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2. Ba­sic func­tions of vin­tage sam­pler em­u­la­tors

Computer Music - - Make Music Now / Old-School Sampling -


The quick­est way to dial in your cho­sen flavour of sound is with a plugin that of­fers pre­sets based on spe­cific hard­ware. D16’s Decimort is a bit-crusher rather than a sam­pler, but it also of­fers em­u­la­tions of clas­sic units like the Akai MPC60 and En­soniq ASR-10.


Ad­just­ing the in­put gain con­trol of a plugin doesn’t just af­fect the vol­ume of the sound – hit­ting most sam­pler plu­g­ins with a hot­ter sig­nal in­duces more drive and weight. The best vin­tage sam­pler plu­g­ins also in­clude em­u­la­tions of the hard­ware’s ana­logue cir­cuits, like preamps and out­put stages.


If you’re us­ing one of the more com­plex vin­tage sam­pler em­u­la­tions, you’ll likely come across fea­tures that would be more fa­mil­iar in synth plu­g­ins. TAL-Sam­pler lets you use three en­velopes to shape am­pli­tude, fil­ter and mo­du­la­tion, just as you would on a hard­ware sam­pler.


The sound of any given sam­pler is de­fined to a large ex­tent by its sam­ple rate or sam­ple fre­quency. This is some­times given dif­fer­ent names. RX950, shown here, pack­ages it into a main con­trol la­belled Au­dio Band­width. De­crease the Band­width to make the ef­fect more ex­treme.


Most hard­ware sam­plers in­cluded at least one fil­ter in or­der to shape the sound dur­ing play­back. Some 80s mod­els in­cluded ana­logue fil­ters, but the vast ma­jor­ity of sam­plers used dig­i­tal fil­ter cir­cuits. RX950 in­cludes a ver­sion of the Akai S950’s very steep low-pass fil­ter.


Cus­tom sam­ples can also be loaded and edited in your soft sam­pler just as you would in a hard­ware sam­pler or a sam­ple­based synth. You can even start with some­thing as sim­ple as this saw­tooth wave and slice it into some­thing much more com­plex and son­i­cally in­ter­est­ing.


Other plu­g­ins of­fer sep­a­rate con­trol over sam­ple rate and bit depth, as seen here in Logic’s built-in Bitcrusher plugin. Bitcrush­ing is a great hack for a vaguely vin­tage dig­i­tal sound. It won’t sound au­then­tic but it’s good if you don’t have a more spe­cial­ist sam­pler plugin.


Some bit-crush­ers and sam­pler em­u­la­tions are more sub­tle than oth­ers. Seen here in D16 Decimort 2, the Dithering con­trol lets you ad­just the amount of noise used to mask har­monic dis­tor­tion aris­ing from quan­ti­sa­tion er­rors. You don’t need to know how the con­trols work to use them!


Again, the mo­du­la­tion sec­tion is like that of many synth plu­g­ins, but the in­ter­est­ing stuff hap­pens when you mod­u­late sam­pler-spe­cific pa­ram­e­ters like Stretch and Loop Length. Work­ing this way, you can ap­ply sim­ple mo­du­la­tion to sam­ples, or cre­ate ba­sic gran­u­lar-style ef­fects.

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