About 10 years ago Heavenly Music Productions released a Fairlight Series IIx Sample CD-ROM (HM-SBK Vol.2) with all the samples from the original IIx library (PDF) as SoundFonts on it. I found this very interesting since it was the only way to listen to Fairlight samples and use them. But when I used the samples, at the time in my Akai S900, they lacked depth and only offered 1 sampled pitch/preset sound. In other words they didn't sound authentic enough.
Now that I have a working Series IIx in my possession. I can try once again to emulate the Fairlight sound but with greater precision.
So, I did a little experiment. I loaded the famous sample Sararr in the IIx, also know as Arr1, and sampled it like it was an acoustic instrument, sampling every 3th note up the scale.
The Sararr sample was made by Tom Stewart with the voice of Sarah Cohen. Click here >> to read what he had to say about recording this sound (you'll have to scroll down to the bottom of the page). This sample has been used on numerous records. It was even one of the preset sounds in Roland synths in the 90's (U-10, U-220, ...)
I made 2 different sample sets. One with the anti-aliasing filter in its original position as defined by the sample settings on Page 7 of the IIx and one with the anti-aliasing filter wide open (value = 127).
So now I present you with 2 different sample sets in NI Kontakt format. These sets also contain the Wav files (24 bit/44.1 kHz).
1. Sararr Filter_20 (12.2 MB) - This is the sound with the original IIx settings except for the Attack/damping and pitch LFO. You can add this in Kontakt.
2. Sararr Filter_127 (12.4MB) - This is the sound without the anti-aliasing filter. I tried to recreate the sound of the IIx's anti-aliasing filter in Kontakt. (And I came rather close).
All looping was done in Kontakt. I kept the IIx looping points. Also, I didn't perform any normalizing on the samples keeping the original volume differences when you play lower/higher on the keyboard.
When I played the 2nd sample set in my Emulator III and used the EIII's own analogue filter I couldn't here a difference between the EIII and IIx. Though, I did have to tweak the filter settings of every note because the filtering on the IIx has key tracking, making the filter more open when you play higher up on the keyboard.
Of course there's more to the sound of the Fairlight than just creating a multi sample set. Sampling a sound in the IIx is what gives it the most character. To make a perfect cloned preset sound you also need to count in the fact that each voice card has it's own different sound and filter calibration (I used the same voice card to create the above sample sets). There's also the sound of the VCA when you play a sample louder or softer. Also, Page R, the sequencer that forces you to be creative with only 8 samples has a certain groove to it.
update 12 march 09: Corrected the name Sarah Conor to Sarah Cohen. Thanks to Joe for the correction.
update 28/08/2011: corrected broken download links.