What did the Sampler use to make music?
April 23, 2013 7:47 PM   Subscribe

A character in a recent movie records sounds with a mic into a single device made of a small keyboard with drum pads, then turns the sounds into music using this keys/pad instrument and some kind of mixing board, both lap sized. I can't seem to find any pictures online. Do these instruments exist?

I would like to sample live sounds, process the samples, create a loop by triggering the samples with the pads, then play a keyboard over it. I'd like for the sound to come out live from an amp like a guitar or bass. In the movie, the Sampler uses something that looks like a combination Korg NanoPad/Nanokeys, only those need a computer to work and I do not want to use computers for this. Perhaps the character's instrument was movie trickery, but if not I'd love to know about it. Thanks in advance.
posted by George Malloy to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
There are a ton of iphone apps that can accomplish all of that.
posted by empath at 7:48 PM on April 23, 2013

What you're talking about is a sampler. Roland and Akai make some nice ones.
posted by saltwater at 7:51 PM on April 23, 2013

The OP-1 or some of the Elektron line maybe?
posted by mkb at 8:21 PM on April 23, 2013

I haven't seen the movie, but a review of the Akai MPK mini claims it's the one used there.
posted by hades at 8:42 PM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I should add that the MPK mini is a controller only -- it would need to be connected to a sampler in order to make noise. Presumably the sampler is the "some kind of mixing board" mentioned. Maybe the MPC500? It looks kind of mixer-y.
posted by hades at 8:47 PM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Akai MPC. Definitely.

Also seen in Hustle and Flow.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:48 PM on April 23, 2013

It doesn't have pads, but a Korg MicroSampler Keyboard could do everything mentioned in your question.
posted by drezdn at 5:43 AM on April 24, 2013

I just saw the film I presume you're talking about and I recognized the "mixing board" as a Tascam Portastudio portable multitrack cassette recorder of some kind, quite probably a Porta 05. The keyboard was most likely indeed an Akai MPK mini. I'm not sure about the microphones.

I used to own a Porta 05, and there are only a few models with a knob layout like that, so I'm fairly confident that it's either that model or a closely related one. You could definitely record field sound with a Portastudio in real life; of course, it's a 1980s-era machine that takes cassette tapes, and nowadays you'd probably use something digital.

The keyboard wouldn't make a lot of sense in the real world, I don't think: as a MIDI "master keyboard" it doesn't produce sound per se as hades mentions, just signals to trigger other devices to produce or manipulate sound. Moreover, it only has an USB connector and an 80s analog device won't take that! You could conceivably put a synthesizer or a sampler module in between and record the output from that, but it would be unwieldy. At any rate I don't think such a device was shown in the film.

In short, it was movie trickery indeed. Digital field recorders are cheap nowadays: the Zoom H1 runs under 100 USD, and it has some more expensive cousins with richer feature sets, and Tascam and others make similar devices. Where you go from there depends on your definition of "computer", I guess: you could argue a digital field recorder or a MIDI master keyboard are computers themselves.

If the criterion is simply "without a PC, smartphone or tablet" there are digital, self-contained devices that may help you loop/manipulate your recorded sounds. But I have little experience with those and I'm rather out of the loop (sorry) on the state of the art. I know the Groovebox series of devices was popular a couple of years ago, maybe that could be a good place to start your search.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:28 AM on July 14, 2013

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