Should I buy a hard­ware sam­pler?

Future Music - - ADVICE -

If you’re a mu­sic tech­nol­ogy vet­eran, you might find it re­mark­able that this is a ques­tion that’s get­ting asked at all; not be­cause the an­swer is a de­fault ‘yes’, but be­cause, 10 or 15 years ago, the hard­ware sam­pler mar­ket was all but dead. Soft­ware sam­plers such as Kon­takt, HALion and EXS24 had ren­dered hard­ware mod­els all but ob­so­lete, but times have changed again.

Be­fore we get too far ahead of our­selves, we should say that a soft­ware sam­pler re­mains an ex­cel­lent op­tion for a lot of peo­ple. To­day’s it­er­a­tions of­fer a be­wil­der­ing num­ber of fea­tures and sound de­sign op­tions and are per­fect if you want to use multi-gi­ga­byte multi-sam­pled li­braries. How­ever, as in the synth mar­ket, there has been a re­ac­tion against in-the-box sam­plers, with many want­ing to go back to a more hands-on way of do­ing things.

There’s cer­tainly been a re­birth in the de­mand for pad-based stand­alone sam­pling hard­ware. Akai’s new MPCs can op­er­ate with­out a com­puter, as can Pi­o­neer’s To­raiz SP-16. Elek­tron’s Oc­ta­track and Dig­i­takt also have their fans, par­tic­u­larly among those who are seek­ing to spend less time on the lap­top and more time in front of a ded­i­cated piece of mu­sic mak­ing hard­ware. To­day’s top-line hard­ware sam­plers aren’t just sam­plers – they’re pro­duc­tion plat­forms in their own right.

If you’re seek­ing a more af­ford­able, old-school vibe, Korg’s Volca Sam­ple could be worth a look. This is a far more lim­ited sam­ple

se­quencer, but it’s great fun and very cre­ative.

A hard­ware sam­pler is by no means an es­sen­tial pur­chase, then, but if you’re look­ing to change your work­flow or give your­self an­other op­tion in the stu­dio (or per­haps even for on stage), there are plenty of worth­while places you can spend your money.

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