So far 2018 seems to be the year of the sampler in Eurorack.
The latest from 4MS is a dual stereo sampler with a huge capacity, intuitive interface and high-quality sound. The module comes complete with a 16GB memory card packed full of samples from the likes of Moor Mother, Richard Devine and Baseck so you can start playing straightaway.
Two samples can be played separately in Mono from the L & R outputs if you need to process the sounds independently, or they can both be played simultaneously in Stereo (with individual level control). Sampling is straightforward - just select an empty Bank and Slot, connect the inputs and press record. The monitor mode lets you check the signal level before you start recording. The Sample Banks are arranged in the colours of the rainbow.
When you drag and drop samples from your computer the intelligent sample management system automatically loads them into Banks alphabetically. Up to 60 Banks can be loaded at any time. An html file in the SD cards root can be opened in a web browser and printed for a quick reference file list, with 600 samples available - a pretty handy feature.
We began by recording audio from a video clip on our mobile phone. Using the Gain function we increased the signal volume to Modular level; then, adjusting start point and length, we were quickly able to resave several vocal phrases to use in a house track. Gain, Loop and Trim point editing is not destructive; the info is stored in a separate control file, allowing you to return to your original sample at any point. However new edits must be saved before a power cycle.
Latency is important for sample playback, particularly for drums. The latest firmware gives a very respectable 0.7ms once the Bank is loaded into the ultra-fast RAM cache, so you’ll have no problems here. While the STS is designed as a traditional sampler in contrast to something like the Make Noise Morphagene, that’s not to stop you getting experimental with it.
Sections of samples can be looped with a crossfade to create drones or soundbeds, but the STS can also play sample fragments as short as 8ms, meaning it can be used for basic granular synthesis or granular scrubbing. With this technique you can create various effects including time-stretching and pitchshifting. If you load up a bank of single cycle waveforms the STS can even be used as a basic wavetable synth!
The dual nature of the STS lends itself to resampling. Using a contact mic we recorded a variety of sounds. Patching one channel’s output back to the second channel’s input we were able to re-record our manipulations of the original samples to create new material. When you start adding filters and effect modules into the audio path you can really go to town. The 4MS STS is a fantastic addition to any rack, giving access to a world of sound from outside the modular but also providing the opportunity to store your own synth patches as samples for later use or further experimentation.