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Turtle Beach Sample Vision

Sample Editing Software
Published December 1995

PANICOS GEORGHIADES and GABRIEL JACOBS check out the long‑awaited upgrade of this popular and professional PC sample editor.

Turtle Beach's SampleVision was one of the very first sample editing programs for the PC, and it became something of a standard due to the absence of competition. Unfortunately, it hasn't seen any kind of update for a long time — until now.

Because of the large market created by the success of Windows, multimedia and cheap sound cards, Turtle Beach developed another program called Wave for Windows, an inexpensive sound editor which it later bundled with its sound cards. Wave for Windows is a comprehensive program which offers many editing features and probably the largest number of digital effects available in any PC digital audio editing program. However, it has two drawbacks — it can be slow, and it sometimes crashes during certain operations on large files. For about two years now, most Turtle Beach sound cards have included sampling facilities (as well as digital audio), so Wave for Windows was enhanced to include support for these — support such as downloading samples to sound cards and setting up loop points.

This new release of SampleVision is a marriage of the old SampleVision program and Wave for Windows. It includes all the features of Wave for Windows version 2, but is more stable. What's more, since the program is destined for handling samples (which eventually are loaded into a sampler's RAM) rather than disk‑based digital audio files (which are much larger in size), processing speed can be considered relatively fast.

What It Does

SampleVision isn't a front end for the sampling facilities found in specific samplers. With SampleVision you can record new samples, import them from existing disk files, or download them from a sampler and then edit them in your PC. Once they've been edited, they can then be uploaded back into the sampler. You can also use the program as a hard‑disk stereo digital audio editor, though don't expect any astonishing speed here. The program supports all sampler manufacturers — Akai, Roland, Ensoniq, and so on (see 'Samplers Supported' box).

SampleVision doesn't load a copy of its data into memory when you open a sound file — editing is done directly on the data stored on the hard disk, and it's (rightly) recommended that you make a backup copy before you start your editing session. The program can do this for you automatically if you check the Make Backup option in the File Open dialogue box. If you're editing a huge file, you can turn this feature off and perform operations on the original file; if you do this, you can still use the Undo feature (which also is switchable).

You can record, import or open a WAVe file, and as the program supports drag and drop, you can drop a dragged WAVe file into the currently selected sound file window and it will be opened. If you drop a WAVe file onto the SampleVision icon when in the Program Manager, the program will start with that file loaded into window number 1.

Recording And Playback

SampleVision's recording functions are accessed by clicking on the microphone icon located in the toolbar. A dialogue box appears, where you can set up various necessary options. Tape transport‑style controls are used, and you can start recording or playback at the beginning, or at the time shown on the time counter. In addition, there are buttons that allow you to instantly jump to the end of the recording, the beginning, or the beginning of a selected area.

You can record at non‑standard sampling rates, if your sound card supports them, and there are level meters which provide an animated display of the audio input, showing the instantaneous and peak input levels for each channel. (NB: Windows standard sampling rates are 11, 22 and 44kHz at 8 or 16 bits. SampleVision keeps a record of any errors occurring during the recording process — for example, if your hard disk can't keep up with the recording and it needs to be defragmented.

For both recording and playback, the program is extremely easy and intuitive in use, and has several little features that make life easier for you, such as a Dim button which allows you to quickly lower the output volume without having to switch to your sound card's mixer facility.


Where this program really earns its money, however, is in the wealth of editing features it provides. For a start, it can handle (edit) four samples (files) at any one time — in other words, you can have up to four edit windows open simultaneously.

Editing tools range from simple cutting and pasting of sections of sound, either within a single sound file or across files, through performing transformations on the sound, such as adding digital effects like reverb, chorus and delay, or changing pitch, amplitude, or duration, to drawing sound waveforms freehand using the mouse and the program's pencil tool.

The Edit menu provides the cut and paste operations, with options to insert, paste over, fill and mix. You can also mute, delete or trim a selected region, and you can mix a part, or all the contents, of up to three sound files. Then there's the Tools menu, with a four‑band parametric equalizer (18 presets, whose setting you can edit, as well as adding an unlimited number of your own); a three‑dimensional Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) analysis graph; fade in/out (with different curve options); crossfading; gain adjustment; muting; time reversal; amplitude inversion; time compression and expansion; pitch change; sample rate and channel conversion. There's also a selection of digital effects, such as flanging/chorus (24 presets), echo (26 presets), reverb (29 presets), and distortion (nine presets). All the parameters in these effects are editable, and you can save your own settings as new presets. The majority of the effects are genuinely usable, and some are even very imaginative. However, it's not all great — there are no stereo delays (only mono) and some of the reverb algorithms make the signal rather dirty.

The looping facilities are rather good — you can view beginning and end points simultaneously, and view down to single‑sample resolution. The program will search for zero points and good loop points.

When you're editing sections of sound, SampleVision can use the Windows Clipboard or its own clipboard, and you can switch between the two. This means, of course, that you can use two clipboards at the same time. But you can't copy data to or from another Windows sound editor program, even if you choose to use the Windows Clipboard. You can, however, copy data between SampleVision's four sound file edit windows which display both channels of the recording, though unfortunately (as with most budget Windows sound editors) you can't edit each channel individually.


On the whole, SampleVision is an excellent product that does the job it's intended to do. It has its faults, and some aspects of the program need to be improved, but you won't find many alternatives, and there are definite advantages to editing sound in the PC environment rather than in a sampler.

What are the advantages? To begin with, there are programs nowadays that will grab sound digitally off an audio CD through a PC CD‑ROM drive, thus giving you the cleanest possible samples. Storing and cataloguing sounds is also cheaper and easier with a PC hard disk, so even if you exclude SampleVision's editing features (which are close to excellent), simply having a program for downloading and uploading sounds from a PC to a sampler via SCSI is worth it.

Samplers Supported

(via MIDI Sample Dump)

Akai MPC60, MPC60 II, S2800, S3000, S3200, CD3000, SO1; Cheetah SX‑16; Emu EIII, Emax, Emax II, SP1200; Eventide H3000; Forat F16; Korg T1, T2, T3; Oberheim DPX1; Peavey DPM3/DPM3SE, DPM V3; Roland S750, S770; Sequential Prophet 3000; Yamaha TG500, SY85, SY99, TX16W, RM50.

(NOTE: MIDI Sample Dump uses MIDI communications and is slow at approximately 3Kb/second — it takes five minutes to transfer six seconds of CD‑quality digital audio.)

Akai S1000/S1100; Ensoniq EPS, EPS16, ASR10 via MIDI and SCSI; Akai S900/S950.

SMDI devices (Kurzweil K2000 series, Peavey SP).

Turtle Beach Maui, Tropez, Monterey and Rio.

System Requirements

PC 386+, 4Mb of free RAM, Windows, compatible sound card with MIDI interface and/or Adaptec ASPI SCSI interface, with EZ‑SCSI software for SCSI transfer to supported samplers.


  • Up to four samples open simultaneously.
  • Easier editing on a PC screen.
  • Waveform drawing facility.
  • Lots of digital effects.


  • Some functions are slow.
  • The sonic quality of some of the effects (reverb for example) could be better.


Surprisingly, with all this sampling going on, there's not much competition at the moment from any other company. If you do create and edit your own samples, SampleVision makes the job a great deal easier. Editing on a PC is faster and far more convenient than with a sampler, plus you get the advantage of storing samples on the PC hard disk.