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Fairlight CMI | Fairlight I


Fairlight Instruments Pty Ltd was established by Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie in 1975. They produced one of the World's first Digital Audio Workstation Samplers. The Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument.

In 1979 they created the Fairlight CMI, one of the earliest music workstation Digital Audio Samplers. The first edition was called Series I had voice cards that were only 24 kHz sampling rate with 8 bit sound cards and largely considered too noisy by some.

In 1982 improvements were made for the Series II with much better sound quality and better software. Both series I and II feature a light pen for drawing new waveforms of the sample on the instrument's monitor. The attached pen to the CMI's monitor worked a lot like a computer mouse. The user could use their own samples or the then growing library of sounds.

Anything could be sampled and made into a sound or effect with endless possibilities of sound creation. Although the creators didn't like the idea of sampling, they were synth guys and more into making an ultimate synth with control of all of it's aspects. With sampling they were limited to controlling the envelope and the sound's vibrato.

Vogel and Ryrie originally intended to ship the Fairlight CMI with it's own sound library but the sampling feature was so popular that many made their own samples.
BrandFairlight CMI
ModelFairlight I
Engine TypeDigital
Voices (max)8
Engine DetailedFast Fourier Transforming, Waveform Editing, Graphics Tablet Waveform Drawing
Sampler8-bit at 16 kHz (mono)
Memory16 KB per voice, System: 64 KB
RecordingBasic keyboard sequencer, Musical Composition Language (MCL)
Key typeKeys (Option 2x)
Extra infoTwo 8-inch floppy drives
Produced:1979 - 1982
Legend: Obvious Y: Yes, N: No, N/A: Not Applicable
VCO Voltage Controlled Oscillator DCO Digital Controlled Oscillator
LFO Low Frequency Oscillator Sub Sub Oscillator
VCF Voltage Controlled Filter VCA Voltage Controlled Amplifier
Velocity As with a piano, the harder you hit a key, the louder the sound, unlike most organs which always produce the same loudness no matter how hard you hit a key. Aftertouch Pressing a key after you activated it. Channel Aftertouch, no matter which key, it will send a Channel message. Poly Aftertouch, sends the pressure per key instead of the whole channel.
Values for OSC, LFO, Filter, Envelope are per voice unless stated otherwise.

Manuals, patches etc.


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