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F
requently Asked Questions
 

About Products and Platforms

Web Site Policy

 

About Products and Platforms

I heard that Sample Wrench used to be a commercial product. Is it really free now and why?

Yes, Wrench used to be a commercial product and it did have an appropriate list price. For a variety of reasons, we decided to make all of our titles freeware. This decision was influenced by our academic and athletic offerings. Our athletic software has always been free, partly in an effort to help people get healtier. And while the developer of Sample Wrench is also a published author of commercial college engineering texts, the recent trend toward open educational resources (i.e., freely redistributable textbooks and other materials) has been heartening to see. Several open, freely redistributable titles aimed at college electrical engineering and technology students are now available on our site, all authored here. In spite of loud voices to the contrary, not everything has to be done in the name of profit. And in keeping with that spirit, it was decided that Sample Wrench would become freeware. After all, it would be the dissident thing to do. Some might also suggest that's an appropriately subversive maneuver designed to undermine growing corporatism in society. Some might, anyway.

What's the difference between Sample Wrench and Sample Wrench XE?

XE is an easy-to-use editor that stores sounds using 16 bit resolution. Its big brother stores all sound data internally using a 32 bit floating point format.This yields 24 bit resolution with over 190 dB dynamic range for the highest possible audio quality. With XE, you still get great effects with real-time preview, presets and adjustable parameters. You still get Wrench's highly accurate and flexible graphing capabilities. You still get support for a wide range of file formats and MIDI/SMDI samplers. You still get integrated on-line help. What do you get with the full Sample Wrench system? Well, you get a bunch more effects and functions (like Pitch Shift, Time Compression, Resynthesis, Spectral Warp, FM, Parametric EQ, dedicated Loop Window, Flange, Level Compressor, the Interactive Keyboard Window, etc.) You get the ability to open up to 99 editors instead of one. You get the really neat Multi-Clip clipboard- you can create an unlimited number of sound clips and trade them freely among all of the open editors. You get functions and effects which can be aborted mid-stream, and progress bars.You get a bunch of ways of defining edit areas. You get tons of conveniences like floating toolbars, waveform view memories, automatic startup configurations, directory control, etc. And to top it off, you get the Visual Basic compatible script/macro language. You can do all kinds of things with this, from automating repetitive taks to creating your own custom DSP functions. Need to translate an entire directory of sounds from one format to another? Want to create your own user interface for an existing effect? Need to string together a complex chain of effects for several different sounds? You can do them all! We even include example scripts that show you exactly how!

I'm having some trouble with Sample Wrench's on-line help system.

There are two issues which sometimes arise in this area. First, Windows might not be able to find the Wrench.hlp file. If this error pops up you can direct Windows to it manually. It is located in Sample Wrench's Program folder. For example, if you did a standard install of Sample Wrench on XP, the location will be C:\Program Files\dissidents\Sample Wrench\Program. The second issue revolves around the more recent versions of Windows such as 7 or 8. For whatever reason, Microsoft decided not to include the help system application which they used on many prior versions of Windows. Not a problem though; you can download this application (WinHlp32.exe) from microsoft.com.

Must I use Sample Wrench only with MIDI samplers?

Absolutely not! Sample Wrench works great with your computer's audio. You don't have to have a MIDI sampler to enjoy its editing and analysis prowess!

Do your products support SMDI?

Yep. Both Sample Wrench and SXVirtual can communicate via SMDI (SCSI Musical Data Interchange) for a 50 to 100 fold speed improvement over MIDI. Besides a SMDI sampler, you need a SCSI card in your computer. The card must be ASPI compliant (ASPI was developed by Adaptec and is supported by most cards). 

Which MIDI samplers do you support?

First, if you're concerned about MIDI samplers, contact us first! Unfortunately, due to the fact that samplers are somewhat of a "retro" device these days and are not generally manufactured anymore, we are no longer developing or expanding support for them. All MIDI and SCSI based sample transfer is offered "as is". We can, however, help you determine if the sample transfers will work on your system. Just contact us with the hardware details and we'll go from there. In any event... 

There are two sample transfer standards: SDS (Sample Dump Standard) for MIDI, and SMDI (SCSI Musical Data Interchange) for SCSI. SMDI is about 50 to 100 times faster than SDS. Most second-generation and later vintage samplers support either SDS or SMDI. Sample Wrench supports SDS in both 12 and 16 bit modes, and SMDI. Many older 8 or 12 bit samplers use proprietary protocols. Sample Wrench supports some of these.

Warning: Some MIDI interfaces do not support the long System Exclusive (SYSEX) messages that are required in order to transfer sound samples between the sampler and computer. Please check your MIDI interface owner's manual to make sure that it supports SYSEX. Also, MIDI sample dumps are rather slow as they are limited by the speed of MIDI itself. To transfer a few seconds of sound to a vintage sampler may require a few minutes.

A word of caution about SMDI; just because a sampler has a SCSI port doesn't mean that it supports SMDI. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer. To take advantage of SMDI, your computer's SCSI controller must be ASPI compliant if you're running Windows. Finally, many samplers have had operating system updates over the years to correct bugs. Without these updates a given sampler may not transfer data properly. If you have any questions about a specific sampler, contact us. Please note that we do not offer technical support for the samplers themselves, or software updates for them. For that, see the manufacturer.

Below is a list of older SDS and SMDI samplers. It is not an exhaustive list. Not all of these samplers have been verified by dissidents as adhering to the SDS/SMDI standards, but are advertised by the manufacturer as such. At the bottom is a list of proprietary samplers that are supported by Sample Wrench.

 

 

Web Site Policy

 

Our site policy is very simple. This site exists so that interested folk can find out more about us and the neat stuff we make. Further, it exists so that users of our neat stuff can find out about the latest updates, download freebies, or get technical support. It is not designed as some bizarre cyber art-deco palace or marketing data-mining tool, and we avoid rabid capitalist trickery. We want it to be fast and easy to use. Thus, this site doesn't require a bunch of plug-ins. It's also cookie-free and ad-free. We don't share your registration info with other developers or companies unless you specifically request that we do so. We've tried to make it look nice no matter what browser you're using, and we've also avoided huge JPEG and GIF files which can really bog down surfing. Finally, there are no background sounds or MIDI files playing for similar reasons. That's it. Nice. Simple. Efficient. OK, so it's not sexy, but is sexy really a word you want to use in describing your relationship with a computer anyway?

 

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