General Sampling FAQ by Andy Medforth

1.   What is a sampler?
2    What is a software sampler?
3.   What software samplers are currently available?
4    What is a hardware Sampler?
5.   Where do I get sampled instruments from?
6.   Can I make my own sampler instruments?

1.   What is a sampler?    top

A sampler is a device which allows you to map any sound to a musical keyboard, and is a very popular in modern music making. An instrument can be very basic with a single sample stretched across the octave ranges, or a complex multi-sampled instrument which attempts recreate an acoustic instrument such as a piano. If you remember The Art of Noise they used an early very expensive sampler called a Fairlight to make all of their records, notably the vocal samples (Dum).

2    What is a software sampler?   top

A software sampler is a program which runs on a computer which emulates a hardware sampler. In the past this was impossible as the processing power to do this was too great, people had samplers built on to soundcards (such as soundfonts),  which didn’t rely on CPU leaving it free for other tasks. However in recent times computers have become considerably less expensive and more powerful, and a software sampler can run very easily.

3.   What software samplers are currently available?  top

The first major contender was Gigasampler which still has a large following and a huge sample library available. More recently the focus has been on soft samplers which plug in to sequencers and fit in to the environment which you work in. Examples of these are Emagic EXS24, Steinberg HALion, Native Instruments Kontakt, and Speedsoft Virtual Sampler.

4    What is a hardware Sampler?   top

There are many hardware samplers out there notably made by AKAI, Roland, Yamaha and Kurzweil. They are expensive to buy compared to software samplers, however they are extremely reliably and you do not have to deal with computer problem when using them!

5.   Where do I get sampled instruments from?  top

There are many sample CDs available from places like Time and Space, and of course the Homegrown Sounds range of CDs 🙂 There are also places on the internet to buy individual instruments which you download immediately such as 

6.   Can I make my own sampler instruments?  top

Each Sampler has its own format and method for making instruments from any soundsource you wish. Check out the individual faqs from the above menu for info on each Sampler.