Akai S3000xl

1996, 32 note polyphonic, 44.1khz / 16bit stereo digital sampler

Akai S3000xl

It was once my dream to own one of these machines. I previously had a Roland W30 which was my main sampler for some time and a fantastic bit of kit but I always wanted the S3000 as it was full bandwidth, stereo, and it had the commonly used and great sounding Akai time-stretch.

It is a shame but I very rarely use this unit any more. I have all my samples from all my old music on floppy disks plus I did make some multi-sampled patches when I first got this sampler so it does still get used occasionally. However, the obvious advantages of software samplers and the on-screen mouse and keyboard interface have taken over. Mainly due to speed of use, it can take hours of button pushing to make a multi patch in the S3000 where I can make one in a matter of minutes in a soft sampler. Plus the routing means with software you can have almost unlimited outputs setup without using half my mixing desk to do it.

A piece of musical history and probably the most popular sampler of all time but other than looking cool it’s not something that has much value to me in the studio anymore.


AkaizerSo, is there anything my ancient Akai is useful for in the modern world? Timestretch?!?! (ttttiiimmmeeeessstttrrreeettccchhhh). So I hit the studio and fire up my S3000 to get that classic authentic 90’s time-wretch on one of my vocal samples, plugging in jack leads from the PC into the Akai and back, erm how does this work again… damn this takes a long time .. and why won’t it do what I want … 30 mins later: I wonder if there’s a decent software emulation…?

10 minutes after that I’ve got a library of wavs of my vocal sample in a selection of different lengths, pitches, and cycle lengths, and all sounding very Akai indeed! Much quicker, easier, more convenient, and I can’t hear anything that makes the software processing any different to the S3000 in my rack. The software is free with no adverts, it’s stable, runs on anything, the only thing it doesn’t do is open mp3’s, but that’s no great problem. Nice one Ben!



  • Paul says:

    Did you ever connect your S3000 to a PC (or Mac) via SCSI?


  • Loch says:

    I fully agree with your assessment of the S3000XL. But then this applies to anything from the S900 to the S6000.

    I dont care if the sampler is linked to your computer or not doing all of this in ableton is MUCH easier and quicker and like you say doesn’t take up half the mixing desk.

    Its such a shame, to me in my youth id have given my arm for an Akai! How things have changed in such a short time.

  • Will says:

    A very kind friend gave me a Akai S3000XL. I used to a S900 back in the day, but struggling to think of a reason to use a hardware sampler. Please give me a reason!

    • Chris says:

      Well, the Akai’s are pretty deep racks and make a good table, I have an oscilloscope and a MIDI thru box on my S01!

    • Xbass says:

      It sound so sold , I’ve got my s3000xl working in windows 10 with recycle and Mesa , it’s very fast and drums sound great and even better through a analogy mixer

  • Mick says:


    Just to keep your great site correct and not meaning to come across pedantic. But you say S3000 a few times here. But its the ‘XL’. Im sure you know this but there drastically different machines.

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