Since my studio is still a bit messy at the moment, I thought it would be a good idea for a first post on the topic to just show two examples I recorded before of drum sequences using samplers as the sound source.
The first example I have to show you is a beat I constructed using my Akai S950 as the sound source (with samples from a Korg DDD-5 that I had) and my Clavia Nord Modular G2X serving as the sequencer:
For those of you who are not familiar with it, the Korg DDD-5 is a pretty low-end drum machine that Korg made in the 80s.
It had few pads available to trigger the sounds and unfortunately no individual outputs.
|Nord Modular G2X was used as a sequencer for the Akai S950.|
And for both machines you were able to add sounds from Korg's own library, as they made sure to have lots of cards with sampled sounds available (if you have a Korg DDD-1, DDD-5 or DRM-1 and want cards for it, be sure to contact me as I have some available in NOS condition!).
|My old Korg DDD-5, a low-end drum machines from the 80s, |
but a nice source for good drum samples ;)
After a while, I ended up getting rid of my Korg DDD-5, as I didn't really use it.
But before that, I made sure to capture all the sounds I had for it (both internal and from the cards I still had at the time) in my Akai S6000 to keep having those sounds available to me.
If you never used this fantastic Akai sampler, you are missing out on a very powerful and really easy to use sampler.
From my experience with several hardware samplers, I think it's one of the easiest to use and it's really fast to make a nice library of drum sounds with it.
The sound is pretty nice as well, just don't expect it colour your sound nicely as this is a more modern sampler that tries to capture your sound as close as possible (which isn't necessarily a bad thing...).
Still, you are able to mangle your sounds with the aid of some nice filters available and modulation options, and you still get individual outputs which make it way more versatile than the Kord DDD-5 could ever be!
|Slightly artistic photo of my Akai S950,|
together with an Ibanez AD-202 and Doepfer MAQ16/3
But if you want a more colourful sound, the Akai S950 will give you a pretty colourful sound that is just fantastic for drums!
I didn't sample all the sounds from the Korg DDD-5 into the Akai S950, but the ones I sampled seemed to sound way better on the Akai S950, especially after some mangling, like was done in this example!
The Akai S950 is just a much more versatile machine than the Korg DDD-5 and with those nice analog filters and individual outputs, you can really bring the Korg DDD-5 sound to a whole new level!
Unfortunately I don't have any plain demo of the Korg DDD-5 to show you, but be sure to trust me you shouldn't get one thinking it will sound as good as this demo, because it won't...
As for the second example, I actually have two different demos I recorded trying to compare the Roland TR-707 I had with the Akai S6000 using samples from that same Roland TR-707 (with no mangling of the samples whatsoever...).
I would actually have to check what I wrote in the demos to know which sounds from which unit, which should tell you how good the Akai S6000 can actually capture the Roland TR-707.
|NI Maschine with Roland TR-707|
What I did was to sample the different sounds of the Roland TR-707 on the Akai S6000 and then I sequenced the same pattern on the Roland TR-707 and on the NI Maschine.
So both machines were playing the same sequences with the same sounds.
In my honest opinion, the Akai S6000 was good enough to capture the sounds of the Roland TR-707, and it still has plenty of individual outputs for me to be able to actually process all the different sounds separately.
Despite I think the Roland TR-707 is still a pretty nice machine as you get a really nice drum sequencer that is really easy to use and very good drum sounds in a single box, I think it's not really worth it at current prices, so I ended up selling it.
I also have a Roland TR-909 (which I also think is a bit too expensive for what it does...), which made that decision easier, but this test really showed me that it was better for me to get some more space in the studio and some extra cash to get other equipment that would get more use than the Roland TR-707.
So, what is my opinion on samplers versus the real thing when it comes to drums?
When it comes to drum machines based on samples, I think you can get pretty good results using hardware samplers.
Even if you have some variations on the sound from those old machines, you should be able to emulate most of that using some modulations from velocity to add some randomness.
The one case I would expect a different sound is when samples are transposed, which is something I probably should have tried with the Korg DDD-5 (with the Roland TR-707 that's not an issue since the sounds are not editable, unless it is modded...).
|NI Maschine with Akai S6000|
(with my own Roland TR-707 kit)
And as mentioned before, hardware samplers usually have deeper engines and the bonus of individual outputs that are not available in some cheaper machines.
I haven't done a similar comparison with analog drum machines to show you now, and that's a whole different case!
In most of those machines, you can edit the sounds in a complete different way than just editing the EGs or pitch.
Even if you can capture a given setting pretty accurately, you won't be able to mangle your sound in the same way you would if you were using the original, which can have an impact in your performance.
But I am not going to comment more on that since I didn't do those tests (yet!), but that's definitely a nice idea for a future post, so keep following my blog if that sounds interesting! ;)