On January 1, 2017,
UGHH will be shutting down
“I have some very sad news to share with all of our visitors and wanted to wait until after Christmas so you could all have a happy holiday. On approximately January 1, 2017, UndergroundHipHop.com (UGHH) will be shutting down permanently. We have been fighting our hardest to stay in business for the past few years, but with declining revenues it is impossible to stay in business at this point. Any orders placed will be fulfilled and we will stop taking orders as of tomorrow morning (Wednesday, December 28). When I opened our first online store in 1999, we experienced 60% growth year after year, for over a decade. However, in 2012 revenues plateaued and have been declining ever since. Our overhead is too great (rent, payroll, internet fees, bank loans, credit cards, etc.) and it makes business sense to not continue in what can only be described as an adventure of a lifetime.
I started UGHH out of my Northeastern University dorm room in 1997 as nothing more than a hobby to share the underground hip hop music I loved so much with the world. I had no idea it would lead into a 20 year career doing what I love to do – bringing this culture to the masses. I grew up listening to this music as a kid (I remember being 7 years old or so in the mid 1980’s, and a neighbor giving me a copy of LL Cool J’s – ‘Radio’ and The Fat Boys album dubbed on a cassette) and I was hooked. As a teenager, my music idols were Gang Starr and my favorite MC was Jeru The Damaja. Never in my wildest dreams would I think I would become friends with the artists I grew up on, but I am happy to say I actually became friends with Jeru so… my life is complete 🙂 If you want to read more about the 20 year journey of UGHH, go here
Running your own business is incredibly hard (and rewarding) work and I am very proud with what my team and I were able to achieve with this website. We had a retail store for ten years (another dream of mine come true), became close friends with many of the artists we are fans of (I went to Apathy’s wedding!), and helped so many labels and artists get the exposure they deserved. I could have worked a standard office job after college, but I followed my dreams and created a world renown, highly respected website loved by many.
There have been so many people who have contributed to helping make UGHH what it is today and there is no way I can list them all. I would like to give a special thank you to my staff who stuck it out with me to the very end – Jeremy (15+ years at UGHH), Aaron (10+ years at UGHH), Tommy (5+ years at UGHH), and Ian (he stopped working at UGHH 1.5 years ago after 10+ years on the job but has been my personal therapist since then). Thank you to the forum moderator Clokworx, who contributed his time to keep our forums running as smoothly as possible as well as all other mods. An extra special shout out to my wife and children, who were patient enough to put up with the ups and downs of the business and some very long work days.
There are many great websites to get your hip hop from, but some recommendations include: GetOnDown.com (for product and they should be expanding their catalog greatly in 2017), 2DopeBoyz.com (for videos) and HipHopDX.com (for news). There are so many great labels putting out quality product, but some suggestions are: Snowgoons, Ill Adrenaline, Mello Music Group, HiPNOTT Records, Rhymesayers, Fat Beats, HiPNOTT, and too many more to list.
I wish the best of luck to all of the artists, producers, record labels, distributors, etc. who make a living from hip hop music. You are doing this for something much deeper than a paycheck, and I respect you all for that. Thank you to all of our customers who have made purchases from us over the years. We have customers who have been dedicated to shopping with us for well over a decade, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for thinking of UGHH when you were thinking about hip hop. Until the next adventure…”
– Adam Walder
Sad, sad news as so many good and interesting times were spent on the forum. Not only did so many magazine staples come from there, including Sean Maru, Redsecta Mastering, SoundsforSamplers and BanginBeats etc….. a huge amount of subscribers came from that forum. And…and there were so many crazy threads on their forums. Some real wacky stuff used to go down. Unfortunately spending habits change with generations. UGHH will always be missed. A great many things passed in 2016.
DrumBrute is a powerful beat-making instrument
DrumBrute is an all-in-one analog drum machine designed with performance and in-depth sound editing at its heart.
Providing 17 distinct, fully analog drum and percussion instruments with an intuitive sequencer, massive connectivity, a two-mode Steiner-Parker filter, and dynamic performance controls, DrumBrute will take your beat production to the next level.
Create energetic and exciting drum beats with a single, user-friendly device. With its vast sonic potential and smooth workflow, DrumBrute meets and exceeds the expectations of demanding musicians. Bridging the gap between inspiration and technology, DrumBrute offers punchy analog drum sounds, advanced 64 step / 64 pattern sequencing possibilities and ultra-effective performance controls.
Find out more: https://www.arturia.com/products/drumbrute/overview
Arturia DrumBrute Key features:
- Analog powerhouse: DrumBrute contains 17 fully analog drum & percussion instruments, including two kicks, snare, clap, open & closed hats, high & low toms and conga, maracas, rimshot, clave, tambourine, zap, cymbal, and even a reverse cymbal.
- Exciting synth features: the main output contains a highly regarded two-mode Steiner-Parker filter, allowing you to add dynamic frequency sweeps and satisfying bass drops. Not only that, but every drum sound has multiple parameters that can be tweaked to achieve your perfect kit.
- Easy to use, quick to learn: each one of DrumBrute’s 64 sequences can contain up to 64 steps, and can be chained together in a song mode. Despite this massive performance power, punching in your perfect beat is simple and fast. Fans of vintage drum machines will feel right at home with the familiar layout.
- No menus: every feature has its own dedicated button, knob, or pad, so you’ll spend less time navigating endless sub-menus and more time making music.
- In-depth editing: get in the groove with the natural Swing feature, inspire yourself by dialling in some Randomness, mix up your rhythm with Step Repeat, Roller and Looper functions, accent particular drum hits to add some punch to your beat… DrumBrute has a wealth of advanced features that will satisfy even the most discerning musicians and producers.
- Plays well with others: DrumBrute has extensive connectivity and sync options, including MIDI, Clock, 1PPS, 2PPQ, DIN24, and DIN48. This means that DrumBrute will work seamlessly with all of your other modular, synth, and sequencing gear.
- Amazing in the studio: DrumBrute boasts dedicated audio outputs for each instrument channel giving almost limitless options for external processing and multitrack recording; 3.5mm and ¼” headphone outputs so you’ll never have to hunt out an adapter again; and it can act as a fully-fledged MIDI interface to control your DAW. DrumBrute is an essential tool for the modern producer.
- Reliable on stage: with rugged housing, chunky pads, and wiggle-free knobs, DrumBrute can be relied upon to perform show after show. Always striving to improve with every new release, Arturia have created a strong, enduring instrument that’s ready for life on the road.
- Punches above its weight: DrumBrute stands toe-to-toe with the leading drum synths on the market, but at a fraction of the price. No other all-analog drum machine features such inspiring and dynamic features while retaining a sense of intuitive, tactile fun.
DrumBrute is priced at 449€ / $499.
DrumBrute will shortly be shipping, and will be arriving at your local music store in November. DrumBrute is available to order now from the official Arturia web store, and from retailers worldwide.
For more information on features, specifications and dimensions, visit: www.arturia.com/products/drumbrute
Samplephonics has the hook up …
Whether you are using the real thing, one-shot drum samples or the Samplephonics 808 virtual instrument, there is more to the classic drum machine than meets the eye. In this post, we unearth some of the 808’s hidden production secrets.
1. USE THE BASS DRUM AS A SUB BASS
Probably the least secret of all the TR-808’s ‘hidden’ features is the ease with which its Bass Drum sound can be pressed into service as sub bass instrument – it’s just a sine wave with a pitch envelope, after all. Set the hardness of the attack with the Tone control, the length of the note with the Decay, and pitch it up and down to ‘program’ a bassline using your DAW’s automation system.
2. AMBIENT COWBELL FX
Arguably the most instantly recognisable of all its voices, the crazy TR-808 Cowbell played a major part in defining the beats of countless old-skool RnB and hip-hop cuts. Although it carries too many stylistic connotations to be used ‘as is’ in most modern productions, drenching it in cavernous reverb and/or delay can turn it into a beautiful, frequency rich sound effect.
3. TUNED PERCUSSION
The 808’s Toms and Congas come in High, Mid and Low versions, giving you three distinct notes to play with. For more complex melodic parts, however, simply automate their Tuning (pitch) controls in your sampler. Try to restrict each of the three samples to as short a range of pitches as possible to maintain their sonic integrity, though.
4. DUB-STYLE CYMBAL FX
The longest sound in the 808’s arsenal (almost five seconds at maximum Decay) and bursting with scintillating high frequencies, the Cymbal makes great fodder for dubbed-out filter feedback delay effects. Shove it through a suitably equipped delay plugin (Audio Damage Dubstation or Soundtoys EchoBoy, for example), crank the feedback up to ‘freeze’ the cymbal, then play with the filters in real time to manipulate the resulting ‘wash’ of sound. Insert a limiter first, though, as the volume will quickly get out of hand!
5. TRIGGER OUT PERCUSSION
Each of the TR-808’s three trigger outputs delivers a series of 20ms pulses following the Cowbell, Handclap or Accent patters, that can be used to fire off other drum machines, synths and sequencers via their CV/Gate inputs. Obviously, such functionality isn’t necessary with your software 808 emulation, but the sound of the trigger out signal itself works as a great glitchy percussion hit, as used most famously (and frequently!) by Egyptian Lover. To work it into your tracks, hunt down a sample of it and add it to your 808 sampler patch.
6. THE LOW TOM KICK DRUM
The 808 Bass Drum is one of the greatest sounds in electronic music, but you don’t have to limit yourself to it when programming authentic 808 kick parts. Pitched down, the Low Tom serves as a fine alternative, offering a subtly different tone that can work well on its own, or as a second, distinct voice for ghost notes or simple note-to-note variation.
7. SNARE RIENFORCEMENT
Although the 808 Snare Drum is a fantastic, characterful option when you don’t need a great deal of power in your backbeat, its lack of weight could reasonably be considered a downside in most other settings. Bolster that notoriously thin sound by layering a Tom or Conga under it, carefully tuned and with a short Decay – instant body and depth!
8. IT’S NOT JUST FOR DRUM KIT PARTS
Like any drum machine, the 808 is primarily thought of and employed as a source of kick/snare/hi-hat patterns, but even if you’ve already got your main drum kit together via other means, keep it in mind as a generator of complimentary ‘Latin’ percussion parts. The Conga, Cowbell, Claves and Maracas sounds sit together beautifully and are ideal for adding a bright, funky top end layer to any drum track.
More on the Samplephonics blog…
FREE goodies from our friends over at Samplephonics
Some time ago we gave away some deliciously tasty drum one shots that had been processed with some gorgeous analogue tube saturation. Since then, the Samplephonics community has grown dramatically and we thought it would be a shame to deprive all of our noobies from the tube goodness!
We hope you enjoy this gift and turn these little beauties into something special. Send what you create with them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time!
– The Samplephonics Team
REPOSTED FROM HERE: http://flypaper.soundfly.com/tips/what-exactly-does-producer-mean-anyway/
What Exactly Does “Producer” Mean, Anyway?
Music production. The term likely conjures mythical images of Sir George Martin running frantically around Abbey Road Studios, or Phil Spector conducting a massive orchestra. In their time, the term “record producer” simply referred to the person overseeing the completion of the musical product. Given the myriad music-making tools at our disposal today, however, this once-simple definition has become diluted and confused. So let’s clear up a lot of common confusion around the modern record producer’s roles, responsibilities, and duties.
According to the performers rights organization BMI, “a producer is to a recording as a director is to a film. When it comes to making a film, the buck essentially stops with the director. It’s the director who steers the ship, working with everyone from the technical editors to the actors in order to achieve his or her overall vision of the movie. It is exactly that way with a producer when it comes to making a recording.”
In musical terms, this means that a producer needs to have the technical expertise to make critical decisions about a mix with the engineers, the songwriting expertise to craft the arrangement of songs with the artist, and the entrepreneurial acumen to manage budgets, find studios, and negotiate contracts. In short, the producer guides the creative process, acting as part project manager, part creative consultant, and part artist.
A Producer’s Role in the Recording Process
In this traditional sense, the producer must possess a set of technical skills, as well as the big-picture mindset to manage the project from above. To help craft the “sound” of an album or project, the producer must understand the nuance of engineering a full mix in order to knowledgeably ensure that certain sounds are more emphasized than others, and that the mix carries the artistic message intended by the project. At the same time, the producer must have an understanding of the recording process; finding the right studio with the right equipment to record the right sounds is essential to the mix, the sound, and the perception of the album.
With the rise of the Digital Audio Workstation, the traditional studio and analog model have been turned inside out. What happens to the notion of a producer when the “studio” is contained inside a computer?
What’s more, while recording, the producer must be able to coach the musicians on getting the right sounds out of the instruments at hand — be it vocal takes in the booth or different voicings of the same chord on a piano. In this way the producer also treads into songwriting territory, often helping to craft the trajectory of the track.
Of course, as with most deeply artistic endeavors, this role varies project-to-project, and indeed, producer-to-producer. Though it sounds like a lot, different genres and artistic styles have different needs. According to producer Donny Baker, “the music producer is hired because of his ideas in your genre of music.” That is, often, producers will have a specific specialty that they excel in; this specialty, likely their genre-based experience, will make them a desirable managerial and stylistic compliment to the project at hand. For instance, sometimes a project needs someone to think about instrumental arrangement, whereas other times artists will want complete control over that aspect of their songs. Producer Phil Ek sums it up: “I think a good producer agrees with what is the best for the band and helps bring out the best and makes it sound the best and have them perform at their best. Whether it’s the producer’s idea or not, that’s the proper creative direction.”
The Rise of the Digital Audio Workstation
In years past, a producer would fill these traditional roles across a project slated for release through a label, and would get work through studio-based projects and timelines. However, with the rise of the Digital Audio Workstation (or DAW, for short), the traditional studio and analog model have been turned inside out. What happens to the notion of a producer when the “studio” is contained inside a computer?
It gets even trickier for the so-called “bedroom producer,” who pulls samples and software synths together into an album. The beatmaking, songwriting, mixing, and engineering all take place simultaneously in the DAW.
The answer, as you might have guessed, is rather complex, and has lead to a fragmenting of what one might traditionally consider a record producer, as well as a heated debate within the music community at large. But, in many ways, the roles are still similar, and the difference hinges on one key distinction: beatmaker vs. record producer.
Beatmaker vs. Producer
In simple terms, the distinction between a beatmaker and a record producer is similar to the difference between an old fashioned songwriter and a record producer: the songwriter would simply be in charge of writing the song, which would be in turn performed in the studio by musicians and artists who would ultimately release the song. (Note: This still occurs, but is much more confined to the upper-echelons of pop songwriting.) The analogy holds: the beatmaker creates the beat or beat idea, which is sold or absorbed by an artist’s project and turned into a full-fledged song by the producer.
However, in increasingly popular forms of songwriting that are informed by technological production in DAWs, this distinction treads into murky waters. What if, say, a producer of a hip-hop album made a beat in a DAW that the artists runs with, only for the producer to come in and engineer the vocal performance, all of which is sent off to a separate mix engineer to be glued together. The “producer” is now beatmaker, songwriter, and record producer all in one. It gets even trickier for the so-called “bedroom producer,” someone like the artist XXYYXX, who pulls samples and software synths together into an album — in this case, the beatmaking, songwriting, mixing, and engineering all take place simultaneously in the DAW.
The distinction between beatmaker and producer is in whether someone makes a beat and hands it off to be turned into a song, or whether they make a beat and a songwriting idea and see it through to completion.
How can we sift through these semantic weeds? And why does it even matter? Well, crediting in the music industry is a big deal — and getting paid for work done matters immensely to producers, managers, and artists alike. Ultimately, the distinction between beatmaker and producer lies in differentiating between someone who makes a beat and hands it off to a crew of people to turn into a song, and a person who makes a beat and a songwriting idea and sees it through to completion with the artist, album, or project. If you’re doing all of that work to take a musical concept to market, then you’re producing. Maybe in this example the producer also gets a songwriting credit — but they still craft the final product.
In this way producing is more accessible than ever — but making a beat in Ableton isn’t producing outright. The challenge still remains: can you write, record, engineer, mix, master, and release your own material on your own or with an artist on your team? Taking that next step — that’s the mark of a true producer.
Other articles from Myles Avery
New release being put through its paces…. (Source: http://www.bigfishaudio.com/The-Foundry)
BIG FISH AUDIO presents THE FOUNDRY
The Foundry is a Musical Sound Design Tool, based in Native Instruments’ Kontakt 5.4.1 Library. Availible through Big Fish Audio for $299.
Sonicsmiths presents a new tool for composers and sound designers. Based in the Native Instrument’s Kontakt engine, The Foundry is a sound design creation tool, drawing from over 18,000 samples, 19+ GB of sample content (12+ GB compressed), and trillions of ways to manipulate and combine the sounds. Never settle for presets again; The Foundry creates original patches using the groundbreaking AARE algorithm.
AARE – Adjective Assignable Randomizer Engine
Instead of having to search through thousands of presets for a specific sound, we have designed a randomizing engine that creates a new patch for you based on simple adjectives. For example, if you want a Dark, Pulsing, Mysterious sound, select these adjectives, press a randomizing button, and The Foundry will generate new patches based on the parameters you select.
• Template Mode: Make any sound Pulse, create Drops/Rises, or instantly put The Foundry into other modes such as Long Release, Hard Attack, etc.
• Body Designer: With over sixty different body types, you can manipulate each of the “core” sounds by sending them through different material types, such as tubes, bricks, glass, dog bodies, and more!
• 6 modulators assignable to Filters, Pitch, Amplitude, and Surround Panning allow for a wide range of stuttering, pulsing, frequency modulation, and many standard synthesis techniques.
• Graining Synthesis: You can take most of the patches in the library and add the granular synthesis effect, with stretching, panning, and many other ways of manipulating the sound.
• Surround Mode: Set all four sounds to go out different channels, as well as pan in surround.
• Unique reverb selections: including Swaps, Churches, Studios, etc.
• Fully adjustable Filters, Distortion, Compressors, Delays, Panning Rotators, Surround Routing Abilities, and many more creative tools.
Chicken Systems Translator Pro Software Interview
Return of the ASR-10 part III
words by Drew Spence
Still rocking a hardware sampler and want to increase its palette? Ever wish you could expand your library by using the soundbanks of other samplers? Enter Chicken Systems with their Translator Pro software that converts across numerous formats. Let’s dig in and get the full story.
Drew Spence: Although music, both sonically and production-wise has changed significantly in recent years, the hardware sampler still get used in some important ways in the studio. What do you attribute its staying power to?
Garth Hjelte: I think in many ways, the dedicated hardware sampler “feels” more like an instrument than a systematic software sampler that integrates perfectly with modern recording systems. The sound that comes out often feels like it was manufactured AS a music instrument, not merely imitating one. And I’m saying this in regard to all types of sounds – not just imitative sample sets but also synthetic textures or even drum and percussion sounds.
Right now I put hardware samplers in three categories: first you have the real old stuff circa late ’80’s early ’90’s where even if the sampler was 16-bit linear, the sound was hardly that. Listen to a hi-hat on one of those machines – it’s much trashier and not as transparent. Other sounds have that “rounding” and slippery feel to them. Pads and strings can have this special thickness to them.
Second, you have the samplers built in the mid/late ’90’s, like the Akai S5000/Z-series, or the MPC1000 series, or even the Emulator 4. These were attempts to get better sound quality and generally they succeeded. Although at the time they were (and should have been) highly regarded, this is only because no computer-based system truly existed yet. After the software revolution (starting with Giga) got started, time passed those units by. Most of them just didn’t have the trashy charm the older stuff did.
The third category is the new workstations (Motif, Kronos) that have a fairly solid sample-playback engine in them. These are worthy of note because they allow live playing to included user-contributed things in addition to the solid ROM packages they offer. Not only that, in recent years they are innovating past the “loading on startup” things. The Motif XF can hold 2GB of flash memory – wow! The Kronos can stream from SSD hard drive. The Kurzweil PC3K has 128mb of flash.
So, back to using older hardware samplers, I think artists are looking for that more organic approach and they are finding it with the older samplers.
Chicken Systems has been around for a while. How did you get involved in the translation process and why?
We started out in 1988 doing only Ensoniq things – selling sample sets, hard drives, consulting, writing. In the 1990’s some DOS programs came along that could read and write Ensoniq floppy disks AND the SCSI drives. That was nice – it helped us duplicate the floppy sets we sold – but we wanted the authors to improve their programs, like make Windows versions of them, add features. They refused, so we wrote our own. These are the Ensoniq Tools programs and we even sell them today. These were the first computer programs we ever wrote and although they were innovative, we made our share of mistakes writing them.
The Ensoniq ASR-10 was out for quite a long time before a successor came out – the ASR-X in the mid-1990’s, and since the Tools programs were doing well, we decided to write Ensoniq ASR-X Tools too. One big problem with the ASR-X was that although they included the ability to read EPS/ASR disks, they didn’t read the envelopes correctly. The ASR-X did not have a initial level parameter – it assumed zero – where as the EPS/ASR did, and they didn’t compensate for it. So any sounds – even to this day, they never fixed it – where the initial level was pretty high or even greater than zero, and the attack time was greater than perhaps 50ms, came out as a slow or fluffy attack on the ASR-X. Plus, the ASR-X wasn’t truly programmable from the front panel – it needed a computer program to get at things to truly program it.
So, in Ensoniq ASR-X Tools we wrote our own converter that did a better job, and we called it… Translator. It still exists in the program.
Anyway, a couple years later, I think around 1997, I attended the NAMM show in Nashville upon the urging of Robin Boyce-Truitt of Keyboard magazine. The question in my mind was “what should my company do next?” Ensoniq had been purchased by Creative Labs and it was clear that the company was just hanging on. The ASR-X wasn’t really a true sampler, it was a groove box. Plus, for some reason, samplers were not good sellers back then. I think it was because no more innovation was taking place. I didn’t know it at the time, but most professionals were still using Roland S-760’s and Akai S3000’s created in the early ’90’s.
So I remember thinking that if my main market was Ensoniq’s, one thing I could do was to really start making more sounds for it. Unfortunately, I had to admit I had limited resources in which to do this. Paying full orchestras or going heavy programming my own sounds wasn’t truly in my wheelhouse anymore, although I liked doing it. But after programming a couple successful Windows programs, that’s what I enjoyed doing. So I had the idea of combining the ability to read AND write Ensoniq disks and expanding that to read other samplers disks, like Akai and Roland and Emu etc., in order to allow people to have infinite libraries, because there were untold thousands of Akai titles out there. Why program your own libraries when you can allow people to convert existing ones? The ultimate leverage!
Currently the ASR-10 allowed reading Akai S1000 and Roland S7x programs and patches. Not S3000, and plus the import was so-so. Since I noticed the EPS->ASR-X problem, I thought I could do a better translation PLUS add a great interface and supply even more formats. So I started programming the program, which I remember naming it at the 1997 NAMM show, walking along the sidewalk next to the convention center, as TRANSLATOR.
I spent the following months getting better at reverse-engineering foreign disk and file formats. I had some great help along the way with old Ensoniq people helping as well as some brilliant German engineers. I figured out AKai’s, Emu’s, and Roland’s formats alongside Ensoniq’s. The dream was being realized! The program was coming along nicely but was not released as yet.
Then it all started spiraling, and I was the right person (now as the corporation called Chicken Systems, I added several partners at this time) at the right time. During the next year, the first software sampler appeared – Seer Systems Reality. That was our next destination format. The Seer Systems guys helped me figure out more formats, as well as theirs. The more we worked on it, the better we got.
However, the real big thing was coincidentally in the same city – Austin Texas. This was were Nemesys started and Gigasampler was born. At first I considered them a competitor with Reality and I liked the Reality guys. But Giga had this new thing called disk streaming which allowed extremely large sample sets. Based on the advertisements and the external press, it was impossible to ignore.
I can’t remember at the time if we initially released Translator with conversion into Gigasampler, I don’t think we did, but it came out shortly afterwards. Sales then exploded. It was the perfect product to support, as it was Windows only, and we were only programming for Windows. Perfect.
So Chicken Systems had to start adjusting not only to a lot of money rolling in, but also how to keep up with the huge demands of better import coding and more formats. SampleCell, Kurzweil had to be supported. Plus, we were looking into new destinations. From the beginning, we committed ourselves not just to read all formats but to write to them. Plus, the new formats drew in the market of Mac users, and how were we going to make a Mac version?
I’ll leave the explanation of the 2000’s for another time, but basically that’s how we started innovating our core technology, which is translation instrument formats between each other.
I figure with your experience under the hood and behind the code with all these samplers, you could give us a few recommendations for a hardware sampler for someone who is new to production…
Well, it’s hard to recommend a hardware sampler, as the needs for it are so limited these days. Back 10-15 years ago, a hardware sampler would be for the true task of sound emulation in a studio or live. But not anymore, software samplers are ALWAYS much much cheaper – even free! – plus they are always better in most every way.
Hardware samplers haven’t gone away though. There are three types of markets I can count:
1) Nostalgic people who desire or appreciate the sound of older samplers
2) People who like the tactile response of something other than a computer
3) Workstation users (Korg Kronos, Yamaha Motif, Roland Fantom, other) who want to use the sampling sections to augment their ROM sets
The first set of people still use their Ensoniq’s, or old Akai MPC’s, or Emu Emax’s or Emulator III’s. Those were samplers that were here before the really pristine 16-bit samplers that sounded PERFECT. (Mostly those samplers are less desired because although they usually have more memory and features, there’s nothing unique about the sound. You might as well use a cheaper and better software sampler.)
The second type of people appreciate any hardware piece, and I think as far as true samplers go, really the Akai Z4/Z8 were the ultimate in that regard. Up to 512mb of memory, 24-bit, and you can use the akSys software to remote control it from a computer.
The third type of people at least have the modern era on their side. The Yamaha Motif XF and MOXF have flash memory, so you can actually create sounds and instruments and save them to the flash memory, so you don’t even have to load them or wait for them to load. Plus with the workstations, you can gig with them within hesitation.
What about software? If I use something like Kontakt, does it still make sense to acquire the older sampler disks and translate them or should I just focus on newer libraries?
Completely up to the user! I don’t think a blanket statement can be made like “the newer things are best”, although newer libraries really are excellent and hard to beat. But older libraries – even going back to Roland S7x libraries recorded in the 1990’s built for 32mb – have a excellent charm to them. I remember reading something about the band Heart, early in their career when they did lots of experimenting in the studio, that “everything comes out of only 2 speakers with other instruments ultimately anyway”. That’s true, so often the old sampling/old recording almost serves the purpose of what tube preamps and modeling plugins do today.
I would advise anyone to take advantage of the large availability of sounds and choose what’s best for you, plus do not discount older sounds, they often are free to little investment, yet you’ll be very surprised at how they sound. And, although there were garbage sound sets made in the past, it wasn’t so nearly prevalent as today, where the 40GB sound sets you get with a sampler often are fractionally usable.
How do I know what older formats hold up best? Is there any difference between these formats or any sampler’s library I should avoid?
They all are good. To be precise, we are talking about Akai, Roland, Emu, Ensoniq, Kurzweil, SampleCell; plus SoundFont. All pretty much share the same program structure. Akai by far has the greatest selection – there probably 25x as many Akai titles than the other formats. And with the other formats, they tend to revolve around what the manufacturer produced, there are few 3rd-party libraries. The people that broke the mold on that were primarily Spectrasonics/Ilio and East/West, being the largest producers. And regarding SampleCell, for years the Bob Clearmountain drums were the best selling sample CD library.
Can I use Translator as an instrument and play my samples from its interface or should I get a VST sample-host or program like Kontakt or Reason… or…? Are there any ideas to just making a VST version that loads everything?
Translator can audition instruments but it’s just to “see what they sound like generally”. It’s not for playback or performing.
Right now, I’m interested in the full bundle, but I read that soon they will all be merged into a single workstation. How is that coming along and how soon do you project it might be available?
SamplerTools is a bundle that includes the full versions of Translator, Constructor, and Instrument Manager. It doesn’t eliminate the selling of the three products, it’s just an extension of them. SamplerTools also includes 2 extra features: more features in each separate program that include the capabilities of the others, and a integrated interface (think new application) that includes all three features of the bundled programs in one interface. The two things are not complete yet, but we are shooting for a 4th quarter 2014 release. SamplerTools is being sold now, just with licenses to all three bundled programs. Registered owners will get the two additional things when they are released.