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Sampleheads: Dave Samuels Marimba & Vibes

Sample CD Buyer's Guide By Dave Stewart
Published January 2000

Rating: ***** 5/6 Stars

Mba: f <3>, mp (bottom two octaves only), stc, tr <3>.

Vib: ff, mf, stc <2>, 16 assorted short phrases.

Comments: A disc dedicated solely to these important 20th century instruments illustrates the increased specialisation of sample CDs. Featured here are a 5‑octave rosewood marimba and 3‑octave vibraphone, both made by Yamaha. Timbral variations are achieved mainly through the use of different mallets, as opposed to weight of stroke. The variety of sounds is greater than on other orchestral titles, but the selection of vibraphone 'licks' is quite limited (no problem — just play your own!). The vibes' characteristic vibrato sound has not been recorded (at the behest of Samuels himself, who doesn't use it), but the effect may be convincingly added by modulating the program's amplitude (not pitch) with an LFO.

Standouts: The reproduction of the vibes 'straight' sound is faultless, and the marimba is very playable. All workstations attempt approximate (usually tinny) versions of these instruments, but these samples are a lot more satisfying to the ear, and thus compositionally inspiring.

Quibbles: The amount of room ambience in some marimba samples is inconsistent — for example, the extreme high and low notes of the 'M MED F' program sound very distant, whereas the middle register appears to be more closely miked.

Contact: Sampleheads.

£ Akai S1000 & S3000/Roland/Emu E4/Nemysys Gigasampler/Samplecell Mac CD‑ROMs $149.95; Audio CD (or CD‑ROM with WAV files) $99.95.