Which Sampler should I buy?

This article is a real email conversation between AudioPervert.com and a customer. Because it may be usefull to others, we decided to put it up on the site.

UPDATE (an email from a heplful musician, cheers mate!):

you could tell the user with an mpc question that he can convert wavs to the mpc. although you need the new upgrade from roger linn, heres how it works... the new mpc60 software can convert mpc3000 files into mpc60 files. and if you use a software called AWAVE studio you can convert wav files into MPC3000 files, then take that mpc3000(.snd)file to your mpc60, it'll take a little longer to load cause its gotta convert, the box is still good in todays world.

J writes:

Hey, I emailed you guys yesterday and appreciated the help you gave me. I would like to sign up and use the sounds that you have on your site except for one thing, and maybe you can help me. I am about to buy an MPC 60, the only problem is that I don't think I will be able to use the sounds that I will get from your site because the MPC 60 doesn't accept wave. I believe the only MPC that does except wave is the 2000, but I am not trying to get that, I like the compression on the 60. So I was wondering if there was a way to get the sounds to be used on the MPC 60 or if there is another sequencer that I can use as a bridge to transfer the wave files to the MPC 60. If not is there just another bad ass sequencer out there I should know about. I appreciate you reading this and hope that you will be able to help me so I can sign up with you guys.


AudioPervert writes:

Hi there again,

You could try the SCSI kit and O/S upgrade at http://www.rlinndesign.com/products/mpc60.shtml , I am not sure if this would allow SCSI sample transfer between a computer and the MPC60 or not, better ask them if you are interested. The other way would be to transfer the samples via midi sample dump; I had a quick rake about the internet, but couldn't find any info on whether the MPC60 could do this. Last option is to resample into the MPC60! You will loose quality, but maybe it would be ok, and would impart that "MPC60" sound.

The MPC60 is a good box, however it is quite old now, and transferring samples looks like it would be a problem. The sequencer is ok on the MPC60, if a little basic by today's computer based standards. (I used a MPC60 9 years ago!). For me, computer based sequencing and sampling looks to be the way forward, but this isn't ideal for live work. Any other sampler will have its own sound, (but maybe not as good as a MPC60).

I hope this helps, please keep in touch,


J writes:

Hi, I'm the guy that keeps asking questions. I just want to say thank you again for answering my questions so quickly every time I have one. I am just trying to cover all of my tracks to make sure the equipment that I buy will allow me to do what I want, and what I want is to make sure I can use some of those sounds that are hard if not impossible to find(like some on your site) . Since I don't have 1900 dollars + to spend on a MPC 3000, I have to make a decision between the 60 and 2000xl. If I upgrade the 60 with the OS option then I gain more of the 3000 feel, without losing the great compression sound. However there is no way I would be able to import wave files. Is there a sampler that would allow me to record wave materials and then just let me drop them into the 60's pads? Is the 60 even capable of doing that? Or is the 2000 just a better choice, which is wave compatible, but has weak sampler? Would the 60's sounds that you guys have sound the same or would I just have to change the compression on the 2000? I don't know obviously I have a lot of questions, but you have to make sure before you drop a "G" on equipment. If you know anything that you think might help my situation, please let me know. Once again thanks, and look forward to working with you guys in the future.

AudioPervert writes:

Hi again :-)

It is hard dropping a pile of money on gear, and samplers are especially tricky to choose. Like I said, the MPC 60 is a good machine, but it is nearly 15 years old now, so will be a bit "clunky" and not really very straight forward to use for modern (i.e. computer) methods. Did you look into the possibility of midi sample dump on the MPC 60? This would be a way out (albeit slow). Also, there is chicken systems translator, looks like they are going to do something for the MPC http://www.chickensys.com/translator/akaimpc/ , but it's not available yet, and will add to the cost. Still, this could be an ideal way to get access to loads of sounds.

Another thing to remember is that the MPC 60 only writes to floppy disk, which can be quite slow and unreliable compared to modern storage (zip's etc), not to mention that you will need a lot of disks to store your sounds. Also, the internal memory is quite small on the MPC 60.

You have to think about the practicalities of the machine as well as the sound. I am not sure how or where the MPC 60 "compresses" the samples anyway, it may be only on the sample inputs, and therefore an imported file won't sound the same. You have to weigh up the pros and cons. Pro - the 60 sounds cool, its solid and it's a classic machine... Cons - it's old, hard to integrate, and limited compared to modern machines. Are there any other machines that would be good to use? Are there some modern machines that sound natural and flat enough that you could play back sampled MPC 60 sounds on? Can you get access to all the MPC 60 samples you like to use this way? I have heard that the Korg electrotribe sampler sounds good, although it may be quite limited as well. What about a 2nd hand ensoniq or yamaha box, I saw these around a couple of years ago; maybe you could pick them up quite cheep.

To answer specific questions:

"Is there a sampler that would allow me to record wave materials and then just let me drop them into the 60's pads?"

Maybe a MPC 2000 or 3000, none other I think. Possibly the Translator program I was talking about would do it.

"Would the 60's sounds that you guys have sound the same or would I just have to change the compression on the 2000?"

The "compression" sound of the MPC 60 was probably added to increase the signal to noise ratio on the sample input. I don't think there is any control over this. Although some samplers have a compression algorithm in them (e.g. modern EMU samplers), this is applied as an off line process, destructively, to each individual sample. I don't think that any samplers have an inbuilt compressor on the output that you can switch on and off at will. You would have to use an external compressor to do this.
The MPC 60 samples at AudioPervert.com are sampled directly from the output of the MPC 60, with no added external EQ or compression. Playing these samples from the highest fidelity source possible will give you the truest MPC 60 sound. Most hardware samplers have a "sound" of their own, and so will colour the samples to a greater or lesser extent. As an example, the AKAI S900 was "grainy", S1000 a little less grainy, but still not totally hi fi, and a bit funny on the lo end, S3000's have a lot middle, present sound, the S5000 are broader sounding, and a bit "softer". Emu samplers are possibly warmer sounding, although the attack may be a little slow. I have heard that the Korg electrotribe sampler sounds nice and punchy.

Ultimately, every piece of gear has limitations and faults, as well as good points. Try and get to use the sampler for a while (an hour? A day? A week?) To see if it is good for you. The longer you can "demo" the product, the better, as you work through how to get the most out of it, and get to know its "character". Better still is to get 2 or more pieces of gear together and "audition" them, at least a whole evening should be spent doing this, working with the gear and comparing methods/ sounds etc. If you are buying from a shop, they should let you have a good demo of the gear, and let you return it in, say, 1 week if it's not what you want. Private purchases can be more awkward, but ask and see what the individual will let you do.

Good luck, ask again if you need more help!



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© AudioPervert  21st Sep 2008