Monday, January 14, 2013

Doepfer Sound Sampler (1984)

Doepfer 8-bit Sound Sampler
On a random search on the internet for rare Doepfer products i came across this module in an old Matrixsynth post:
This Doepfer Sound Sampler module (8 bit voltage controlled sampler with interface and sampling software for Commodore 64) was made by Doepfer in 1984.

Sound Sampler book 
by Dieter Doepfer and 
Cristian Assall
The Doepfer CV/Gate controlled modular Sound Sampler system was available as a kit between 1984 and 1990.
The complete system was also described in detail in the book written by Dieter Doepfer and Cristian Assall called "Sound Sampler" (published by Elektor ISBN 3-921608-44-9) in 1988.
This book was dedicated to building an 8-bit modular sampler that could be edited with a Commodore 64 home-computer.
All schematics are in the book, with all PCB designs and front-panels for all modules: input, memory/sampling card (with CV/Gate), loopcard, C-64 interface and compressor/expander.

Picture via Gearslutz
Every sampler module had its own memory.
There was software available that could handle sampling, FM synthesis, Wavetable synthesis, Fourier synthesis and Waveshaping synthesis.
The C64 could be used only to modify the sampling memory (sampled sound or sound generated by software synthesis like FM or Fourier), up to 8 sampling voices.

Most of the PCB board was covered by the memory chips that were pretty expensive at the time.
The picture below shows a 6-Voice system, the Input/Interface module is left, then 6 times the Memory-Card, each with a HS-VCO to get the pitch and a Curtis filter.
Apart from the sampler was a CV/Gate controlled stand-alone unit (not on the pictures)

Later Doepfer added another extension card, the so-called CCU (computer control unit). 
With this unit it was possible to define loops with free adjustable start and end position (the software helped to find zero-transitions for a glitch-free loop), and the unit could now be fully controlled by the computer (also pitch via high-speed DCOs). 
Also an expander/compressor was available but the improvement of this addition was very small from Dieter's own point of view.

6 x Memorycard, 6 x VCO,
6x Curtis filter
Around 300 kits were sold, partly because around the same time (1984-1988) Ensoniq released their Mirage sampler that was cheaper (and easier to use) than the Doepfer sampler.

Dieter: "To some extend this was also the beginning of the Eurorack standard (instead of Doepfers/DD Systems earlier Formant sized modules) as the front panels already had the same dimensions and mounting positions as the A-100 that started in 1995."

This module was the precursor of the A-112 that was released more than a decade later, but in the A-112 one small chip contains twice the memory of the 16 large chips of the old sampler.

Special thanks to Dieter Doepfer for all additional info