waveTracing has released SP950, a unique effects plug-in that aims to recreate the beloved sonic character of the E-mu SP-1200 sampler, specifically of the detuning technique associated with it. To make it even more authentic, they’ve thrown in an emulation of the AKAI S950’s Butterworth filter. If you’re into the raw, gritty 12-bit samples of old-school hip hop, this plug-in is for you.
The SP950 plug-in is a spinoff from the ongoing SP12k / SP950 project by the same developer, a nifty web app and upcoming desktop app that combines an SP-1200-style 12-bit sample player with S950 Butterworth filters. Both machines helped to define hip hop beats in the 80s and early 90s and were often used in combination. Check out the Gearslutz thread to find out more about it.
The plug-in removes the sample player part and lets you apply the effect to any audio material of your choice. Here’s what it does:
Back in the day, producers would play records at a higher speed when sampling them, such as spinning a 33 RPM record at 45 or 78 RPM. The resulting sample was then pitched back down in the sampler. What started as a way to save precious memory eventually became a signature sound associated with the SP-1200.
The S950 plug-in simulates this effect. There’s a single slider which lets you adjust the increase in record RPM and corresponding decrease in sample pitch simultaneously, so you don’t have to worry about adjusting the pitch twice. As you move the slider towards faster record RPM, the artifacts from the double pitching process become more pronounced.
AKAI S950 filter
The filter knob emulates the analog Butterworth filter of the AKAI S900/S950 samplers of the same era. This steep filter was a favorite for isolating bass lines and was often used in combination with the SP-1200. The S950 filter has been emulated before, but not in the same plug-in as SP-style sample pitching, as far as I know.
The developer says that the plug-in’s minimalistic interface is HiDPI/Retina compatible. You can choose from six color schemes for the LCD display, which helps to differentiate between multiple instances of the plug-in.
I think this is a fantastic project. The demos sound very promising and I’m looking forward to the official release of the finished SP950 sample player app.
Price and compatibility
The SP950 effect plug-in is now available from the developer’s website for EUR 20. It runs on Windows 7 or higher (VST3, 64 bit) and macOS 10.7 or higher (VST3, AU, 64 bit).