Zoom ST-224

The ST-224 is one of my favorite samplers.  It’s not the most advanced and it’s not one of those old 12-bit samplers that people go nuts for, but it has its own charm.

This one came out in 1998 or so, when “grooveboxes” were just starting to flood the market.  It does add some personality to samples (I like the “regular” setting more than the “long” setting for this and I use it mainly for drum samples).  There aren’t a lot of parameters you can edit on samples with it but it does allow for pitch adjustment per sample, truncating and sample play mode (one shot, loop, retrigger).  A big selling point for it at the time was the auto sync feature and it is quite useful if you’re working with loops.  Basically, you can assign one sample as the master for tempo and match any others you select to it.

It has midi in but not out, so you won’t be able to use its sequencer on external gear, unfortunately.  Makes for a great drum module though.  The pads feel nice but are, unfortunately, not velocity sensitive.  The ST will respond to velocity from an external source, though.

There is a pretty basic effects section that has a few useful bits.  I like the pitch shifter, distortion and dimension effects the best.  There is not much tweaking to be done, however, with one knob controlling wet/dry and the edit wheel altering one parameter for each effect (ex: it alters tone for the distortion effect, reverb time for the reverb effect, etc.).  Re-sampling is available and very easy to do so you can apply multiple effects that way, just not live.  Also, you can apply the effects to incoming audio with two simple button presses.

As for memory, it’s actually pretty respectable for its time.  You get 31 seconds stereo sampling time at the highest quality.  Mono takes half the time, of course, and you can have a lot more time if you use the lower quality settings.  Perhaps most importantly, the ST can take 3.3 volt Smartmedia cards up to 16mb.  If you fill up the entire memory and save it, it will take right around 2mb, so you can store quite a few separate data sets.  If you use it as a drum machine where you are probably using only a fraction of the data, you could save quite a few more.  There is a very useful editor that is pretty hard to locate online but is extremely useful.  I actually forgot exactly where I downloaded it but I do have it and I will upload it here as soon as I figure out how to do it so it will be permanent.

All in all, I would say that the ST-224 is still quite useful, even today.  They are quite cheap and I would expect that you could easily snag one on fleabay for under $100 if you watch for a little bit.




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