Emagic EXS24 Software Sampler

Nov 1, 2002 12:00 PM, BY ERIK HAWKINS


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Emagic's EXS24 is the software sampler of choice for Logic aficionados. The program has the ability to load and automatically keymap batches of samples (any files stored as .AIFF, .WAV and SDII) and includes loads of sound-sculpting parameters (most of which can be automated). Its feature set has recently been improved in Logic Audio Version 5.x. One particularly powerful addition is its support of the Propellerhead ReCycle REX file format, which can now be imported into the EXS24 as painlessly as auto-mapping a batch of standard audio files.

EXS24's REX support is distinct from Logic's REX support. While tempo control of a REX loop can be achieved by either dragging it onto an audio track in the Arrange window or opening it within an instrument in the EXS24, this second option gives you a higher degree of control over the loop's slices. For example, from the EXS24 Instrument Editor, you can treat each slice as an individual sample, providing control over the sample's pitch, volume and triggering (like reverse or one-shot). Because an imported REX loop becomes an actual sampler instrument, it's a breeze to replay the loop from your MIDI controller and add cool EXS24 envelope and filtering effects.


Importing a REX file is simple. Open the EXS24 Instrument Editor and, from the ReCycle Convert menu, choose “Slice loop and make new instrument.” A new instrument is automatically created, and the loop's slices are mapped chromatically beginning at C1. You can also add a REX file slice to an existing instrument. Select “Slice loop and add samples to current instrument” to have the slices mapped chromatically starting from the first available key. With 128 notes available for samples, there's plenty of room in a single instrument for several sliced loops.

The REX loop's associated MIDI performance file (the MIDI beat map) can be extracted at the same time you import the samples with the “Extract sequence and make new instrument” command. The MIDI performance is automatically dropped into your selected track in the Arrange window at the playbar's current position. When you add a REX file to an existing instrument with the “Extract sequence and add samples to current instrument” command, the MIDI performance for a loop is intelligently transposed. That is, the first note of the MIDI performance lines up with the loop's first slice. I filled up an instrument with almost six ReCycled loops, for a total of 124 slices, and in each case, the MIDI file's Transpose function worked flawlessly.

If you have already turned a REX file into an EXS24 instrument but accidentally misplaced the loop's MIDI performance (for example, you deleted it from your Arrange window), there's even a command for this situation. With the instrument loaded into the EXS24, simply press the sampler's Edit key and, from the EXS24 Instrument Editor, select “Extract sequence from ReCycle instrument.” This function pulls the sequence right out of the EXS24 instrument; there's no need to locate or even have the original REX file. As with other “Extract sequence” commands, the MIDI performance is automatically placed in your Arrange window.


Until recently, using a ReCycled loop in your TDM session was a multistep process. You either transmitted a ReCycled loop to an external sampler or imported all of a loop's slices to an internal software sampler (such as Soft SampleCell or Bitheadz's Unity DS-1 connected to your TDM mixer through Digidesign's DirectConnect extension). However, the EXS24 can be connected to a TDM mixer by way of Emagic's optional ESB|TDM System Extension Software. This extension allows the EXS24 to be instantiated in the first insert of the aux channels of a TDM mixer within Logic Audio. Or, if you prefer to work in Pro Tools, up to eight channels of Logic Audio's native mixer can be piped to Pro Tools' mixer.


Because a ReCycled loop's beats are just individual samples being triggered by its MIDI performance file, not only can the loop's tempo be freely adjusted, so can its groove. For example, the MIDI performance can be quantized to affect the loop's feel. Using Logic Audio's “Make groove template” command, you can also extract a loop's MIDI performance groove to use as a groove template. Apply the groove template to MIDI performances of other ReCycled loops to get loops (which wouldn't normally work with one another) to groove together.

Combine the ReCycle program with the EXS24's REX support, and you have an amazingly powerful time-correction tool kit. On more than one occasion, I've extracted a sloppily played bass line, looped it, ReCycled it, loaded it back into my session as an EXS24 instrument and quantized its performance to the song's kick or drum loop. To make the transfer between ReCycle and the EXS24 a piece of cake, the EXS24 even has commands to import ReCycle's clipboard, meaning that there's no need to even save your ReCycled loop to disk.

Visit Erik Hawkins' fledgling record label at www.muzicali.com.

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