E-mu SP-1200

E-mu SP-1200 Image

The SP-1200 was THE drum machine & sampler combo of legendary status among old school rap and hip hop artists from the eighties and nineties. It is similar to today's Akai MPC samplers - it is a sampler plus drum machine. It has limited sampling specs: 26.040 kHz and 12-bit resolution. However the dirtiness of that sound is great for hip hop and house music. They say it sounds like "old vinyl"... It features groove quantizing and a disk drive for sample storage. As an upgraded version of the 1985 SP-12, the SP-1200 focused on its coolest feature - sampling. The preset drum sounds of the SP-12 were omitted, leaving room for up to 32 user samples of your own custom sampled and edited drum sounds.

E-mu SP-1200 Image

Although this machine was originally released in 1987, E-mu has reissued them again and again due to popular demand. They continued producing them until they ran out of the SSM filter chips they used, around 1998. It was just too legendary to give up as it was THE beat machine for old-school rap and hip hop! In 1997 a final reissued model was released with a cooler looking all-black case. With the SP-1200 it's easy and fun to grab those sliders and tune or tweak your sampled drum sounds all around! It is used by Roni Size, Todd Terry, Freddy Fresh, Daft Punk, Phil Collins, and The Prodigy.

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39 Visitor comments
The Tribalizer !
August 6, 2010 @ 3:00 pm
Forgot to mention, if youve got an old mac and a copy of Alchemy, you can edit the samples and send them back to the SP, which brings it right up to date, be nice if there was a memory upgrade available though, im sure someone could come up with something ?
The Tribalizer !
August 6, 2010 @ 2:52 pm
SP1200 this can be a great replacement for a 909 or 808. Gives you that massive analog VCA punch but so much more. I use this for tribal prog house, it truly is irreplaceable. MPC is more flexible but you have to do a lot of processing to come anywhere near the same phatness. As for Mac or PC based plugins like Guru and Maschine, dont make me laugh !
Cloud Factory Music
July 31, 2010 @ 4:59 am
Its used by Team Sleep. Great use on this short video. Check it out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlcB47Hru40
August 17, 2009 @ 6:02 am
I had one in 01-2009 for about 2 months, i didn´t use it that much because I had to work much.
I gave my MPC60mk1 with all upgrades for it and sold it again for 950 EUROs.
I saw and felt that the SP 1200 is cool, but in that short time I didn´t figure out all the functions I needed to create a beat, especially the sequencer functions are quite different from the MPC.
Another thing are the buttons of the SP 1200: the type of buttons they used for building it is not a good choice, because they get worse during the years. I sold my SP 1200, because it already started to miss my button-presses and I didn´t want to see it die under my hands.
But I really believe that it can be the best tool for one to get inspiration and to be creative, it just wasn´t meant for me.
July 31, 2009 @ 2:54 pm
I have really fond memories of using this bit of kit, i think it is brilliant in all respects - Does anyone have an SP for sale - and how much do they go for now..

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User Rating

Rated 4.15 (448 Votes)

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  • 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 - 26.040 kHz, 12 bit sampling; 4 2.5 second blocks (10 seconds); 256 KB memory
  • Patterns - 100
  • Songs - 100
  • Keyboard - 8 Touch Pads
  • Memory - 32 patches
  • Control - MIDI, SMPTE
  • Date Produced - 1987 - 1998
  • Resources & Credits
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