Akai S20

Akai S20 Image

Akai's S20 Stereo Phrase Sampler starts out looking like a table-top version of the lackluster S01. Major improvements include STEREO input and outputs and far greater memory expansion (up to 17 MB) and of course, the sequencer. The standard 1 MB can sample between 7 to 56 seconds. Upgrading to 17 MB lets you sample from 131 seconds (Stereo 32kHz) to 1048 seconds (Mono 8kHz)! The S20 is a budget desktop phrase sampler targeted towards DJs and home project studios; and the S20 offers excellent value for the price.

An onboard 3.5 inch high density floppy disk drive allows for samples to be interchanged with higher-end Akai samplers or loaded onto a computer for further editing. There are some caveats, however, and these include absolutely no onboard effects whatsoever and a rather poor built-in sequencer. It is also worth noting that the unit uses RCA jacks instead of 1/4 inch stereo plugs, which may be useful to some and irritating to others. Nonetheless, pair the S20 up with a decent sequencer and an outboard effects box or filter (if desired) and you've got a nice, cheap, and functional little sampler.

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Are you looking to buy or sell a Akai S20? Post an ad in Gear For Sale or a request in Gear Wanted. For spare parts and repair services check out Gear Services & Other Goods. Our forums also has a Buyer’s Guide section where you can ask for advice on buying synthesizers.

20 Visitor comments
February 5, 2011 @ 4:04 am
Have one of those and still use it a lot for my music. It's nice and compact for gig, studio and stage use, has an easy-to-use interface and most importantly a killer sound - Akai S-style, you know the score. Yeah, it does not have all those nifty features of modern desktop or keyboard sampling workstations/grooveboxes but it only costs a fraction of them, yet sounds just as good, if not better. If you can find it cheap (and you will), give it a try, you won't be disappointed.
October 7, 2010 @ 9:27 pm
I AM SELLING MY AKAI S20 FOR $50 DOLLARS. send questions to : buysellbuyebay@gmail.com
Cookie Galore
September 21, 2010 @ 8:23 am
Beat Scientist, is there an onboard bit crusher?

This was my first sampler and though I found it to be a bit clunky to use at first, it sounds great and was a lot of fun to play. It's a great sampler for playing the sounds rather than just playing back the sounds.
Beat Scientist
June 24, 2009 @ 6:22 pm
can also work well as a studio accessory - I've used it as a sampling drum / sound module hooked up to a DAW running cubase, sample the kits or sounds I want, tweek them then trigger the sounds from the sequencer.

If you wanna be creative try bitcrushing on this baby! you can get some really nice results.

I would say this to anyone thinking of buying an S20 (or any akai): Don't over look the quiality of akai quality of these older AD/DAs, they just sound great... I moved on to the S5000 then finally the MPC5000 after buying my S20 but still kept the S20 because of the sound these filters capture.
October 17, 2008 @ 1:37 pm
Although undocumented, this bad boy also supports MIDI sample dump, although its very slow, takes about a minute of transfer time for every seconds of audio (mono). Don't forget to resample your clips to 32khz!!!

I'd say its more of live performance tool than a studio piece, works great w/ Kaoss Pad or Alesis AirFX, or both even!
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 2.87 (159 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Demos & Media
  • Audio Clip 1 - Demo track produced on the S20, from the Future Music CD, issue 56.

    Manual - Click this link to download the Akai owner's manual.

  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 8 voices
  • Sampler - 16 bit, 32 kHz, 16 kHz, 8 kHz. 4th order delta/sigma 64 times oversampling.
  • Memory - 1MB memory (STEREO, MONO), expandable to 5MB or 17MB by 72-pin SIMM.
  • LFO - None
  • VCF - None
  • VCA - level and release are controllable
  • Effects - None
  • Arpeg/Seq - sequencer: 4 tracks, 30,000 notes
  • Keyboard - 16 pads
  • Control - MIDI (16-channels, 2x IN, 1x OUT, 1x THRU)
  • Date Produced - 1997
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from Akai Pro

    Additional info provided by Sean Caron

    Reviewed November 2007

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