Has anyone ever made a true analog sampler? I was reading the recent posts under the Korg DSS-1 in which one user declared it to be analog and several others rightly explained it is hybrid at best. The DSS-1 stores samples (and modeled harmonics and hand-drawn wave forms) as PCM samples, which are digital, which makes the oscillators digital in nature. Every other sampler I look at, no matter how analog the signal path, digitizes the samples in a certain number of bits even if the waveforms are captured analogically. Is there any sampler that stores actual analog waves and plays them back directly as analog signals? The only one I can think of is the Mellotron, which uses the actual analog recordings stored on strips of magnetic tape. Is there any sampler that does this more conveniently in circuitry? Even an experimental one that never went into production? Has any sampler ever been based on wire recording? (The predecessor of magnetic tape.) I could imagine a device much like a piano with linear array of wires, but operating like the Mellotron with moving read/write heads, or perhaps the wires spooled endlessly on a drum. I'm rather surprised the Mellotron designers didn't go with this technology rather than the much more fragile magnetic tape. Tape recording is much higher density, at least with later technology, but wire is hardier and would last much longer under continuous use.
More central to the proposition, the only difference I can see between analog and digital is resolution. Digital recording has a set resolution, but so does analog. An analog recording on, say, vinyl, is limited by the material's ability to retain the shape of a sound wave. The resolution could be down to a few molecules, but really depends on the size of the tip of the needle that cuts the track, and the needle that follows the track to play it back. That is a limit that can be compared to digital resolution. Magnetic recording is limited to the fineness of the magnetic domains which depend on the size of the iron oxide crystals in the medium. The crystals are huge on a molecular scale, so magnetic recording may not be as fine as vinyl recording as far as waveform resolution is concerned. I just read that, very soon, hard drives will be able to store ten times their current linear density. I haven't run the numbers, yet, but this might approach the physical resolution of analog recording devices. I realize that a digital recording could be made at or near analog resolution, but the wave file would be enormous. Nearly the size of some hard drives. The proposed drives would be able to store that in the current fraction of the drive. So, does this mean that future samplers will be able to store digital samples that are indistinguishable from analog samples? Will CPUs and DSPs at that stage be able to handle that density of signal flow? What is the near future of samplers?
Addendum: 78 RPM records play back audio at about 43 inches per second. Wire plays back at 24 inches per second, so wire recording could be considered nearly twice the audible density of early vinyl. 33⅓ RPM records play back at about 20 inches per second, exceeding the audible density of wire. Highest quality magnetic tape recording is typically 30 inches per second, with consumer quality at 7½ inches per second. This does not take into consideration the audible quality of the various recordings, but it is doubtful that wire at standard speed could sound as good as reel to reel tape at high quality speed.
Later: I just had a thought, after randomly remembering that old ST:TNG episode with the Dyson sphere, in which Scotty saves his own life by storing himself in a transporter pattern buffer for eighty years by feeding the buffer back into itself in a continuous loop. I'm getting the inkling of an electronic circuit concept that involves capacitors and diodes to create a self-sustaining signal loop, much like booster technology in communication networks only in a discreet closed system. A circuit that analyzes the signal that it is passing through it in real time and replicates the signal to feed back into the start of the circuit, maintaining the signal indefinitely. With enough refinement, it could be the basis for a solid-state analog sampler.
Last edited by gridsleep
on Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Nymph, in thy orisons be all my synths remember'd.