Vintage Software That Gets the Job Done (Part 1)

US These oldies are still goldies!      23/06/24

Vintage Software That Gets the Job Done (Part 1)


Wintel is kind of a wild architecture compatibility wise, if you think about it. Whilst Apple tend to build one level of backwards compatibility into their operating systems; 68k apps ran on OS8.1, OS9 apps ran on OS10.4 and now Rosetta allows Intel apps to run on the M series - Windows looks backwards on a whole other level.

Some apps from 25 years ago will run just fine on a relatively modern Win10 system, opening them up to most sane people's workflows. I'm aware that not everyone has the same penchant for obsolete hardware as I do, but if you do have the odd piece of vintage gear, some of these programs have no real modern equivalent.

Before we begin, a disclaimer: Abandonware is kind of a shaky grey area when it comes to the law. Whilst some programs are freeware and others are truly abandoned, some authors might still generate income from their legacy applications. For this reason, no links will be given in this article - you'll have to go down your own rabbit hole!

1. WAV Akai 98

That splash screen is everything is it not? I assume the subject is this program's author, but it might be a rendering of some Akai God; worshiped by those who wish to keep their old samplers alive. Either way, it's a piece of VGA-mottled beauty.

Wav Akai 98 has a simple job; to load in some WAV files and dump them to your beige sampling sidekick via MIDI. You have a choice of sampler; maybe the S900 is your thing (this mode also works well with the S700) or perhaps a later model? (The S3000 is included!)

Great software, it just works.

2. Sample Wrench

Sample Wrench

Although my top 2 daily drivers are Cool Edit Pro (Audition before Adobe) & Audacity, Sample Wrench is a close 3rd! There's a pretty exhaustive range of effects - options include Chorus, Echo, EQ, FM/AM, Spectral Warping etc, but Wrench becomes indispensable if you happen to own a vintage sampler - it will dump WAV files to most of them!

  • SMDI (SCSI)
    • E-Mu ESI-32, E64K, etc.
    • Kurzweil K2000
    • Peavey DPM-SX series, DPM-SP series
    • Yamaha A3000
    • Ensoniq ASR-X with OS 2.5
  • SDS 12 Bit
    • Dynacord AD-1, AD-2, ADS, ADS-K
    • E-Mu EMax, SP-1200
    • Korg M1 and M3 (with Frontal Lobe), T1, T2 and T3 (with PCM card)
    • Oberheim DPX-1, Prommer
    • Sequential Circuits Prophet 2000/2002, VS, Studio 440
    • Simmons SDX
    • Yamaha TX 16W
  • SDS 16 Bit
    • Akai S-1000 series and later
    • AKG ADR 68K
    • E-Mu EMax II, Emulator III, and later
    • Forat F-16
    • Peavey DPM-SX series, DPM-SP series
    • Roland S-750, S-760, S-770, and later
    • Sequential Circuits Prophet 3000
  • Proprietary (MIDI non-SDS)
    • Akai S612
    • Ensoniq EPS, EPS+, ASR-10
    • Korg DSS-1, DSM-1
    • Sequential Circuits Prophet 2000 (custom)

I'd been happily using the Windows version of Wrench for about 2 years (with a Korg DSS1 & Ensoniq EPS16+) when I discovered this program's long history - It started on Amiga! Surprisingly, the Amiga version is pretty feature complete - differing only by a few effects & what samplers are supported.

Sample Wrench Amiga

What's more, it integrates with another piece of software called Studio 16 - this was part of an 8 channel 16-bit hard/software solution with built-in DSP. Essentially, quite a powerful setup for 1993! I need to experiment more, so far all I've done is made some BANGING Timpani sounds by cross-multiplying different drums and waveforms together.

3. Drumsynth 2.0

Drumsynth 2.0

If you like to create sample kits of quirky, synthesized percussion, then Drumsynth is one to try! It's not a real-time affair; you change the parameters, hit play and then the output is rendered and played back - it's pretty fast though.

A number of famous drum box presets are included (some are quite faithful, some are not!) but it's not just for drum sounds - the envelopes are incredibly complex, so weird evolving pads are possible. When using the program, the flexibility of Drumsynth's component parts soon becomes clear. There's a flexible noise source, overtone generators (with different waveforms & ring modulation), filtering and distortion - enough to take you far away from typical X0X sounds.

There's plenty more software that I'd like to cover in this series; please let us know what programs still get the job done in your studio. Thanks!

Posted by MagicalSynthAdventure an expert in synthesis technology from last Century and Amiga enthusiast.



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