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I am trying to get clarity on the correct way of sampling keyboard sounds. I have a E-MU e5000 ultra sampler that I'm using to sample keyboard sounds and save them for later use.

Currently, I play the middle c key on my vintage keyboard (e.g. Virus TI) and sample that into the e5000. My e5000 transposes the sound across the keyboard I have connected to it via midi, but the only accurate sounding key to me, after the resulting sample, is the middle c. The other keys sound like the semitones are too high or too low (not natural).

I'm wondering is the correct way to sample a keyboard patch is to sample several different octave keys (c1, c2, c3, etc.), or do I just endure the tiresome task of sampling every key? It would be nice to know how those that make sample CDs do it. Any direction will be helpful. Thanks in advance.

  • The Virus TI is considered vintage already? Wow, these are fast times... – leftaroundabout Aug 11 '15 at 11:44
  • @leftaroundabout Not the board itself, but the vintage analog sounds it produces. – suffa Aug 11 '15 at 17:04
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There is no simple one size fits all answer to your question. Keep in mind the Emu e5000 ultra is a 20 bit sampler that has a bit of "tone" to it's converters. It is NOT transparent sounding. Personally I like it's tone, but that may be what you're hearing... With that in mind here are some pointers to get you moving in the right direction. Use your ears because your mileage may vary....

  1. Sample in MONO. UNLESS the sound has an absolutely necessary stereo "thing" to it. You will find this will result 9 times out of 10 in a punchier more focused sound.

  2. Generally speaking we play within a 6 octave range so I suggest a minimum of 5 samples evenly spaced across the main octave range (excluding the bottom, and or top octave depending on your particular sounds sweetest playable range). Certain sounds will require more samples to sound their best, and some will live happily with 5, or 6 samples... In fact some may be fine with only 2.

  3. IF you have a mic preamp, and a DI box, try plugging your sample source into your DI box followed by your preamp and lastly into your emu e5000. Sometimes (not all) you will find an even more focused, and pleasing sound.

  4. The e5000 has the ability to import .wav files. You may want to use something like Skylife Samplerobot to do the heavy lifting, and just export to your emu. Especially if you have a decent sound card in your computer!

Sorry for the long answer. I hope this is helpful to all!

Eternal Love is a Music Producer, and Mix Engineer.
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  • The issue is not related to mono, stereo or preamp, since one sample is reported sound ok already: "the only accurate sounding key [..], after the resulting sample, is the middle c". Temporal aspects of the sound/sample gets twisted more and more the further away from the original sampled key with that brute force resampling approach (like adressed in the below answer) – Michael Hansen Buur Aug 13 '15 at 6:43
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The term you might be looking for is phrase sampling, which allow you to either sample unique samples for all individual keys, for a single octave (which then as a whole is sampled up/down like your single C key sample) or spreading each sample a few notes only.

Your sampler may have a keyzone range for each sample - you can reduce that to say a few notes and then sample again. That should minimize timing artifacts.

If you don't mind going soft Renoise may be an option (they key zone feature is described here). Hardware samplers that support zones are for example Akai MPC2500 and MPC5000.

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