Table of Contents
Sampling data comprises samples and multisamples that live in the M3's volatile system RAM. System default (multi)samples also live in the M3's non-volatile system ROM (and are the basis for all system default programs and drum kits), but for the purpose of this article we will not consider these internal ROM (multi)samples because there is very little that you can do with them other than assign them to programs and drum kits.
Sampling data and the things that use it
Understanding M3 samples
An M3 sample is an object that contains a single channel of a stereo waveform, or that contains a mono waveform. The M3 manuals talk about "wavesamples" and "drumsamples" but these are misnomers. These are both exactly the same thing as a "sample". M3 samples live in the volatile RAM of the M3 and are not saved when the M3 is turned off, so they must be saved to external media and reloaded when you want to work with objects that use the samples. Sample files on external media are identified by a KSF extension.
When the sample is loaded into the M3's RAM, the long descriptive name that it displays in the SAMPLING section is different from the file name of the sample when it is saved to external media. When viewing samples on external media in the MEDIA section, you can use the Translation command to switch between the sample's file name and its long descriptive name.
A stereo sample is actually two separate objects that are linked by virtue of having the exact same descriptive name, with the exception of a -L or -R suffix at the end of the descriptive name. When the M3 sees these two files in its internal RAM, it automatically considers them as the two channels of a single stereo sample.
Whether you have only the basic 64MB RAM (called RAM1), or the optional EXB-M256 (called RAM2), you have 4000 available slots for M3 samples. (These are separate from the slots available for multisamples, songs, and cue lists.) A stereo sample comprises two different files so it uses two slots. The two channels of a stereo sample do not have to occupy contiguous slots. The only difference between having 64MB total or 320MB total is in the overall amount of sampling time available.
When you load a non-M3 sample file into the M3, such as a WAV file, the information is converted to the M3 sample format. For example, if you load a stereo WAV file into the M3, the result is two samples placed into two slots, with the descriptive names for each being the same as the original wave file name, with added -L and -R suffixes. On the other hand, if you load a mono WAV file into the M3, the result is a single sample with the descriptive name exactly matching the original wave file name (and no suffix).
You create samples either by using the SAMPLING feature of the M3 to transform audio material into a multisample (which automatically creates the associated samples too), or by using the MEDIA feature to load samples from supported external file formats into the M3. You do not directly edit samples. Instead, you edit parameters about the sample when it is included in a multisample or in a drum kit. The same sample can be used in different multisamples and drumkits, and each such multisample/drumkit can use the sample in different ways. For example, one multisample might loop only a small portion of the sample, while another multisample might play the entire sample through one time only.
Understanding M3 multisamples
An M3 multisample is basically just a special keymap that points at one or more actual sample slots in the M3 RAM, assigning each sample to note zones or specific notes on the keyboard (known as indexes), and controls some other basic parameters about the way that the samples are played back. The multisample itself does not contain any sound data—only samples contain sound data.
Multisamples are assigned to M3 programs whose oscillator mode is set to Single or Double, and they provide the underlying "dry" waveforms that are modified by the oscillators and other parameters of the program.
Like samples, multisamples are stored in RAM and are therefore lost when the M3 is turned off, so they must be saved to external media and reloaded when you want to work with programs that use the multisamples. Multisample files on external media are identified by a KMP extension.
When the multisample is loaded into the M3's RAM the long descriptive name that it displays in the SAMPLING section is different from the file name of the multisample on external media. When viewing multisamples on external media in the MEDIA section, you can use the Translation command to switch between the multisample's file name and its long descriptive name.
A stereo multisample is actually two separate KMP files that are linked by virtue of having the exact same descriptive name, with the exception of a -L or -R suffix at the end of the descriptive name. When the M3 sees these two files in its internal RAM, it automatically considers them as the two channels of a single stereo multisample.
Whether you have only the basic 64MB RAM (called RAM1), or the optional EXB-M256 (called RAM2), the M3 contains exactly 1000 available slots for multisamples. (These are separate from the slots available for samples, songs, and cue lists.) A stereo multisample comprises two different files so it uses two slots. The two channels of a stereo multisample do not have to occupy contiguous slots (but usually do)
You create and edit multisamples by using the SAMPLING feature of the M3 either through methods that capture audio material, or by creating an empty multisample and then assigning already-existing samples to the empty multisample.
Understanding M3 drum kits
An M3 drum kit is also basically just a special keymap, very similar to a multisample, that points at many actual samples and doesn't contain any sound data itself. It also has some very different parameters than a multisample for controlling the way that the samples are played back.
You do not "play" a drum kit directly. Instead, drum kits are assigned to M3 programs whose oscillator mode is set to Drums, and the program itself then becomes the thing that you actually play (or reference as the program to use in the Drum Track of another program).
Unlike samples and multisamples, drum kits are stored in special drum kit banks and they persist even when the M3 is turned off. On external media, the saved drum kit banks are in the Drum Kits object in a PCG file.
You create and edit drum kits by using the GLOBAL feature of the M3 to create an empty drum kit and then assigning already-existing samples to the empty drum kit. Note that most drumkits will use default system samples from the internal M3 ROM, but you can mix and match internal ROM samples with volatile RAM samples (which can pose some tricky data management issues).
The usefulness of saving and loading KSC "snapshots" of your entire RAM
Every object in the M3 that uses sampling data relies on a specific RAM slot number to identify the correct (multi)sample, instead of just looking through RAM for a descriptive name. This can pose some issues when you try to manually load specific (multi)samples one at a time from external media, because you can end up with objects that reference the wrong (multi)sample because it's in a different RAM slot than the one specified in the object looking for the (multi)sample. This situation is similar to loading a bank of programs into a different bank than they were originally when saved to external media, and suddenly you have combis that can no longer find the correct programs.
Symptoms of this type of problem with loading your sampling data include things like some of your programs and drumkits will suddenly stop sounding right, and in severe cases you might have no easy way to get the (multi)samples properly hooked up to the objects that use them again.
The following tips can help you avoid problems like these:
- Save your sampling data to external media by using the All option. This ensures that:
- every single piece of sampling data in RAM is saved to the external media, and
- A special KSC file is created that logs the exact (multi)sample slot into which each (multi)sample goes.
- This KSC file and its related folder with the actual sampling data in it comprises a full "snapshot" of the sampling data in your M3's RAM.
- Load your sampling data back into RAM by loading the entire KSC file and the PCG file that contains the related objects that use the (multi)samples in the KSC file in a single operation by selecting the Load [filename].PCG too option and being certain to select the Append allocation option.
- This completely loads the contents of the KSC file without overwriting any existing samples in RAM that might be used by another sound set that you loaded in this session, and it also loads the PCG file contents and dynamically remaps the (multi)sample slot number assignments in the programs and drum kits from the PCG file when they are loaded into the M3.
- This is the only process that will enable you to easily load several sound sets into the M3 in one session if those sound sets all rely on different (multi)samples being in RAM.
- Always save the drumkits and programs (and combis that use those programs) that rely on your user-created sampling data to a PCG file every time you save new "snapshots" of your RAM.
- When saving the PCG file, give it the exact same name as the KSC file (For example: MYSTUFF.KSC and MYSTUFF.PCG). This enables you to load both files in one operation
- If you have created M3 songs that contain programs that rely on your user-created sampling data, you should save those songs to the same folder on external media where you keep the KSC and PCG file.
- This makes it clear what underlying PCG and KSC files must be loaded into the M3 to ensure that the song plays back properly.
For more information about the reasoning behind some of these tips, see Korg M3: Best practices for installing 3rd-party sound sets
Understanding the Save Sampling Data options
Important: Remember the tips in the previous section. Some of the following options are potentially dangerous and can result in permanently-corrupted programs, drum kits, and (multi)samples if you're not very confident of what you're doing.
- If you save One Sample, only that sample is saved to media (as a KSF file).
- If you save All Samples, you end up with a KSC file and an identically-named folder that contains all the samples in a flat list.
- If you save One Multisample, you end up with a KMP file (the multisample) and an identically-named folder that contains all the multisample's associated samples (KSF files).
- If you save All Multisamples, you end up with a KSC file and an identically-named folder that contains multiple KMP files and their multiple related subfolders with the actual KSF files (the samples) that they use.
- If you save All, you get a KSC file just like for saving All Multisamples, but you also get the miscellanous samples floating around in RAM that might not have been assigned to any multisample. This is useful because some of your samples might be used for Drum Kits instead of multisamples and only the All option will ensure that everything in RAM that you need for your programs, drum kits, and songs is saved to media and mapped out in a KSC file.
More details about stereo versus mono (multi)samples
The handling of stereo and mono (multi)samples can be extremely confusing at first, and the M3 manuals do not really explain the differences at all.
Important: The points in the following two subsections should make it clear why you should never delete one channel of a stereo (multi)sample. It might appear that a given -R or -L variant isn't actually assigned to any program or drumkit, but in fact they are assigned because they are automatically treated as one unit by the M3 regardless of which channel you see listed in a program or drumkit.
Stereo versus mono samples
- When you create a stereo sample, either by loading a stereo file (such as WAV) from media or by recording something through the M3 sampler, the left and right channels of that sample are actually stored as two separate samples in two separate sample slots in RAM. So one stereo sample requires two of your 1000 available sample slots. The left channel is designated with -L at the end of its name, and the right channel is designated with -R.
- When you create a mono sample, it requires only one sample slot and the sample name does not have an -L or -R designation.
- When you assign a stereo sample to a drum kit note, it doesn't matter whether you choose the slot with the left channel or the slot with the right channel. The system will automatically use both channels even though you'll see only the specific channel that you chose in the drum kit editor.
- When you assign a stereo sample to a stereo multisample, you only need to assign the sample to the one of the actual multisample slots. The system will automatically set up the other multisample slot with the other channel of the sample. For example, if you open the slot for the -L multisample and assign the -L sample to it, when you look at the -R multisample you'll see that the -R sample has already been assigned.
- Similar to the preceding bullet, when you edit a stereo multisample, you only need to work on the -L version or the -R version. All changes you make to one are automatically applied to the other.
Stereo versus mono multisamples
- When you create a stereo multisample, the M3 actually creates two multisamples and puts them into two multisample slots in RAM. The first multisample is the left channel and is designated with -L, and the second multisample is the right channel and is designated with -R.
- Both of these two slots are completely interlinked and whatever you do to one is automatically done to the other as well. So when working with stereo multisamples it's easiest to always work with the -L slot. As mentioned above, when you load the -L channel of a sample into the -L channel of the multisample, the -R channel of the sample is automatically loaded into the -R channel of the multisample.
- When you create a mono multisample, it requires only one multisample slot and the multisample name does not have an -L or -R designation.
- When you assign a stereo multisample to a program (on the P2: OSC/Pitch page of the program), you can choose only one of the two available channels, but the system is really automatically using both channels of the multisample under the covers, similar to how both channels of a stereo sample are automatically assigned to a drum kit.
- You can assign a mono sample to a stereo multisample. When you do this, the sample is automatically duplicated in both the -L and -R versions of the multisample. There's generally no need to do this unless you want to mix both stereo and mono samples in the same multisample.
Other useful tips and facts
- A KSC file doesn't contain any sampling data itself. It is merely a "load list" that points to an identically-named folder on the MEDIA where the sampling data resides, and which records the original slot number of every (multi)sample that it contains. A KSC file and its related folder must reside in the same folder of the external media to be correctly loaded into the M3.
- When viewing sampling data in the MEDIA mode, selecting the Translation command from the page menu displays the actual (multi)sample descriptive names as seen in the SAMPLING mode. If the Translation command is not selected, you will see only the file names, which are often less informative.
- To save (multi)samples, you must use the MEDIA Save Sampling Data command.