10 Best Sample Libraries to Elevate Your Music Production

Guitar Sound Wave

Sample libraries are an important tool in any music producer's toolkit. They provide a diverse array of pre-recorded, royalty-free sounds to incorporate into music compositions. With the advent of the cloud, online sample libraries like LoopCloud, Splice, and others have added a new level of accessibility and convenience to this aspect of music production.

These platforms offer high-quality samples, often at very reasonable prices, making the decision-making process a bit overwhelming. This article is designed to demystify this landscape by providing an in-depth comparison of our favorite sample libraries (aka the 10 best sample libraries) currently available. We've examined the unique features, advantages, and possible limitations of each one, to help you make an informed choice that aligns with your unique musical needs and goals.

What is a sample library?

A sample library, at its most basic level, is a collection of audio clips or 'samples.' These samples can be anything from a single note played on a piano to a complex drum loop. The key characteristic of samples in these libraries is that they're pre-recorded and intended for use within music compositions. Typically, they're created and recorded using high-quality studio equipment, ensuring an optimal sound for your production.

The beauty of sample libraries lies in their versatility. They cater to virtually every genre of music and offer an extensive range of instruments, guitars, bass guitars, vocals, sound effects, and atmospheric sounds. Therefore, they can greatly expand your sound palette, especially if you're limited by your current physical instruments or production gear.

Moreover, many sample libraries are royalty-free, and we've outlined the top royalty-free sample packs here. This means you can use these sounds in your music without worrying about copyright issues or additional payments. They serve as a boon to music producers, offering an array of sounds that can instantly elevate their productions, spark creativity, and even expedite the overall music-making process. And with Artificial Intelligence (AI) permeating the music industry in so many ways, and especially song generation, the use case for easy to access samples will continue to make the best sample libraries even more powerful.

How to use a sample library

When it comes to using sample libraries, the process can be as simple or complex as you make it, depending on your project requirements. However, it's essential to remember that the best sample libraries are tools to enhance your creativity and not substitutes for original composition.

Start by selecting a sample that fits your track's mood or style. This could be a drum loop, a vocal phrase, or a unique sound effect. The cloud-based sample library interface will typically allow you to preview samples before downloading, ensuring they suit your project.

Once you've chosen a sample, you can download it and import it into your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) where you can manipulate it to fit into your composition. This manipulation can include adjustments to pitch, tempo, EQ, or even more complex processing with effects plugins. Remember, the goal is to blend the sample seamlessly into your track, preserving your song's overall cohesion.

Additionally, keep your sample library organized. With the massive amount of samples available, it's easy to get lost. Consider using keywords, ratings, or custom categories to sort your samples, making it easier to locate the perfect sound when inspiration strikes.

Ultimately, the effectiveness to be a best sample library relies heavily on your ability to utilize it creatively and musically. Remember, the best producers use samples as a starting point, molding and shaping them into something uniquely their own.

What Makes Cloud-Based Sample Libraries So Good?

Before we dive into our top 10 list of the best sample libraries, it's crucial to understand why cloud-based sample libraries have become the preferred choice for many music producers today.

Primarily, they offer unprecedented convenience. The need to download and store hefty sample files on your local hard disk becomes a thing of the past with these cloud-based solutions. The traditional method can be burdensome, especially considering you may only use 10 to 20 percent of a given sample library's sounds.

On the contrary, cloud-based libraries allow you to access your personalized sample collection from any location with an internet connection. This flexibility not only simplifies your workflow but also opens doors for seamless global collaborations, something traditional sample libraries can't match.

By understanding these benefits, you'll gain a clearer perspective on why the best sample libraries hold such immense potential for enhancing your music production.

10 Best Sample Libraries

Female Music Producer using digital audio workstation DAW

While this list includes our favorite choices, there are some other great sample libraries not listed on it. So make sure to do your homework. We've put these options in no particular order, as each one offers unique and high-quality sounds that could suit your unique needs differently. If you're not picky and would rather jump right into the leading options in this space, consider reading our article comparing Splice and Loopcloud, two of the more popular online sample libraries. This comparison could serve as a great starting point for your journey into the world of the best sample libraries.

1. Splice

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Splice is well-known for its huge selection of samples, MIDI packs, and presets, catering to all genres. They've become an integral part of modern music production. Their unique rent-to-own plugin model and innovative cloud-based collaboration tool have certainly revolutionized the scene. As one of the leading giants in the online best sample library domain, we've extensively reviewed and compared it against Loopcloud in one of our recent articles. If you're interested in learning more about the best sample libraries, and understanding how Splice stands against its closest competitor, we encourage you to read it.

Pricing: Splice's credit-based model is not just "pay-as-you-go," but allows rollover credits if you subscribe. So, if you're tight on budget, calculate your monthly sample needs and pick the $12.99/month plan for 100 credits. Unused credits roll over, so you can splurge when you need to.

DAW Integration: Splice has a proprietary software called Splice Desktop that integrates with your DAW. If you're using Ableton Live, you can drag and drop samples directly from the Splice app into Ableton, thereby skipping the file-finding process.

Learn more about Splice ⪼

2. Native Instruments

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Native Instruments offers top-tier sample libraries, virtual instruments under their widely recognized Kontakt player, and sound packs for various orchestral and film-based sampling. With an emphasis on quality and variety, their collections provide an indispensable toolset for composers and producers alike. Additionally, the intuitiveness of the Kontakt player, paired with the wide-ranging sounds in their libraries, facilitates creativity and innovation in music production. This makes Native Instruments a preferred choice for both new and seasoned music creators.

Pricing: Native Instruments offers the Komplete now subscription for $9.99/month, with the first month free, and the option to cancel at any time. This can be a huge money-saver. NI also has seasonal sales, particularly Black Friday. So, if you're not in a rush, you may want to wait and keep an eye out.

DAW Integration: Native Instruments' samples can be loaded into Kontakt, which operates as a VST, AU, or AAX plugin. This makes it widely compatible with various DAWs, including FL Studio, Ableton Live, and Logic Pro X.

Learn more about Native Instruments ⪼

3. Sample Magic

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Sample Magic serves up high-quality sample packs and loops, focusing primarily on hip-hop and electronic genres like house and techno. Notably, they also offer a plethora of music production resources including plugins, synth presets, and production courses. Their broad range of resources aids producers not only in crafting unique sounds, but also in enhancing their skills and understanding of music production. By providing sound packs and educational resources under one roof, Sample Magic establishes itself as a comprehensive destination among the best sample libraries for both budding and established producers.

Pricing: Sample Magic often releases "mini-packs," which are cheaper and focused on specific sounds. If you're on a budget, these can be more economical than full-size packs.

DAW Integration: Sample Magic samples are usually in WAV format, making them compatible with almost any DAW. Just drag and drop the files into your DAW’s sample or audio track.

Learn more about Sample Magic ⪼

4. Producer Loops

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Producer Loops offers an extensive selection of sample packs that come with editable MIDI files and construction kits for a vast array of genres, including EDM, pop, hip-hop, and trance. Their royalty-free loops and samples are designed to fit seamlessly into any production. Click here to learn more about royalty-free sample packs.

Pricing: Producer Loops is constantly offering various sale opportunities. If you plan wisely, you can get a great deal buying cheaper packs while getting others for free.

DAW Integration: Producer Loops generally offers samples in multiple formats including MIDI, making it easier to integrate into DAWs that support MIDI natively.

Learn more about Producer Loops ⪼

5. Loopmasters (Loopcloud)

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Loopmasters, the parent company of Loopcloud, is a revered site boasting a broad catalog of sample packs, loops, and virtual instruments from various genres and notable sound designers. If you're in search of a particular sound pack, their diverse collection might just have what you need. Loopcloud, like Splice, holds a significant position in the online best sample library landscape. We have an in-depth analysis of its features, comparing it with Splice in a detailed article on our site. Check it out if you're curious about how these two industry leaders fare against each other.

Pricing: Loopcloud offers a 2 week free trial for their 3 tier pricing plan, which starts at $7.99/month and goes up to $21.99/month. Starting with the trial can help you save while building your sample library and determining your needs.

DAW Integration: Loopcloud has a plugin that integrates directly with leading DAWs, allowing you to audition loops and samples in sync with your project.

Learn more about Loopcloud ⪼

6. Prime Loops

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Prime Loops designs cutting-edge sounds and samples, focusing on electronic music genres such as dubstep, trap, and hip-hop. Their fresh and trend-conscious collections serve as a vital resource for contemporary producers. With a reputation for innovation, they frequently update their sample library to ensure relevance in an ever-evolving music scene. Also, their meticulously curated collections offer an enticing blend of mainstream appeal and underground grit, making Prime Loops not just one of the best sample libraries, but an excellent choice for those wanting to push musical boundaries.

Pricing: Prime Loops regularly features 'Bundle Deals,' which offer thematic packs together at a discounted rate. The also have freebies and taster packs for you to try at no-charge.

DAW Integration: Prime Loops' samples are usually WAV files. Drag and drop these into any DAW that supports WAV, which is pretty much all of them.

Learn more about Prime Loops ⪼

7. Big Fish Audio

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Big Fish Audio, a trusted name in the industry, offers a vast array of high-quality samples, loops, and virtual instruments. Apart from their broad selection of royalty-free loops that span across diverse genres and styles, they also take pride in their meticulously recorded virtual instruments that can elevate any music production. Their emphasis on ensuring audio quality and musical usability puts them on the list of top choices for professionals and novices alike, adding depth and variety to any producer's toolbox.

Pricing: Consider their specially priced bundle deals or their VIP membership, which provides discounts on every purchase and could be a wise investment if you buy regularly.

DAW Integration: Big Fish Audio typically supports multiple file formats including REX, Apple Loops, and Acidized WAVs, broadening your options for DAW compatibility.

Learn more about Big Fish Audio ⪼

8. The Loop Loft

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The Loop Loft caters to artists and producers in search of authentic and organic drum sounds, offering professionally recorded live drum loops, percussion samples, and drum kits. They fulfill a niche demand, providing an excellent alternative to the monthly subscriptions of most on the list of best sample libraries, for those who require such sounds less frequently.

Pricing: The Loop Loft runs flash sales with discounts as deep as 90%. Timing your purchases for these sales can provide significant savings.

DAW Integration: The Loop Loft offers loops in REX format as well, which can be tempo-synced in DAWs like Reason and Cubase.

Learn more about The Loop Loft ⪼

9. Vengeance Sound

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Vengeance Sound stands out in the realm of electronic music with its comprehensive and genre-tailored sample packs. Renowned for their selections of drums, effects, vocals, and synthesizer sounds, they serve as a treasure trove for producers seeking to craft soundscapes in various electronic music genres. Furthermore, the high audio fidelity and precision of their libraries make them a popular choice among music creators, helping to define the sonic identity of numerous tracks worldwide. It's not just their breadth but the depth of their offerings that truly distinguishes Vengeance Sound in the competitive field of best sample libraries.

Pricing: Vengeance is pricier, but their packs are extensive. You might find it more budget-friendly to go in on a pack with a friend and share the samples.

DAW Integration: Vengeance samples are generally WAV files. These can be dragged directly into your DAW's timeline or sampler.

Learn more about Vengeance Sound ⪼

10. Cymatics

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Cymatics, rivaling the fame of Loopmasters, offers an extensive library of sample packs, presets, and production tools, targeting popular genres like EDM, future bass, and trap. Their commitment to quality and innovation has made them a favorite among modern producers. What sets Cymatics apart is their welcoming approach towards newcomers. With an offer of 3 to 5 free sample packs for new signups, they enable budding music creators to explore and appreciate the quality of their offerings, making the entry into music production more accessible and enjoyable. This friendly gesture illustrates Cymatics' dedication to fostering a thriving and creative community of producers.

Pricing: Cymatics often offers bundle packs including some free "starter packs" for different genres. These can be a good way to test the waters before committing to a full, paid pack.

DAW Integration: Cymatics samples are provided in WAV format, and they also often include project files for specific DAWs like Ableton, FL Studio, and Logic.

Learn more about Cymatics ⪼

Final Thoughts

The best sample libraries are broad and dynamic, offering an array of opportunities to elevate your music production. Whether you're leaning towards the extensive offerings of giants like Splice or Loopcloud, or considering the specialized resources from the likes of The Loop Loft or Vengeance Sound, these libraries are just a start to expand your sonic palette.

Remember, the best sample library is the one that complements your unique musical style and requirements. The true magic happens when you take these sounds and transform them into something truly yours. Make sure to try out the top royalty free sample packs when getting started as well.

While exploring the best sample libraries, you might also notice how your choice of a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) can significantly impact your workflow. If you're considering which DAW might best serve your needs, we have detailed comparisons of the leading DAWs that you might find informative.

Moreover, making great music is only half the battle. The other half is ensuring your music reaches the right audience. We have articles on effective music marketing strategies that can help you navigate the complex landscape of music promotion.

So, whether you're starting out, trying to hone your craft, or aiming to reach a wider audience, we are here to assist in your musical journey. Let's keep making wonderful music together!

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Didnt it use to be fruity loops?

Band Pioneer

FruityLoops was rebranded as FL Studio, a popular DAW. And their base version is still called fruity. We talk all about that here... https://bandpioneer.com/reviews/ableton-live-vs-fl-studio

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