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Article #63 (74 is last):
Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.product.8bit.reviews
From: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Subject: Replay / sound / commercial
Posted-By: xx004 (aa700 - Michael Current)
Reply-To: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Date: Fri Jun  5 22:27:37 1992




Reprinted from Usenet.


  The Replay sound digitizer review
  ---------------------------------

  Article by: Dean Garraghty
  --------------------------

  You may wonder why I'm reviewing a product which I previously claimed was no
  longer available. Well, thanks to Gralin International, Replay is available
  again! I'm assuming Gralin are just selling Replay in exactly the same form
  as 2-bit systems did originally, because I'm writing this review about my
  Replay cartridge which came from 2-bit exactly 5 years ago!

  Replay is a sound digitizer, used for sampling sounds of any sort. I
  discussed sound sampling on issue 1 of the newsdisk.

  The Replay package comes with the Replay cartridge, a disk of software and a
  manual. The disk contains the sampling software, a playback routine for Basic
  programs, and also DigiDrum and DigiSynth, as well as a space invaders game
  (doesn't mention this in the manual!). The version 2 disk (which I think
  Gralin will be supplying) also has an echo program. More on this later.

  Replay is quite different to other samplers on the Atari, because it does all
  the A/D conversion externally and then sends digital data via the cartridge
  port. This is a very classy way of sampling! A lot of samplers took advantage
  of the Atari's in-built A/D facility. But, the in-built A/D conversion
  technique is far from accurate. The Replay cartridge uses A/D chips to do the
  conversion, which means a much more accurate conversion.

  Getting Started
  ---------------

  The first thing to do, is plug the Replay cartrdige into the cartridge
  socket. This doesn't affect the running of the computer in any way. Next, you
  boot the sampling software. This is a binary load file on a DOS 2.5 disk.
  After loading a very classy looking screen comes up. The whole system is
  based around pull down menus. These are accessed by using the console keys.
  The options on the menu bar are: SETUP, WIPE, SAMPLE, PLAY, FILE, (C).

  SETUP
  -----

  Selecting this option causes a pull down menu to appear. This lets you alter
  the sample rate (6, 8, 10, 12, 16, 21Khz are available), switch between disk
  and tape storage, calibrate your input source (in other words, get all the
  controls set up to give the best sample quality), reverse the sample, and set
  trigger levels (this allows you to let the computer start sampling as soon as
  the sound starts on your input).

  WIPE
  ----

  Clears the sample from memory.

  SAMPLE
  ------

  Starts sampling from your input source. Also allows you to listen to the
  sound coming in before you start sampling.

  PLAY
  ----

  Plays the sample.

  FILE
  ----

  Allows you to load, save, and take directories of samples.

  (c)
  ---

  Displays a copyright message!

  Using Replay
  ------------

  So, that's what it can do, but how does it perform?

  Well, I've been using replay for 5 years now, and I've picked up a few bits
  and pieces along the way!

  The input source can be anything which produces sound really. The replay
  cartridge has a wire coming out of it with a standard mono 1/4" jack on it.
  This will plug into a tape player, radio, CD player, etc. Of course, the
  sound coming in must be amplified in some way. It's no good trying to sample
  a signal from a CD player! Anything which has a volume control can be
  considered as being an amplifier. A graphic equalizer is also worth having in
  your source, or at the very least a good tone control. The input must be as
  clear as possible to get good results. As I mentioned earlier, a few
  different sample rates are available. 6Khz is really just for voice. 16/21Khz
  are needed for really good quality. But, samples take up large amounts of
  memory, and high quality samples need lots! Using 21KHz, only 3 seconds of
  sound will fit in memory! At 6Khz, about 9 seconds will fit.

  The sampling software is very easy to use, but the constant use of the
  console keys soon makes fast operation clumsy. A straight-forward list of
  options would have been better. The middle of the screen shows a graphical
  form of the sample. This also allows you to do some editing on the sample.
  Two markers can be moved by using < > and + *. These are used as start and
  end markers. When you execute options from the menu, the action operates on
  the sample contained within these 2 markers. So if you used wipe, only the
  sample inbetween the 2 markers would be wiped, and so on. You keep
  experimenting with the markers until you have the section of the sample you
  want. Then you can save the sample to disk. The voice sample on this disk was
  done using Replay, using a sample rate of 10Khz.

  The manual is awful! No other word could be found to describe it! It really
  lets the system down. It comes as an A5 booklet, which looks OK, but the
  content isn't! You will need to experiment a lot after reading the manual,
  because there are lots of things which just don't make sense at first,
  especially if you are new to sampling.

  The disk also contains a Basic program in LIST format, which contains a
  machine code player routine for playing samples in your own programs. This
  program also lets Replay down a lot, because it only lets you play back at
  the set sample rates. You can speed up and slow down the playback by
  pretending the sample was sampled at a different rate, but that's about it.
  Of course, the screen is turned of completely while playing samples, because
  of the Antic chip stealing the data bus for updating the screen display. The
  manual gives an example Basic program using the routine, which is nice, but
  the rest of the explanation makes no sense at all!

  I mentioned earlier, the echo program. This just takes your input source and
  echos it at different speeds. Thing is, it is totally useless, because you
  can't store an echoed sample. It just sits there and echos the input. Really
  pretty guys, shame it's totally useless!

  Also on the disk are DigiDrum and DigiSynth. DigiDrum is an excellent drum
  sequencer with lots of features. DigiSynth is a VERY simple music programmer,
  with a range of just 1 octave. Tunes can be saved and played with any Replay
  sample. These two programs are in the usual style, with pull-down menus.

  The disk is finished off with a few samples, and a free space invaders game.
  Quite nice really!

  Replay works on any 48K 8-bit Atari. It is very fiddly to get the cartridge
  into XE machines, esecailly when you can't see the port!



  Conclusions
  -----------

  The sound quality of Replay samples is excellent. The software is very nice
  and easy to use. The manual leaves a lot to be desired! All in all an
  excellent sound sampling system.

  Replay costs 34.95 (pounds) from Gralin International, 11 Shillito Road,
  Parkstone, Poole, Dorset, BH12 2BN, England.
-- 
 Michael Current, Cleveland Free-Net 8-bit Atari SIGOp   -->>  go atari8  <<--
   The Cleveland Free-Net Atari SIG is the Central Atari Information Network
      Internet: currentm@carleton.edu / UUCP: ...!umn-cs!ccnfld!currentm
     BITNET: currentm%carleton.edu@{interbit} / Cleveland Free-Net: aa700





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