This is my first review about hardware gear and here we are with the amazing and powerful EMU SP 1200, one of the most famous samplers in the history with a unique and characteristic sound. This machine is very popular for all kind of artists but mainly in the R&B scene for that groove and punch.

From the beginning, you will appreciate its highly colorful sound. Unlike MPC samplers, you don’t have a display for seeing the wave, so you will have to do everything intuitively.

Is that a problem? No way. :)

To understand me better, I have to say that everything is on the front panel, so if you want to modify the volume, decay or whatever, no problem. Its architecture has been developed to make that and other things very quickly, to avoid losing the workflow.

One interesting point is its independent outs with different analog filters. That’s really cool because you can experience with any sample getting results you weren’t expecting.

It stores samples in 26.040 kHz and 12-Bit resolution, so you instantly appreciate this 12-Bit when you reduce the pitch because it makes a cute ring modulation in a natural way. An important thing is that you can store  at maximum 10 sec. of samples. So, if you are thinking to purchase one, take this into consideration.

 

There are different SP1200 models, being the reissue  the best option because this version solves the power supply and condenser problems of the earlier models.

Over time, the floppy disc might start to fail, so I would recommend considering replace it for a floppy emulator. There are different interesting models, but I highly recommend the Lotharek Rev F SD because it works perfectly, and it’s very easy to install.

 

Recently, a guy from Norway has made an interesting gadget for this sampler that I strongly recommend.

This device, connected to the SP1200 and your midi keyboard, hardware sequencer or whatever you want to connect offers new possibilities to your sampler, like controlling  sample length and pitch (until 4 octaves), sequence other hardware with the EMU sequencer, etc.

Its sound fits perfectly in all kind of genres, so you will hear it in a lot of artists of Pop, Hip-Hop, R&B, Techno, Disco, IDM, Breakbeat, Jungle, House music and others.

By the way, exists a book dedicated to the SP called SP-1200: The Art And The Science. It’s very complicated to find one but if you are a big fan of it, try to get one!

 

Tricks:

  • The individual outs 1,2,3,4,5 have different analog filters, but if you want to deactivate one of them is really easy. connect the cable of this audio channel but not totally.
  • If you want to get a perfect groove, a lot of people make a track with the double of BPM. (For example 180 BPM instead of 90).
  • Chopping on the SP is a bit different than in other samplers but very easy.
  • When you sample from vinyl, if you want to use the pitch with that sample, make sure the tonality is correct, a good trick is to use a tuner in your mixer and check it out after recording.

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