WNAMM03: Akai go all soft (vid)

US Software version of Z8 sampler released      18/01/03

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Akai have had a difficult year with distributors in Europe filing for bankruptcy and the economic climate making life difficult for them. They have countered this by releasing the VZ8 software version of their popular Z8 hardware sampler.

According to Akai it offers the spec and performance of the hardware Z8 Performance Sampler as a VSTi (Windows) and an Audio Unit (Mac OSX). It’s capable of up to 24-bit/96kHz performance, 64 voices for each instance and 16 virtual audio outputs, the VZ8 can trigger samples from RAM or stream direct from disk.

We talked to Sean Weitzmann at the Akai stand and he gave us an overview of the product.

Warning: press release details follow…..

The sampling engine of the VZ8 is virtually identical to its hardware equivalent with over 30 filter types including 2, 4, and 6-pole lowpass plus various highpass, bandpass, notch reject, peak, phase shifting filters, a vowelizer and an assortment of combination filters. As on the original Z8, the special ‘triple’ filter mode is also available for the more adventurous to create their own outrageous and unique filter combinations.

The VZ8 also features the same comprehensive modulation matrix as its hardware brother that allows up to 35 control sources to be routed in completely variable amounts to over 50 targets. Furthermore, real-time performance control is possible through the use of the eight virtual Q-LINK controls.

Using the VZ8 within a VST or Audio Unit host is simple - just insert it into a track and immediately start dragging and dropping sounds onto it, layering up to 128 programs (instruments) across 16 MIDI channels.

Sounds can be loaded from your Mac/PC hard drive or using the ak.Sys Disk Browser, directly from Akai sound library CD-ROMs inserted in your Mac/PC’s CD-ROM drive.

Using the VZ8’s Q-EDIT function, access to quick and easy tweaking of any sound is just a button press away - for more in-depth editing, the VZ8 integrates seamlessly with Akai Professional’s award-winning ak.Sys software. This graphically rich user interface gives access to all the sampler’s parameters by way of an intuitive ‘knobby’ synth panel.

However, ak.Sys is much more than a simple editor - it is also a networking solution for users with multiple Akai samplers. The VZ8 can sit on this network alongside Akai Professional hardware samplers such as the Z4/8, S5/6000 and MPC4000. Furthermore, data can be transferred between these devices using simple drag-and-drop procedures. While offering considerable convenience in a studio environment, this means that work created on the VZ8 can be transferred to an Akai Professional hardware sampler for use live, a unique feature unprecedented in the world of software samplers.

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