The Sequential Circuits Studio 440 is a classic music production center from 1986 that combines the best features of drum machines and samplers, and has a crunchy 12-bit sound that people still respect:
If you combine a high quality digital sampler featuring individual outputs with a 50,000 note SMPTE/MIDI based sequencer, all you need to create a superior drum machine is velocity and pressure-sensitive pads. The 440 has eight, organizing its 32 sound samples into four kits and four banks over these eight sound pads. In addition, every sound has two sets of sound parameters that include sample play back direction, pitch-bend envelope, loop types, loop points, start point modulation, and the familiar VCA VCF controls.
The four programmable kits allow for infinite variations of the same sound by editing only the performance parameters. Performance parameters can be assigned to any pad and include sound number, pan, pitch, volume, and a choice of one of the two sound parameter sets. These performance parameters are easily edited in real-time, and settings for all eight pads can be stored and recalled instantaneously from any one of the kits. And since the alternate parameters can have individual start/end points for each sound, there are actually up to 64 “different sounds” available at one time.
Sequential’s factory library includes over 300 sounds, and is immediately available. In addition, any Prophet 2000 or 2002 sample can be loaded directly into the 440, so the actual number of sounds now available is too numerous to list. The STUDIO 440 is the ultimate drum machine.
The highlights of the Studio 440 are probably the analog lowpass filter and the 8 track sequencer, which can be used to drive external MIDI instruments. The biggest limitation, on the other hand, is the 440’s paltry 520kb of sample memory.
While these sold for 5K originally, they now sell for around $1,000.
- 8 track sequencer
- LCD display
- 8 sound pads
- Selectable sampling rates of up to 41.667 kHz
- Computer assisted looping functions (including cross-fade looping)
- Multiple sample locations for storing up to 32 different samples in memory at one time.
- True stereo outputs (2) plus separate audio outputs per voice (8) for individual processing of each.
- 32 levels of programmable panning per voice.
- Separate analog and digital controls per voice, including fully sweepable filters and VCAs for modifying any sample.
- 768K bytes on board memory with access to hard disks or CD-ROMs via the built-in Small Computer Systems Interface (SCSI).
- A 3 1/2 inch double sided disk drive
- Real-time sample monitoring.