I'll bet that when you first read the title of this article, you had to do a double-take and ask yourself if you really just read what you read. Yes, I'm asking you if you think the E-MU SP-1200 should be remade and brought back into the music recording market. What do you think?
The E-MU SP-1200 was first released back in 1987 and it was a huge innovation for music producers because it had such a distinct sound. At the time, everyone was banging away on drum machines and using samplers, but when the SP-1200 dropped, this was a game changer. With ten seconds of sampling time and pads that you could hit to trigger your samples, it made making beats something very unique, but not as unique as the sound within the machine.
What made it so special? It all boiled down to the fact that the SP-1200 was backed by a 12-bit sampling engine, which at the time was perfect for Rap music. This ended up rushing in a new era of beats and changing the face of Rap forever.
If you're not familiar with the SP-1200, you're probably asking yourself why anyone would be excited about a machine that can only sample ten seconds total. I think a lot of producers were probably asking themselves the same thing back then, so instead of passing on it, they ended up working with the SP-1200 and coming up with a simple solution: sample the vinyl on 45!
By sampling on the 45 speed, they were able to get the sample into a much shorter block of time, which would then give them more space for more samples. They would then pitch the sample all the way down to the regular level and work with it from there.
No matter what techniques producers used, it always came down to the sound of the SP. By sampling at 12-bit on 45 and then pitching down, it gave each sample that grittiness that Hip Hop heads were craving for.
A New SP-1200?
I'm not saying that someone should actually remake the SP-1200 in its entirety from the internal components to the casing, but instead why not create a new machine that emulates it? I know that currently Native Instruments has an SP-1200 filter that you can add when you're making beats with Maschine, but it's still not a full-on replica of the original. I'm wondering if a new machine should be made that is dedicated solely to emulating the SP and trying to get that classic sound back.
Imagine a machine that looks like the MPC or Maschine but inside it replicates the feel and of course, the sound of the SP-1200! The way that Hip Hop producers are, when a new piece of gear hits the market and it's something that will help them make better beats, they'll be eager to buy it.
Dedicated Or DAW?
The other question that needs to be asked is if this were to come to life, should it be a dedicated box such as the MPC2000? Or should it go in the same direction as Maschine or the MPC Renaissance? My money would be on the DAW-based box simply because that's the direction that everyone is going in today and it makes total sense.
Why bother making a machine that will be limited in what it can do - just like the SP-1200? If that's exactly what you want then I would suggest you try to find someone that is selling an SP-1200 and use that. However, a new machine should mean a new platform, hence, a DAW-based box.
I know that you might be wondering why you should bother getting this new machine whereas instead you could simply buy the Renaissance or Maschine, and you're right, but it depends on what type of beat you're looking to create. The whole purpose of this new SP-1200 is so that if you're on that type of beat-making tip, then it would be perfect for your needs and the Akai and Native Instruments machines would be more well-suited for when you're making other types of beats.
One of the best things about the SP-1200 and similar machines is that it's limited. Since it's limited, it forces you to be creative and to come up with different ways of making your samples fit together in order to make a great beat. For today's generation of beatmakers, they're spoiled in the sense that they have an unlimited amount of tracks to record to, tons of plug-ins, and many other advantages that weren't available during the SP-1200 era. Here's a video demonstrating the SP-1200 and its capabilities.
Is This Fantasy?
Maybe. Or maybe not. I'm writing this article because I'm someone that makes beats and has never been able to do so with an SP-1200 but wish I could have. With all the innovative recording gear that is always being released, I'm surprised that a company would not consider doing this. Even the E-MU company, why did they not remake this classic machine? Sure, they did a re-issue of the SP-1200 back in 1997, but to see it come to life with today's technology would have been simply a joy to work with.
I'll let you in on a little secret - I wrote this article based on my opinion, but I'm also hoping that it will catch fire and get tossed around the internet like wildfire, then land on the screen of some big gear company, which will then say, "Yo he's right!" and make this machine. They will then create a bad-ass DAW-based machine with 16 pads, 12-bit sampling, and call it the "SP-1200 MF (MisterFade) Edition".
Then they would send me a free one for writing this article and putting this idea into their heads. Of course, stock in their company would be great too, but whatever. So what do you think?