Gear Review: Samplers (Part 1)


Greetings fellow sound “fr-eqs” and audio ninjas! Live from the lab it’s #thesamplerking here and I want to talk about, you guessed it, samplers! Those glorious instruments that not only changed the way modern music sounds but also how it is created. Nowadays we have super samplers with nearly unlimited memory capacity and polyphony (i.e. NI's Kontakt or Logic’s EXS). Definitely major strides from the modest days of yesteryear when 700kb of ram memory and 8 voices of polyphony were considered “pro” specs. Yikes! Needless to say that since their inception, samplers have evolved.

With that said, I will be highlighting not only the ten best samplers (in my opinion, obviously) but also the samplers that moved the bar and added to the lore and appeal of these wonderful pieces of gear/software.

Here goes nothing:

Native Instruments’ Kontakt

Kontakt is “The King”. Unlimited specs, great effects, sounds however you want it to sound. You nearly need a degree in scripting to properly program it but definitely worth the work of learning. The industry standard for today’s sound designers.

Akai Professional MPC4000

The Akai MPC4000 is the cleanest sounding hardware sampler I have ever used. 24/96khz specs, Yikes! Multi-sampler; the only true “sampler” made in the form of a groovebox/production center. The finest hardware sampler/sequencer ever created.

Linn 9000

Did someone say 8-bit? Made by the master himself, this piece provided the blueprint for the MPC. Rare and sounds gorgeous. The Sasquatch of Samplers. If you have seen/used one then you are one privileged individual……. or tortured soul! Has a 32-track sequencer, analog filters and level faders for each of its 32 tracks!

E-mu SP-1200

Basically…...Hip Hop = SP-1200. The Golden era of the genre could not and would not have been possible without this wonderful piece of gear. The 12-bit sound, clicky buttons/pads and wobbly sequencer all add to the charm of this classic. This in spite of its measly 10 seconds of sampling time.

E-mu Emulator III

Was the most powerful sampler to date when created. It was the first 16-bit sampler, had 8mb sampler ram (67 seconds, who-hoa!), 16-track sequencer, analog filters and arpeggiator! This was made in 1987…..let that sink in.

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