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What is a sampler?

What is a sampler?

A sampler is a device that can take any sound that is put into it, "sample" it, process it, and play it back. Whether it be a short vocal clip from President Kennedy's inaugural address, or a multilayered synthesizer sample that is processed to do crazy things, samplers give you considerable freedom to make any sound you want.

The downside? Samplers are expensive, and more difficult to program than other categories. Samplers also have the most storage consideration, and often come with the ability to add internal hard drives, or connect to external storage devices via SCSI. Another downside is that they lose the contents of their memory when turned off, just like a computer, and you must reload the samples from a floppy disk or hard drive to begin using the sounds again. Still, they are a worthy piece in a synthesizer arsenal.

Nowadays, samplers are available that make use of your computer to generate sounds. On the shareware market, there are a few programs (like Simple Sampler and Mellosoftron) that allow you to trigger WAV files easily with MIDI, and play it back through your sound card. On the professional level, there are program/hardware packages that allow you to do sampling (at a professional price) with your personal computer, with much of the processing a hardware sampler has.

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