Basic Specifications and Voice Architecture
The base S3000 model came from the factory with 8 MBytes of sample memory (some sources say a few were produced with 2 MB memory), enough for 47.5 seconds of stereo samples at the 44.1 kHz sampling rate. (Sampling at 22.05 kHz was also possible.) The unit could be expanded to up to 32 MB of memory, using an Akai-specific memory expansion board. The unit was 32-voice polyphonic, with each voice consisting of a sample-playback oscillator, a 2-pole digital low pass VCF with resonance (an improvement over the non-resonant filters on the S1000), a digital VCA capability with a dedicated ADSR envelope generator, a second 6-segment envelope generator that could be applied to sample pitch or to the VCF, and two LFOs. An expansion board could also be installed which provided a second, multimode VCF for each voice. In place of the limited control routing options on the S1000, the S3000 adds a more flexible form of matrix modulation. As on the S1000, samples could be grouped into "keygroups", which allowed samples to be mapped to note ranges on the keyboard for layering and multisampling, and keygroups were in turn grouped into patches. Within a layer, each sample required a voice to play, so if four samples were layered in a patch, eight notes could be played in that patch. Like the S1000, the S3000 was 16-part multitimbral, and each part could be assigned to its own MIDI channel. Each part could be routed through one effect, chosen from a library of 50. Outputs for each part could be sent to the main stereo outputs, or to any of 8 individual mono ouptuts.
The panel was very similar to the S1000, featuring a large 8-line graphics and text LCD . Underneath the LCD were eight function buttons, whose function on any given display page was given by the text above the button in the bottom row of the display. Underneath that were eight mode buttons, and to the right was a 10-digit keypad for direct entry of numeric values (useful when entering sample word counts). A quadrant of arrow buttons served to move the cursor on the display to various fields, and a rotary encoder could be used to enter values in addition to the numeric keypad. At the top right were the input level controls for sample recording; the input jacks for same were at the far right.
Storage of samples, in the base model, was via 3-1/2" floppy disk, using the same Akai-proprietary format as the S1000. An optional SCSI interface (standard on some of the variant models) allowed a hard disk to be connected, and either mounted internally or used externally.
Sample editing was similar to the S1000, with some additional features. Basic trim, cut and paste are of course present. Like the S1000, the S3000 allows up to 8 loops per sample, one of which can be set to "hold", which means it will continue looping as long as the key is held down; other loops (before or after the hold loop) will be played a set number of times. The auto loop point finder is improved over the S1000, and starts and ends of loops can be cross-faded. (The cross-fade is done within the sample data itself, so it alters the sample in memory.) Downsampling (called "resampling" in the manual) is available. The time stretch capability is also improved over the S1000, and the S3000 adds new functions: EQ, normalization, and the ability to make new samples by mixing existing ones.
Units with a SCSI interface could transfer sample data directly to a (pre-OSX) Macintosh equipped with SCSI. They could then be ediited with the MUSE editor, which came with S3000, and transferred back.
Sequencing and Hard Disk Recording
The S3000 had the ability to load a Standard MIDI FIle via floppy disk, and then play the file using the loaded patches and samples (assuming that they had been numbered the way the MIDI file expected). This allowed an external sequencer to create sequences which then could be played by the S3000. With the optional SMPTE I/O card, the S3000 could synchronize sequencing to a SMPTE-synchronized tape; it also included a SMPTE signal generator which could be used to "stripe" a track on a multi-track tape.
Units equipped with the SCSI interface and a disk drive could record and play back audio directly to/from the disk. This allowed the unit to be used as a very basic digital audio workstation.
The S3000 series included a number of hardware options. Note that not all options were installable on all variants. These included:
- IB-302D SP/DIF stereo digital audio input/output
- IB-303T SMPTE reader/generator
- EB-16 Multi-Effects board
- IB-301S SCSI interface
- IB-304F Filter expansion board
- FMX008 8 MB flash memory ; can be used as non-volatile sample memory
- 500 MB magneto-optical disk drive
Akai issued many variants of the S3000, and a fair amount of confusion exists for some reason over the capabilities of each. Some were fitted at the factory with one or more of the options listed above. Note that unlike the S1000, no keyboard version was produced. Here is a possibly incomplete list:
An S3000 factory fitted with the SCSI interface and disk drive, but otherwise identical to the S3000.
An S3000 lacking the sampling capability. It came with the SCSI interface and an external CD-ROM drive for loading sample library disks.
A lower-cost model of the S3000. It did not have the 8 individual outputs (it did have a second stereo pair), and memory could only be expanded to 16 MB. It did come with the S/PDIF I/O interface installed.
An S3000 that came equipped with most of the options already installed, including the S/PDIF interface, the SCSI interface, and the SMPTE interface. The S3200i also came with the internal 500 MO disk drive installed.
This model contained a number of improvements over the base model, not the least of which was that memory could be expanded using standard SIMMs rather than special boards from Akai. It came with the SCSI interface and digital audio interface board installed. A significant software difference was that it added a new "multi" editing mode for setting up multimbral configurations, although it still supported the (somewhat awkward) method used by the S3000 and S1000. The S3000's built-in effects were removed, but the EB-16 provided a selection of effects of which up to four at a time could be selected, plus a secondary channel pair which provided an additional reverb. The S3000XL was physically somewhat smaller than the base mode, being packaged in a 2 rack unit high case, with the floppy drive placed horizontally to the left of the LCD, and the sample input jacks on the back.
A low-cost model of the S3000XL. Came equipped with 2 MB of sample memory, only the stereo outputs (an optional expansion board added the 8 individual outs), and a very small LCD. Did not come with any of the options, but any of them could be installed by the user. Many of them had SCSI interfaces added so that MUSE could be used for sample editing instead of the small LCD.