25 thoughts on “Hardware Samplers With Junkie XL

  1. I get that the sample rate, bit depth, and DAC give them a different sound, but is there something else different from software? What is this bit shift he speaks of?

    1. The only other difference is the interpolation method. The most CPU efficient method is Linear interpolation which sounds gritty when played lower.

  2. Conclusion:
    Roland samplers are better the Fairligh, Kurzweil sucks but is cheap, Roland are great, Synclavier was a sampler (no it wasn’t it is a FM synth, that at a later stage was added a sample option.),Roland are great and there was a company named Emulator that made the Emulator II -I tought the E-mu made the Emulator II-
    34 minutes wasted!

  3. I love the way he says y’MAH’hah

    He states that Kurzweils are “not really fantastic,” using the K2000R and K2500R as examples. Obviously, he’s entitled to his opinion, and those units do have some well-known limitations (as do ALL hardware samplers). However, given what he is comparing them to, it is worth mentioning that the K2000 and its successors are extraordinarily powerful and flexible samplers. KDFX the tightly integrated effects processor, which was available for K2500 and K26xx machines, is in some ways comparable to the Ensoniq DP4, in that it is “exotic” (to use his term)– is a brilliant and wonderfully powerful effects processor.

    I’ve used a few of those other samplers, and Kurzweil doesn’t take a back-seat to any of them. We can argue about things like envelope speeds, polyphony, and RAM– in terms of other options, but for overall power, sound, options & workflow, don’t take his word for it. I’m currently doing a lot of heavy sound designing for my K2661 and it is still CRUSHING IT.

    1. I dunno, I didnt take away that he thought they were “bad” units. He did say they were fairly recent acquisitions and he did say that he was using them. I think what he was really trying to say with all that was that he didnt think they were worth the heavy price tag that was associated with them when they were new, which, is a very valid point. I remember paying $2000 new for my K2KR-VP in like 1999 and that was considered the “budget” kurzweil at the time. it was still an amazingly powerful unit but man was it expensive.

  4. name one hardware synth to this date that even touches the K series or their offspring for sound design. what you can do to samples within its VAST or with realtime input in Live Mode processing is incredible. the only thing antiquainted about it is the display.

    1. Not to mention the way the K2xxx series deals with mod sources & destinations, their best-in-class built in sequencer (with its ARRANGE mode), and, and for its time a very respectable sample ROM collection. Yes, other samplers have had various combinations of competing features, but the K2000 series really pushed the envelope by doing ALMOST everything exceedingly well– especially in comparison to the others in his faves list.

      1. Yep…the modulation routing is vast in itself. The navigation is intuitive as well. I wish the Forte had a 61 key version…I need to get that SCSI to SD card reader for my 2500 (via Chicken Systems) I’m scared that one of these days that Zip disk is gonna crap out

        1. Yeah, I’d be out of that Zip drive as soon as possible. I was a sysadmin for a publishing company that used them extensively in the ’90s. Almost every Zip drive we had failed at some point. Some of them would fail and then ruin any future disks put into them. A combination of poor engineering and manufacturing. Lots of headaches, stress, and lost data but there weren’t many alternatives to move 100MB+ easily at the time. I wouldn’t risk any data I care about on them with what’s available today.


        2. I’d recommend looking for a combination of some kind of scsi card reader, USB card reader, and cards themselves. Make sure whatever card type you choose is readily available. The size limit is 4GB because the K2500 won’t be able to use more than that. Look for a USB reader of that same card type that is compatible with your computer. Make sure it will work/mount with a FAT16 or FAT32 (whatever the Kurzweil formats as?).

          I have a compact flash scsi drive and a USB CF card reader which enables me to move files to/from my computer.

          There are more complicated ways to make this happen. There’s a scsi to micro-SD board that you can install in your K2500– but make sure you confirm that it works and is not too difficult to install yourself. I got one of those cards, but never got around to installing it. I may do it one day.

          BTW, I found about about an app called Blue Harvest which removes the invisible files that Mac OS adds to the cards when I mount them on my MBP. That’s been helpful.

  5. Another VAST fan here. I’ll assume that he’s added the K200 for completism (and because it’s amazing to buy things you used to dream of) and since he has so much hardware, he’s not actually dug into the possibilities. Or he looked for parallels to gear he’s more familiar with and didn’t find them.

    It’s a very capable sampler with an-in-many-was-yet-unmatched synthesizer on top of it. And, considering his gear budget, he prolly shoulda sprung for a 2500 and it’s, er, vastly improved FX engine.

  6. In technical terms Tom may not always be correct, but i share his enthusiasm.
    The ASR-10 was the most brilliant sampler? Absolutely correct!
    Kurzweil is “ok” but far less intuitive. Akai S-Series is a menu diver and old Emus are way too limited and overrated. The ladder E4 Series was lacking briliance and sounds muddy as hell. Maybe i’ll try a EIIIxp which is probably the best EMU ever.
    1st: ASR-10 the most flexible, musical and intuitive one
    2nd: AKAI S-Series for studio-standard (clean sound!) and the most wonderful reverb;)
    3rd: Kurzweil for synthesis
    4th: EMU for packing lots of Ram and voices
    5th: Yamaha for slicing samples very fast over the keyrange

    1. Back in the day, I had an EPS and then a EPS16+ (which I think are somewhat related to the ASR-10). Though they were both very unreliable & crashy, I thought they were clever machines, musical and fun to use. Flexible to edit and they even had Poly AT. The pitch map thing was a delight. But limited. What was it 4 MB of sample RAM?

      I think you have to give it to Kurzweil for flexibility –moreso than the ASR-10, though I get why people love that rig.

  7. Really, you guys are far to negative towards Junkie XL! I haven’t seen any other that movie soundtrack producer that opens up so honestly about his work flow. I don’t think his videos are meant to give any objective gear comparisons. He mainly gives his own opinion about the gear he uses.

    I know it’s a bit off-topic, but do check out his video of how he composed string themes for Mad Max (S01E03): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkNeXS0Lmxc

    1. I didn’t say anything negative about Junkie XL. Disagreement isn’t negative.

      I said he’s entitled to his opinions, and it he seems experienced enough to have a basis for them. Furthermore, if I took people into my studio, and talked about my gear, it would be astonishing if I didn’t say something that someone else disagreed with.

      I was compelled to make a case for the K2000/K2500 (and especially the K26xx) instruments because, even though Junkie XL never “saw the light”, they are beasts; and their power is unprecedented.

      I’m sure he’s a wonderful guy, a good musician and he knows his $#!+. He just can’t be expected to know everything about everything.

  8. The ASR-10: I remember being 16/17 years old and driving half an hour to go look at one in the attic of a house turned to music instrument store. I didn’t know what the hell was going on but I knew I wanted to get into keyboards (synths). I got the product literature and drooled over it back at home and at school with my “bandmate” (we didn’t even have a band in any sense of the word). I knew NOTHING of this realm called synthesis…it was magic! I ended up getting the Korg 01/Wfd at Guitar Center after wanting the K2000 and rightfully being told by the music store guy that I’d be WAY over my head…(I wanted the K2000 after hearing the factory “On the Run” Pink Floyd demo…go figure). Years past and it was time to upgrade. I had the Korg Trinity in my sights and it just so happened that Keyboard magazine had that review of both Korg Trinity and the Kurz K2500…that issue swayed my decision. That K2500 manual was AMAZING…so massisve that it was spiral bound…I seem to recall it had a supplemental manual too. That manual taught me pretty much everything although FUNs have, to this day, been a mystery that I don’t feel to have mastered by a long shot. I remember buying the 32mb of sample Ram (pair of SIMMs or DIMMs I can’t remember)…WOW.
    The major crappy thing about it was, and still to this day, a bad production run model I must have gotten. The buttons (membrane under the buttons???) have been totally screwy. I have had it serviced twice, under super long wait times, to ultimately no avail. The first time around with repairs took so long that I complained to Kurzweil of America and the VP at the time (late 90’s) personally sent me a care package with all this cool stuff on floppy disks: the farm collection and other stuff.
    Like I said, the buttons are still crappy, the side cap is cracked off (my bad), and the internal battery is gonna go soon. It is still the revered centerpiece of the studio although other pieces of gear get far more use these days.
    I should have gotten the KDFX because the onboard fx suck major ass in the routing flexibility department. At the time the KDFX were talked about and talked about…it was almost like vaporware (like Korg’s OaSYS before even the intial soundcard offering)…so I never got it. It would have cost me the $695 for the hardware and then however much else for the offsite install…nothing at the time with Kurzweil had user installable anything.

  9. I love all the vids from Tom!
    And proud this Dutchie has reached the top!
    Just listen and watch…….great to hear all these machines together with Tom’s opinion.
    Looks like a really nice guy, don’t mind to drink a beer with him while jamming in his studio

  10. So much talk about old school samplers and he didn’t mention looping even once! With the limited memory in these old beasts, we had to spend absurd amounts of time setting up good loops using their tiny buttons and displays. This is where the Roland samplers were really cool with that GUI on an external monitor.

    Tom is incorrect when he says that each voice of the Rolands have individually clocked oscillators to vary the sample rate. The Rolands (and many other second-generation samplers) used an interpolation method to vary the pitch of the notes while keeping the actual sample rate constant.

    His collection is awesome, but if I was him I would lose the Yamaha units and pick up a Sequential Prophet 2000 and a Korg DSS-1. I say this because he seems to be all about sonic character, and those two 12-bit samplers deliver character in spades (while the Yamahas tend to sound pretty sterile).

    I’m still not really sure who Tom is reaching out to in these videos. There’s not a lot of useful information or practical demos, but somehow I can’t help but watch (and maybe nitpick a bit)

  11. Man that’s a nice mini music tech museum right there. It makes you think for a moment how much trouble modern technology saves musicians that are on the road often.

  12. He is incredibly accomplished, surprised that he spews such technobabble sometimes.

    It just goes to know that it is more about what you do than what you know. He is making incredible sound tracks.

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