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S6000 At a Glance
User rating: 4.3/5 | Read reviews (26)
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|Alex Daniels writes:
The S6000 and S5000 are really the same machine, except that the S6000 comes with all the extras added on at the factory. The motherboard used in both units are the same - (yeah, I looked). With a few exceptions: S6000 has a removable display and front and rear analog inputs. Also the S6000 is a 4U rack, where as the S5000 is 3U.
Here are the key areas where the S6000 separates itself from any other sampler on the market:
1) The removable front panel. Why didn't anyone think of this sooner? Does anyone enjoy having to do a contortion act to program their sampler? Or having to mount it at eye level? If you're a serious programmer, this feature sells the S6000 purely on it's own merits.
2) Large graphical LCD. At least 2x bigger than anything else. Sure you could use a software editor on your computer, but I prefer my PC for sequencing exclusively. Your mileage will vary with your prefered method of working. Akai do plan to update MESA to handle the new samplers later this year, btw.
3) Native Wav format for samples. Another 1st for Akai. No more annoying propriatary formats. Edit your samples on you PC using Soundforge or Wavelab. Or process them with DirectX plugins.
4) Fat32 native disk format. Making your own custom sample CD library has never been so easy - just use Easy CD Creator. Fix/diagnose your sampler's HD with Norton Utils...the advantages of using a non-propriatary disk format are too numerous to list.
5) Upgradable to 256mb of ram. If there's one lesson to be learnt, no amount of ram can be considered excessive. Remember when 32mb used to be far more than you thought you'd ever need, just a few years ago? I've crossed the 128mb threshold several times on some of my projects. I'm glad I have room to grow. For example: now I can audition 20 different sounds to hear how they fit in the mix, without having to stop and load each patch. Also, you've not heard amazing until you've played an 80mb stereo string orchestra patch. Add a piano and a few other multisampled instruments and you're over 128mb.
6) 26 different types of filter algorithms. Even more types than the E4X. And they sound amazing. The resonance sounds great. Finally, digital filters that match and I dare say beat EMU.
Those are 6 features that can't be beaten on any other sampler out on the market. The rest of the features and specs are in-line with other leading manufacturers too. 128 voices, significant FX procesing, 32 part multitimbral, Adat I/O option.
So after owning an S6000 for 7 months, what don't I like?
Only one complaint. Operating system bugs. Yes there were a lot back when it was released with v1.0. Since then the major problems have been ironed out. At the time of writing this, v1.11 is the current standard. It's perfectly usable. The only problem I've noticed is that it doesn't read multisession cdr's correctly. (It always reads the 1st session, instead of the last [most recent]. This was with a [MS] Joliet formatted cdr.. I assume ISO 9660 has similar results.) S1000 and S3000 series sample cd's read fine. This is pretty typical of the few bugs left in the OS, nothing critical, but just the odd oversight. Given Akai's track record of past, I'm inclined to give them the benfit of the doubt regarding fixes. The S1100 (my previous sampler) was rock solid, and the S3000 series had the same reputation. The S6000 has flash rom, so upgrading the OS is as simple as downloading it from their website onto a floppy and putting that floppy in your sampler, where it's permanently written into flash rom. - About as painless as it comes. OS updates have been very frequent btw.
Summary: The S6000 represents the first of the next generation of samplers. Non-propriatary disk and file formats, huge numbers of voices, memory and hardware resources. Increasing realtime DSP (filters) and better off-line algorithms (coherant stereo time-streching). Large graphical interfaces, and ergonimic considerations (removable front panel). In my opinion, that's enough ground-breaking features in one unit to qualify it as one generation ahead of anything Emu, Yamaha, Roland or Kurzweil offers.
The S3000 was a rehash of the S1000 series technology, just as the E4 ultra is a rehash of the E4x turbo. When the E5 comes out (no announcement has been made yet) it will no doubt equal the S6000 in some or all of these key advances. However, realistically you're looked at a minimum of an 18 month wait before everyone else catches up and implements all of the ideas presented here. (Removable front panel comes to mind.) In short Akai has pulled another S1000/S900. Something so advanced that it will be a good while before the others catch up. In the meantime, I'm going to make some great music with a very capable piece of hardware.
My S6000 configuration: V1.11 OS, 256mb ram, 128 voices, Adat lightpipe I/O (16 channels output to a motu 2408), EB20 4 channel FX board, external scsi-2 9 gig HD.
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Links for the Akai S6000
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