Many people might not realize that Akai has been around as an electric company since 1929, but they really started to get into the world of music sampling in 1986 when they released the S900, which is considered to be their first "professional digital sampler". The S900's 12 bit sampling and variable sampling rates up to 40K was state of the art in affordable samplers back in 1986. It was also one of the first rack mount samplers to include a built in 3.5 floppy drive and designed to compete with the EMU Emax, Ensoniq Mirage, Casio FZ1 and Sequential Prophet 2000 which were the other affordable samplers on the market at the time.
Editing via the S900's tiny display was always a challenge, but once you got the hang of how everything is set up there are lots of cool edit capabilities for truncating, tuning and even analog-like parameters to control. You can also get crossfade looping in Version 2.0 of the operating system. Most people use it these days for drum sounds due to the small amount of memory in RAM, but it can also be used for a wide variety of sounds as long as you keep the samples short. Our 93 disk library has a great selection of sounds on those old 3.5 "double sided/double density" floppy disks which are very hard to find these days.
The Akai S900 Rackmount Digital Sampler
The maximum is sampling time is 11.75 seconds at its highest sampling rate of 40kHz, or even more when lowering the sampling rate to 7.5kHz. Ram memory is 750KB and is not expandable. Options for the S900 included the IB-101 A/S HD interface, and Marion Systems' MS-9c which changed the S900 from 12-bit to 16-bits. The S-950 was Akai's follow up the S-900 and offered increased memory and sampling rates and features like the ability to time-stretch samples. Memory could be expanded from 750KB to 2.25MB with a host of third party expansion boards. The sample rate was now variable from 7.5 to 48kHz and it could hold up to 99 samples in memory.
If your just getting into digital samplers and on a budget, an S900 or S950 is worth looking into. You can probably pick one up for a couple of hundred US dollars on Ebay.
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