More old samplers

I’m of fan of old samplers. Well, to be specific, I’m a fan of the sounds. For me it’s no fun at all trying to get old technology to work reliably and to integrate into the studio. There’s nothing worse than battling with a faulty floppy disc when you have a burning idea for a tune.

Some folk like to hear the sound coming from the actual sampler, they say it’s better. Well here’s a pretty good comparision test. It’s the intro to the Pet Shop Boys West End Girls, using the Emu Emulator II Marcato strings. One file is the Emu sound files imported from the original disc into Kontakt using the wonderful EMXP, the other is the sound sampled from the output of an actual Emulator II; analogue, naturally.

Which do you prefer? 🙂

EII strings A
EII strings B

mp3 versions:
EII strings A
EII strings B

10 thoughts on “More old samplers

  1. which is which? A sounds like it has a stronger midrange and more present and B has like a sunk in sound to it. like sunk in the mid range. so my guess would be A is the EII because i am guessing that kontakt would not add frequencies i would think kontakt would be more plain and more tamed so i would think it wouldn’t add mid range and presence… im listening with headphones though so it’s hard to hear. i’ll check it out later at the studio… so which is which!? super cool post by the way! THANX

  2. It’s not a question of which sounds better (actually in this case A sounded a little better than B), it’s a question of workflow and having the hands on actual hardware. I agree that browsing through old faulty floppies can sometimes kill creativity, but so does having to browse through gigabytes of “recreated” vintage sounds. Working on the actual hardware leads to another, if not better, creativity.

  3. Actually the question posed was purely about sound quality, so it IS a question of which sounds better. As we agree, for that A is without doubt better sounding.

    We can have an entirely different question about workflow. That would be very interesting, of course! And all of the other reasons someone might want to use an original EII.

    There’s no killing of creativity IMO, that is entirely down to the user’s own discipline. For me, there are some times when I want to search for old sounds or create new ones, that is usually a separate act from creating a musical piece. But sometimes the two processes collide.

    In my opinion the people that made these EII library sounds were incredibly creative, and I am regularly inspired by their work and how fresh it can sound with Kontakt instead of the original clunky hardware. There are still a lot of sounds here that have more character and vibe than a modern multi-Gigabyte library!

    Having used things like the Emax II (but mostly the Yamaha TX16W), SMPTE sync and both analogue and digital tape, I have to say that having everything in the computer with some nice hardware controllers (especially the Korg KAOSS pads) I can be a lot more productive. I don’t personally believe that the maintenance and electricity costs of vintage gear are worth it, just to have some knobs for filter and ADSR. Ever try making your own multisamples on an Emax? Ew. Not a pleasurable experience. Give me Kontakt with drag’n’drop and unlimited memory any day! Making sure software updates are compatible, and that everything is backed up is a much easier job than maintaining a museum of vintage instruments. But hey, if someone can keep a few people employed doing that, then great! We need to preserve these great instruments. But I just need to make music 🙂

  4. The comparison sounds a bit stupid to me because both sounds originate from an Emulator II. Of course A sounds better since it’s a direct import from the original files whereas B is re-sampled from analog outputs. But both are basicaly the same Emulator II sound. As far as I’m concerned, I like to use both the original hardware and the “plug-in” versions, depending on the mood. One doesn’t necessarily sound better than the other but the fun of using an original EII is unsurpassed, yet. But the only way to make new Emulator II-sounding samples is to sample them in an Emulator II. Because that’s where the magic happens 😉

    • The sources are different, what are you getting at here? And actually this sound, like many original factory sounds, was not recorded by sampling into a stock EII. They originate from a Sony PCM F1. The stock ADC is a lot noisier than this. It’s how you can tell E-mu factory samples from user contributed material in the library.

      But I agree it’s about mood, and it’s nice to have the different sources to hand to create the right feel 🙂

      • What I mean is that the sounds that are played in Kontakt are direct import of EII disks, played in a digital environement and bounced to a digital file, whereas the ones recorded from the Emulator II are loaded from the same disks but played through 35+yo old analog gear, then recorded through whatever mixer/preamps/dac was used. So in the end, it adds much more “unwanted” stuff along the path that’s likely to change/color the sound. And yeah, I know all original EII banks originate from the Sony PCM-F1. Been in touch with Kevin Monahan from E-Mu 😉

        • I see what you mean. That’s the whole point of the test though.

          And actually the effect of the EII DAC is very much over-rated. It’s pretty easy to make a DAC that has extremely low distortion. It’s the ADC that was always the bottleneck. In a sampler, the transposing method has a far greater effect. With the EII there is the added distortion of their clever version of DPCM. With all of that going on, a modern DAC is several orders of magnitude less distorted than the EII itself. So we are hearing what the EII does, nothing more.

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