Inphonik RX1200 12-bit Sampler Review – A Fun, Modern Take On The E-mu SP-1200

You might remember Inphonik from their 2018 release, the RX950 Classic AD/DA Converter effect plug-in, a reproduction of the signal path of the cult Akai S950 sampler.

The French company is now with a new instrument plug-in. The RX1200 12-bit Sampler Instrument (available for Mac, Windows, Linux, and as a rack extension for Reason!) is a tribute to the classic E-mu SP-1200, that helped shape the sound of hip-hop and house music in the early 90s.

The RX1200 aims to produce the same sound color that made its hardware counterpart celebrated. With its distinctive grit, crunch, and warmth, the RX1200 puts the inimitable 12-bit sound into the hands of today’s producers.

According to the company, Inphonik has modeled the hardware sampler’s architecture to reproduce the characteristic lo-fi sound of the SP-1200. The RX1200 features the 12-bit resolution, 26.041 kHz sample rate, SSM2044 low-pass filter emulation, and aliased pitch tuning that gives it the classic sound and unmistakable character of its predecessor. Additionally, the RX1200 features an input amp emulation, allowing users to crank it up to obtain punchy drums in a non-destructive and efficient way.

Like the SP-1200, the RX1200 is a beatmaking sandbox tool, instead of being a standard, General MIDI sampler. It’s a one-of-a-kind sampler ready to inspire your productions with experimentation, happy accidents, and that lovely distinctive lo-fi sound. By loading and editing their samples across 4 banks of 8 pads and moving the faders to tweak their note tuning, mixing volume, and decay envelope, the RX1200 users can dive into a unique performance workflow that inspired many famous producers to craft their hits in the 90s.

The visual design of the RX1200 is where you can tell Inphonik have taken their own path compared to the “OG” SP-1200. Instead of being a carbon copy of the original, the RX1200 boasts a re-imagined interface with a simplified, more accessible learning curve.

The most obvious departure from the original is the absence of the internal sequencer. Hardcore E-mu fans might be disappointed, but the RX1200 runs as a plug-in inside a DAW, so it makes sense to use your DAW’s powerful sequencing capabilities instead.

Following their rethinking of the classic hardware, Inphonik chose to lift a couple of restrictions that were justified in 1987 but wouldn’t make sense in a modern software emulation. The unrestricted sample length, the handling of stereo samples, and the use of a large visual waveform sample editor make it easier for producers who may not be familiar with the limitations of the SP-1200.

On the topic of samples, the RX1200 is shipped with a sound bank of 900+ samples packed in 50 presets. Furthermore, Inphonik will regularly publish new preset Collections for free to expand the RX1200 users’ experience.

Hands-On Impressions

I have vague memories of the original SP-1200 and I don’t have one here to compare, but to me, the RX1200 definitely captures the vibe of this classic instrument. It’s straightforward to use, it has all that charming 12-bit grit still very much sought after today, and the few extra features are the icing on the cake.

The lack of a sequencer is not a big deal to me (it can actually be fun to try out different sequencing plugins/MIDI effects with the RX1200).
FYI: as it often happens in the software world, the term “sampler” here is a bit of a stretch, as the plugin is only a sample player and cannot sample (it would be cool to add that capability though, and I wonder if the Inphonik team has plans for it).

The presets are a great starting point, and you can obviously load your own samples (in the Edit window – drag and drop is supported) and give them the RX1200 treatment.

Last but not least, the plugin is super-affordable, a real bargain!
The RX1200 12-bit Sampler Instrument is available now for 29 USD / 29 EUR / 26 GBP / 40 CAD / 49 AUD / 3500 JPY, as VST, Audio Unit, AAX, and Rack Extension (29 USD / 32 EUR / 28 GPB).

I would totally recommend it to all the beatmakers looking for a vintage touch, as well as to those experimental electronic producers who don’t mind using a tool beyond the original context/scope of the instrument (tips: try loading and editing some soundscape samples, experiment with the sample loop feature also for crazy polyrhythms and broken beats, drive the gain, slow down the speed, etc. – also, try pairing the RX1200 with some quality vintage-sounding reverb, such as the recently released Arturia Rev LX-24).

Note: Inphonik has published the RX Bundle that gathers the newly released RX1200 and the RX950 Classic AD/DA Converter, an effect plug-in that mimics the signal path of the Akai S950. The RX Bundle makes it a compelling combo made for 12-bit sound lovers and is available now for 39 USD / 39 EUR / 35 GBP / 55 CAD / 69 AUD / 4700 JPY (39 USD / 43 EUR / 38 GBP for the Rack Extensions bundle).

To learn more and buy the plugin, please visit the RX1200 12-bit Sampler Instrument product page and the RX Bundle page.

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