E-mu SP-12

E-mu SP-12 Image

The E-mu SP-12 is the classic drum machine & sampler combo that paved the way for such greats as the E-mu SP-1200 and AKAI MPC series of sampling drum machines. Redesigned from E-mu's original Drumulator drum machine, the SP-12 is a classic drum machine with built in sampling capability. There is a set of preset drum sounds including kick, snare, hihats, toms, cymbals, handclap and rimshot. These sounds can be mixed and edited using the sliders. Then you can add your own beats and drum sounds using the built-in 12-bit sampler. Sampling time is limited to only a few seconds and the quality is very lo-fi (a sound loved by lo-fi and trip hop). Store your patterns and link them into songs, there's room for 100 of each! There are mono and individual outputs (no stereo). It's been used by Madlib, Large Professor, Chicago, and DJ Premiere.

E-mu SP-12 Image

The SP-12 was quickly superceded by the SP-1200 in 1987 which was continuously reissued through 1997. The SP-1200 is undoubtedly the more popular of the two since it has added features and emphasized sampling by eliminating the preset drum sounds. However, for the classic synth collector the SP-12 still makes a great gift!

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The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings with more images, specs and information. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace. Our marketplace gets thousands of visits every week so make sure to check back often if you want to buy or sell a synth.

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Are you looking to buy or sell a E-mu SP-12? 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.

38 Visitor comments
Marc Lindahl
May 15, 2009 @ 5:17 pm
the SP12 has 3 different output filter types - each 2 outputs have a different filter type:

out 1,2: dynamic filter (starts open and sweeps closed)
out 3,4: muted
out 5,6: less muted
out 7,8: unfiltered

depending on which output you get smoother or crunchier sounds.
May 11, 2009 @ 4:54 pm
Does the SP 12 have the same static filters as the SP 1200?
March 25, 2009 @ 11:43 am
One dope device! I own one and neva give it away - nnno! - pass it on to ma new bloods.
December 16, 2008 @ 6:58 am
I own one of these machines as well as an Oberheim DX and a Roland TR-808. The SP-12 is definitely my favourite of the three, as it sounds better than the DX and the sequencer is far more sophisticated than the one on the TR-808 (I'm also seriously underwhelmed by how feeble the TR-808 sounds).

You can easily get a Commodore 1541 II floppy drive off of eBay for $10 - $20, so backing up sounds and sequences is straightforward. There is also an upgrade to increase the sample memory which is still available from Forat (http://www.forat.com/), and which I plan to fit to my SP-12 in the near future.

Overall, this is a great machine and the only sampler I've ever bothered to learn how to use - as it's so simple. It's also built like a tank, and mine is still running fine despite a number of gigs where it's been manhandled by neanderthal roadies.
December 15, 2008 @ 6:19 pm
you can also use an old apple computer (with a serial port) or tape deck. the tape deck option is the worst, takes hella long. the compter is you best bet, check out www.emulatorarchive.com
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Rated 3.71 (256 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.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 8 voice
  • Sampler - 27.500 kHz, 12-bit sampling, 48kb memory for 1.2 seconds (expandable to TURBO - 192kb memory for 5 seconds) of sample time
  • Drums - 24 samples including kick, snares, toms, hi-hats, crash, ride, rim, clap, cowbell
  • Patterns - 100
  • Songs - 100
  • Keyboard - 8 touch pads
  • Memory - 8 user
  • Control - MIDI, SMPTE
  • Date Produced - 1985 - 1987
  • Resources & Credits
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