History of the Sampler

History of the Sampler Part 4: The Best Modern Sampling Tools

History of the Sampler Part 4: The Best Modern Sampling Tools

In the last three blog posts we’ve looked at the evolution of samplers – from tape, to expensive dinosaurs, to little grey boxes, to no boxes at all (besides the computer of course).  Recently, while trolling vintage samplers on Ebay I noticed that the prices vary quite wildly.  The Emulator I and IIs can go for as little as a few hundred to as much as several thousand dollars.  There are legitimate reasons for this – its more expensive if a technology is no longer produced, some have modifications like card readers and bigger hard drives.  A vintage samplers will also fetch more if it comes with a significant library of disks.  

History of the Sampler Part 3: Sampling Comes to the Masses

History of the Sampler Part 3: Sampling Comes to the Masses

In the last 2 blog posts (Part 1 and Part 2) we looked at the history of sampling – from pre-digital manipulation of tape to expensive studio behemoths like the Synclavier and Fairlight.  That brings us up to the very early 1980s and a small company with big ambitions called E-mu Systems. 

History of the Sampler Part 2: Dawn of the Digital Age

History of the Sampler Part 2: Dawn of the Digital Age

In the last blog post of this series we looked at the analog pre-history of the samplers we know and love today.  The concept of a true digital sampler – something that could record, play and store sound while being manipulated like a synthesizer – only became practical in the late 1970s.  Even then, most mere mortals would have to wait until the mid-80s and the budget sampler boom to get their hands on one.  More on this to come in the next article.  Early digital sampling machines were dinosaurs by today’s standards – bulky, expensive and equipped with very limited memory which translated into very short sampling times.