Zoë Blade's notebook

Akai S1000

S1000 tech specs

Akai S1000
Akai S1000

  • Released: 1988
  • Clearance price: £1999[1]
  • Company: Akai
  • Type: Sampler
  • Polyphony: 16 voices
  • Timbrality: Multitimbral
  • Sample rates: 22.05 kHz, 44.1 kHz
  • Sample resolution: 16-bit
  • Audio out: 8 + stereo pair
  • Control: MIDI
  • RAM: 2 MB — 32 MB (2 MB ×4 or 8 MB ×4)[2]
  • Storage: 2HD/2DD 3.5" floppy disk, ACSI (optional), 512 MB SCSI (optional, £99[3])
  • Display: 40×8 character / 240×64 pixel LCD
  • Features: Velocity can offset sample start, timestretching
  • Size: 3U

The Akai S1000 was a 16-bit, 44.1 kHz sampler, released by Akai in 1988. With its high fidelity and large screen, it superseded the Akai S900 to become ubiquitous in electronic music studios. Many bedroom producers made music using little more than an S1000 and an Atari ST to sequence it. Certainly in the UK, this combination was a popular way of producing music in genres from jungle to speed garage.

A seldom talked about feature of the S1000 is that each note's velocity can offset the start of its sample, so quieter notes can skip the louder initial part of the sound, allowing a more expressive use of single-note samples.

Version 2.0 of the S1000's operating system introduced primitive timestretching, allowing a sound's pitch and length to be altered independently of one another. Far from seamless, this distinctive sound became popular in its own right, featured on songs such as Josh Wink's "Higher State of Consciousness" and Double 99's "RipGroove".



There's understandably conflicting information online about whether the S1000 supports up to 8 MB or 32 MB of RAM, so let's clear that up. The S1000 came with 2 MB of RAM, in the form of a single EXM005 2 MB RAM board in one of its four slots. Originally, it could be expanded to a total of 8 MB of RAM, by buying three more EXM005 boards. Akai noted this in their literature at the time. Shortly before the S1100's release, they released the EXM008 8 MB RAM board, allowing the S1100 and the S1000 to be expanded to a total of 32 MB of RAM.[2]

Interface boards


S1100 tech specs

  • Released: 1990
  • Company: Akai
  • Type: Sampler
  • Polyphony: 16 voices
  • Timbrality: Multitimbral
  • Sample rates: 22.05 kHz, 44.1 kHz
  • Sample resolution: 16-bit
  • Audio out: 8 + stereo pair
  • Control: MIDI
  • Synchronisation: SMPTE timecode
  • RAM: 2 MB — 32 MB[6]
  • Storage: 2HD/2DD 3.5" floppy disk, SCSI
  • Display: 40×8 character / 240×64 pixel LCD
  • Features: Velocity can offset sample start, timestretching, digital effects
  • Size: 3U

The S1100 added digital effects, digital outputs, and separate DACs (the S1000 multiplexed a single DAC across all its outputs), and had higher quality ADCs. In other words, it was higher quality, and no longer needed outboard gear. As long as you don't mind menu diving, you can do more with it, a MIDI sequencer, and nothing else. It also has SCSI as standard.

Most notably for film and video, it has SMPTE timecode in and out, so it can be used to play sound effects that you can cue up in a list.

Rather ambitiously, version 2.0 of the S1100's operating system turned it into a stereo direct-to-disk recorder... but not an especially good one. It's better to use it as a great sampler.


The S1100EX was essentially a second S1100, minus the user interface. You can use one to double the polyphony or timbrality — and outputs — of an S1100. Or you can daisychain together up to six S1100EXes to a single S1100 for a ridiculously opulent setup, at least for its time.


Another instrument that I like very much is the Akai S1000, because I think it's probably the most direct sampler at present. You just plug your microphone into the front panel and you can instantly start recording your sounds.

— Jean-Michel Jarre, 1990[7]

The S1000 and S1100 are probably the only pieces of equipment that I'm almost entirely satisfied with. I think they're probably the most beautiful invention in music ever. They're more fundamentally important than piano or guitar. To me they are like time machines. H.G. Wells would have had a heart attack if he'd seen them.

— Youth, 1993[8]

We have five or six samplers, but my favorite by far is still the Akai S1000. It's an old tank now, and the screen has faded so that I almost can't read it, but I know it inside out. It's the most spontaneous thing for making up little tunes.

— Michael Sandison, Boards of Canada, 2002[9]

Notable users




See also


  1. "Music Village" Music Village (Vendor), Sound On Sound, Oct 1992
  2. "Akai S1100" Paul Wiffen, Sound On Sound, Dec 1990
  3. "Turnkey" Turnkey (Vendor), Sound On Sound, Nov 1989
  4. "Akai Professional Musical Instruments Catalogue 1988-1989" Akai, 1988
  5. "Akai Professional Sampler Catalogue 1989" Akai, 1989
  6. "S1100 service notes" Akai, Nov 1990
  7. "The Synthetic Realism Of Jean-Michel Jarre" Richard Buskin, Sound On Sound, May 1990
  8. "Musical Youth" Paul Tingen, Sound On Sound, Jan 1993
  9. "Northern Exposure" Ken Micallef, Remix, Jul 2002
  10. "Past, Present and Future" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Aug 1992
  11. "Future Talk" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Jan 1994
  12. "Sound And Vision" Phil Ward, Music Technology, Aug 1993
  13. "What instruments were used on Leftfield's Leftism?" Entropy, Gear Space, Nov 2007
  14. "Headache music..my rig was MC-303, with AKAI S1000, an Atari 1040 running Creator which would become Logic. As far gear went this was my set up, & a Roland JV 880. I’d had a Nord Lead too but it got burned out when lightning hit our building & I couldn’t afford to get it fixed." @iamclintmansell Twitter, Apr 2020
  15. "Machine Head" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Jul 1991
  16. "Meet the Beat" Steve Cogan, Music Technology, Jan 1991
  17. "Message In A Sample" Phil Ward, Music Technology, May 1993
  18. Everything Is Wrong Moby, 1995
  19. "Recording Moby's 'Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?'" Tom Flint, Sound On Sound, Feb 2000
  20. "Earth beats" Roger Brown, The Mix, Apr 1995
  21. "Gary Numan: A New Flame" Jonathan Miller, Sound On Sound, Jul 1996
  22. "Key 1999 Tracks: Mr. Oizo — 'Flat Beat'" Chal Ravens, 2019
  23. "Tune In, Turn On, Chill Out" Tim Goodyer, Music Technology, Jun 1991
  24. "The Orb" Mark Prendergast, Sound On Sound, May 1993
  25. "The Heart Of The Bass" Tim Goodyer, Music Technology, Nov 1990
  26. "William Orbit" Paul Tingen, Sound On Sound, Oct 1991
  27. "Pet Sounds" Ian Masterson, Music Technology, Dec 1993
  28. "Inner Space" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Jun 1992
  29. "SNAP! to tomorrow" Roger Brown, The Mix, Nov 1994
  30. "Soul Searching" Tim Goodyer, Music Technology, Jun 1989
  31. "Stereo Speakers" Phil Ward, Music Technology, Apr 1993
  32. "The Streets Of San Francisco" Kean Wong, Music Technology, Jul 1993
  33. "Trent Reznor" Greg Rule, Keyboard, Mar 1994
  34. "Classic Tracks: Nine Inch Nails 'Closer'" Richard Buskin, Sound On Sound, Sep 2012
  35. "The Lone Raver" Tim Goodyer, Music Technology, May 1992






Deep dives





Samplers: Akai S900 | Akai S1000 | Casio FZ-1 | Roland W-30 | Sequential Circuits Studio 440