Modern Samplers that Sound Good

Hi All,

Maybe I am crazy, but I feel that modern samplers just don’t sound good.

I thought maybe it was just because they don’t have any character anymore because they are all high bit depth and sample rate, but even running stuff through my akai s6000 sounds a lot better.

So maybe it is companies not giving much thought to and just using cheap AD/DA converters or something? I mean listening to old Akais, SP1200, asr-10/X, old Roland’s and Emus, they all sound better than modern samplers.

I almost just rather sample into my daw using a good interface than use a modern sampler.

But the Isla s2400 taught me there are exceptions to this (it sounds amazing in either classic or 16 bit sampling). So I was wondering if there were any other exceptions you all know of. I would love to have more great sounding samplers without all the expense and hassle of dealing with vintage gear.


I remember when the MPC2000 and XL came out and many said that they sounded sterile compared to 60 and 3000. Same with the ASR-X when it came out and its sound was compared with earlier Ensoniq samplers. The same happened with the MPC1000. All of these devices are now heralded as classics. Give it time and the modern samplers of today will generally run through the same cycle.



Very subjective of course but it’s the other way around. Those old samplers often had lower quality bit depth etc. giving a distinct sound. Modern samplers mostly are quite neutral. Converters are definitely not the problem. Process your samplers before importing them in a way that you like and enjoy that particular sound that you like :wink:


Don’t the new mpcs have modelling plug ins to sound like older samplers?


Maschine has that as well. Sounds quite nice as well.


Octatrack sounds fucking killer. Nice, neutral sound.


Ooooh don’t start


I’ve never tried it but the SP-16 gets a lot of mentions, principally because of its analog filter.

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I think people tend to like samplers if they impart some kind of character on the sound. Technically this means the sound quality is bad, because they don’t reproduce the sound that was sampled very well. It does often sound very pleasant though.

Modern samplers usually sound very much like the source material, this can either be a good thing or kind of boring depending on your perspective. There’s always the option to sample something into an old sampler and then resample into the newer, cleaner one to make use of its more advanced workflow.

Btw: I also think the octa sounds great!


A sampler sounds as good as the tracks you make with it :stuck_out_tongue:


As already mentioned… Samplers like the SP1200 (I have an SP12) impart character on the sound. This is a destructive process as both the sample and bit rate change. The 2400 is a modern take on the the emu SP 1200 and 12.

There’s nothing wrong with having clean audio but it means using either hardware of software in the processing chain to recreate what you like about old samplers.

DT will also change the source audio as it converts files to mono and I think I read 16/48. Depending on the source audio file format this can also change the overall sound and in time, like others mentioned, will like become something sought after just like the Emu SPs.

Before I bought the DT I remember reading some comment that in many ways the DT would have been a killer machine, but in the 80s/90s. Of course it would have been but it’s still a great tool today and far easier to use.

With some of the early samplers that had, by modern standards, fairly limited sampling time, we used to sample vinyl pitched up to keep the sample size small. We’d then pitch it down in the sampler and this would generally give it a grit and warmth.

In a modern sampler, take a sample and pitch it up an octave or two and resample. Then play the new sample at a lower pitch and you’ll get an idea of what I mean. Different samplers use different algorithms so you’ll need to experiment to see which pitch adjustments work best for a given sample.



I’m a 100% biased because I love the SP-16 but it does some kind of magic even w the filter off. Whatever comes out of the master outputs (I don’t use the individual ones) just sounds polished.

That being said the OB6 filter overdrives quite nicely.


The always-on EQ boost that the DT does probably makes far more difference than any slight aliasing effect from converting to 48kHz, or summing to mono.

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I remember early sample cds where pad sounds were an octave up, and thus half the duration, because most samplers at the time had maybe 2mb ram. You then played them an octave down. Classics Detroit techno technique.


The point was more that it does change the source content. The OP seems to enjoy the characteristics of those machines that changed the content even more. It just throws everything back to a subjective “sounds good” vs understanding what’s actually happening.

Editing to add that I was not aware about the EQ boost. So thank you!

Yeah I love the classic sampler character, that said modern samplers can capture that to a degree from resampling off of old samplers. More recently I ended up going in on a little modular set up pretty much solely for the ALM Squid Salmple, that one really captures the classic akai s950/1000 vibe to me while at the same time I dont feel dragged back into the past workflow wise. It just feels right to me so far, never fighting with the sound and instead just enjoying it.

I think some other options might be the S2400, which I’ve never used but some seem to love it and then rossum has it reissue sp1200 and the assimi8tor in eurorack (its more hifi but it seems to have pretty fine control to build character).

Long story short I have no regrets dropping a fair chunk to build a system around a squid salmple, it just has that sound with out having to sacrifice too much to appease the workflow of an old rack unit.

I like to sample my Mirage into my Octatrack to warm it up a bit.

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It definitely adds a bit of character, more low end IIRC.

A lot of peeps also like DT with its emphasised mids/highs.

Personally I prefer to sample exactly what I heard going in, or as close to it as possible, as most modern samplers do. Character is easily added after sampling.

Character added during sampling is a flaw IMHO, and a bit harder to get rid of.


Volca S2 has charmz. I’ll get my coat.

But it is rather lo-fi in a satisfying way for occasional use