This one may seem obvious, but it is also one of the most important. There is nothing worse than losing samples and programs that you spent hours setting up. Also, MAKE BACK UP COPIES. If you are using a hard drive take the time to save a copy to floppy disk, and store it in a safe place. It may be a time consuming process, but those back ups may save you time and money one day.
2. Edit Copies
When editing samples, you are better off editing a copy of your original sound, rather than the original sample itself. Keep the original sample stored safely. This way if anything happens to the copy you are working with, you always have the original sample to go back to.
3. Program Templates
Setting up new programs for all of your new samples can be a time-consuming process. The time required for setting up programs for your samples can be significantly reduced by using program templates. Rather than creating a new program every time, set up a few general purpose templates that can be re-used. The most common use of templates is for drum and percussion programs, where the same keymaps can be used for different drum and percussion kits, but templates can be used for any other type of program as well.
Although virtually every piece of MIDI gear has some related delay, the Akai S1000/S1100 samplers have one parameter that should be set for optimum performance. This is the Note On Sample Coherence (in Edit Program) which sets whether your stereo samples play in phase or not. If this is set to ON, then the sampler waits for the samples to be in phase before it plays the note. This presents a slight delay and (for the most part) can be compensated for by shifting your music by, say 6 or 10 ticks. If this option is set to OFF, then your timing will be better, but your stereo samples will play back slightly out of phase. (For S3000 series sampler users this does not apply since the new samplers are phase locked.)
5. Extra Outputs
Need more than the eight individual outputs for your samples? With a little clever programming you can get up to eleven outputs by using the stereo outputs and the Effect Send as individual outputs. To use the stereo outs as individual outputs, set up the sample(s) in a separate program (Remember, you can have multiple programs with the same program number active at the same time). In the SMP2 page of the Edit Prog mode, pan the sample(s) left and /or right as desired. This allows individual samples to be output from either the left or right stereo outputs. The same idea applies to the Effect Send output. Set the sample(s) up in a separate program. (On the S1000 you will then need to turn the effect output field of the RESP page of Select Prog mode to ON. With the S1100 you need to go to the MIX page of the Select Prog mode and turn up the level of the f/x field.)
6. Keyboard Splits
If you are trying to set up some custom keyboard splits, try this: Rather than setting up new keymaps each time you use a program for a different application, try adjusting the key range setting of each program in the MIDI page of the Select Prog mode. The values set here will override the key ranges set in the Edit Prog mode. This gives you a quick way to create custom splits without re-editing your keyboard mappings for each program.
7. Digital Interface
For anyone out there who doesn't have it or know about it, buy an IB104 Digital interface. It not only allows perfect sampling of direct to digital sources , but it also allows you to use outboard converters, should you desire. These can provide a better signal-to-noise ratio, resulting in better sounding samples. In addition, the digital interface allows backup of RAM or hard disk to inexpensive DAT tape. Well worth the price of admission. Remember though, use good quality cables for your digital signals or the integrity of your samples may be compromised.
8. Layer upon Layer
If you are using the S1100, or one of the S3000 series samplers, and you need to create huge layered sound f/x beds without using up all of your polyphony, try this. Load all of the required samples into the sampler. You can play up to 16 samples at once (or eight if you're using stereo samples). These can all be triggered at once and recorded onto DAT tape digitally. This can be resampled into your sampler digitally. You now have the same sound , but you are only using one voice (or two if in stereo). This is great for building up sound beds, or for those really massive sound effects. The same thing can be done on the S1000 using the JOIN function, but recording the sample to DAT through the real time digital outputs of the other samplers is quicker and easier.
9. Sampling your Synths
When sampling from some synths it can be difficult to achieve the exact same sound on the sampler. Many synths are now sample-based, and are capable of transmitting sample dumps using the Sample Dump Standard. Using the SDS dump will usually sound better than just sampling the sound directly.
10. Maximum Gain
As obvious as it may seem, maximize your gain level switches on the front panel for the best input level. Be careful not to overdrive the inputs. This is commonly done by using the Mic input for non-Mic level sources, and can result in some very nasty-sounding samples.
11. Boosting Levels
If you have some samples that need boosting, try using the A->J function on the JOIN page of the Edit Sample mode. You must create a new sample by entering a new name first. Then set up the scale field to boost the sample. (Be careful not to boost it too much, though.)
The filters on the Akai samplers are controlled from the FILT page of the Edit Prog mode. The frequency field is used to adjust the cutoff frequency of the filter. With the value set to 0, no sound will pass through. With the value set to 99, it should allow all of the sound to pass through. However, even with the value set to 99 it is possible to open the filters a little bit more by adjusting the Filt setting on the SMP2 page of the Edit Prog mode to +50. This will fully open the filters and can make a real difference on sounds containing a lot of higher frequencies.
13. Deleting Samples
Deleting samples on the S1000/S1100 samplers can sometimes take a while, especially when memory is getting full. To save time, try clearing the memory and reloading the samples you need rather than deleting the unwanted ones. For example, when working on a new project you may be using programs that were previously constructed for other projects, and you may only need a few samples from that program. Make a copy of the original program and delete the unwanted keygroups. Now the samples that are no longer needed can be deleted as well. But rather than delete each sample one at a time, save the program(s) and samples that you want to keep to disk, then clear the memory and reload. This is much faster than deleting individual samples.
14. Real Drums
Try setting up a drum program with stereo Toms. Make sure the Note On Sample Coherence is turned On. In the SMP3 page of the Edit Prog mode, set up one side of the stereo samples with a fairly large negative value. When the samples are played softly, they are played slightly out of phase. This causes them to sound a bit dull. As the samples are played with a greater velocity, they begin to play in phase, creating a fuller sound. Coupled with velocity switching this can be used to create a very realistic drum program.
Looping your samples can sometimes be a real challenge. Some sounds can be looped without much effort, while others don't ever seem to loop right. Place your loop point near the end of the sample, but not at the very end -- always leave a little bit of data after the loop point. When creating loops try letting the sample play continuously while editing your loop points. By auditioning the loop as you are editing, you can make minor adjustments and hear the results immediately. You can either hold the ENT/PLAY button, hold a note your controller, or use a sustain pedal.
16. Speed Sampling
If you need samples and you need them fast, try this. Rather than creating a new sample each time you record, try making one long sample with five or six sounds (or more if need be). The samples can then be divided by copying the original sample, then cutting the unwanted portion each time. Remember, though, always edit the copy, not the original. Another technique you can use to speed up your sampling sessions involves naming your samples. Rather than creating a new name for each sample when it is recorded, just use the NAME function to change only one letter of the name. This way you can concentrate on you sampling, and name your samples later when you have more time.
In some cases when setting up a mix between programs it may be better to lower the level on some of the programs rather than boosting the level of the quiet one. The reason being, the Lev (level) field on the Mix page, and the loud field on the SMP2 page will affect the velocity response. If the values are set to 99, your programs will not respond to velocity. For the best velocity response, try not to set these values any greater than about 80.
One of the nice features of the S1100 is the SMPTE reader/generator. The S1100 can be used as a master device, generating the SMPTE time code for the rest of your equipment. While it is being used as the generator, it can also be receiving and responding to incoming MIDI signals. This also works on the new S3200 sampler. Very cool!
19. Saving Parameters
Parameters such as the basic MIDI channel, all recording setup parameters and so on, can be saved so that each time you start up your sampler you can load your parameters from disk. When you save a copy of the operating system (O/S) to disk, these parameters are saved as well. These can be loaded each time you need to restore these parameters. You can save different copies (on different disks) for each different setup that you may need. For example, if you are planning a big sampling session, you can adjust your sample recording parameters, such as the sampling mode (stereo or mono), the recording time, and the rate (to name a few), and save a copy of the O/S to disk. The O/S can be loaded from disk before the sampling session and all of your recording parameters will be set.
20. More Tracks
Use the S1100's, or the S3200's direct-to-disk recording feature as another set of digital tracks. It sounds great and is very useful for doing dance remixes, both live and in the studio. In live situations you can play digital backing tracks with random access flexibility. Try changing the order of your songs on your DAT machine thirty seconds before the show starts! In studio situations you can assemble nondestructive edits and arrangements of the song and lay the samples in through MIDI all from the S1100 (or S3200) and a sequencer. Very cool!Creating Programs on Akai S-Series Samplers
One of the most commonly asked questions heard from new users of Akai's S-Series samplers is "Once I've got my samples recorded, how do I get them to appear in a program?" In this guide we'll define the various elements of a program and provide a step-by-step example of building a basic program.
Before getting started, however, we'll need to cover a few basics. First, with Akai samplers, samples and programs are completely separate entities. Samples are the individual sounds that are either recorded or loaded from disk. Programs on the other hand, determine things like how and where the samples will be played back from. MIDI channels, output settings and key spans are examples of program parameters. Once you get the samples into your sampler (either by recording or loading from disk), the samples will not automatically appear in a program. You must specifically assign your samples to a program in order to play them back in the Select Prog mode, where normal playback is done. Otherwise you will only be able to access your samples in the Edit Sample mode, which can really limit the musical possibilities.
Since Akai introduced the S1000, the program structure has basically remained unchanged. While there have been many new features and enhancements added to the various models over the years, the basic structure has remained the same. Programs are built from Keygroups. Keygroups are just what the name implies: a group of keys where samples are assigned. There are many parameters that can be adjusted within a keygroup, such as filter settings, envelope settings, MIDI channels, audio output assignments and so on. (Information on all of these parameters is beyond the scope of this document, and can be found in the Operator's Manual. This document will cover just the basics of setting up a program.)
There are four screens in the Edit Prog mode that are essential in creating programs. These are the MAIN, KGRP, SPAN, and SMP1 screens. The parameters on these screens will be set on every program that you create. Of course there are many other parameters that can be adjusted as part of a program, but these four screens contain the minimum requirements for creating a program.
MAIN: New programs are created here by either renaming an existing program, or by copying an existing program. You can also delete programs from memory here, but note that you cannot delete a program if it is the only one in memory.
KGRP: On this screen you assign the number of keygroups for your program. In most programs you will need a keygroup for each one of your samples, although it is possible to have up to four samples in a single keygroup.
SPAN: This is where you set up the note ranges for each keygroup in your program. The left side of the screen contains a graphic representation of a keyboard. The right side of the display shows the keygroups currently in memory, and the note ranges assigned to each one.
SMP1: This is the Sample 1 screen. This is where the samples in memory are assigned to the keygroups that you have created.
The best way to learn about creating programs is to actually create one. In the following example we will create a program consisting of several drum samples assigned to the keyboard as follows:
Step 1: Loading the samples into memory
Before we can start building a program we need to get the sounds we want to use into the sampler. This can be accomplished by: a) recording the samples through either the analog or digital (if you have them) inputs; or b) loading samples from disk. (You may need to refer to the appropriate sections of the Operator's Manual for information regarding recording and loading procedures.)
In this example we will be working with the following sounds: Kick drum, Snare, Hi-Hat Closed, Hi-Hat Open, Tom, and Crash Cymbal. Once the samples are in memory we can begin setting up the program.
Step 2 : Naming the Program
Press the EDIT PROG button. This takes you to the main screen of the Edit Program mode. There are four things that can be done on this screen. You can:
Select a program for editing
Creating a new program is done by either renaming an existing program, or by copying an existing program. For this example we will assume that the only program in memory is the Tone Program (which is there by default when the sampler is turned on).
Now, we could make a copy of the Tone Program and edit the copy (instead of the original), but in this example there isn't any reason to do that. So, we'll just rename the Tone Program to reflect the type of sounds we are using:
1. Press the NAME button (Just above the ENT/PLAY button).
2. Use the various buttons on the front panel to enter the name "DRUM KIT 1".
3. When the name has been entered correctly press ENT/PLAY.
4. Press REN (located on F7) and this will rename the program.
Step 3: Changing the number of keygroups
Proceed to the KGRP screen by pressing F2. This is where we can change the number of keygroups in a program. In most programs you will need a keygroup for each one of your samples. (There may be situations later where you want more than one sample per keygroup, but that is not required for this example.) So, for this drum program since we have six samples, we will need six keygroups.
The only field that we are concerned with on this screen is "Change number of KEYGROUPS" (or "Keygroups in Program" on the S3000 series samplers). By moving the cursor to this field, you can use the +/< button to increase the number of keygroups, or the -/> button to decrease the number of keygroups. For our example program you need to press the +/< button until you have six keygroups.
Step 4: Setting the keyspan for each keygroup
Next, proceed to the SPAN screen by pressing F3. This is where you set up the note ranges for each keygroup in your program. The left side of the screen contains a graphic representation of a keyboard. The right side of the display shows the keygroups currently in memory, and the note ranges assigned to each one. Adjusting each keygroups note range is done by changing the values in the low and high fields. These two fields show the lowest and highest notes for each keygroup. These values cam be displayed as either MIDI note numbers (36, 60, etc.), or as note names (C1, C3, etc.) by repeatedly pressing the F3 (SPAN) button. As these values are changed, the graphic display on the left side if the screen will change to indicate where these keygroups can be accessed on your keyboard.
To set the note ranges for our example, use the following settings:
Keygroup LOW HIGH
1 36 (C1) 36 (C1)
2 40 (E1) 40 (E1)
3 48 (C2) 48 (C2)
4 50 (D2) 50 (D2)
5 53 (F2) 65 (F3)
6 77 (F4) 77 (F4)
These settings will assign the key ranges shown in the example. As you can see, all of the drum sounds are assigned to only one key except the Tom, which can be played over a one octave range. This gives you multiple tuned Toms from only one sample.
Step 5: Assigning samples to the keygroups
The final step in creating a program is to assign the samples to the keygroups we've created. This is done on the SMP1 screen. The top row on this screen provides information on the key range, keygroup number and program name. Move the cursor to the "KG" field and select "1". This selects Keygroup #1 to edit. Make sure the "ED" field is set to "ONE". If this field is set to "ALL", any editing you do will affect all keygroups in the program. (Sometimes this is useful, but it is not necessary in our example program.)
To assign a sample to a keygroup, first select the desired keygroup in the KG field located at the top of the display. On the left side of the display there are four velocity zones. Move the cursor to the first velocity zone and select the sample to assign to the current keygroup by using the data knob. After selecting the sample you should adjust the V-LO and V-HI fields to 0 and 127 respectively. (The V-LO and V-HI fields set a velocity range for the samples.) After the velocity range has been set you can return to the top of the screen, select the next keygroup and repeat all of the steps for this screen. This must be done for each keygroup in the program.
Basically, that's it
You now have a program ready to play. As you can see, all of the drum sounds are assigned to only one key except for the Tom, which can be played over a one-octave range in order to get multiple tuned Toms from only one sample. Now you should go to the Disk mode and save the new program and its samples to disk.
Of course ,if you wish to do any further program editing you can certainly proceed from here, and there are several other pages in the EDIT PROG mode to check out. For example, you can add filtering to each keygroup, adjust the envelopes, create velocity splits and so forth. Remember to always save your work to disk if you make any changes that you want to make permanent.
Sampling Sounds from Other Keyboards
One of the reasons I bought my S3000XL is because I want to sample sounds from other keyboards. Over the years I have lost a lot of money trading in gear for new stuff and I thought a sampler would be an ideal way of borrowing sounds from friends' new acquisitions. What's the best way to sample sounds off other keyboards?
The best way we have found is to select MIDI Note as the means of starting sampling. Connect the MIDI Out of the keyboard you want to sample to the MIDI In of your sampler (and connect the keyboards audio outs to the samplers audio inputs). By selecting MIDI Note as the start type, playing a note on the keyboard you are sampling will not only initiate the sampling process but will also set the note the sample will be recorded on. In this way, multi-samples of the keyboard you are sampling can be done very quickly.
Some tips for this....
Don't put the unique aspect of the name at the end of the name otherwise you have to move the cursor across the whole name to add the unique identifier for the new sample you wish to create. For example, instead of calling a sample BREATHVOX C3, call it C3 BREATHVOX - that way, you don't have so much cursoring to do when you want to create C1, C2, C3, C4 and C5 versions of the same sound in a multi-sample. If you're feeling really lazy, call them 1C BREATHVOX, 2C BREATHVOX, 3C, 4C, etc.. This way you don't have to move the cursor at all when naming new samples to be created!
Disable the source keyboards effects and record in mono. A lot of the time, many impressive keyboard sounds are created purely with the keyboards internal effects. By disabling the effects, you have a cleaner sound to work with which will be easier to loop and the effects wont be transposing causing strange artifacts to be introduced into the sound. Add effects later using the EB16 or an external effects processor. By recording in mono (which the majority of sounds on the keyboards are), you double your memory capabilities in the sampler.
If the sound you are sampling uses many layers, try sampling each layer separately. This will use more memory but will give you much more flexibility later on for adjusting pan, level, balance, effects, etc., and may be easier to loop. Also, if you sample several sounds in this way, don't forget that layers from one sound can be used with layers from another for more variation. Add effects to the sound(s) later -- don't sample them.
If you really want to sample your friends' keyboards sounds accurately, try initializing the sound and sampling the raw, multi-sampled waveform, adding filtering and layering in the S3000XL. Try to match the keyboards sample mapping (i.e. multi-sample keyspan) exactly for true authenticity. You can add all the other attributes such as filtering, envelopes, modulation, effects, etc., later to re-create the source sound on your sampler. Although looping is likely to be easier on the raw sound, this is a lot more work but ultimately more flexible. This way, you can really acquire a new keyboard in your sampler that is virtually indistinguishable from the source.
On a related subject, when sampling older analogue synths, try sampling the raw waveforms (i.e. set the synth's filters wide open, flat envelopes, no modulation, etc.), and add all the processing using the samplers filters, envelopes, LFOs and extensive modulation functions afterwards. This is far kinder on memory plus you won't have filter sweeps and the like changing speed as you transpose up and down
Multitimbral Setup (in the pre-S2000/XL series days)
Although the latest S-Series samplers feature a spiffy new Multi Mode, all Akai S-Series samplers are fully capable of working in multitimbral applications, most typically when using a MIDI sequencer. It is possible, for example, to have drums accessed on MIDI channel 1, bass on channel 2, etc. The basics outlined above for making programs still apply here, but with a few additions.
Setting up a multi-timbral program is really very easy, but before we get to an example there is one very important concept to introduce. It is possible to have many programs in memory, and have them all active at the same time. This can be achieved by renumbering your programs to the same number. For example, you can have five or six (or more) Programs 1s. This makes creating multitimbral programs much easier.
Let's say that you already have a few individual programs already created and loaded into memory. We'll assume that Program 1 is drums, Program 2 is bass guitar, Program 3 is piano, and Program 4 is strings. To set up a multitimbral program we will use the renumbering function (RNUM) found in the Select Prog mode.
First, go to the RNUM screen in the Select Prog mode. In this example we will renumber all of the programs to Program 1. (The exact procedure may not be the same for all S-Series models, so please refer to your Operator's Manual for the exact renumbering procedure.)
After we renumber the programs, we can go to the MAIN (or SLCT) screen of the Select Prog mode and select Program 1 for playing. When we select Program 1, all of the programs that we renumbered will become active. To indicate that the programs are active there should be an asterisk (*) by each program name.
The next step in creating our multitimbral program is to assign each of these programs to a separate MIDI channel. This is done on the MIDI screen of the Select Prog mode (or the RESP screen for S1000 owners). This screen shows the programs in memory and their respective MIDI channels (in the "cha" field).
To change the channel settings, just move the cursor to the channel field for each program and set an appropriate value. For our example, let's set our drums to channel 1, bass to channel 2, piano to channel 3, and strings to channel 4. (If you are using a S1000 then you may only be able to display one program's values at a time. In this case you would select the program at the top of the screen, move to the MIDI channel field, and set it to the appropriate value. This process would be repeated until the channels have been set for each Program.)
That's all there is to it. You now have a multitimbral program set up and ready to play. You should be able to play the various sounds by sending notes to your sampler on the appropriate MIDI channels.
Of course, there are many other editing possibilities that we have not covered here. For additional information about other features in the Edit Prog mode, please refer to your Operator's Manual.
S3000-Series Disk Utilities
Because of the enormous amount of data being used with samplers today, it has become increasingly difficult to efficiently manage it all. The Akai S3000 Series samplers now have several new disk utilities designed to make it easier. A special Find function is used to help locate files quickly, and a Tag function allows you to categorize your programs and samples. The CD3000 has a Setup utility for CD-ROM management. These features make managing your sample library a much simpler task.
In the past, if you were trying to locate a specific program on your disk you were forced to scroll through volume after volume until you found it. If you stored similar programs together, and used good naming practices it would help, but it was far from ideal. With the Find function, just type in the name of the file you are looking for, and the sampler will search the current partition for any files containing the letters you entered.
Using the Find function is very simple. Press NAME, and then enter the name of the file you are looking for, and press the FIND softkey. You don't even need to enter the entire name. For example, if you are looking a bass program called Synth Bass #1, just type in BASS and the sampler will search for all files in the current partition containing those letters. When the files are found, a temporary volume is created and the sounds can be loaded from this, just like from a volume on a disk.
The Tag function gives users a way of organizing the sounds they have stored on hard disk. Tags are similar to the Setup function on the CD3000, but with two major differences. First, Tags will work only on a hard disk drive. They can't be used on a CD-ROM because the "tags" are written to disk. Second, any type of file can be tagged, whether it's a program, a sample or an effects file. In a Setup, only programs can be selected.
One good use for tagging would be to group all of the sounds used on a particular song. To set this up we would go to the Tag screen in the Disk mode. First, press NAME and enter the Tag name ("SONG 1" for example), and press ENT. Next, locate one of the sounds used in you song. Press the MARK softkey to "tag" the file with an asterisk. Repeat the process until all sounds used in your song have been marked. That's all there is to it. To load your tagged items, just select the desired Tag, the "Type of Load" you want, and press CLR and/or GO.
Setup (CD3000 Only)
One of the problems associated with CD-ROMs is that because CD-ROMs are read-only, any edits you make must be saved to either floppy disk or to a hard disk. This is normally done by saving an entire copy of the file, which contains a lot of duplicate data and uses up valuable disk space. Now, there is a better way!
The Setup function is a disk management utility designed specifically for overcoming some of the limitations of working with CD-ROMs. In some ways a Setup is similar to a Tag, in that you can define groups of frequently used sounds from any location on the disk (not just a single partition). But that's not all. A Setup allows you to save any changes you made to the samples and/or programs from your defined group of sounds. The entire Setup, including all of the sounds you select and any edits made, can be saved to a single floppy, and loaded with a single key press or MIDI command.
When you edit any of the samples that were loaded from CD-ROM, and go to the Disk mode to save your files, you are given the option of saving only the edits that you made. The edits, and only the edits, are saved to a floppy disk and are associated with the Setup file on the same floppy. If you made any changes to the programs that were loaded from CD-ROM, just save it to the same floppy as well. Not only is this much quicker than saving the entire file, but it is a much more efficient use of disk space!