Intrinsic Technology Slam
Sample Librarian and Manager
An open and shut case for sample librarians
Got an Akai sampler? Then the chances are you've got a lot of disks - all crammed with samples and programs ready for future use. How on earth do you keep track of them all? You either find that out-of-date list you scribbled down - or you get SLAM...
One of the main problems of using sample based material as part of your music is the time it takes to find a particular sample and then load it into your machine - just to discover whether it works or not. If it doesn't all you can do is dump it, find another sample and start again. Though unable to do anything about the speed at which disk-based material is loaded into your machine, SLAM - a new program from Intrinsic Technology - does at least help cut down on the time it takes to locate samples in your collection, and makes it more likely you'll find exactly the right sample first time round.
The Sample Librarian and Manager - to give it its full title - is an Akai sampler database for any Atari ST computer (with mono or colour monitor). Designed specifically for the S900/950/1000/1100 range of samplers, SLAM's Librarian is able to log individual samples and programs and save details to an ST disk. The Manager then lets you perform searches on any of the text fields, while print out facilities provide you with hard copy of all data. Two sets of password copy-protected disks, a goodly quantity of disk labels and a manual complete the package.
As you'll see from the printout, the main screen is nicely laid out and easily understood. Menu options can be selected in three ways: the standard GEM menu bar, keyboard equivalents and on-screen icons. The greater part of the screen is dedicated to an information box for the database details.
Intrinsic have determined where the directory is on an Akai disk and how the various details can be read for each file. Consequently, you need only to place an Akai disk into the ST disk drive for the necessary data (sample and program names) to be read off directly. Intrinsic's undoubted resourcefulness in this area has its drawback, however. Atari have changed the ST's operating system on many occasions but Akai disk reading is only successful when using the original ROM-based TOS 1.0. If you have any other version in your computer, you'll get a warning box advising you of the fact. But all is not lost: Intrinsic include a TOS 1.0 boot-up disk with the package specifically for this purpose. This loads the operating system into the ST's memory; as soon as you have completed your disk reading, you simply re-boot the computer.
On selecting 'AKAI' from the Read menu, and inserting an Akai disk, SLAM looks for the necessary information from the Akai format. Once you have the sample and program data in memory, a disk is entered into the library by assigning a disk number to it. As with a standard database, entry fields are used: Disk Title, Bank Type and overall Disk Comment. These might comprise, for example, entries such as, 'Sax & Trumpet', 'Brass Solos' and 'Disk A52 - Fair' respectively. Clearly, the more detailed and structured the labelling, the better SLAM will work.
Selecting the Edit option from the Read menu allows you to change the data in any of the above three fields on a disk of your choice. Additionally, you can also add - and later alter - comments on each sample and program if you wish. Having set up your library, you can then print out the details and enter these in the SLAM manual folder. You can also print out individual disk labels and stick them onto your disks - if you feel particularly industrious.
If you don't want to run under TOS 1.0 (if, for instance, you're using a hard drive and can't easily boot from the enclosed TOS 1.0 disk) or are using high-density disks on an S950/1000/1100, you can obtain the necessary disk data via MIDI. SLAM sends out an information request and then displays the result in exactly the same way as if it had read a disk. The process only takes a couple of seconds because, of course, only the directory is being read, not the actual sample data.
To locate a specific disk, simply load up a library and enter the text that you want SLAM to search for. It's as easy as that.
Of the various extra facilities included: 'Glue' lets you combine different libraries to make database features easier to use. If, on the other hand, a library becomes too large and unwieldy, 'Save Part' can be utilised to create a new library made up purely from selected records. Small System Exclusive dumps can also be saved - such as single patches from a synth - and SLAM can even be used as a standard database by using the 'Edit' facility and typing in new records. This is useful for people who have other samplers or for CD and LP owners who wish to catalogue their collection. Indeed, Intrinsic have advanced this particular feature in recent updates.
The precise value of a program like SLAM, will, I suspect, vary in direct proportion to the number of disks which currently makes up your collection. Studios with Akai machines - and there must be many - would benefit enormously from a utility such as this. Searching for that particularly mellow string sample takes on a new urgency when there's a clock on the wall counting off the minutes. At £89.95, SLAM is a little pricey but at the reduced rate of £59 (until the New Year), it's definitely worth considering by anyone for whom sampling is a major part of their work - particularly those with a large CD collection as well.
Review by Vic Lennard