I need help selecting the right stand alone sample player for my band
July 14, 2014 11:03 AM   Subscribe

Hi, looking to add relatively long, mostly spoken-word samples to our bands' music. It needs to be a stand alone player--I want to not have to lug a laptop to wherever we play.

Our band is incorporating long, spoken-word samples from government films, nixon tapes, you name it. I am looking for a sample player that is stand-alone--I don't want to have to bring a laptop to performances. I'd like it to work with Ableton Live, but that isn't a requirement for me. The clips are long, some being a minute or so in length. I've looked at the Akai MPX8 and MPX16, but I worry that I won't be able to store a significant amount of samples, given their length.

Reviewing the possibilities on websites, it is difficult to tell which systems are stand alone and which require a laptop for performances. The manufacturers seem to be playing hide the ball.
posted by Ironmouth to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What do you mean about it working with Ableton Live? Because Live itself can play samples, if that's already incorporated into your band. But you said no laptops, so I'm a bit confused.
posted by Jairus at 11:17 AM on July 14, 2014

The standalone sampler is one of those bits of hardware that is just seriously underloved in hardware right now since so many people use computers to make music now. In addition playing back long samples has never been the strong suit of any sampler. The MPX8 and MPX16 but IMO they are extremely limited for the price and many people have complained about the slow load times when you're loading from the card, plus the MPX8 can only load a maximum of 30MB of samples (http://www.akaipro.com/kb/article/1513). You don't need a computer though.

The Octatrack is the best hardware sampler I know of, but it costs 5-10x more and if you're just playing things back you might as well just use a tape player. But it can play back very long samples without having to load them into memory. Plus it has great effects and really crazy sample manipulation possibilities.

It's also not really about weight is it, laptops now are significantly lighter than even a guitar pedal. They just don't look cool. An iPad would work too, I've seen more people using them and you don't have to have that glowing apple logo on stage with you.
posted by mike_bling at 11:26 AM on July 14, 2014

Response by poster: I just want a stand alone. I will need a computer to load the samples (hence the Ableton portion of the question). I don't want to have a laptop with me when we perform. If it loads Ableton samples in that format, fine, but the main thing is stand alone. The Push and other devices require that the laptop be hooked up to the trigger device to play the samples. I don't want that. I want it so I can load the samples from the computer to the device, then take the device, plug it in at the venue (or in practice) and let the sample rip whenever we feel like it.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:27 AM on July 14, 2014

Response by poster: I want a laptop free solution, flat out.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:27 AM on July 14, 2014

Best answer: I'd look at the Roland SPD-SX. You can load super long samples into it and make it part of your drum rig.
posted by Jairus at 11:47 AM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

We use the SPD-SX's forerunner, the SPD-S, for our band for precisely this purpose. The drummer can trigger the pads in time to the music (some are percussive) or I can use a footpedal to launch samples, vocal and noises when he's too busy.
posted by srednivashtar at 12:44 PM on July 14, 2014

Plus you can load samples onto the machine in straight up wav format and it takes SD cards. Or you can sample right there and then and just record directly into the Roland.
posted by srednivashtar at 2:02 PM on July 14, 2014

Seconding the Roland SPD series, or something from the Boss SP "Dr. Sample" line.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:29 PM on July 14, 2014

Seconding the Boss SP series.

The MPX8 is probably the cheapest option, but it's really not very good:

1) Maximum combined length of samples that can be loaded is 30MB -- ~3 minutes of 44.1kHz/16-bit stereo. That's total combined time of all 8 pads in a "bank." Also, all file sizes are rounded up to the nearest MB, so you could end up with a lot less time. You can stretch it by lowering the sampling rate or switching to mono.

2) Samples take a very long time to load when switching between banks.

3) You can't write to the sampler's SD card over USB. You have to remove the card from the sampler and use a separate card reader. Also, the sampler can only recognize up to 512 files in the root directory -- no organizing your samples in folders. And the filenames can only be 8 characters long.

4) I've never been able to get MIDI over USB to work reliably on a Mac. I've tried multiple Macs with multiple OS versions and three MPX8s, and none of them work. The regular MIDI jacks work fine.

But it's only $99 when every other option is $500+
posted by bradf at 9:05 AM on July 15, 2014

Response by poster: Update:

I just bought the SPD-SX off of craigslist at a fair discount. Thanks for all the help.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:29 AM on July 16, 2014

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