The First Digital Audio Workstation

I got very interested in this CREAMWARE soundcard but was floored when I saw the entrance price into this arena.  I had paid $200 for a top notch soundcard in the past but this thing was over $1000 and the year was 1999.  On the PC side, I got my first case of GEARLUST.  I had to have this card so I could see if THE LAMB project could be improved.  While I was contemplating this soundcard, a new piece of software was creating a TON of BUZZ on the musicians network on the internet.  It was called GIGASAMPLER and provided a full featured sample player in software which replaced hardware samplers and it streamed samples from the hard drive so you could have very LARGE sample libraries of instruments that weren’t looped and sounded even more realistic. Within a couple of months, CREAMWARE had an interface that allowed you to use GIGASAMPLER in tandem with their soundcard and have a mixing environment all within the PC which all could be triggered by MIDI files. GIGASAMPLER also had a means to load sampler disks right onto your harddrive and have access to these sounds as well.

So, for the Christmas of 1999, I talked my wife into letting me get myself that year’s present of the Creamware card and GIGASAMPLER software.

This stuff was amazing.  I learned how to put all this together and started recreating LLDOM project in the DAW. This was amazing.  I had EQs and REVERBS and DELAY effects and started getting the MIDI files sounding even better.  I made tons of contacts with MIDI musicians with SAMPLE CDs and got together a pretty good library of new sounds.  Some of these sounds fit (but not perfect) the GENESIS instruments that I would need to successfully complete LLDOM.

This burst of energy lasted about a year and I ran into two major roadblocks.  One, GIGASAMPLER did not provide PORTAMENTO to the ARP SAMPLES and TWO, there was NO WAY to ever get the FUZZ BASS sound Mike used on the Lamb in software.  Additionally, “Vintage Timetraveller” was produced when samplers had very limited RAM and you had to fit entire instruments into a very small memory footprint and the technique of the day was creating LOOP POINTS in the samples so you didn’t need large amounts of ram to play a synth note for 30 secords.  But, this compromise reared its’ ugly head when the samples of the ARP really didn’t sound that good anymore.  Certainly not good enough to recreate The Lamb in MIDI.

So, the second long break in the project and the realization that I would have to make my own samples that would be more appropriate for this project.  I went on EBAY and found an OLD ARP PRO for sale for $150 and sometime in 2000, bought my first GENESIS museum instrument.

Vintage Instruments and Sampling

So, with the ARP, I learned how to sample it and make sample programs for GIGASAMPLER.  These samples sounded MUCH better and were of a quality that could be used for the project.  But, alas, GIGASAMPLER still couldn’t do PORTAMENTO and let’s face it, without PORTAMENTO, the ARP doesn’t sound like Tony’s ARP.  I had an ARP PRO SOLOIST back in the seventies and I really enjoyed owning this instrument again.

I searched all over the web to find a sample playback system that could do PORTAMENTO and couldn’t find any.  This mystified me in that the AKAI S2000 had implemented PORTAMENTO so why couldn’t a software sampler do this.  But, the bottom line, there was NONE and I then decided that it was time to put down the project again until this could be solved.

About once a year, I would do my searched on the INTERNET for software samplers that had this feature and NOTHING.  Eventually, a new player came into the arena to compete with GIGASAMPLER (by now called GIGASTUDIO and sold to a larger Japanese manufacturer). This product was called KONTAKT and folks helped me and said that PORTAMENTO is implemented in KONTAKT via something they called “scripts”.  Most of these scripts were written by users but the core product came with some scripts.  Portamento being one of them.  Somewhere between the ARP and now, I also purchased an old RMI Electra Piano (this thing is big and heavy) on the internet and when it came, I created some sample programs for it.  These too sounded really good.

I purchased KONTAKT and sure enough, it implemented PORTAMENTO quite well and realistic. And now, my MIDI files could play back TB’s solo’s with portamento and they sounded really, really good.  But still, not like the album, something was still missing. This was around 2004 and another attempt was made on the project now that I had Portamento.

My oldest son was now attending UCSB studying for a PHD in Electrical Engineering and for one Christmas, we got him a new MAC PRO laptop for school.  When he opened it up for Christmas, I saw a program called GARAGE BAND on the MAC... it was rudimentary compared to my DAW but had a plugin for guitar amps.  I asked my son what that was and he told me so we got an old FENDER and plugged it into the soundport of the MAC and I asked him to put the FENDER sound through one of the presets that included a FUZZ BOX.

Oh My God.... realistic FUZZ effect in software that could take a clean signal and make it sound like it went through a pedal board, an amp head and speakers.  This is exactly my missing link.  I wasn’t going to port my DAW over to a MAC but I searched for guitar amp sims for PCs and found a MARSHALL amp from NOMAD.

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