A sample pack is a collection of sounds, representative of a musical style or genre, consisting of loops and one-shots that are specially designed for producers to use as building blocks in their productions. Many music professionals rely on such sample packs to get a head start in their productions, or even use them as inspiration to venture into new musical territories.
On the other hand, sample packs are a form of income for its creators. As you can see, at Splice Sounds, we have over 35 sample labels and providers on our platform, that contribute to close to one million individual samples for producers to pick and choose. Essentially, anyone can create a sample pack, but it requires some discipline, creativity, will and determination. In this blogpost, we will talk about the creative and technical aspects of creating your own sample pack.
Before we dive into anything, the most important creative process is to be original. That means, don’t try to sound like someone else or make a pack that sounds like the other 100 packs out there. The more unique and creative your pack is, the better it will be received. Think about it, every producer wants to be different and have their own sound. By creating a pack that is uncommon, you attract more producers to your pack, your style, and individuality as a sample pack creator.
Choose a genre or style
If you are creating a sample pack for the first time, I recommend choosing a genre or style that you are familiar with. You could even mix and match different genres with different styles, but locking in a particular theme for your pack will help steer and guide the way you craft and design those sounds. Take a look at the sample packs on Splice Sounds and see what other sample manufacturers offer and learn from there.
Are you making a drum sample pack, a vocal sample pack, a bass pack or a mix of everything? Having a focus on what instrumentation will help accelerate the sample making process. For starters, make a sample pack with just one instrument. Start small, but think big. You will be surprised with what you can do with just multiple kicks, snares, and hi-hats.
In the box or not?
Depending on your style of music, budget, and choice of instrumentation, you may want to create a sample pack entirely in the box. With so many plugins and tools to shape and transform your sound, you wouldn’t be short on resources if you decide to take the in the box route. Others, who have access to a recording studio, may want to record their samples such as drum kits or specific instruments live and then manipulate them in the box afterwards. There’s no right or wrong way here, but just be sure that you make your sounds sound exclusive. Perhaps, try recording a drum kit using a crappy SM57 in a large field and make a pack out of it! (I recently read that someone made a Yosemite drums pack…)
Categories & Assets
An important aspect when making a sample pack is the number of samples in a pack (duh). A small sample pack ranges from 50-150 samples, while bigger packs can go anywhere between 300 – 1000 samples. Again, start small and build on that. Having variety for the sake of it, sometimes may not be the best option.
It is common practice to label your samples properly when submitting them to platforms such as Splice. Here are some examples.
A pack is usually divided into one shots or loops.
One Shots folder structure
*key = key of tuned one-shot, x = number prefix
Drum Example: Drums -> Kick / Snare / Hi Hat / Toms -> SamplePackName_Kick_key_x
Loops folder structure
*key = key of loop, x = number prefix, bpm = tempo of track
Synth Example: Synths -> Category -> 120bpm, 130bpm, 140bpm -> SamplePackName_SynthLoop_key_bpm
Making sure loops loop
When programming loops, you have to make sure that the sample loops perfectly without any glitches. One easy way to do is to just loop the same in your DAW. Make sure that the start and end points loop perfectly, and make sure you apply fades to negate any pops and clicks. To read further on looping methods, tweakheadz has an excellent guide on different ways you can loop.
One last consideration when creating a pack is to make sure you record at the highest possible quality. Most samples are released at 44.1khz or 48khz, 24-bit. Do not use mp3s, or lo-fi audio quality recordings to make your samples. It will be very obvious if the quality of your pack is low. If you are making your samples in the box, start your project at 48khz and 24bit and not any lower.
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I hope this short guide has been useful in getting you started / prepared in making a sample pack for yourself. Do not be bounded by what sample packs are out there. Be creative and think of ways to get unique day-to-day things sound musical. If you have any comments and suggestions, do let us know in the comments below!
October 20, 2016