Akai’s First Samplers: The s900 and s950
The Akai s900 was revolutionary for it’s time. It came out in 1986. Akai didn’t have any reputation for professional samplers at the time.
This was their first sampler that got taken seriously. This beauty would hold samples on a floppy disk. For anyone that has experienced hard disks their whole life(such as myself), it would seem absurd that anyone would be excited about a disk that holds less than 1 megabyte. This didn’t limit producers though.The s900 could hold a sample that is 63 seconds long on 7.5kHz.
Believe it or not this sampler was ahead of it’s time. Some unique features of the s900 was the filter. It was not resonant, but could be controlled by an ADSR envelope.
This sampler had an LFO that could also control the filter. This sampler had plenty of basic features as well such as tuning, looping, and velocity crossfading.
There is a also a warp function(not to be confused with Ableton’s warp function). The s900’s warp function would modulate the pitch of a sample with an envelope. F
or outputs, the S900 has 8 outputs for each separate voice. The s900 also has normal left and right outputs and has a midi input and output.
The s950 shortly came out in 1988 after the success of the the s900. It still had 8 voices but featured upgraded memory and sample rate. The memory was drastically upgraded from 750KB to 2.25MB(more than double the s900!). Now you can hold 99 samples in memory. This inspired much more creativity with artists. Dr. Dre was known to have used the s950 in his early songs. Some other artists that used this sampler are DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Prince Paul, Fatboy Slim, Moby, Skinny Puppy, Depeche Mode, Future Sound of London, and The Bomb Squad.