I recently wrote a post on another forum about using the Yamaha A-series samplers to emulate the sound of vintage digital samplers.
The 6 effects blocks (3 on A3K, A4K) allow for deep control and creative timbral options that go way beyond vintage AD/DA and linear interpolation in terms of emulating a vintage digital sampler.
Here is an example of this kind of processing:
- The first two fx blocks use the beatchanger. This effect changes the speed of sample playback without changing the pitch. I set them up in inverse relationship such that the first speeds playback up while the second slows playback down for a net zero speed effect. That said, there is an effect as it concerns sample quality, as it now has artifacts that reference the sound of add/drop algos and/or other primitive interpolations. I enhance this by setting one beatchanger to honor sustains, which causes blur and smear, and the other beatchanger to honor transients, which causes pitch hiccups.
- See #1.
- The next fx block is the techmod. This effect adds signal that sounds like ringmod according to Yamaha. I use it to simulate the effects of poor anti-alias filters in a vintage sampler. With careful adjustment of the parameters, the signal ends up with a certain amount of digi-hash and inharmonic partials.
- The next fx block is the loreso. According to Yamaha, this effect simulates a lowered resolution for the input signal. The "resolution" parameter controls a rough digital grain.
- The next fx block, atklofi, has a lo-fi character and emphasizes the attack of the signal. I use it to simulate the sound of vintage samplers that made use of delta-sigma encoding with preemphasis such that transient sounds like drums would lose their punch and get rough.
- The final fx block, lofi, is a feature-rich downsampler and bitcrusher with controls for sampling frequency, word length, output drive and clip, alias-generating filter and resonance, filter color, emphasis, and bit mangling.
Each of these fx blocks has mix control, and their parameters may be moduated in real-time via controller or internal step-sequence LFO. This serial chain can be reconfigured in other ways, e.g. dual parallel, multi-sum, etc.
With on-board samples the A5000 has 6 fx blocks to the A4K's/A3K's 3 fx blocks - nice indeed if you are an fx slut, or if you are using the sampler multi-timbrally or for drum duties (compression + dirt for 6x drum samples is sweet).
That said, if you use the sampler in live mode, that is, fx on the analog inputs, the A5K is the same as the A4K/A3K - you can only use 3 of the fx blocks.
Not so bad really - I use one of two serial chains to give the "vintage sampler" sound to live input from other synths:
-> beatchange (transients) -> beatchange (sustain) -> lofi ->
-> techmod -> loreso -> lofi ->
There are other algos that also give some nice modulated digital hash and dirt in the Yammy samplers that I did not cover here. I love my A5000 as an effects device as much as I do a sampler. It often gets used as a colored "preamp" for other synths.
I appreciate the sound of vintage samplers, no question. That said, feeding a modern sampler with "ahh" waves generated via vocal physical modelling and then processing as above is a fresh take on the classic Fairlight vox sound.