Analog Obsession has released SPre, a freeware VST/VST3/AU plugin effect that emulates the tonal characteristics of the E-mu SP-12 vintage sampler.
SPre is a multi-effect plugin that emulates the preamp circuit and the filter of the E-mu SP-12 hardware sampler. E-mu SP-12 is one of the most sought-after vintage samplers and has a legendary status in the beat-making community. This is mainly so because the instrument was used on numerous classic and modern hip-hop records. It was also the first commercially successful drum sampler. Many music producers and beatmakers describe the SP-12 as their go-to secret weapon for warming up drum samples.
One of the secrets behind the SP-12’s signature sound is that it is, in fact, a 12-bit sampler. The lower bit depth degrades the audio quality, but it also makes the samples sound more interesting. People often describe the sonic character of old 12-bit samplers as warm and crunchy. As for the SPre plugin, there is no bit depth reduction happening under the hood. It only emulates the preamp character and dynamic character of the original hardware.
SPre’s user interface is organized into two sections. The filter module is positioned on the left, and the mixer section is on the right. The filter module provides direct control over the cutoff frequency and the Q factor, along with the attack and release time parameters for the dynamics section. The filter’s behavior can be adjusted using the Mode knob. Pushing this knob to the right will engage the filter envelope.
The mixer section is where you’ll find the Mix knob and the output volume control. The Mix knob blends the signal passing through SPre’s built-in preamp with the clean signal. This is the only way to adjust the amount of analog saturation that is applied to the signal.
SPre is a simple filter/preamp combo that does its job very well. I especially liked the sound of the preamp circuit. It worked tremendously well on percussive loops and drum beats, making them sound more exciting and saturated without any hint of harsh distortion.
If you like the idea behind SPre, try using a bitcrusher plugin in combination with a filter and a saturator to emulate a vintage sampler in more detail. You can also check out TAL-Sampler, a virtual instrument based on old-school samplers such as the E-mu SP-12. And finally, there’s the RX950 ($20) plugin that emulates the AD/DA conversion process of the Akai S950 sampler.
To download your free copy od SPre, visit the product page linked below and scroll down to find the direct download links. Registration is not required. Also, you do not need to add the product to your shopping cart to get the plugin. The download links are available right there on the product page.
More info: SPre (6.92 MB download size, ZIP archive, 32-bit & 64-bit VST/VST3/AU plugin format for Windows & macOS)