Friday, July 04, 2008

E-MU SP1200

Today I had the honour of taking apart the peerless SP1200 sampling drum machine. One of the original hip-hop machines (well, that was really the SP12 but let's not pick nits), this thing is a legend. Google for SP1200 and it quickly becomes clear.

It's always a bit bizzare when you take apart a bit of music gear, and suddenly find the electronics that make it work - something you tend not to think about when writing the music.

Here's the main circuit board on the SP - a frightening array of chips:

And from another angle. It was 1985 I suppose - but all this technology gives you a grand total of 10 seconds (!) of sampling time. Chiporama.

As with many early E-MU hardware units, there are cryptic inscriptions screened on the boards. On the reverse of the front-panel circuit board, you find this:

Anyone anything to offer on who Louis McCrawfish might have been?

Finally, a shot of the front-panel board (sitting out of the machine), across the top of the 8 volume faders that launched a million hip hop hits.

I remember sampling a little Boss drum machine on the SP1200 I used to own. What went in sounding tinny and thin came back out of the SP sounding like God playing Satan's own drumkit.

It's inspiringly simple to use, and what comes out aren't "drums" - they're devastatingly heavy, punchy and gritty 12-bit impacts.

Does music hardware get any better?


André (Lunatic) Golgener said...

Man, that thing is dirty!

mr.murph said...

i have trying to post everywhere about a question i have about the sp1200. I just bought it. I'm trying to midi my asr10 to the sp and use the sp to sequence. the sp only plays a short blip of the sample in the asr. what am i doing wrong? please help its killing me. i've tried everything.