[LAU] Strange aiff files

Brent Busby brent at keycorner.org
Tue Nov 3 15:48:05 EST 2009

On Wed, 4 Nov 2009, Erik de Castro Lopo wrote:

> Atte André Jensen wrote:
>> Hey, cool command!
> Yep its been part of libsndfile for about 10 years.

This thread has been very helpful for me too.  Several years ago, I 
sampled an entire drumset fairly exhaustively at multiple volumes, mic 
distances, etc. with an Akai MPC2000 and a pair of Earthworks condenser 
mics.  I use the sample set a lot now that I'm living in an apartment, 
partially because it's really nice, and partially because the set that 
was sampled was the one I used in my band twenty years ago, so it's 
fairly nostalgic that I "virtually" still have my drums.  (And partially 
because I'd probably be evicted if I tried to bring a drumset in 
there...)  Actually it's fairly eerie to listen to in headphones with no 
EQ or effects -- if you sequence things a human drummer would do, which 
I can do because I'm a drummer, you'd swear it was that drumset.

The MPC2000 saves its samples in its quirky SND format that I haven't 
had anything handy to translate into other formats up until now, so I've 
always worried about dependence on the Akai hardware samplers.  They're 
still popular now, but I've seen plenty of gear become obscure that used 
to be common.  Even worse, the Akai filesystem is a bizarre mutation of 
DOS/FAT that gets long filename capability from a kludge completely 
incompatible with the one Microsoft ended up using in Windows 95 and 
later.  The files look like FILENAM~.EXT when mounted as FAT, and you 
have no way of finding out what the real names were on the Akai from 
looking at the directories in Windows or in Linux.

Today, this thread about sndfile-info made me try (on a lark) running 
sndfile-info on one of my Akai SND files, and it floored me -- it knew 
everything about the sample.  It saw the original Akai filename embedded 
in the file.  It even knew specifically that it came from an Akai 
MPC2000.  I tried converting it to a standard WAV with sndfile-convert, 
and that worked too.

Later, after looking at the libsndfile web site, I did see that MPC2000 
compatibility was added earlier this year, but I didn't expect that when 
I tried it, so it did surprise me.  Usually, when something says it has 
Akai support, they mean S1000 rack sampler format.  This is very useful.

+ Brent A. Busby	 + "We've all heard that a million monkeys
+ UNIX Systems Admin	 +  banging on a million typewriters will
+ University of Chicago	 +  eventually reproduce the entire works of
+ Physical Sciences Div. +  Shakespeare.  Now, thanks to the Internet,
+ James Franck Institute +  we know this is not true." -Robert Wilensky

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