KORG microSAMPLER as a sound design tool
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Posted 5/12/2010 1:40:25 PM

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KORG microSAMPLER as a sound design tool
By Drew Spence

Mastery of one's own music production is a lifelong journey filled with growth and experimentation. We expand our understanding of the creative process as we acquire new skills, perfect techniques and build the toolset that makes this all possible. There comes a point where we want more control over the finer points of our music. Our concern grows beyond pattern, pitch and performance to include the subtleties of shaping sounds. As so, we become Sound Designers who care about how our music sounds, as well as the sound of our music.

As we look at the KORG m.i.c.r.o.SAMPLES Vol. I Drum Package, we’ll explore some of the ideas and steps involved in its creation. If you ask any group of producers where to get drum sounds, you’ll get the usual answers of this company or that company or this person’s site. Eventually someone goes back to the source and says SAMPLE. Whether it’s sampling vinyl or your own drum set, the sampler remains one of the strongest tools for sound design and the
microSAMPLER is a very solid, fast, and affordable option.

Chopping Breaks
My old system involved recording the vinyl loop into my computer and using a second program to chop the samples into pieces and a third program to hold the samples for triggering back inside the first program. The microSAMPLER simplifies this by offering Key Gate mode sampling, which allows me to chop my loop at the initial capture point and split the individual elements along the keyboard. This leads to a consistent tone across all of the drum kit elements.

Layering Sounds
It’s no secret that layering sounds adds thickness or tonal variety, but the microSAMPLER’s key-based approach gives me greater flexibility than a groovebox or drum pad styled user interface. By having up to 36 elements at my finger tips, I can mix and match (and simultaneously trigger) a greater portion of my sound library. I used the MS-1 to combine several elements to make one composite hit, then re-sampled that and made the heaviest drum sounds.

Field Recorder
When I saw the microphone on the microSAMPLER, I actually thought to myself: "Field Recorder." The battery operation and small size makes it a perfect companion for capturing the rhythmic sounds and the interesting textures that are all around us. I’ve always been quick to slide a sound effect – or an audio bit with an interesting tone or a sharp attack – in behind a snare to give it weight or a more distinctive character.

Internal Effects
Lastly are the effects. I usually reach for plug-ins and effects when I feel that something is wrong or needs help. When the effect engine is part of the tool itself, it becomes part of the creative process. I didn’t need to fully explore the KAOSS styled effects of the microSAMPLER since this package IS for microSAMPLER owners, but I have been using the various internal effects for other packages.

The sampler remains a powerful tool for sound design and the microSAMPLER makes many of the key tasks quick and easy to accomplish. If you do not have sampling an as option in your production or you need a faster more intuitive sampling experience then the microSAMPLER is an option you should consider.

Head over to
ProducersEdgeMagazine.com to download the free content, and have fun!

Drew Spence is the Editor in Chief of Producer’s Edge; a digital magazine about the techniques, talent, and tools behind music production. www.ProducersEdgeMagazine.com

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