Calling all musicians!


macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 25, 2002
Hey guys I have a question and I need some people with a lot of experience. I have a keyboard and I want to start doing midi sequencing and I want to add sounds to my keyboard. I thought about buying a sampler and I know that they are harder to use than a rack with sounds already built in but I am smart and willing to learn. I went to mars and the guy there told me that what I wanted to do I could do with my computer and motu software or digidesign and I could also record. I would love to be able to do all this and not have to shell out more money later. Could you tell me what is the best way to accomplish what I want to do. Here is what I want to do

I play for my church, so everything that I am doing i need to be able to do live. I would like to be able to add more sounds to my keyboard. Edit the sounds, stack the sounds and so on and so forth. I would also like to be able to record my band while I am doing this. Is this possible. Is it more complicated than it is worth? Is it only good if I am doing this in a recording studio. Should I just buy a sampler? Any advice and help is greatly appreciated.


macrumors 6502a
Jul 7, 2001
from a professional

My roomate knows this stuff.

Basically, If you want to use the sampler live, get a dedicated sampler for your keyboard. If you want to use your computer as the sampler, then get a usb midi interface and a program to sample with. Sample Cell by Digidesign is good for editing samples. Digital Performer is a sequencer that you could use, but you would have to download your own samples unless you read the next paragraph and get what he said there.

I you want to record also, get either an Mbox from Digidesign or the Motu firewire box. The Motu might have midi on it, but he's not sure. All those do for your sampling is give make your computer a controller for your keyboard and record them. Then you have to deal with crashes and junk live.

Basically the best thing to do is to get a cheap sampler for live work. If want to record to it your own stuff...get an Mbox and use the rca out to the sampler. You can use your iBook like as the sampler with a midi interface, but it's not as reliable as a dedicated sampler.

Hope this helps.


Sir Realistic

macrumors newbie
Jan 16, 2002
El Paso, Texas
Based On My Experience...

I had been using a Power Mac 7100 with Audiomedia II sound card, SampleCell II Sample playback card, MOTU MIDI Timepiece II MIDI interface and MOTU Digital Performer for about 5 years and it worked great. In February, I bought a G4 iMac (800MHz), and had to replace all my hardware. I ended up getting a MOTU 828 (about $750) firewire interface to replace the Audiomedia II and getting a MOTU MIDI Time piece AV USB interface (about $550) and it works awesome. With Digital Performer 3.01 (about $600) I can do so much more (audio tracks and MIDI). I run a small recording studio in my home and this setup does the job nicely.

Replacing the sampler was a little more tricky. I ended up choosing Bitheadz Unity DS-1 (about $300). It can open up SampleCell files (sort of, there are some snags with some of the files), but once I got used to the interface I started liking it. The cool thing about the DS-1 (besides being half the price of the SampleCell card), is that even if you don't sample your own sounds, you get 300MB of sounds and you don't have to run the sequencer in order to play them. There is also software only version of SampleCell, but Unity does more and is $100 less...

Digital Performer is one of the best sequencers out there, but if you are starting out, it may be a bit much. Maybe something like cubasis (if its available for the mac... You can also get a smaller USB MIDI interface like the Fast Lane by MOTU (about $60) (sorry, I'm a MOTU head). if you're really on a tight budget, you can use your sequencer to play the built in quicktime General MIDI sounds-- they're not the best sounds, but they work when you play them with other sounds.

Of course, what you need also depends on the style of music you do (I do mostly electronic and hip hop, so I do a lot of sampling) If you have any questions feel free to email me (



macrumors 68000
hope this helps

i use motu hardware and software and i can say it is amazing. i have used protools extensively and i find for musicians who want to compose using midi its sadly lacking not to mention it's incredibly overpriced. you can get a budget version but why do that when you can get the full version of performer 3.0-soon to be 3.1.

performer sequences, records, edits, loops, has great plug-in effects and is supported by a zillion other software makers. i've done complete albums on it, composed for commercials and movies with it, and will be doing a rerecord( final mix) of a movie on it this week( it works great with QT movies!). it is flexible and intuitive. so there ya go.

i'm going to say that getting a sampler unit is a mistake. hardware sampling units are DEAD( more on that later). besides, i don't think it's really what you're needing. if you want more sounds to sequence and play along with-then just get a nice rack module. if you're on a budget( or have spent all your $$ on a midi interface and software) then buy a used Roland JV 1080 or proteus 2000 module. they have a ton of great sounds( usable sounds verses really cool sounds that don't really work or will sound dated quickly...) each of these units will play at least 16 different parts simultaneously so unless you're recreating a complete orchestra-you should be set.

regarding samplers: the gigastudio is the only way to go. it only runs on pc's(ewwww) but thats a small price to pay for a superior unit. and pound for pound its much cheaper and more flexible than any hardware sampler will ever be.

good luck and be careful of the retail salesmen. sometimes they're just pushing what makes them the most GP( " jipp"commission slang for gross profit).


macrumors 68030
Aug 1, 2001
Santa Cruz Ca
I can vouch for Bitheads.

I sold them a bunch of their machines. Thet're local over here along with CreativeLabs. Cool guys all around and always wanting feedback.;)

good luck.


macrumors 68020
May 9, 2001
Many MOTU fans in here!!! I can help a lot too.

Look, you are all set with your iBook, but let me tell you a few things first.

I buy my equipment at Sweetwater, they have a very good service, you will have your own sale person who knows your equipment and their prices are good enough.

You may not need a sampler, I'm using Unisy, a soft sampler that I just ran once because I'm not in to midi that much (after 10 intensive years). Think first what you are gonna do with the sampler. If you are gonna use percusion loops you do not need a sampler for that, use Digital Performer and run the loops from the audio tracks togather with the sequencer. If you wnats to play guitars or organs... get a good module first.

The problem with the samplers is that a good one cost too much, may be later on the road, first the sequencer part. The Kurzweil K2500R is very, very good and can read Akai library at a 100%.

About the secuencer, Digital Performer is very good, some other people like Logic Audio better, you can get both for free around the net.

The midi interface, get the Midi Time Piece XP, you will have 8 in and 8 out. The good thing with it is that you can route via software (you are gonna do that 2 times in your live at most), and you can control the FX of your guitarrist.

About doing syntesis... depending of your keyboard. The easyest are the Roland ones, You can get a used JV-1080 module, that is a beauty and you can edit the sound with Emagic Sound Diver or Unisyn. To make a sound sound much easyer of what really is, but once you get it, you will see that you can make better sounds that the ones preset.

For an audio interface... get the USB for Digidesign that comes with Protools LE.

Now, I'm giving you the most economic and versatile solution to do it all, may be yopu can get a simpliest midi interface.

Do not spend money in a sampler, things are changing a lot with those divices. I would tell you to go to eBay, get a Roland JV-90 controller (76keys for $300, 8 midi channels or more if is expanded, good sounds, etc), a Roland JV-1080 (tons of sounds, 16 midi channels, bunch of polyphoni), a USB midi interface that cand drive more than 32 midi channels and the software.

Be sure everything that you get (midi and audio interface) are USB or Firewire compatible. I have an audio media 3 in my G4 400 and I can't use it with my powerbook that is as powerfull for that as the G4.

That is about it, with the USB midi interface you can record your band in your computer HD without any problems.