Adding a new element to a live performance can have a dramatic effect on the sound of your band. We all go a bit crazy in the studio – adding parts without giving a thought to how it may be reproduced in a live environment – and this often leads to a poor representation of the song when performed live. Finding reliable musicians to fill in is an option, but most bands will tell you that this is far from an ideal situation. So, what are the options? Well, one sure-fire option is sampling.
Sampling is often thought of as something solely for electronic music, but it offers so much more for gigging bands. You essentially have another element on stage, that can record and replay any instrument, any input, any source in a variety of ways. By incorporating a sampler into your live show, you can experiment with additional sounds to add texture and substance to your songs: the extra guitar part you always wanted in the second half of the verse, the sweeping synth pads you wanted in the chorus, and you can even have the backing vocals you crave for!
My favourite live sampler is the Roland SPD-SX due to its ease of use, robustness (very important to me), and the variety of ways in which I can get my own sounds into the unit. The SPD-SX comes pre-loaded with hundreds of sounds, but also gives you the option of adding your own sounds via a USB drive, USB from your computer, and live recording via the input jacks, which have a gain control.
In a live scenario, the SPD-SX gives you CD quality playback via balanced line-out jacks and sample triggering via 9 velocity sensitive pads that are built to withstand modern warfare. However, this is not a drummer’s toy. Anyone in the band can use the SPD-SX, even if you have your hands full, thanks to foot switch and trigger inputs.
If that’s not enough, the SPD-SX can also be used as a USB audio interface to record directly into your computer and offers USB MIDI, so you can use it to control software instruments such as Superior Drummer and Komplete.
Expand the realms of possibility by introducing a sampler into your live set and weave fantastic creations in the writing room with no doubts as to how they’ll turn out on the stage.
Check out this video of the Roland SPD-SX to see what’s possible with sampling: