Zoë Blade's notebook


S900 tech specs

Akai S900
Akai S900

  • Released: 1986
  • Company: Akai
  • Type: Sampler
  • Polyphony: 8 voices
  • Timbrality: Multitimbral
  • Sample rates: 7.5 kHz — 40 kHz
  • Sample resolution: 12-bit
  • Audio out: 8 + stereo pair
  • Control: MIDI
  • RAM: 750 KB
  • Storage: 2DD 3.5" floppy disk
  • Display: 40×2 character LCD
  • Features: Pingpong looping
  • Size: 3U

The S900 was a sampler released by Akai in 1986.

For most musicians in the 1980s, the Akai S900 was the first remotely affordable multitimbral sampler. It wasn't just another instrument you'd add to the mix, it was something you'd combine with a MIDI sequencer and mixing desk to make an entire studio in its own right. Combined with an Atari ST running Creator or Cubase, this was the start of the sound-first workflow. It helped house and hip hop producers segue from DJing and turntablism to creating full remixes and collages.

On a technical level, the S900 occupies an interesting middle ground: recent enough to be multitimbral and thus the cornerstone of a studio; yet old enough to actually change the playback sample rate in the DAC, rather than faking it in software while keeping the DAC at a steady rate.


Interface boards

Notable users


  1. "45 Kingdom" Simon Trask, Music Technology, May 1989, pp. 50—54
  2. "Future Shock" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Dec 1988, pp. 38—43
  3. "Beat Generation" Tim Goodyer, Music Technology, Jul 1989, pp. 40—45
  4. "Ian Boddy" David Hughes, Sound On Sound, Dec 1989, pp. 18—20
  5. "Bass Studies" Tim Goodyer, Music Technology, Oct 1988, pp. 38—41
  6. "Genetic Engineering" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Apr 1992, pp. 26—33
  7. "The Making of 'The Magic Number' by De La Soul" Tom Pinnock, Uncut, Feb 2023
  8. "Enya - Watermark" Mike Collins, Sound On Sound, Mar 1989, pp. 32—33
  9. "Front Line" David Bradwell, Music Technology, Jun 1989, pp. 76—79
  10. "Past, Present and Future" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Aug 1992, pp. 61—66
  11. "Future Talk" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Jan 1994, pp. 16—18
  12. "The Gospel According to Jesus Jones" Nigel Lord, Music Technology, Jan 1990, pp. 50—56
  13. "Inside The KLF" Mark Prendergast, Sound On Sound, Apr 1991, pp. 24—28
  14. "Synths and Stuff" Danny Wolfers
  15. "Techno Rhythim" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Nov 1990, pp. 38—42
  16. "Under New Orders" Phil Ward, Music Technology, Apr 1994, pp. 44—48
  17. "Renegade Action" Stephen Hillier, Music Technology, Jan 1989, pp. 18—22
  18. "A Night In The Studio" Tim Goodyer, Music Technology, Feb 1989, pp. 40—45
  19. "Dream State" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Jan 1991, pp. 40—46





Akai: ASQ10 | S612 | S900 | S950 | S1000 | S1000 guide | S1000 page map | S1100

Samplers: FZ-1 | S612 | S900 | S950 | S1000 | S1100 | Studio 440 | W-30