The Mirage is an 8-bit sampler from the mid 1980s featuring eight voices of polyphony, an analog Curtis CEM3328 4-pole filter, and variable sample rate ranging from 10kHz to 50kHz. Known for its gritty, lo-fi crunch, buttery filter, complex hexadecimal editing system (!?) and affordability, this keyboard still stands out today as one of the coolest and most unique sounding samplers of all time - and it's our personal favorite, over the Emulator, SP-1200, and the S612.
While the Mirage is only an 8 bit sampler, it will still shine the most with the highest quality possible sources, filled with harmonics. So, we began by tracking a myriad of source instruments, from grand and electric piano, celeste, acoustic and electronic bass and guitar, strings, horns and synths, through a Neve 8026 and an API 1608.
To create more complex patches and mimic the sound of sampling our favorite records (legally), we dove into our own music sessions and captured layered movements, stacked stabs, chordal fragments - anything that provided complex harmonic structure for the Mirage's input.
Often the best sounds are made by marrying two opposing concepts, and the Mirage does exactly this. The distortion and low bit rate add gritty, tough-sounding harmonics, which are then softened, to taste, by the beautiful, analog 24dB Curtis filter. The harmonics allow sounds to punch through the mix - exactly how much and when is determined by that sweet, dynamic filter.
Armed with this knowledge, we chose our favorite single notes from the sources described above, and, adding slight EQ as needed, sampled directly into the Mirage's 1/4" input, varying the amount of input clipping for each patch.
As needed, we employed a filter input expansion port graciously provided by one of our customers (who is nothing less than a Mirage genius, and is designing his own cards). This expansion proved absolutely essential in eliminating the whiny, un-musical overtones the Mirage inherently creates, by bumping the sample rate up to 50kHz, and adding a variable LP filter setting. At times, the card can be too clean, so proceed with caution!
While sampling, we purposefully set the input threshold low, to capture the natural pre-attack for the acoustic sources - something that adds a human feel and timing that is often lost in overworked factory library patches.
Relying on our burgeoning Hexadecimal skills, we also utilized the LFO, sample start time, and envelope settings, further shaping each patch, and allowing us to obscure and synthesize the instruments to taste, for instance, turning an acoustic guitar into an 80s electric piano.
The resulting 34 multi-sampled patches range from strong and straightforward to more complex, intricate, and complex samples. The simple patches are flexible and great for breathing lo-fi goodness into existing productions, while the more obscured instruments are perfect for finding inspiration when starting a track from scratch.
You'll get dreamy pianos, warm strings, layered stabs and chords, horns, dusty acoustic bass, nylon guitar, vintage synths, choir vocals and more 🌊.
In addition to multi-samples, we've included 44 Various One Shots - an eclectic batch of Mirage hits that are a blast to pepper a track with oddball textures and progressions, or start a fresh, Mirage-inspired production.
As usual, the instruments are mapped and formatted for major DAWs, and the WAV samples themselves can be dropped directly into your favorite software or hardware sampler, or directly onto the timeline. The Mirage truly has the substance to tackle any style!
The Mirage is our favorite keyboard sampler of all time for its sound, and ease of use. Yes, ease of use! Once you get the hang of editing, it's way quicker than something like the Emulator. And it sounds better.
This library was the perfect opportunity for us to add so many instruments to the bundle that we hadn't sampled yet - strings, pianos, e-pianos, guitars, basses, and horns. While our lo-fi samples are often tough, hard and gritty, these are our smoothest instruments yet.
This pack is also the perfect collaboration with our customers - in a survey sent out earlier this year, this was among the top choice for what to sample. And we'd be waiting to sample it until we could get a hold of the elusive filter input card, which was provided by a customer! 🤝
We can’t wait to use these patches in our own productions, and we look forward to hearing some of your Mirage bangers as well! 🌊