Top 5 Greatest Samplers - Episode 2

Just An Illusion? It's The Mirage At Number 4      15/10/07

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11:11 mins

It's no illusion, it's the real deal as we crack on with episode two of our five part series about the world of sampling.This one features more exclusive interviews and gear footage as we turn our attention on yet another chunk of hardware from the early years of digital dabbling.

We also feature part two in the series The Art Of Sampling, this time examining the effects of ‘found sound’ and analogue looping in the music of the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s.

And we look into the mind of the Professor to find out that he’s obsessed with thoughts of appearing on an electronic music version of Celebrity Big Brother with Georgio Moroder, Rick Wakeman, Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre and ‘that girl from the Human League’!

Yep, it’s a packed show, so let’s move on and reveal the fourth greatest sampler of all time…The Ensoniq Mirage!

4. The Mirage
Ensoniq was founded in the early 80’s by former Commodore engineers who went about producing drum machines, synths and samplers using technology they had developed for the Commodore chips.
One of these, The Mirage went into production in 1984 and was designed to target the mass market as opposed to the high end samplers that were only affordable to the elite few.
The essence behind the Mirage was undoubtable the ‘Q chip’ developed by Ensoniq’s co-founder Bob Yannes, who earlier that decade had developed the 3-voice synth chip in the Commodore 64.
The Mirage's 8 bit sampling and 8-voice polyphony were complimented by a 61 note 5 octave velocity sensitive keyboard. A rack version was also available, which offered an even cheaper alternative for working musicians.
As for funtionality, samples could be truncated, looped, tuned, layered and then stored on 3.5 floppys. The 2 digit hexidecimal display made sampling a chore, but the extensive library became the Mirage’s biggest asset with many lush and useable sounds.
Their sleek design and affordability made them an instant hit and despite obvious drawbacks, The Mirage stood alongside the Emulator range as the new affordable samplers of the mid 80’s.

The Mirage was superseded by the EPS (Ensoniq Performance Sampler) and the EPS16+, the high spec must-have samplers of the late 80’s/early 90’s.

They continued to produce further synth and sampler ranges throughout the 90’s until 1998, when Ensoniq was acquired by Creative Technology Ltd for an estimated $77 million.

Enjoy the show and don't forget, there’ll be another romantic dewy eyed look at the world of hardware sampling in a fortnight’s time with episode three of The Top 5 Greatest Samplers of all Time…Ever!

So, see you then!

The series is made up of a combination of editorial suggestions and the choices of the people we interview. The 'chart' format is used for entertainment value and is not backed up by scientific evidence.




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