The best plugins and apps for sampling

Sampling has come a long way in the last few decades, in no small part due to the explosive advancement of sampler instruments and specialized software.

In this tutorial video, we take a look at some of the best plugins and apps for sampling that are currently available, and how you can effectively apply them in your productions. Follow along above and find links to download each tool below, along with a free sample pack that you can use to kickstart your sampling journey.

7 great plugins for sampling:

1. Mellotron V by Arturia

Many consider the Mellotron to be the first analog sampler—and Arturia has achieved a highly faithful recreation of it with Mellotron V. The Mellotron’s iconic hazy sound is emulated with immaculate attention to detail, while there are also some added bells and whistles that help you incorporate it into a modern workflow. The instrument is available both as a standalone plugin on Arturia’s site, or as part of their renowned V Collection.

Go to 0:15 in the video to learn more about Mellotron V and hear it in action.

2. CMI V by Arturia

Another powerhouse instrument from Arturia, CMI V is an emulation of the CMI, one of the earliest digital sampling systems to ever become commercially available. Its sequencer in particular is incredibly powerful, allowing you to import your own samples and manipulate them in unique ways, as we demonstrate in the video. Like Mellotron V, this instrument is also both available on its own and as part of V Collection.

Go to 1:45 in the video to learn more about CMI V and hear it in action.

3. Serato Sample by Serato

Serato Sample is a powerful but intuitive sampling plugin from Serato that enables producers to quickly find and reimagine samples. Its pitch shifting algorithm is second-to-none, and its “Find Samples” feature allows you to start experimenting with unique segments of your imported sound in seconds.

Go to 2:27 in the video to learn more about Serato Sample and hear it in action.

Explore royalty-free one-shots, loops, FX, MIDI, and presets from leading artists, producers, and sound designers.

4. XO by XLN Audio

While Serato Sample is the king of longer loops and samples, there’s nothing better than XLN Audio’s XO when it comes to working with drum one-shots. Its one-of-a-kind UI intelligently categorizes similar timbres together, and allows you to audition them in a visually appealing and highly intuitive way.

Go to 3:35 in the video to learn more about XO and hear it in action.

5. KONTAKT by Native Instruments

If you’ve watched any amount of project file breakdowns from artists and producers, you’ve likely already heard of KONTAKT. The sampling platform provides both a simple sampler as well as a universe of instrument libraries, spanning everything from stripped-down drums to full-fledged symphonies.

Go to 4:43 in the video to learn more about KONTAKT and hear it in action.

6. Omnisphere by Spectrasonics

Another industry standard in sampled instruments is Omnisphere. Spectrasonics claim that it’s the only software synth on the market that offers a hardware synth integration feature, and this innovation transforms over 65 classic hardware synthesizers into extensive hands-on controllers.

Go to 4:33 in the video to learn more about Omnisphere and hear it in action.

7. Pigments by Arturia

On the surface, Pigments may seem like a software synth that, while excellent, doesn’t have a whole lot to do with sampling. However, it deserves a spot on this list for its severely underrated granular sampling engine. In the video, we demonstrate this feature in the context of a beat—you truly have to hear it for yourself to understand its full potential.

Go to 4:54 in the video to learn more about Pigments and hear it in action.

3 apps to help you sample on the go

Plugins for your DAW aren’t the only options available today for ‘in-the-box’ sampling. At 7:00 in the video, we also showcase an example track produced entirely on a phone, using a combination of the three apps below in conjunction with the Splice mobile app:


Hopefully this video and article helped you discover some new tools that broaden the horizons of your creative process when sampling. If you enjoyed the sounds we used for demonstration for a few of the entries, you can download them (and more) for absolutely free with a Splice Sounds trial or account via the link below.

What was your favorite app or plugin? Is there another gem that we didn’t cover? Let us know in the comments section of the video, and subscribe to the Splice YouTube channel for more production tips and insights.

Take your music further with the new plugins, fresh sounds, and more available in the Splice Creator plan:

September 24, 2022

Harrison Shimazu

Harrison Shimazu is a composer, content strategist, and writer who’s passionate about democratizing music creation and education. He leads the Splice blog and creates music as Namaboku.