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From Italy, IK Multimedia starting making plug-ins for computer-based platforms. The T-Racks, which they still sell, is an amazing mastering software. In 2000 they came out with SampleTank, a VST-based sample playback machine with the emphasis on ease of use and built in sounds that were great. It became popular with people disenchanted with other bloated VST samplers.

In 2003 IK Multimedia released SampleTank 2, which featured a formant-shifting option called Stretch. In addition to speeding up and slowing down samples across the keyboard to simulate pitch change, ST2 can also use a complex formant-shifting scheme. In short, this prevent the "munchkinization" of sounds when pitch-shifted. This is a great feature.

SampleTank is generally playback-only, it's difficult to create your own sounds from scratch. SampleTank 1 uses a seperate ST Convertor program, which imports Akai Programs. SampleTank 2 has WAVE/AIFF, Akai, and SampleCell conversion built-in.

IK Multimedia is noted for their skilled artwork with their interface, corporate grpahics, and web site. SampleTank may not be the "sampler-of-samplers," but it sure looks like it!

File Format
A SampleTank Instrument unit is made up of three files, the .sth (the header file), .sti (the Instrument file) and .stw (the samples) files. The .stw only contains sample data, nothing else.

SampleTank 2 introduced a .stip file, which stores a Preset based on another .sth/sti/stw combination. You can make as many .stip's per .sth/sti/stw combination as you want.

Architecture Description
The downside for the SampleTank user is that there is no real editor, although SampleTank 2 allows editing of parameters in an overriding macro sort of way. (You don't get to see the overall layout of the structure.)

An Instrument is made up of one KeyMap, which contains 2 "Oscillators;" in other words, two sample references, which can be mono or stereo. The main structure is a "Region", which is a a keyrange. There can be up to 127 Regions, one per MIDI key, and they can't overlap. Within each Region there can be up to 8 velocity splits. So, the most complex SampleTank Instrument can reference 2032 samples - 127 x 8 x 2.

The big limitation with SampleTank is that each Region has to share the same tuning information. Thus, conversions can be very complex if the incoming source has samples that have programmed tuning offsets; however, Translator is able to deal with this adequately using hard pitch changing and sample replication.

SampleTank 2 relieves some of this by giving each sample in a Region it's own Unity Note, and implementating a tuning control in the sample itself (thus alleviating the need to hard-change the sample data).

SampleTank's parameter makeup is standard, with tunings and ADSR envelopes, although they are shared by both Oscillators. The modulation matrix is very extensive and modular, more advanced than most.

Translation Description
This is another "square peg in round hole" type of thing. It is entirely possible that an import format can overwhelm the single Keymap format of SampleTank, so multiple sets of .sth/.sti/.stw will be created, put inside a single directory. This may make duplicate samples, but hey, what can you do?

SampleTank 2.0 Stretch feature is amazing. For more information, go to www.sampletank.com


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