compatible. Trading up
to a newer model might be a costly procedure.

Life is change however and I think most of us welcome these new developments
even if we are going to have to shell out a little cash to stay at the leading
edge. But what about those people who find their S1000s and S1100 perfectly
adequate for their needs? Will the introduction of the new models have any effect.
As it seems, it will…

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As I mentioned elsewhere, the S3000 series uses a new disk format so that more
‘items’ (samples, programs and keygroups) can be stored within the
available space. This is done by modifying the directory area of the disk. Of
course, all the new models can read any of the old Akai formats so new purchasers
will never have any problem. The problems come when you want to add to your
sample library. If the new format takes over on floppy disk, removable hard
disk, optical disk and CD ROM, then it is apparent that S1000 and S1100 users
will be left out in the cold and will have to start sampling for themselves.
But will libraries ever become available in S3000 format? That’s the big

Akai obviously want the CD ROM format – in particular – to take off, in view
of the fact that they have designed the S3000CD especially to take advantage
of it. But will there ever be much in the way of library available on CD ROM
if third party developers have to choose between S1000 and S3000 formats. They
are not going to issue one of each, that’s for sure.

Akai will do themselves a great service if they issue software updates for
the S1000 and S1100 so that they can read S3000 format disks. In fact if they,
and the S3000 series, can read Emu disks as well then the world will be set
for the CD ROM revolution which will change the sampler user’s universe
completely. The great body of Akai sampler owners is an important asset to the
company, one that should be carefully nurtured. If Akai get a reputation for
always looking after their customers, and for providing access to virtually
the whole of the world’s collective sample library, they are bound to sell
more product.

Something for Akai to consider, I think.

David Mellor

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David Mellor