The SP-1200's intended use was as a drum machine and sequencer for dance music producers. However, its use as a phrase sampler produces a "gritty" sound due to the machine's 26.04 kHz sampling rate (roughly half the fidelity of a compact disc), its SSM2044 filter chips and its 12-bit sampling resolution. This distinctive sound, often said to capture the "warmth" of vinyl recordings, has sustained demand for the SP-1200 more than twenty years after its discontinuation, despite the introduction of digital audio workstations and samplers/sequencers with far superior technical specifications, such as the Akai MPC. The SP-1200 is strongly associated with hip hop's golden age.

The SP-1200 was THE drum machine & sampler combo of legendary status among old school rap and hip hop artists from the eighties and nineties. It is similar to today's Akai MPC samplers - it is a sampler plus drum machine. It has limited sampling specs: 26.040 kHz and 12-bit resolution. However the dirtiness of that sound is great for hip hop and house music. They say it sounds like "old vinyl"... It features groove quantizing and a disk drive for sample storage. As an upgraded version of the 1985 SP-12, the SP-1200 focused on its best feature - sampling. The preset drum sounds of the SP-12 were omitted, leaving room for up to 32 user samples of your own custom sampled and edited drum sounds.

Although this machine was originally released in 1987, E-mu has reissued them again and again due to popular demand. They continued producing them until they ran out of the SSM filter chips they used, around 1998. It was just too legendary to give up as it was THE beat machine for old-school rap and hip hop! In 1997 a final reissued model was released with a cooler looking all-black case. With the SP-1200 it's easy and fun to grab those sliders and tune or tweak your sampled drum sounds all around!

  • Polyphony - 8 voice
  • Sampler - 26.040 kHz, 12 bit sampling; 4 2.5 second blocks (10 seconds); 256 KB memory
  • Patterns - 100
  • Songs - 100
  • Keyboard - 8 Touch Pads
  • Memory - 32 patches
  • Control - MIDI, SMPTE
  • Date Produced - 1987 - 1998

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