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Understanding Samples

Sampled signal.png

Before you progress into working with the Wavetable you should have a general understanding of what the term Samples refers to. In the case of Wavetable samples, a sample refers to an audio file which may be triggered to produce that sound within a song.

One of the powers of sampling is the ability to take a single waveform and play it at many different notes. This is known as resampling. For example, resampling would allow you to record one note of a piano, thus play various notes. Unfortunately in most cases problems arise when playing notes too many semitones away from the originally recorded pitch (tone). This problem is solved by using Multi-samples (also called Instruments). A multi-sample is basically a group of samples with specific attributes assigned to each sample. In Buzz, this includes loops and envelopes. In most cases each audio sample is assigned a range (known as a split) of notes. Therefore when you play a specific note, the Wavetable triggers the sample assigned to that note.

Other instances of sampling do not require resampling of audio. In the case of Drum Machines, usually only one individual note per sample is required, therefore notes are not even available in some machines, but rather Triggers instead. This is true in the instance of playing a kick-drum or a snare for example.

To add confusion, a Sample is also the term for the smallest unit of time within an audio sample. It is equal to 1 byte for an 8bit sample, 2 bytes for a 16bit sample, 3 bytes for a 24bit sample and 4 bytes for a 32bit sample. A higher bitrate means that its possible to record audio with a higher dynamic range and lower signal-to-noise ratio. Buzz mixes and routes audio between machines at 32bit, some machines may process audio at other bitrates internally.

The sample rate determines how many times a second a value is recorded. For a file recorded at 44.1 khz, this means 44,100 samples (values) per second of audio. Other common sample rates are 22.05 khz, 32khz, 48khz, 96khz, and 192khz.

The Wavetable can load any of the afforementioned bit rates / sample rates and machines such as Matilde_Tracker play them all correctly.

Unfortunately the term "sample" doesn't even stop here. To add to even more confusion, there exists a verb; "sampling". The very method of creating samples is called sampling. Therefore to sample audio refers to physically recording that audio for the purpose of using those samples in other music.

Lastly, the term Sampler refers to a device which accomplishes all of these feats. A combination of the Buzz Wavetable Editor and any Sample-oriented machine (for instance the Matilde_Tracker) forms a nice Sampler device.