Korg Microsampler makes sampling fun

Korg Microsampler
Korg Microsampler

Today I found a used but practically new Korg Microsampler that someone obviously bought and then decided they didn’t want it. It came with the box, manual, adapter, and mic. I like sampling and despite hearing mixed reviews about the Microsampler, for my purposes I think I’ll be quite happy with hit. I’ve read about the limitations of the Korg Microsampler and I don’t think it will give me that many problems with the somewhat lower expectations I have with it. I’m actually quite excited about the Microsampler and I’m sure I’ll use it quite a bit.

The main reasons why I picked up the Korg Microsampler are several. First I spend a lot of time waiting for my kids at the swimming pool, hip-hop dance studio, ballet, and at their cram schools here in Japan. The Korg Microsampler will allow me to sit in the car or in the waiting area and give me something to do. With some samples loaded up I can create some pattern ideas with which I can use later with my other keyboard samplers and workstations. I can also experiment with chords and ideas in musical theory that I often read about or watch in video format. Of course the keys are small and perhaps not practical to play full blown piano on, but they are enough to finger some chords and work with progressions. It will also be fun to sit in the car and sample my own voice and have fun playing around with the samples. Not to mention the 80’s style stuff I can likely accomplish with the Microsampler.

What drew me to the Korg Microsampler was the fact that it’s portable, runs on batteries, and can hold enough samples to create some creative song ideas with it’s pattern recorder. You can load up some drum kits, bass samples, and some EP or synth sounds to create some patterns. The effects seem pretty good and it’s quite easy to sample things using the mic or audio inputs. I’m quite satisfied with the Microsampler thus far.

To me, the Korg Microsampler is not meant to be a full blown sampling workstation. I also don’t think it’s a powerful multi-sampler nor does it have lots of ability to tweak samples. My dedicated samplers at home can pretty much do everything I need. Instead the Korg Microsampler is a great little keyboard sampler to get samples in, record to a pattern, and then transfer back out again in a very portable manner. It may be able to do a lot more once I log more time with it. I’ll definitely update my article here once I learn more about it. Stay tuned!

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Roland W30 SMFW30 Software Upgrade

SMFW30 Last Beta
SMFW30 Last Beta

There is a new release of SMFW30 is coming soon! It’s a Sound Manager for the Roland W-30, S-330, S50, and S-550 Vintage Samplers. Over on the SMFW30 Forums, Miro has released some beta info about the new Roland W-30 Software Sample Editor. I think registration is closed there due to spam issues, but you should at least be able to view the updates. I’m on there so if anyone has any questions, I can pass them along to Miro for you if I don’t know the answer. Above is a screenshot which looks great. This is definitely a welcome upgrade and should hopefully add some new life to the aging but popular Roland W-30.

Hare are some details taken from the forum posting.

Tone Editor
* Import of waves with odd length
* Editing of tone/subtone title
* Editing of all tone/subtone parameters with waveform preview

MIDI Editor
* Correction of SYSEX troubles

Patch Editor
* Basic implementation – Load / Save / Rename and Delete patch

I am really looking forward to this release. Currently I prefer transferring my WAV files to the Roland W-30 via the S-330 and other software connected to it via the computer. However, if I can do everything I need with SWMF30, then that would clearly be the way to go.

Stay tuned for more news and about about the SMFW30 software upgrade for the Roland W-30.

Auto Sampling VSTi and Hardware Synths the easy way.

ESC Extreme Sample Converter
ESC Extreme Sample Converter

Recently, sampling is becoming a very popular art form in music. Whether you are using a popular software sampler such as Native Instruments Kontakt or a hardware workstation such the the new Yamaha Motif XF, there is a growing trend to sample new sounds for your instrument of choice. After spending a fair amount of time using conversion programs such as Awave, CDXtract, Translator, etc. to convert from one sound format to another, I stumbled upon the concept of sampling VSTi soundsets directly to create one’s own multisamples. Well, they are not exactly my own as I am sampling another soundset, but the multisample itself is something I have been programming into my hardware synths such as the Roland Fantom-XR and Xa. I also have a Yamaha A3000, Roland S-760, W-30, and S-330 hardware samplers. Hopefully soon, I’ll be jumping on the Yamaha Motif XF wagon and with that you get a whopping 2GB of Flash memory.

I recently purchased Nexoe’s YASE for the Roland Fantom-XR to import samples and create multisample patches. This lead me to trying out Nexoe’s RESAMPLE to sample patches from NI’s Kontakt because I couldn’t extract the WAV files very well. Unfortunately, RESAMPLE wouldn’t allow me to test fully in demo mode. Quickly one will find out that many of these auto sample VSTi applications are quite expensive. So, I went on to the next offering which was Extranslator’s Extreme Sample Converter. I was successfully able to sample “beautifully” 4 velocity layers with different zones across the keyboard. It was very fast and accurate. I was then able to select all the wav files at once and auto loop them. I then exported to AKAI S5000 format (Nexoe YASE imports this format into the XR easily) and opened them later in Sony’s Soundforge 8. Within Soundforge, I was able to trim the excess fat outside the loop points and work a fade in to eliminate any pops at the beginning. Flawless!

I then opened up Nexoe’s YASE and imported the AKAI S5000 formatted file and instantly created a new patch and multisample for the Fantom-XR. In addition, the loop points and root keys were fully intact. I then saved the file to my CF card and loaded it up in the Fantom-XR. The sound and quality was practically perfect. I couldn’t believe how simple it was using Nexoe’s YASE, Extreme Sample Converter, and Sony Sound Forge 8 to grab an NI Kontakt patch and dump it to the Roland Fantom-XR. In fact, Extreme Sample Converter allows you to load up just about any Software VSTi and start auto sampling patches galore!! You can sample any number of keys but there is a limit of only 4 velocity layers which is fine. Auto loop points in single or batch mode is also supported.

Sampling sounds from other VSTi and Hardware Intruments allows you to greatly increase the number of sounds you can work with away from the computer on stage. The technology is here and I can only see it getting more popular. With the release of the new Yamaha Motif XF series keyboards, you can now place your newly created multisampled patches into flash memory effectively eliminating the loading wait times. My Roland Fantom-XR is not bad though with a 15 minute or less wait at 512MB, but I’m sure Korg, Roland, and other vendors will soon have flash memory options for their newer workstations and synths.

So what’s the best software for auto sampling your hardware synths and/or VSTi software synths? I really can’t answer that yet, but for now I’m sticking with Extreme Sample Converter for sampling VSTi soundsets to be imported into the Roland Fantom X. It works fantastic and the price is reasonable at around $100 USD. I did glance at the other options I have listed below, but they are either redundant in features compared to Extreme Sample Converter, much more expensive, or in some cases lacking in necessary features.

What do you use for sampling your VSTi’s and Hardware keyboards? Any recommendations are greatly appreciated. I am amazed at how fast and easy it is (once you know what you’re doing) to auto sample any VSTi patch and import it into your synth or workstation of choice. WOW! A whole new dimension has been added to creating and adding fresh sounds to your instrument.

Here is a list of probably the most well known auto sampling VSTi and hardware synth applications. There may be others, but at the time of this posting, I was only able to find these below. Feel free to comment if you find others or wish to share your experiences. Thanks!!

Extranslator – Extreme Sample Converter
Imageline – Direct Wave
Highlife – Disco DSP
Xlutop – Chainer
Nexoe – Resampler
ESI – Sample Robot
Redmatica – AutoSampler

UPDATE: I contacted the developer (Wlodzimierz Grabowski) of Extreme Sample Converter today (12/16/2010) and he replied within an hour of my message. I inquired about the future development and support of Extreme Sample Converter. His reply was “New versions are under development and supported all the time.” Thus it appears that Mr. Wlodzimierz Grabowski is still working on and supporting Extreme Sample Converter despite the last news date of 11/10/2009. His website hints at a new version 4 which would be exciting if released in the near future.

NEXOE YASE Roland Fantom Software Review

NEXOE Roland Fantom YASE Review
NEXOE Roland Fantom YASE Review

Today I purchased the software YASE from Nexoe for the Roland Fantom X series workstations. I have been doing a lot of work with sampling lately and I really needed a faster way to import samples into my Roland Fantom XR and Xa. YASE has a really nice Patch Editor that allows the entire task of importing samples to be pretty much automated. It’s fantastic, but unfortunately the interface is kind of sketchy at times.

Nexoe YASE sells for $175 which is pretty steep, BUT this software is the ONLY software on the market that allows one to organize their samples and patches effective and easily on the computer. In addition, you can import any AKAI sample CD or file beautifully. If you have other formats, I just use Extreme Sample Converter or Awave Studio to convert into AKAI S5000 format. I then simply import into YASE and presto, a few minutes later I have it ready to import into the Roland Fantom XR.

The PROS of using Nexoe’s YASE software are as follows:

1. Renaming Patches, MultiSamples, and Samples is much easier.
2. Drag and Drop organizing of samples can ONLY be done with YASE.
3. Combining and/or organizing different patches into one patch set can ONLY be done with YASE.
4. The auto assigning of Root Notes and the auto creation of Multisamples can only be done in YASE.
5. Everthing is very well organized and visually appealing in YASE. It’s fun to use.
6. The Sample Editor is nice after I solved my initial audio playback problem with it. I haven’t test much the auto loop detect ability yet, but the sample editor itself is pretty feature rich and much better than the standard Roland Fantom Editor.
7. Nexoe’s support is top notch. Something rare these days with regards to software companies on the net.

Now the CONS of Nexoe’s YASE software are as follows:

There is only ONE! YASE is extremely finicky and will play with your mind it seems. I have developed a good workflow, but in the beginning I was going in circles trying to get from A to B. Despite the nice panels and layout, the code with which YASE was written in is not quite solid in my book. It feels like a “flash” website where you are constantly clicking buttons that only seem to work when they want to. Java software feels the same too sometimes. I don’t know what development tool was used for YASE, but it just doesn’t play nice sometimes and thus causes issues with workflow occasionally.

Unfortunately as is common with Roland products, the free software for the Roland Fantom X is crippled. It cannot do some pretty basic and necessary functions when working with multisamples. This is where the NEXOE YASE program shines. It fills in all the gaps that are missing with the Roland Fantom X software. Is it a must buy? Absolutely if you are working with samples a lot. I am really glad I bought it.

There is no review anywhere that I could find on the web for Nexoe’s Roland Fantom YASE software. It’s a good piece of software, but for $175 it can be quirky. It all comes down to what you need and is it worth that amount of money to you. For me, I have a ton of multisample patches that I want to create and load into the Fantom XR and Xa. Tinkering around all day long with the Roland Fantom “crippled” Software just doesn’t cut it. I have a need for speed and efficiency. NEXOE YASE is the answer I’ve been looking for which will allow me to get back to what I enjoy most, playing music rather than programming it.

UPDATE: NEXOE RESAMPLER Roland Fantom Software Review coming soon!