Propellerheads, Sharooz, Akai S950s

Last week I went to the Propellerheads Producers’ Conference at Ministry of Sound. There were a few presentations by people like Sharooz and Freemasons, and some nice in depth discussions about the finer points of producing music using Reason and Record. One of the most interesting discussions was about using the SSL-style mixer for parallel processing of separate channels, so you can really boost and fatten up the sound of certain parts, with exactly the control you need, but without losing sight (or sound?!) of the original part.

One of the artists talking about how they use Reason and Record was Sharooz. I had a good chat with him, as he mentioned he was originally a hardware man, and had an Akai S950. As an S950 was my first ever sampler (costing a ridiculous £750 second hand, back in the mid 90s) I couldn’t resist having a bit of a geeky chat about a particular sound the S950 could produce. It had a very basic form of timestretch, which technically did enable you to stretch a sample while retaining the pitch, but the quality of the interpolation was so crap that any sample you did this too ended up being smothered in a metallic ring-modulation effect that you couldn’t get rid of. It meant that faithful sounding time stretched samples just didn’t work, but this was a mad effect that made drum loops really stick out, and if used in the right places, could get some excellent results. I’ve never been able to get this ring-mod sound anywhere else, and Sharooz told me that he’d also hunted it down as a plug-in or something, but no joy. The S950 is a 12 bit machine, but I didn’t know that the chip responsible for most of this metallic mungeing was an old Motorola chip that wasn’t used in other samplers, so it was a bit of a rarity. His advice was just to get an S950 off Ebay (for about £80!) and use it to sample stuff as and when you need the effect. Not sure I can justify the use of space for one effect, but it was great get his insight into this little historical oddity.

Check out Sharooz’s Myspace here

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