Akai x7000 noob question

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Akai x7000 noob question

Postby LucB » Fri Jul 03, 2009 4:01 pm

Hello all,

Some of the content i'd like this post to generate would belong in buyer's guide, some in general synthesizers, so i'll try here and see how it goes.

The situation: I have access to an Akai X7000 for next to nothing (100$ CAN with hardcase) but i know nothing about sampler keyboards, i've tried to document this a little but really don't understand clearly the possibilities such a device offers. Can i make it sound like a microKorg? Just kidding, in fact i want it to produce the usual suspects: mellotrons,wurlys,organs, strings, you know.

So? How do i put sounds in this? If you look the 'why buy hardware thread' i just posted my reasons for using hardware so that will give you an idea of my personal taste. I play in a band in the line of Neurosis, Isis, and Red Sparowes, so i need it to sound as thick and warm as possible.

I could also get an Ensoniq ESQ-1 for 200$ CAN but i just don't know how they sound.

All contributions and advice are welcome!
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Re: Akai x7000 noob question

Postby nuromantix » Fri Jul 03, 2009 4:12 pm

For organs and strings, the ESQ1 is excellent, and there are some decent choir sounds possible although not really like a mellotron.

The X7000 you would have to make your own samples unless the one you're buying comes with a library. Even then I wouldn't expect it to be great for what you want. It's a fun retro sampler but doesn't seem right for you. Playing in a band, you would be messing about with floppy disks between songs, the memory is very small, only one sound on each side of a diskette.....

Get the ESQ1 instead.
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Re: Akai x7000 noob question

Postby LucB » Fri Jul 03, 2009 5:30 pm

Thanks for the advice.

I was told the ESQ1 was able to make some sounds i am looking for, but i still like very much the idea of just cramming exactly what you want into the x7000. Changing diskettes between songs wouldn't be so hard either. What is the transfer process for orginal sample to diskette? Do i have to create one sample per note and individually put them? I need to know more about the format i need to make my sample in.
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Re: Akai x7000 noob question

Postby nuromantix » Fri Jul 03, 2009 5:41 pm

This is an old machine. It has only memory for 6 samples so there's no way you can have one sample per note, maybe one sample per octave. If you get an expanded model, it can hold 16 samples.
The only way to put sounds in there is to play them from the source into the input and record. It doesn't have SCSI or anything like that to tranfer files.
Then you can save your samples on to 2.8" quick disks, but you will be very lucky to find any because it's a completely obsolete format.
Also, not much in the way of editing, LFOs or envelopes on the Akai so you're stuck with very static sample playback, no variation.
Really, get the Ensoniq and load in the patches you want.
I have a bank of 10 string sounds on mine and another bank of 10 organ sounds. The organs are among the best I've heard on any synth.
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Re: Akai x7000 noob question

Postby gmeredith » Wed Jul 08, 2009 1:07 am

I have the rack mount version of the X7000 - the S700. I recommend not getting the X7000, especially for $100 - that's way too much because the first thing you're going to have to replace is the 2.8" Quick Disk floppy drive unit - they all die. If you insist on getting it, make sure the drive works and loads sounds before buying it. But it WILL die on you. And it will be impossible to replace.

Get the ESQ-1 and then buy an Akai s900/950 rackmount sampler or whatever for $50 - they have a standard 3.5" floppy drive and far more memory and samples. You'll have the best of both worlds then, and have 2 very useful instruments. The ESQ-1 has a superb sequencer in it also, so you can use it to write your songs, not just play sounds and the Akai samples.

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Re: Akai x7000 noob question

Postby piRoN » Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:06 am

But it WILL die on you. And it will be impossible to replace.

Not to repair though. I've repaired a few QD drives before, it's the drive belt that goes on them (FD drives by comparison have the spindle driven directly from the motor).

The disks themselves, however, do die. Irreparably.

While my love for the X7000 is well known, I have to agree it'd be a terrible choice for what the OP wants though. Six memory slots, no envelopes, an unsupported proprietary midi sample transfer protocol, and two samples per liable-to-die-at-any-moment disks. A great "special sauce" for the studio, but not a workhorse.
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Re: Akai x7000 noob question

Postby madtheory » Wed Jul 08, 2009 9:07 am

IF the OP wants a cheap sampler, the Yamaha TX16W with Typhoon OS would be about the cheapest workhorse machine, especially if you have a PC with a floppy drive.

Lots of programming to do though. Maybe an Emu ESI or an Akai S1000 would be better value.
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Re: Akai x7000 noob question

Postby Yoozer » Wed Jul 08, 2009 10:03 am

LucB wrote:Can i make it sound like a microKorg?

Yes, except for oscillator sync.

Just kidding, in fact i want it to produce the usual suspects: mellotrons,wurlys,organs, strings, you know.

An E-mu Vintage Keys rack would do that job pretty well too, as would a JV1080 with the Keys of the 60s/70s expansion. The fewer kilobytes of memory you have, the more your samples will sound static and restricted because the rest is looped after the initial attack.

So? How do i put sounds in this?

A sampler is nothing without the storage medium. You've got floppies?

so i need it to sound as thick and warm as possible.

Don't bother; put any kind of tube warming device behind it. Older samplers do not magically make things sound warmer.
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Re: Akai x7000 noob question

Postby madtheory » Wed Jul 08, 2009 11:03 am

Yoozer wrote:Older samplers do not magically make things sound warmer.

No, but all the Emu samplers do :)
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Re: Akai x7000 noob question

Postby Yoozer » Wed Jul 08, 2009 1:00 pm

I've got an ESI4000 which has a CD with Vintage-Key ish patches - and you're right in that sense - it beefs up the sound in a certain way when you sample stuff in there (whether that's called warmer is debatable, aforementioned tube box should be able to do something similar). Filters aren't bad either. Akai isn't known for warm filters, though.

Plus, the machine's cheap - but it's not a keyboard, and the Vintage Keys I used to have is a lot less hassle (no load times, no SCSI chain, not as heavy).
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Re: Akai x7000 noob question

Postby LucB » Wed Jul 08, 2009 5:00 pm

Thanks for the input guys, but i'm still a little confused about all of this.

I'm not going to get the x7000 because i've had my share of synth issues and don't feel like adding to my troubles with a new unit bound to have a major failure.

I'm going to specify my needs/taste in samplers:

1) NO RACK: i just don't want the hassle of mapping and programming via a controller, i know it sounds weak and lazy on my part but i need things to be as hands-on as possible. So a sampler with keyboard will give me just one unit to deal with, less connections, and all controls related to the sound production at the tip of my fingers.

2) SOMEWHAT RELIABLE: i can't afford a high-end machine but i don't want something that will fail on me. I will most probably have 10-20 sounds at best, all related to the usual suspects mentionned earlier, and won't edit the sounds once they're in, they'll just emulate other keyboards i don't feel like having piece by piece (like a live rig consisting of a SK-20 for organ/strings, a wurly, a mellotron, etc.) All processing once i have this will be done via external effects (enveloppes, distortion, delay, leslie sim, etc.).

3) I need it to be simple to operate.

Thanks again, i really appreciate it.
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Re: Akai x7000 noob question

Postby Z » Wed Jul 08, 2009 6:38 pm

Find out if the X7000 has the memory upgrade. One of my buddies had a X7000 with mem upgrade back in the early 90's. The upgrade would allow up to 16 samples instead of 6 and, I think, would keep the samples in flash RAM even when powered off. I remember seeing adverts for the upgrade in Keyboard magazine back in the late 80's. I'll see if I can dig it up so you can find out the model of the upgrade.

I don't have any experience with these, but it sounds like an Emu EMAX might fit your needs. At least you can use more common 3.5" floppies instead of the more uncommon 2.8" Quick Disks.
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Re: Akai x7000 noob question

Postby gmeredith » Thu Jul 09, 2009 12:26 am

Find out if the X7000 has the memory upgrade


My S700 has the memory upgrade board. And while it really makes the s700/X7000 a really useful sampler, you have to change the memory battery once a year, or you lose the samples. So if your 2.8" quick disk drive has died, you have no way of backing up your samples when you need to change your batteries, and so you'll lose your samples in the process.

Maybe an EPS16+ sampler keyboard would be ideal for you:

http://www.vintagesynth.com/ensoniq/ens_eps16.php

Other than being a sampler, it has a similar way of working to the ESQ synth. It also has an inbuilt 8 track sequencer, like the ESQ. You can also get a flash RAM expansion card for the EPS16+ where the samples are retained when powered off:
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