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The SP-12 was quickly superceded by the SP-1200 in 1987 which was continuously reissued through 1997.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
April 29, 2010 @ 3:17 pm
@ Arrow: It sounds like you've gotten a modded sp12. Maybe they are analog trigger inputs? There is no row of six jack inputs directly above the audio outs on a normal sp12. Just ordered one btw. I can't wait to get my hands and ears on it!
April 10, 2010 @ 7:28 pm
I buy and sell different bits of retro gear for my studio all the time but my SP-12 is one of the few bits I will always hang onto. The sound is unique 12-bit crunchyness. Sample in a sound and mess with the pitch and it brings out different harmonics with each pitch. The sequencer is rock solid and tight as a ducks arse. What I like about the SP-12 is it's a great machine to inspire creativity and get away from the computer screen for a while!
March 14, 2010 @ 9:03 pm
I just recently picked up and SP-12 and am wondering what the 6 phone jacks directly above the normal 8 output jacks are for? I can't find any documentation mentioning anything about them! I'm super happy to have this machine...
December 16, 2009 @ 8:59 am
This drum machine/sampler was used extensively by SKINNY PUPPY's cEvin Key in creating the song "Anger" from 1987's "Cleanse, Fold, and Manipulate."
July 26, 2009 @ 4:42 pm
Also used by Vangelis.
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Rated 3.73 (253 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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