A module that offers voltage control over audio files is hard to resist—especially when it samples in real time. With the Sampleslicer (€335 direct; roughly $365), Ginko Synthese (ginkosynthese.com) provides a convenient way to record up to 15 seconds of 12-bit digital audio and then manipulate it manually or with CVs.
As you capture a sample, the skiff-friendly module’s software divides the incoming audio into 16 parts based on the rate of the signal present at the clock input. It then plays through the 16 steps linearly while individual LEDs show you where you are in the sample and how much of it you’re accessing. During playback, you can change the starting point, alter the pitch, and adjust the Play Length using dedicated controls or CVs.
Unfortunately, you cannot reverse playback or rearrange the slices. Moreover, you cannot save or recall loops: That would go against the design philosophy of this module. While the lack of storage simplifies things in one respect, there were times when I hated losing the sample I had captured. Be sure to have your DAW standing by and ready to record.
To capture sound, hit the Sample button or automatically initiate sampling by patching a signal into the Trigger input. The Auto setting lets you hear the source signal while the module’s buffer fills. Select One-shot and the sampled sound will play only once after it’s captured. Use Loop to make it repeat, then plug a signal into the Gate input to rhythmically interrupt playback with the source signal. All of this control allows you to create patches where the module samples and manipulates sound on its own, with or without the source input being heard—very nice!
The length of the sample is determined with the Sample Length knob, which divides the incoming clock in five ways—1/8, 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, or 1. To get the longest sample, set the control to 1, send a pulse into the Clock input, and watch as each LED lights to indicate the 16 sampled steps. Set the knob to 1/2 to fill the buffer in half the time, or to 1/4 to halve that further. Once the buffer is full, the sound plays back from whichever starting point and Play Length are selected.
To control the Start Point and alter the pitch of the sample using a CV patched from a keyboard, switch from 0-5V to 1/V and set the Sample Length to 1. The amount of pitch change and whether the Pitch input responds to linear V/octave or Hz/V is set by holding down the Sample button while powering up the module. Depending on your choice, you have the ability to drop the pitch as much as 4.5 octaves or raise it 1.5 times. Pitch things way down and you’re treated to the lovely aliasing timbres of early samplers.
I used a variety of CV sources to modulate sample playback—LFOs, joysticks, envelopes—all of them worked well. The most interesting results came about when I used a randomized pulse to initiate sampling while patching the module’s output through a modulated filter, then back to the input to create a feedback loop—ever-evolving crunchiness!
Whether you’re grabbing sound from your synth or the outside world, Sampleslicer will transform it quickly and in wonderful ways.