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Following hot on the heels of Akai’s professional grade S900, the S1000 had a lot to live up to. The S900 had represented the middle ground between Ensoniq’s ultra-cheap Mirage and the higher end offerings from E-MU and others. It was easy to use, sounded good and sold by the truckload. However, it was possessed of one glaring limitation shared by virtually every other product on the market: it only supported monaural sampling. These days, we take stereo sampling for granted. However, in the late '80s, stereo samples were seen to hold little promise outside of using twice the memory and being at least twice as difficult to loop.
Nevertheless, the S1000 ushered in the era of stereo sampling and at a full CD-quality 16-bit depth and 44.1kHz sampling rate. You could access up to 32MB of sample RAM and perform all manner of sample editing acrobatics, including auto-looping, and even, after a bit, time-stretching.
The reserved paint job, generous backlit display, sharply-angled control panel and front-side XLR inputs made it clear that this was a professional machine from top to bottom. And at a time when sampler prices were becoming realistic, the S1000 hit the shelves at almost five grand. While this was considerably higher than, say, the latest Ensoniq offering, it was in keeping with contemporary products from Roland and Sequential.
It may have been pricey, but it sold even better than its predecessor, quickly becoming the industry’s standard workhorse. It was appreciated particularly by touring road crews, for whom its rugged build and ROM-based OS meant that it could be depended on night after night to make their jobs that much easier.
So ubiquitous was the S1000 that its file format became an industry standard as well. Even 20 years on, few developers would think of releasing a sampler that couldn’t tap into the vast existing library of S1000 sounds.
It isn’t flashy by today’s reckoning and it may not hold a candle to the latest software sampler, but chances are, if you bought an S1000 in the late '80s, it’s still on the job today.