Zoë Blade's notebook

Akai S612

Ignoring the Akai S612 (it wasn't even the right colour)...

— David Glasper, Sound on Sound, 2010[1]

The S612 was a sampler released by Akai in 1985. It was their first sampler, and the start of their 12-bit range that culminated in the S950.

On a sidenote, this is the only Akai sampler that predates their switchover from black to beige, presumably in a rather successful bid for the European market, where it became the sampler of choice.

S612 tech specs

  • Released: 1985
  • Clearance price: £799 + free Casio CZ-101[2]
  • Company: Akai
  • Type: Sampler
  • Pitch range: C2 — C7[3]
  • Polyphony: 6 voices[3]
  • Timbrality: Monotimbral
  • Sample rates: 4 kHz — 32 kHz
  • Sample resolution: 12-bit
  • Control: MIDI
  • Storage: Quick Disk
  • Features: Pingpong looping[3]
  • Size: 2U


The MD280 was a floppy disk drive with built-in storage bay to slot in ten discs. It uses the Quick Disk format, rather than the much more popular 3.5" floppy disk format.


I think the beauty about the sampling world is that you're basically becoming attuned to listening to small bits of music that you like. I learnt to work in that way when I was using my first sampler, an Akai S612, because it didn't have much memory and you could only play one sample at a time. The problem with conventional songwriting is that a lot of lyricists, because they're so hooked on the verse-chorus format of writing a song, actually miss the finer points of what they're writing. There are perhaps some beautiful bits which, if they're accentuated, could be used far more effectively. Just by taking bits of vocals into the sampler, they take on a new meaning, a new life. The whole sound of the sample world is different. I love it.

— Garry Cobain, The Future Sound of London, 1992[4]

When the Akai 612 appeared, it was great, because everyone could have sampling for under £1000.

— Mixmaster Morris, 1995[5]

Notable users


  1. "25 Products That Changed Recording" Sound On Sound, Nov 2010
  2. "Soho Soundhouse" Soho Soundhouse (Vendor), Electronics & Music Maker, Sep 1986
  3. "S612 manual" Akai
  4. "Past, Present and Future" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Aug 1992
  5. "Ambient Techno: Pete Namlook, Mixmaster Morris, Scanner & David Toop" Mark Prendergast, Sound On Sound, Mar 1995
  6. "Synths and Stuff" Danny Wolfers


S612 / MD280





Samplers: Akai S612 | Akai S900 | Akai S950 | Akai S1000 | Akai S1100 | Casio FZ-1 | Roland W-30 | Sequential Circuits Studio 440