Hands-On Review:Tascam GigaStudio 3.0

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The world's greatest sampler

By Dave Schwann


The world's greatest sampler

These days sampling has made it possible for musicians to have virtually any instrument sound in the world at their fingertips. Most hardware samplers, however, are limited in the size and quality of their sounds by limited memory and storage. Tascam's GigaStudio 3.0 is a computer-based sampling instrument that has the advantage of residing in an open-ended, expandable platform. Advanced streaming technology allows the software to play samples directly off your hard drive for sounds of extraordinary depth and detail.


GigaStudio 3.0 is available either in the standalone Orchestra version or as a plug-in Giga Virtual Instrument (GVI). The GVI version includes GS3 Orchestra's unlimited polyphony, advanced MIDI functions, and GigaPulse convolution. If you want to create your own sample libraries from scratch, editing, and effects capability, GS3 Orchestra is the right choice. For musicians or sound designers who make extensive use of samples, the power and flexibility of GS3 are nearly irresistible.


Wicked fast response


GS3 has been reengineered down to the kernel level to eliminate latency and jitter, resulting in virtually instantaneous response. Other new features include unlimited polyphony (in the Orchestra version), ReWire routing capability, gigabytes of free samples, an enhanced DSP section, VST plug-in hosting, Realtime Surround Sound Convolution, and a lot more.


Gigastudio 3.0

GS3's greatest strength is in its impeccable sample quality. Most samplers measure their storage capacity in megabytes—GS3's massive storage specs let you experience the stunning realism of multigigabyte samples. Take the GigaPiano II piano sample, for instance. Most samplers have a piano sound that's made by recording various keys and extrapolating the sound across the keyboard. GS3's GigaPiano II is sampled at every key for the utmost realism. And with seven levels of velocity, the response and dynamics are astounding. Whopping samples of up to 512GB in length are possible--the first few seconds are loaded into RAM for instant playback, while the remainder streams off your hard drive.


ReWire compatibility allows easy integration with most popular sequencing/recording software, including Cubase, Nuendo, Sonar, and Pro Tools. GigaStudio instruments that have been ReWired show up as instruments in your DAW's digital mixer.


The DSP Station, GS3 Orchestra's mixing and effects interface, has been expanded to 128 channels with 32 group faders and enhanced processing with 4-band EQ and compression.


Convolute your sound


GS3 includes GigaPulse—a reverb, mic modeling, instrument resonance modeling, and Convolution processing program. Convolution is based on frequency sweeps taken from recordings made in great concert halls and various other physical spaces. You can then apply those same frequency sweeps to your own samples.


GigaPulse also lets you apply the body resonance of various instruments to your samples or mix-and-match instruments and effects to make entirely new creations. You can, for instance, give your Martin guitar the resonance characteristics of a Steinway D grand piano.


Numerous GigaStudio libraries were sampled from multiple microphone positions. You can mix-and-match these various samples to produce sounds that have a breathtaking spaciousness and depth-of-field. You can also output different mic models to multiple outputs for dramatic 5.1 surround sound production. These effects are only possible with a software-based system, as no hardware system has the processing power and flexibility needed to produce them.


Sample your world


Gigastudio 3.0 Orchestra

GS3 now offers sample recording and editing. You can sample vinyl LPs or musical instruments, or capture urban and natural environmental sounds to use in your creations. A Quick Edit window lets you customize samples with speed and flexibility. You may record up to eight channels of clean 24-bit/96kHz sound if you have a sufficiently robust audio interface. Connect your DAT machine, CD player, mic preamp, or other input to your GSIF 2-compatible soundcard or audio interface and begin recording. The Quick Edit window lets you edit crucial parameters such as tuning, envelopes, filters, and attenuation.


MIDI maestro


Gigastudio 3.0 Ensemble

GS3 has restructured its MIDI implementation from the ground up. MIDI is now processed at the kernel level, meaning latency is reduced to the level where response is nearly instantaneous. Intelligent MIDI processing allows you to perform some unique tricks. For instance, using the Alternation mode you can create orchestral string parts that alternate between up-bow and down-bow samples.


Legato mode triggers different samples depending on how a part is played. The Random mode adds life to tracks by mixing in notes selected at random from a selected sample bank. Many GigaStudio libraries include articulation files that allow you to switch to a different instrument by pressing a key. For instance, you could alternate between the bell and ride surface of a ride cymbal, or mix trills and pizzicato notes into a violin part.






Sound libraries


Many top film composers rely on the vast number of high-quality sample libraries available for GS3. Whether you write symphonies, hip-hop jams, ethereal aural soundscapes, or almost any other style of music, you'll find there is no shortage of sounds for your GS3. With its huge storage capability, flexible performance and studio tools, advanced MIDI functionality, and more, GigaStudio 3.0 makes a powerful ally for any electronic musician.


Features & Specs:



    Giga Virtual Instrument (GVI) plug-in


    • Unlimited polyphony
    • 16 MIDI channels
    • GigaPulse SP with Convolution
    • 96kHZ/24-bit resolution


    GigaStudio 3.0 Orchestra:
    All the features of GVI plug-in plus:


    • Zero-latency performance
    • Enhanced editing
    • 8 MIDI I/O
    • VST host
    • ReWire
    • GigaPiano II Full
    • GigaPulse Pro with Convolution
    • DSP Station digital effects