Hardware Feature #38
Name Manufacturer Price
Datel Digital Sound Sampler Datel Electronics 49.99

Datel Digital Sound Sampler

The following review was taken from Popular Computing Weekly Jan 85

While the music world has been familiar with the idea of sound sampling for a couple of years, the necessary technology hasn't been cheap enough to apply to home computers until quite recently. Still, systems like the 20,000 Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument, the 800 Greengate DS3 Sampling System for the Apple computer, and Datel's new 50 device, have a good deal in common.

Plugging into the Spectrum's user port, the Digital Sound Sampler (DSS) can take any sound input up to around two seconds in length, coming either from the small microphone supplied or from a line level input, and reduce it to digital information. Recreating the sound at different pitches by putting it through a digital-to-analogue converter and amplifier is then easy - the device just "plays back" the sound at a different clock rate.

The unit worked first time, though some adjustment of input levels was necessary. The four programs supplied on tape allow you to sample and replay a sound in many ways.

A sample can be replayed forwards or backwards at a variety of pitches using the keys I - S on the Spectrum. A frequency chart can be plotted, or the sound can be looped with a progressively faster repeat, or rising pitch repeat. The DSS will also act as a primitive echo unit. Four short sounds, ideally drum-type noises, can be recorded sequentially, then played back with keys 5.6,7 and 8.

There are also programs which turn the Spectrum's QWERTY keyboard into a music keyboard - though it's very difficult to get an acceptable standard of playing out of it. It's much better to leave any serious composition to the sequencer program, which allows you to store 1000-note tunes and play them back at any speed. There's also a program to help you incorporate sampled sounds into games.

Overall, the Datel Digital Sound Sampler is a fascinating toy for musicians interested in sound sampling techniques, or for novelty seekers who can afford 50 for a gimmick which may lose its appeal after you've heard your Spectrum saying "hello" intones from a deep bass to a high soprano.

However, since the software is fairly primitive and badly needs replacing with a fully integrated, machine code program, and since there's no way to interface the DSS with a real music keyboard of any kind, for real musical applications you should keep saving for that Apple/DS3 system.

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