Intro

My name is Doug. I'm a lot of things, but here, I'm an audio sampler geek. I used to use only hardware samplers in my studio, but at the end of 2003, I started using software sampling. I found it really hard to find information that I could use to help me decide which sampler was right for me. Because of that, I was inspired to buy yet another domain name and start typing! (As if I didn't have enough already...) ;-)

I've recently started studying the Equal Interval System (EIS) composition course, so I'm a bit preoccupied at the moment. As I hear of things, I'll add them here, and of course, if you have anything you want me to add, please send an email or contact me at one of the forums. (See the bottom of this page for more info.)

NOTE: This site may look simple, but it's because I access the web via my Palm Treo 650, and this kind of site delivers a lot of info quickly, without a lot of formatting issues! ;-)


Suggestions

The first word of advice I can give you is that you should choose your sample library before you choose the sampler. Each sample library is created with a certain sampler and stored in sampler specific files. Many times those files can be converted or directly imported into other sampling programs, but not all information is guaranteed to translate properly and you may have to reprogram layers, splits, etc. Also, many sample libraries are now being delivered with sample players, so it may not be necessary to purchase a separate sampler.

As for choosing the library, try to listen to as many demos as you can before choosing. You aren't allowed to resell a lot of sample libraries, so once you buy it, it's yours! Read the license carefully - some libraries have restrictions, such as not using them in movie trailers, and some libraries require that you give credit to them in liner notes. While it is useful to peruse the posts at the various forums, you'll find that there are a lot of rabid fans that will defend their favorite libraries, seemingly to the death! Remember, it is all opinion, and you don't have to take anyone else's opinion as your own. TRUST YOUR OWN EARS!

Another thing to consider is that recently there have been several new software "virtual instruments" that, while sample-based, aren't really samplers per se, because you can't add your own samples to them. (Maybe we should call them "Software ROMplers"?) I'm guessing that most people won't be creating their own samples, so this may not be a big issue. However, if you DO want to create your own samples, make sure that the product you purchase supports that.

I suppose the other thing to consider is copy protection. This is a volatile subject folks! It sucks that there are a bunch of people who don't pay for samples. Because of them, the copy protection battle continues to rage... There are basically two types of copy protection - software-based "challenge and response" and hardware-based "dongles". My personal opinion is that, if I HAVE to have something, I'll take the dongle. My main reason for this is because I had a hard disk failure. Reinstalling dongle-protected software was EXTREMELY EASY! However, challenge-response protected software was a royal pain in my you-know-what to reinstall. Some distributers are reasonable and let you have more than one installation key, but others require you to go through some process to justify getting another response key. On the other hand, there seem to be several people on the various lists that despise dongles. Breakage and loss are probably the two biggest concerns. Some have complained of performance issues with dongles, but I haven't seen any hard evidence to support that claim.


Forums

Here are a couple online discussion sites:

Many of the sample makers have their own forums, some of which are only available to registered owners of their products. Check the various web sites for information.


Tools

OK, let's get down to it. (Remember what I said about choosing the library before the sampler!) :-)

Recently, there seems to be a trend where a product developer will create what I would call a "wrapper" or "container" application. Sample libraries and virtual instruments are loaded into these applications and used together. Examples are:

Here are some general purpose software samplers that you might want to check out:

Here are some specialized drum/percussion/loop samplers:

Sample conversion programs:

And here are some general purpose audio editors:

Mac:

Windows:

And specialized tools:


Samples

NOTE: There are a lot of names listed here without links. I'll get around to adding links some day. In the mean time, I figured it was more important to at least include the names. Also, while I have spent a fair amount of money on sample libraries and virtual instruments, I don't own everything listed here, so I may not have everything listed in its optimal place. So, hey, if you're a developer, and you want to help me out with categorizing things, please drop me an email or a PM at one of the forums. (See the bottom of this page for contact info.)

Some sample library sources: (Some of these are library resellers, some are library creators...) Also, see below...

Some free samples:

NOTE: There are LOTS of free samples on the Internet. Check out this thread at the KVR forum.

Some drum and percussion samples and instruments:

Some bass samples and instruments:

Guitar instruments:

Pianos: (As you can see, there are quite a few! More details as I get them...)

Some orchestral libraries (including common abbreviations from the newsgroups):

Choir and vocal samples: Ethnic/World samples: (Also see drum and percussion section above.) Sound effects/Other sounds

If you have any suggestions for this site, please email me at doug at softsampling dot com or you can send me a private message (PM) at the VI Control, Soundsonline or Northern Sounds forums. My user name at all of those forums is "Doug Wellington". I'm also "Pasta Lover" at the FSM forum... ;-)