Making the Most of your Akai S1000 Sampler (Part 3)
Multiple Loops & Timestretch
In this final part of the series, Akai product specialist Steve Howell explores sample editing using multiple loops, and the S1000’s new timestretch feature.
In this final part of the series, Akai product specialist Steve Howell explores sample editing using multiple loops, and the S1000's timestretch feature.
The S1000 allows the user to specify up to eight loops within one sample. Now, eight loops may seem excessive but it's not compulsory to use all eight, so the sample editing procedure need not be any more complicated than we described last month. It's nice to know that we have such facilities if required. So when would you need eight loops?
We have all suffered the experience of 'wobbly' samples - you know the type: as soon as it hits the loop, however glitch-free it may be, it goes sort of 'woo-woo-woo-woo' as the sample sustains. (See Figure 1a.) This is often acceptable and can even add some much needed animation to an otherwise lifeless noise. It can pass unnoticed if the 'woo' (don't you just love these technical terms!) is the exact same length as the natural vibrato or tremolando of the sampled instrument. Often though, it's just a pain in the neck - or should that be ears?! Using multiple loops is one way around this phenomena.
On the S1000, you can set any loop to sustain for any length of time up to 10 seconds (well, 9999 milliseconds actually). This means that your sound could hit loop 1 and stay on that for three seconds, move onto loop 2 and hang on that for five seconds, and then move to the 'held' loop (ie. the one specified by the HOLD function), which will sustain for as long as you hold down a note. Then, when you lift your finger off the keyboard, the sample could go through one final loop which lasts for the duration of the release setting. This technique allows you to create loops that avoid the cyclic repetitiveness that single-loop samplers often suffer from (Figure 1b).
Programming these loop points is fairly straightforward. Simply hit ED1 and then LOOP in the EDIT SAMPLE page (see last month for details) and your cursor will be in the Loop Select field (ie. top left of the LOOP page). Set Loop 1 to last for, say, five seconds (5000ms) and create a good loop early on in the sample in the usual way - ie. set an appropriate loop length, hit FIND, set a crossfade time and hit XFD. Now play the sound. It should reach the loop, which will last for five seconds, and then stop after the remainder of the sound is finished.
Now move the cursor back up to the Loop Select field again and select Loop 2. Set that for another five seconds and, once again, create a good glitch-free loop at a suitable point some time after the first loop. Now when you play the sample, the first loop will last five seconds then move onto the second loop, which will last for another five seconds and then stop.
The next loop you set could be a held loop - it's up to you - but this process can be repeated until you have used up the eight loops.
Possible applications for this multiple loop technique are many, aside from the most obvious one of alleviating unwanted cyclic effects from a sample. But it's when you use the sample Splice function that it really comes into its own. By referring to Figure 2 you can see the loop layout for one of the S1000 library disks. The sample starts off with a big Moog bass sound, crossfades into a synth strings sound, and then crossfades into a sampled voice affair which loops for a few seconds before crossfading into a sample of the 'Lore' program taken from a Korg M1. This latter sample loops for the duration of the held note (ie. HOLD was set for this loop) and the whole thing fades away when the note is released.
Another sound on that same disk does much the same thing, except that the sample ends with a white noise sweep. The whole sound takes five seconds to evolve and, with some pitch sweep and panning created in EDIT PROGRAM (and, of course, the obligatory lashings of reverb!), the sound ventures well and truly into D50 and M1 territory, providing an effective and dramatic backdrop for soundtracks.
This may all sound well tricky to achieve but it's not really - a modicum of common sense and you can create some spectacular sounds. Of course, if you're worried, the Autoloop and Crossfade Loop functions will help you through as painlessly as possible.
New software that will have been released by the time you read this offers a Sample Merge function. This is distinct from the Splice function, which crossfades two sounds; Merge turns two samples into one and each can be balanced against each other using a new facility that allows you to turn samples up or down in level. You just specify the first sample (eg. Strings) and the second (Orch Brass), and create a new name for the composite result (how about Str+Brass for an original title?) and press MIX (F8). After a while, you will be able to play the results of your efforts.
If you wish to add more instruments, simply use Str+Brass as the first sample and layer another one on top of that. As you can imagine, monstrous sounds are there to be had - and with no loss of polyphony. It must be pointed out, though, that the new sample will lose any existing loop settings and so will have to be re-looped. But, as we have seen, that should not present too great a stumbling block and the multiple loop could be invoked for those difficult sounds.
Now then, what about the most revolutionary sample editing function to appear on a sampler that doesn't cost the same as a small house in the country - Timestretch. This powerful feature is available as a free update to any S1000 owner who requests it, and the software comes on disk or on a chip.
Simply put, Timestretch allows you to stretch a sample or shrink it by extraordinary amounts but with no change in pitch. The maximum stretch available is a staggering 1000% and shrinking can be by as much as 25% of the original sample length. The applications for this are, as I am sure you appreciate, enormous. The most obvious one is to stretch some backing vocals (after a key change) so that they can be played a tone higher without being too short in length. The same could be done for sax, guitar or any other solo. Likewise, drum parts could be stretched or shrunk to fit the tempo of a tune exactly. In audio-visual work, the possibilities for postproduction manipulation are simply mindblowing: from changing the length of full mixes of music cues, ad jingles, stings, etc to fit an exact time slot or cue, to varying the length of a voice-over to fit to picture exactly.
Then there's the possibility of taking just one sample and stretching it and shrinking it accordingly in order to create a series of multisamples from just one sound. Timestretch can also be used to assist in the looping department where a sound may be too short to establish a good loop - by lengthening it, you can set a loop (or a series of them) far more easily.
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Feature by Steve Howell