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! ;-)
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.
Here are a couple online discussion sites:
- KVR forum Personally,
I find this forum a bit cluttered, but there is a lot of good info there! Also, check out
the KVR Wiki...
- Northern Sounds forums This
can be a very interesting place. Remember that lots of sample library creators hang out here
and some of them are quite sensitive about comparisons between their product and others. I
believe that every product has strengths and weaknesses. Listen to all the demos and make up
your own mind. Take all opinions with a grain of salt...
- SoundsOnline forums
This is where you'll find the East West and Quantum Leap stuff. They used to have a forum at
Northern Sounds, but for whatever reason decided to start their own. Of course, this lead to
some difficulties and maybe even some animosity. As far as I know, the East West people are
not allowed to post at Northern Sounds, so they can't "defend" themselves there. Because of
that, you may see some negativity towards East West and Quantum Leap on the forums at Northern
Sounds. Try to ignore that and look at the good stuff over there.
- VI Control The "blue" forum. Synth
and sample talk. Now includes a Kontakt 2 scripting forum...
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.
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:
- Native Instruments Kore
NI claims that this is the "world's first Universal Sound Platform". Hmmm, ok, I've had it for a while,
and it's really just an expensive version of Chainer or Forte with a hardware controller. It's also
different from other NI products - it's a DONGLE. That is, you have to have the controller
plugged in all the time, or the app won't work! Not good if you're trying to do some work with a laptop
on an airplane. I talked to one of the guys at NI tech support, and he said they've been getting a lot
of complaints about the dongle factor and that has solidified their commitment to software copy protection.
I think they learned the wrong lesson on that - dongles should be small and easy to use, like the iLok or
Synchrosoft devices. Also, the Kore controller is a power hog. I had to buy a powered USB hub to run it.
- UniversalSoundBank Plugsound Pro Includes 8 GB of sounds including everything from the Plugsound Box.
Add on libraries are provided as "UVI Soundcards". Imports REX, Apple Loops, AIFF and Wave files. Seems
to be a combination of sample player and loop/groove manipulator - more info when I get it...
- Yellow Tools Independence
Especially useful if you already use one of the Yellow Tools "Modular Virtual Instruments". Comes with
a nice set of Kirk Hunter's orchestral samples... [Uses Yellow Tools dongle copy protection.]
Here are some general purpose software samplers that you might want to check out:
- EXS-24 mk II
from Apple (was emagic) - Comes with Logic Pro - Mac only - [emagic/Apple dongle copy protection]
NOTE: See also Redmatica for EXS tools
Tascam (was Nemesys) - PC only
- GigaStudio GVI Virtual Instrument announced for Spring 2006.
from Steinberg - cross platform - [version 3 uses Synchrosoft dongle copy protection]
- HALion player - some sample instruments come with the player version of HALion
[uses Synchrosoft dongle copy protection] Latest version as of March 24, 2006 is 184.108.40.2068. See
for more info...
- Kontakt 2
from Native Instruments - cross platform - check out the scripting features in Kontakt 2...
[challenge/response copy protection]
Keven Tweedy Kontakt tutorials
- Kompakt sample player and Intakt loop player versions of Kontakt are used by some instruments
[challenge/response copy protection]
- Mach Five
from MOTU - cross platform - [uses iLok dongle copy protection]
- SampleTank 2 from IK Multimedia - cross platform
- VSampler 3.5 from MAZ Sound Tools
(Also comes with Sonar Producer Edition) - PC
Here are some specialized drum/percussion/loop samplers:
- Battery drum sampler from Native Instruments
- Intakt loop sampler from Native Instruments
Sample conversion programs:
And here are some general purpose audio editors:
- DSP Quattro
I saw a demo of this at NAMM 2007 and had to get it.
Apparently, the developer is the same guy
who wrote Spark for TC...
- Peak from Bias
- Spark from TC Works (NOTE: discontinued...)
- Audition from Adobe (Was called Cool Edit Pro from Syntrillium)
from Sony (Was Sonic Foundry)
- Wavelab from Steinberg
And specialized tools:
- Recycle from Propellerheads - chop up your drum loops
- StripWav removes extra header info from wave files
- WavTrim trims silence and optionally normalizes wave files
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:
- Bela D Media Studio B bass, guitar
and drums, including brushes
- Chocolate Audio Simone Coen is the guy
behind Scarbee's Imperial Drums and Imperial Drums XL. He also worked on Native Instrument's Battery
3. As of early 2007, he has decided to make a go of his own company. Stay tuned...
- Fxpansion BFD
- drums - two DVDs - 9 GB. You can download plug-ins to access DFH and Scarbee drum sounds within BFD...
- Fxpansion BFD XFL
add-on pack - drums - five DVDs - 22 GB (you have to already have BFD)
- Fxpansion BFD 8 bit kit
add-on - 13 GB - second add on for BFD (you have to already have BFD)
- Fxpansion BFD Deluxe
add-on - 55 GB - third add on for BFD (you have to already have BFD)
- Fxpansion BFD Jazz & Funk Expansion Pack
add-on - 55 GB - fourth add on for BFD
(Also see Fxpansion downloads for plugins to use Scarbee Imperial Drums or dfh-SUPERIOR with BFD...)
- Natural Studio NS_KIT7 includes brushes
- ProjectSAM True Strike orchestral percussion and
True Strike 2 world and effects percussion
- Propeller Island Giant
Gongs audio cd - must import and trim wave files
- Quantum Leap Storm Drum - drums, percussion, loops - two DVDs, one of samples, one of Intakt loops
- 6 GB - BIG sounds...
- Roland L-CDX-1
Rhythm Section Instruments - S-700 series Roland format, of course...
- Scarbee Imperial Drums and XL
NOTE: as of early 2007, Simone Coen, the drum producer at Scarbee, has left Scarbee to run his own company.
See the Chocolate Audio link above.
- Larry Seyer Acoustic Drums (LSD)
12 versions of 115 drumkits...! - Gigastudio 3
- Sonic Reality Interactive
Drum Kits & Snares Akai, E4
- Spectrasonics Stylus RMX -
Realtime Groove Module - comes with a 7.4GB core library, PLUS you can add S.A.G.E. Xpanders and read in
Groove Control libraries and REX files! Check out all the video tutorials at Spectrasonics.net...
[challenge/response copy protection]
Spectrasonics S.A.G.E. Xpanders: (These are also available as Groove Control libraries. Check out
Ilio S.A.G.E. Xpanders: (Finally available!)
Skippy's Big Bad Beats
Stark Raving Beats
- Steinberg Groove Agent 2
- drum machine - VST - one CD - I gotta say, it's simple, but it's a great tool and just downright fun!
- Toontrack DFH, dfh-SUPERIOR, SUPERIOR Custom & Vintage,
EZdrummer - drums and percussion - dfh-SUPERIOR is nine DVDs - 35 GB (!)
- Wizoo Darbuka
Arabic and Middle Eastern percussion grooves
- Wizoo Latigo
- Yellow Tools Culture
- percussion instrument - one CD and two DVDs - 9+ GB [Yellow Tools dongle copy protection]
- Yellow Tools PURE:DRUMS
Akai, EXS, Giga, HALion, Kontakt
Some bass samples and instruments:
- Bela D Media Studio B acoustic bass, guitar, drums
- Chris Hein Warwick bass
- Quantum Leap Hardcore Bass XP
- Scarbee J-Slap and J-Fingered
- Steinberg Virtual Bassist
- Spectrasonics Bass Legends
Marcus Miller, John Patitucci, Abraham Laboriel - Akai/Emu, Roland
- Spectrasonics Trilogy
Electric, acoustic and synth bass virtual instrument [challenge/response copy protection]
- Ueberschall Liquid Instruments vol 2 Electric Bass Uses Melodyne technology to manipulate pre-recorded
- Yellow Tools Majestic
4 string, 5 string, fretless virtual instrument [Yellow Tools dongle copy protection]
- Yellow Tools PURE:E-BASSES Vol 1
Fender Jazz and Fender Precision - EXS, Giga, HALion, Kontakt
- Yellow Tools PURE:E-BASSES Vol 2
Ibanez BTB 5, Warwick Streamer fretless, Epiphone Jack Cassidy - EXS, Giga, HALion, Kontakt
- Bela D Media Lyrical Distortion 1
- Bela D Media Lyrical Distortion 2
- Bigfishaudio's Raging Guitars
- GetDistorted.com Awesome power chords for 29 Euros!
- Chris Hein Guitars Electic, Jazz,
steel string, nylon string, banjo and mandolin.
- Manytone Music's ManyGuitar PC-only VSTi
- Music Lab's Real Guitar
Very cool live performance interface to various acoustic guitar samples. Check out the demo videos and
the trial version. Now available for Mac.
- Precisionsound Monzter Guitars
- Precisionsound Monzter Guitars II
- Prominy LPC Clean and Distorted Les Paul. New Kontakt 2
script for live performance. Check out the amazing video demo!
and Windows Media video
- Spectrasonics Hans Zimmer Guitars Vol 1
- Spectrasonics Hans Zimmer Guitars Vol 2
- Slayer Well, it's not actually a sample library,
but it might be worth checking out anyway...
- Steinberg Virtual Guitarist 2
- Ueberschall Liquid Instruments vol 3 Guitar Uses Melodyne technology to manipulate pre-recorded
- Vintaudio Giga Clean Electric Guitars
- Yellow Tools Pure:Guitars
nylon string, steel string, 12 string, 3 acoustic basses - Akai, EXS, Giga, HALion, Kontakt
Pianos: (As you can see, there are quite a few! More details as I get them...)
- ArtVista Virtual Grand, Malmsjo Acoustic Grand
- Bardstown Audio
Bosendorfer Imperial Grand
- Best Service Total Piano, Galaxy Steinway 5.1
- Big Fish Audio John Cage Prepared Piano
- Bigga Giggas
Studio Grand 88, Rain Piano
- Boldersounds Steinway D, Yamaha C7, Fortepiano
- Bovbjerg Fazioli, Steinway Free...!
- East Collexion Piano
- East/West Galaxy Steinway 5.1
PMI Bosendorfer 290
- East/West Symphony Orchestra Silver
includes a version of the East-West Steinway B
- Garritan GPO: Steinway Concert Grand Piano, Authorized Steinway & Sons Piano
- Gigfiles Steinway
- KSounds Pianos Volume 1 and 2
- Maestro Sounds (Mats): Maestro Concert Grand
- Milan Digital Audio: Hamburg Steinway D Concert Grand
- Miroslav Vitous: Acoustic Piano Collection
- PMI Grandioso Steinway D, Bosendorfer 290,
Yamaha C7, Post Pristine Piano,Post Steinway A (IOWA recording), Estonia Acoustic Grand, FortePiano,
Historic Keyboards, Post Piano Suite & Gold Bundle (Old Lady & Emperor)
- UltimateSoundBank Plugsounds Volume 1: Keyboards
- Prosonus Grand Piano
- Pyramid Piano
- Q Up Arts: The Holy Grail Piano
Seven Seas Grand, TBO, White Grand, White Sister, Black Grand, various subsets
- Sonic Reality: Concert Grand Pianos
- Soundscan Vol. 17: Acoustic Keyboards, Vol. 23: Historical Instruments
- Splendid Grand
- Steinberg The Grand 2
- Synclavier: Keys and Guitars
- Synthogy Ivory Three different grand pianos in one package
- Tascam/NemeSys: GigaPiano, GigaPiano II (Kawai, 7+7 layer)
- Trachtman: Steinway C
- Univers Sons: Acoustic Piano
- Vintaudio Yamaha C7,
Upright Piano Collection (Steinway Boston Upright and Clinton Upright)
- VR Sound: Vienna Player, Tokyo Player, Piano 7, Prepared Piano
- William Coakley: Perfect Piano Series
- Wizoo Grand (Smaller version of Steinberg's The Grand?)
- Wizoo Platinum24 Grand Piano
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... ;-)