5 tips for recording sample packs from Kaelin Ellis (free template included)

There are a countless number of great-sounding sample packs out there.

But what if you wanted to create your own? Above, multi-platinum music producer and educator Kaelin Ellis came back to the Splice YouTube channel alongside AIAIAI to share five tips for recording high-quality sample packs. See the video above for his in-depth insights, and read highlights and download his free template below.


1. Be intentional and curate your sounds

“Be intentional with what you’re trying to record,” Kaelin Ellis tells us. “Think about the genre, think about the mood, think about the kind of recording that you want to get—do you want to get a very open, spacey recording of a room? Or, do you want to capture a very specific sound, like a snare drum, hi-hat, or kick drum?”

“Be very intentional with how you choose, because that will allow you to create more of the characteristics and sonics of what your sample pack will be.”

Go to 0:37 in the video to hear Kaelin Ellis discuss the above in addition to his own approach for defining the sound of his Future Nostalgic Sounds sample pack.

2. Make sure your loops actually loop

“Make sure that your loops literally loop,” Kaelin says. “And make sure you quantize your drums. Now, I don’t mean quantizing every single hit, because there are certain levels of swing and imperfectness that we want—as humans, we’re not going to be ‘perfect’ at playing that same pattern. My technique is to only quantize the downbeat of every single part of a sample. That way, you can retain the swing of an original recording.”

Go to 1:48 in the video to hear Kaelin Ellis discuss the above and watch him go into the DAW to demonstrate an additional technique in action.

3. Record variations of each sound

“Get as many options and variations of the sounds you’re recording,” Kaelin shares. “You don’t want to get just one kick drum—the kick drum has multiple sounds. You can record the kick drum with a basic pedal, you can use a drumstick, you can use your hands—you can record the different timbres of one drum to get multiple sounds.”

Go to 2:54 in the video to hear Kaelin Ellis discuss the above and showcase all of the different samples he was able to record with just one snare drum.

4. Organize everything

“It’s very, very crucial to stay organized in a session—any kind of session where you’re creating sounds,” Kaelin says. “I like to create an Ableton project that can specifically house my snares in one track, my kicks in another track, my hi-hats in another track, and so on. This lets you think a little less as time goes on, and that’s really what organizing is meant to do—so you can have more fun in the process of building your own sample pack.”

Go to 3:49 in the video to hear Kaelin Ellis discuss the above, and click here to download the free Ableton Live project that he mentioned.

5. Play your sounds in multiple locations

“Once you have all the sounds that you’ve recorded, organized, and intently felt, play them for four to five of your closest homies,” Kaelin recommends. “See what people react to. I think it’s important to test out your sounds, not just with your friends, but also in different areas and different spaces—try your closet space, try your front room, your bedroom, the park, and so on.”

Go to 4:42 in the video to hear Kaelin Ellis discuss the above and conclude his thoughts on recording sample packs.


Conclusion

Hopefully, Kaelin Ellis’ tips help you in your own process of recording sample packs. What was your favorite idea that he explored? What other topics in music production would you like to see us explore next? Let us know in the comments section of the video, and subscribe to the Splice YouTube channel for more artist-led tips, tutorials, and insights.


Incorporate Kaelin Ellis’ sounds into your own productions:

November 25, 2023

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.