look at the gui.. see those four functions at the top of the 'screen' part? see how it goes 1-2-3-4 top left, bottom left, top right, bottom right? (henceforth TL, BL, TR, BR)
this just absolutely destroys me.. how devious is the mind of mankind. perhaps this instrument was built to handicap the minds of would-be samplists.. because on editing menus, the top-of-the-screen position lists the names of parameters, and at the bottom of the screen, the values appear..
you'd expect some sort of pattern-based correlation, for easy reference, you know? symmetry, top, bottom?
but.. they are not arranged in the same order!!! instead of 1-4 TL BL TR BR, they're listed TL TR BL BR, changing the location of the values at-a-glance from 1-2-3-4 to 1-3-2-4.
now... "come on, man!!!!" i'm just not able to accept that this level of incongruity is a mistake. i spent $15 for this, i feel like they don't actually want me to make music.
with logic 4.81, i haven't been able to find an implementable budget sampler beyond one-shot 'drum machines.' if you're looking for one, give the 404 a miss.. because of the channel scheme difference between logic 4 and cubase, you'll find if you create a patch for use on track 16, you'll have to completely rebuild it to use on track 15. you'll be limited to one keymap running through one envelope/filter section. the upside is that it's stabler than helios et al.
the manual.. sheesh.. i got my first sampler in 1993.. open the manual, you get one long paragraph after the other. my suggestion to the author is to cap each section with concise referential statements for quicker orientation.. in-depth explanations as seperate paragraphs, please.
for some reason, ds404 won't load most of my samples. ie. the famed, vast collection of high quality 44.1 samples from the japanese akaipro ftp site.. clearmountain drum sample cd.. no go!
all in all a painful, disappointing and fruitless investment for me in logic 4.
As I get more and more into samplers, I'm able to write some reviews and observations. I've been able to demo/try vsampler3, exs24mkii, kontakt and ds-404. I won't compare them, but these are the ones that I've looked at.
The DS-404 at first seemed cumbersome with the function button thingy. After using it a bit though, I find that it is very functional and fast. Absolutely no complaints there. I'm also happy with the amount of information that is available on the front panel. My one complaint is that I run my screen at 1400x1024, and at this resolution the graphics get extremely hard to look at. I'm almost unable to read the white text on the panel (the text on the display reads fine). I think this is becoming an issue with most vsti, as people use finer resolution screens.
The sound seems very good to me. Definitely nice filters. Support is excellent, and the product is very stable. I'm not sure about cpu use, I haven't noticed this as being high (or low for that matter).
In conclusion, for basic to moderate sampling I can't imagine a better product. It doesn't mangle you sounds in the same way that kontakt would or exs24mkii would, but that's a whole other ballgame in terms of price and intended use.
Not yet owning a sampler, but meaning to get around to buying one, the news of the DS404 coming free with CM50 just had my psyched (hey now I just had to buy a magazine not a soft-sampler). Upon getting it, I thought "wow this thing looks scary, I'm not going to be able to figure this out," but after all of half an hour going through the tutorials in CM50 I had gotten down most of the basic features. Within a day with the DS404 I was pretty sure I had it all down. The interface is a bit confusing with all the different function keys, but you can quickly get the gist of them and even memorize what goes where. My main complaint is the lack of keyboard shortcuts, as well as mouse selections. There's no portamento, or sustain pedal response as well, the inclusion of which would have put this sampler over the top, but what do you expect for a freebie. Another complaint of mine is how picky the DS404 can be in regards to opening wavs. It seems if you go through a .wav editor you should be fine, but exporting a .wav out of Sonar and into the DS404 is just not happening until I go through another program to resave the .wav file. I really wish DS404 was a little less picky about .wav files as it would save me one extra step in the sample making process, but since most folks use wave editors anyway it probably won't be a problem for too many people, and even if it is putting them in Winamp and exporting the .wavs from there will do the trick. The samples included aren't amazing, but are certainly usable, take the Rhodes patches for instance, both are nice and would sit well in a mix, and the samples you don't like could easily be mangled into something else that you may. All in all DS404 had me creating my own multisamples within a day, having never done it before. It's well worth the price of the mag, and should be a welcome addition to any VST setup as well as a great way to intro yourself to the world of sampling. I'm looking forward to what Muon does with it.
This really is a good basic sampler. Sure it isn't Kontact or Halion but it really does provide high quality basic sampling.
My only real gripe with the DS404 is the GUI. While it may be just a issue of getting into the "habit" of using its four button system, it is certainly not the most intuitive method for editing a patch.
Pros - Good simple VSTi sampler, nice sound, very easy to install, good collection (with some fixing) of presets.
First impression: The DS-404 comes like a full commercial product: an own CD including the program files (mac/pc), manuals as PDF files, and tons of ready-to-go soundfiles.
Installation: As I like it best: a simple DLL to drop in your VST folder.
Starting the Sampler: Well, to me, the UI isn't self explaining. Loading Patches is easy, but if you start creating your own sample-sets it's strongly recommended to consult the manual, or - even better - the quick step-by-step introduction in the CM-journal.
Handling: The system of four buttons with changing meaning is somewhat confusing. I'm badly missing keyboard control and sometimes I instinctively tried to press a F-key on my computer-keyboard. OK, it's just a question of habit. But sometimes it's annoying. E.g. you set a new keyzone for a sample and intend to delete it. Then you have to leave the keyzone-mode first by pressing the OK-button before you can delete the last active keyzone by clicking F2. But that's of minor importance.
My personal PRO's: + Full-featured with keyzones, Layers and Multitimbral facilities + Small and reduced to the necessary functions + Single outputs + All-in-one fileformat + Simple and effective loop-mode
No "CON's", but rather "wishes": - Sometimes hassle with handling (function-buttons) - No request for saving of changed patches when closing the instance of DS-404 (!!!) - Arrow-Mousepointers when changing the keyzones (compare e.g. mousepointers on changing System-windows)
What could I finally say? I've ever dreamed of a small but powerfull sampler-VSTi. 3S and Helios were too simple, VSampler, HALion, EXS, Kontakt, etc., were too overloaded with features I didn't want. And now a well-designed piece of software is available to everyone for a sensational price. Grab your copy! :-)
There are a load of samplers out there at the moment. When you need dense, crazy sample twisting, no doubt you'd go to Kontakt or VSampler, but for basic sampling duties like your granny use to do with her Emu, DS404 is pretty tough to beat. You're not going to find built in effects, realtime time-stretching or even disk-streaming here, but you WILL find a solid workhorse with a comprehensive set of killer filters. If you have the CM101, Electron, or any other of the excellent Muon offerings, you already know how good that sounds. Well, this time there are a ton of 'em, from the usual low-pass 12 and 24 dB variety to some somewhat esoteric types I've not seen elsewhere. You get a whopping 640 megs of great sounds (some of which are mine!), and all for the cost of a magazine. A few of the sounds had some trouble spots, but CM have already offered downloadable, fixed versions. You get a four page tutorial in the magazine, and an excellent electronic manual, so you ought not to have any trouble getting around. If I have any complaints, it's that I initially found myself trying uselessly to adjust the parameters by scrolling the text values, instead of using the "function keys". I soon got accustomed to the way the interface was set up, and now I find that I can fly across it when programming sounds. In fact, I have more expensive samplers at my disposal, but I find myself coming back to the DS404 for my daily sampling duties. The keymapping is brilliantly implemented, and there are enough synthesis functions to change a sound beyound all recognition. It's multitimbral, and thus you can create some pretty thick layers. Muon's support is always top-notch, but you'll likely not need it. The DS404 is as stable as stonework.
I think the magazine is selling out rapidly, so if you want the sounds included in the extra disk, you'd better get on it. I'm sure, though, that more are to come, and I the sampler itself will be available on future issues.