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Are Hardware Samplers Obsolete?

Hey Rich, I have an off topic question for you. What do you think about the use of hardware samplers over software sampling tools. I haven't used software sampling that often. I basically sample Gigasampler libraries with my e5000 (probably sounds dumb, but I do it anyway). Do you think that hardware devices are coming to an end? I mean I know a great many musicians who do all their work in the software domain. I currently am working with a hybrid setup. I plan on incorporating other programs such as Reason and Reaktor just for more variety on top of my Emu. What do you think? Paul

Tweak writes: 
Here's the answer I gave to the Emusaic list on that question with a few exhortations added:

Great to see many of you chiming in with thoughts and opinions--really makes this group a worthwhile forum. I'll keep my comments brief, though in a debate like this perhaps many of us could go on for hours. I think it is these very discussions that chart the future, after all we are the hardware samplists. I just got the EXs24 yesterday and have been doing little snips using both my e5k and the exs together, I also have Gigasampler and soundfonts. Each has their things they are good at and the things they are bad at. It is not like we have to choose one or the other, we can use tools as projects dictate. I think the EXS really shines for spot effects where you stick a rack of plugins on top of a single sample. But it cannot replace the Emulator's smooth sound or handle 16/32 channels from 1000 presets, and synthesis wise the EXS is coarse. SoundDiver blows the doors off both the exs and the giga interfaces. It's not an "us vs. them" situation at all. It's truly a matter of "we're all here, how do we play together?"

My crystal ball says that the hardware sampler of the future has to be seamlessly integrated with the PC just like the soft samplers are. That is, if we were running Logic we'd have dedicated mixer strips for the emulator in software and would be able to put whatever we want in that strip. We could have plugins residing in the sampler or on the computer or in outboard and they would all be accessible. and they could be called up on the computer screen, front end hardware or a massive console.

SCSI served it's purpose in the pre virtual world. But it does not make sense in the new order of things. Just how MIDI revolutionized things, we need an digital interface that everyone uses. Imagine 100,. 200 or more audio channels, all freely routable to internal and external devices, so I can go in my logic environment and attach a virtual cable from output 4 of the Ultra direct to. lets say, to an outboard reverb then to a software effect in the pc before merging into the main bus, wherever we want that to be, the soundcard output, the master out of a console, or a rendered audiofile on a disk.

I think manufacturers drop the ball whenever they come up with a proprietary format that serves their profits in the short run. Look at a typical sampler file system--case in point. Had Emu and Yamaha sat down with Akai and Roland in 1986 and worked it out we'd be having more fun today. As a result of this fundamental failure, we have experienced 15 years of incompatible sample formats. We were lucky to get SMDI and SDS. And now we need a new, universal digital format. The non-communication is happening now with ADAT's and Tascam's digital transfer schemes. The case of MIDI proved over an over that when people do come to the table and agree on formats, good things happen both for the companies and their customers.  I think we, as consumers of these musical products should demand that these companies cater to our needs as musicians and what we need is a format where we can plug our gear into any manufacturers gear and have our piece work!  Proprietary formats are OLD WORLD thinking and we are already spending huge sums to overcome this fundamental uncreative flaw in the thinking of marketing execs of the big manufacturers.  

Last point, people will continue to use the product that sounds the best. Old vintage gear that sounds fabulous will never go out of style, whether it is 16 bit or 64bit is not as relevant as the ability to sound great. I think anyone who makes an outboard anything has to make it sound better than something a soundcard can produce.

Posted by Rich the TweakMeister on March 17, 2001 at 05:54:06:

In Reply to: Death of Hardware posted by Paul on March 16, 2001 at 15:42:20:

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