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What are Sampling Synthesizers?

Nov 13, 2007
The invention of synthesizers has come almost as a boon for musicians. It is a wonder instrument that can produce more or less any kind of sound thereby making it quite easy for them to create enthralling music. Since its introduction in the music market, a lot of developments are taking place and more and more advanced and sophisticated models and versions of the synthesizer are emerging. One such version is the sampling synthesizer.

To understand the characteristics of a sampling synthesizer you need to have some idea about the features of a sampler. It is an electronic music instrument much like a synthesizer. But unlike general synthesizers a sampler does not start producing sounds from the scratch. Rather it starts with the multiple recordings or samples of different natural or instrumental sounds, and then plays each back based on how the instrument is configured. Since these sound samples are generally stored in RAM, they are easily accessible.

A sampling synthesizer is based on the functions of a sampler. They are also called sample based synthesizers. Sample based synthesis is a type of audio synthesis that stands out against subtractive synthesis or additive synthesis both. The major difference with sample-based synthesis is that the sample waveforms are sampled sounds or instruments instead of basic waveforms, for instance, the saw waves of subtractive synthesis or the sine waves of additive synthesis.

Since a sampling synthesizer uses sound samples to reproduce the nuances of natural instruments, hence its efficiency depends a lot on the library of sample sounds it has got. In the initial days there used to be comparatively fewer number of samples with limited duration as computer memory was much costly. But with the gradual fall in price of the memory chips it became possible to use multisampling. This paved the way to improvement to a large extent. It provided the much needed flexibility and quality to the instrument.

A sampling synthesizer has several advantages over other types of synthesizers such as analogue or digital ones. Compared to digital synthesis the processing power requirements of a sample based synthesizer are much lower. This is due to the fact that most of the gradations of the sound models are stored in the pre-recorded samples rather than calculated in real-time.

Unlike the analog synthesizers, a sampling synthesizer does not require its circuitry to be duplicated to let more sound patterns to be played at once. Hence the polyphony of sampling synthesizers is usually a lot higher.

When sampling synthesizer was first developed it was pretty expensive. Much later in the late eighties comparatively affordable samplers became available with the arrival of Roland D50 and the Korg M1. It is remarkable to note that Korg M1 also introduced the workstation concept.

Interestingly Stevie Wonder first recorded using a sampling synthesizer one of his albums named 'secret life of plants' in 1976. He used the synthesizer to create complex melodies and rhythms from sampled sounds of nature. In fact the first tune Wonder recorded was 'the first garden' where he used a sampled bird chirp as the lead sound in the song.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant for guitars, drums, and synthesizers. You can find the best marketplace for guitars, drums, and synthesizers at these 3 sites: guitars, drums, drum sets, and sampling synthesizers, analog synthesizers.
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