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Sampler Hardware for SFX

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by 2mojo2, Jun 10, 2009.

  1. 2mojo2

    2mojo2 Active Member

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    I would like to add a sampler to the high school theater system for playback of sound effects.
    I see a range of the hardware available on the used market, and I am uncertain about what models I should consider.
    I would appreciate some advice:
    -on minimum specifications
    -on models to avoid
    -on models that you have found satisfactory.
     
  2. gpforet

    gpforet Active Member

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    About 4 years ago I migrated from hardware sampling for sound effects to a software based solution and have never looked back.

    Using a laptop, Sound Cue System software, and a M-Audio firewire 410, I can trigger effects with hot-keys, have the software direct the sound to 1 or more of the M-Audio's 8 outputs, and place sound anywhere in room. This includes hiding a speaker in a sofa next to a phone and having the phone ring sound placed appropriately in the set. For a recent production, I spent the time to record over two hours of night sounds in the woods as well as record other show specific sound effects such as cars approaching and leaving on a gravel road, doors opening and closing, etc. Then, using Sound Cue System, I was able to have the night sounds playing continously in the background as one track, while still manually triggering cars approaching, doors opening, etc.

    I can't say enough about how this software has improved my ability to deliver effect sound design to a show.
     
  3. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    I'd second the computer playback option. My favorite combo is Qlab (only runs on mac) and an Echo Audiofire interface (pick the one with the number of outputs you need for your space, we have an Audiofire 12 in each venue here). SFX from Stage Research and Sound Cue System are both good options if you're looking for a PC based program. I should probably add that I'm normally a PC user - but the ease, power, and price of Qlab made me take that route. I still use a PC for everything else - but for show control, I use a mac. They have very powerful add-ons such as the pro audio, pro video, and pro midi that allow you to really take it to the next level, but only in the respects that you need to for your application.
     
  4. jonliles

    jonliles Active Member Fight Leukemia

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    Dude-
    What show was that?
    Jon
     
  5. gpforet

    gpforet Active Member

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    The night sounds and car/gravel/doors was part of Holloween Dreams. The phone/speaker hidden in sofa was for a show in Duluth.
     
  6. 2mojo2

    2mojo2 Active Member

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    The kind of functionality you describe is very attractive, but I don't think it is my best choice for a high school environment.

    As much as I trust my sound techs, I am not going to hand them a laptop of mine to be responsible for, neither do I really want to sign out one from the school.
    H*ll, I can't even get school administration to produce a set of keys for the console desk and rack cabinet. I have zero security for the gear in the house.

    I can buy a second hand Akai or Emu and mount it in the rack at Sound. The cost should be small enough that I don't have to battle for six months with Central Offices to get approval for the purchase.
     
  7. TheatreImage

    TheatreImage Member

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    The software will run on a desktop PC... You could get a rackmount PC and rackmount interface to solve the responsibility problem. A software solution is the way to go. They are designed to perform the best in theatre situations
     
  8. jkowtko

    jkowtko Active Member

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    I too use SCS on a Windows PC, and have never looked back :)

    However, if you must have a sampler box and don't want to use a PC program, I could recommend the boss SP-303 ... it's a pain in the neck to program the dinosaur flash cards they require, but it is relatively compact and has 8 big buttons that you can use to fire audio clips.

    However if you're going to spend more than $50 on a used one and you can swing the desktop PC option, I would recommend that instead. Fyi, for the community theater I help out we have two desktop PCs (which I purchased used for under $200 each), cpus mounted away in a "rack" enclosure, with 15" monitor, keyboard and mouse on the table. Every show gets it's own "limited" Windows account that can't do much more than run the SCS program, Goldwave, and load/update files for playback. I've installed M-Audio Delta interfaces, the Delta 44 which can be found used for under $100.

    -- john
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2009
  9. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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  10. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    It's also what many rap and hip-hop artists' DJs carry for their sound effects. Shotgun racking back, anyone?

    I've also seen a few established touring groups that do corporate gigs whose sound guy carries a 360 systems with preshow messages, intro music, etc. on it. Rock solid units, great if you can afford one.
     
  11. themuzicman

    themuzicman Well-Known Member

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    My current playback setup includes QLab for prerecorded, and already q'd things, and either a Korg NanoPad or a midi keyboard for live q's - you can program either to play custom sound fx through Logic/Garageband, or whatever control software you normally use. Off of the computer, I usually have a firewire sound card, so I can connect to multiple outputs.

    - plus, with the nanopad, you have the touch pad that you can do custom fx filtering through, among other things.
     
  12. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Anybody know what sort of old Mac Qlab will run on. Seems to me the schools' got to have an old mac hanging around that you could run an older version of Qlab on. That would be an outstanding and cheep solution.
     
  13. Clifford

    Clifford Active Member

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    I'll third the Instant Replay. We got one two year ago and we've never had a problem with it. Mapable hotkeys and easy recording make it really easy to use in production and during shows. Our first semester assistant sound tech can run it, which means anyone can.

    Spring for it if you can.

    -Clifford
     
  14. JoeGriffin

    JoeGriffin Member

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    I've done several shows at a local high school using SFX as the playback system, with a student operator, and it works really well. For live, quick Qs we mapped a second playlist in SFX to a MIDI keyboard and triggered them manually. Again, worked great.

    If I was equipping the theatre now I might go with QLab, but the school had an extra PC on hand we could use, so it made sense.
     
  15. 2mojo2

    2mojo2 Active Member

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    Maybe some future year I will have $2500 or so available to buy Instant Replay.

    For now, I am looking for basic functionality.
    I want to offer the student running effects finer control than what he currently gets from the CD player.
     
  16. spiwak2005

    spiwak2005 Member

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    There is a used Instant Replay on ebay currently at $500. Still a little expensive for your needs.

    What about minidisc?
     
  17. themuzicman

    themuzicman Well-Known Member

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    That's what we did in high school, got a few of the original iMacs (talking 10 year old machines) and threw qlab on there. - in fact, I am doing that right now for another project of mine.

    You can run qlab 1.0 on any Mac OS X computer, though I do recommend 10.2+
    You can run qlab 2.0 only on Mac OS X.5+
     
  18. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    If you have an old PC lurking about (and who doesn't?), try this:

    HarvestSounds - sound effects player

    It's free, and looks pretty capable, but I can't personally vouch for it. A buddy gave me the name.
     
  19. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    What CD player do they have?

    There is a huge difference between a basic playback deck and a proper DJ CD player.
     
  20. jkowtko

    jkowtko Active Member

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    Like I said before, if you really want a sampler, the SP-303 may be the cheapest thing you can find out there ($200 or less used) that has eight big buttons that can easily be pressed. Setup is a pain, but once it's set up, it's a no-brainer.

    However, at the level of quality you are handling sound effects and for a school where the kids are generally going to be PC-savvy, I strongly recommend finding an old P3/P4 Windows PC with a 1024 monitor and 512mb RAM, using the internal sound card even, and getting the cheapest copy of SCS (or equivalent) which will run you about 50 bucks. I'm sure someone at the school has an old machine to donate, the keyboard control of these sound cueing programs is light years better than a CD player and still gives you much, much more playback control than a sampler, and you'll introduce the students to a newer technology that is very expandable.
     

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