Sampling has come a long way. First conceived in the 40s and made a popular music production technique since the 70s, sampling is today a prominent method of sound design and music writing.
With that in mind, we’re talking about the best sampler VSTs in our list of best VST plugins.
A decent sampler VST lets you input your own samples and record your own audio. But a great sampler VST lets you do those things and get down and creatively dirty with the tone, size, and more of your samples.
This list of what we think are the 5 best sampler VSTs are all paid plugins, but they’re worth every penny:
1. Waves – CR8 Creative Sampler – best VST for raw sampling
The Waves Cr8 sampler is an affordable sampler VST plugin available as a plugin inside your DAW. The Cr8 sampler allows you to layer up to 8 samples in one thick sound or spread them across your keyboard and mix them with its built-in mixer.
Layering your samples into one thick sound for leads, evolving soundscapes, and more is made easy with Cr8. And creating drum kits is made possible by spreading the 8 samples across your keyboard!
Cr8’s workflow is designed to be as seamless as possible, and its simple user interface provides the fundamental features you’ll need to resample any sound (with a maximum length of 30 seconds).
Nonetheless, Cr8 gives you 5 sample stretching options: Voice, Beats, Melodic, Harmonic, and Classic. And you can adjust the tuning, start/end times, panning, and amplitude of each sample in your stack!
Play & Launch modes are also available. “Play” triggers your samples as a one-shot while “Launch” triggers in loop mode. For modulation, you can drag & drop any of 4 LFOs and 4 ADSR envelopes onto a parameter and dial in the right settings for your samples.
Each of the eight sample slots gives you individual Cutoff, Resonance, and Drive controls for the sample they contain. And a total of 4 assignable multi-mode filters are available that offer low pass, high pass, band pass, and peak modes with 12dB and 24dB slopes.
Advanced features include Root & BPM detection and you can assign keyboard functions to the CR8 Sampler controls for extra playability (useful for having more expressive compositions). You can set a parameter to open up or close based on how much velocity you apply to a key, and so much more.
Not so long ago, Waves launched their COSMOS AI-powered sample finder software. It scans your sample database, extracts useful information like “Kick Loop”, “D”, and “120 BPM” and allows you to find the right sample faster.
Well, CR8 Sampler integrates seamlessly with the COSMOS sample finder seamlessly. CR8 comes loaded with over 2500 free samples and over 800 creative sampler presets!
2. Plugin Alliance – MEGA Sampler – best software sampler for value with MEGA Bundles
The MEGA Sampler by Plugin Alliance features an ever-growing library of sample content, including samples from Native Instruments. In fact, MEGA Sampler utilizes an effective Sample Library Manager for both its factory content and your own samples too. This VST sampler is included with PA’s MEGA plugin bundles too.
With an intuitive interface, the MEGA Sampler gives you everything you’ll need to work in your DAW, making music in Pop, Rock, Hip Hop, Electronic, and more styles.
Its intelligent search features allow you to find the right sample quickly, and Mega Sampler’s 16 routable sample slots have their own set of features too. Coupled with the five different playback modes (reverse, ping-pong, loop, forward, and reverse loop), these sample slots are pretty versatile!
In practice, you can manipulate every sample with filters and LFOs, adjust the playback mode, and more. Furthermore, MEGA Sampler includes modeled filters such as Knifonium, bx_oberhausen, and PPG. As a result, you can apply a different filter on each sample slot!
Plugin Alliance has included effects from their partner brands like Black Box Analog Design, AMEK, PPG, SPL, and more too. And advanced settings include automatic key and BPM detection, three stretch algorithms that prioritize CPU efficiency, and input quantize which allows for accurate timing.
Finally, MEGA Sampler has a single Master Key parameter which allows you to set the key of each sample to the key of your project.
3. Native Instruments – Battery 4 – best drum sampler VST
BATTERY 4 is an industry favorite drum sampler amongst beat producers, and is the best drum sampler VST available today.
Why? Because building NI Battery 4 makes building kits and manipulating samples pretty simple with its easy-to-use yet ultra-responsive interface.
Furthermore, Battery utilizes seven sample modes with a classic sampler mode and groove box emulations that let you switch up your rhythms at any time. Once loaded into the sampler, factory sounds and kits have a color-coding system and you can assign color codes to your own samples too.
The visual feedback of Battery allows you to adjust start and end points, volume curves, and more easily. Batter’s Time Machine Pro algorithm offers fantastic time-stretching capabilities, and instant cell rendering allows for easy kit building and creative sound design.
As for processing, Battery 4 offers some pretty powerful effects. SOLID EQ, SOLID BUS COMP, TRANSIENT MASTER, tape saturation, LoFi, and a convolution reverb are all available in the software. You can insert these effects into cells, groups of cells, and the master output too!
4. Lunacy – Cube – best software sampler for inspiring creativity
Lunacy’s Cube features 6,000 individual sounds, 100 sampled instruments, over 500 presets with 8 sound sources in each, and you can input your own audio and process it with every its 13 onboard effects.
Powerful is an understatement. The overview screen in Cube shows which of its eight sound sources are active, and here you can access its global output volume control and amplitude envelope too.
Inside each sound source are numerous tools for sample manipulation and Cube’s playback modes including reverse, loop, one-shot, start and end points, and monophonic/polyphonic options. You can tweak the sample further by adjusting loop times and enabling the arpeggiator, with intuitive settings for length, velocity, and pitch per arp step.
Each sound source has its own amplitude envelope, and in turn, can adjust the contour of the sample. And filters include high pass, low pass, and formant, and panning options speak for themselves. Additional tuning tools allow you to pitch shift up to an octave higher or lower in semitones.
Cube make playing every one of your samples easy with onboard arpeggiators, a step sequencer, and still more. An advanced modulation matrix and a total of 4 LFOs allow you to modulate a plethora of parameters, while macro controls make it easy to adjust multiple parameters at once.
More advanced controls include an efficient CPU saving mode in addition to randomization algorithms.
5. Steinberg – HALion – best sampler with software instruments
The final sampler on our list is HALion. Steinberg’s HALion sampler VST is incredibly comprehensive, and it gives you more than 40 GB of high-end sound content. A total of up to 3400 presets and 14 software instruments including The Raven Grand, The Eagle Grand, Hot Brass, Studio Strings, Anima Wavetable Synthesizer, Skylab, and more are yours to play with!
With HALion, you can record your own audio and import your own samples to create your own instruments, resample them, dive into advanced synthesis with its heavy duty wavetable, subtractive, & granular synthesis engines, curate your own sound libraries to share and sell, and more.
Up top 64 MIDI channels are available, so HALion can send and recieve MIDI data in a DIN MIDI signal chain. Moreover, a multitude of processing options are available like slicing, audio warping, an intuitive wavetable editor, dedicated library creator, macro page designer, and lots more!
A total of 68 onboard effects are available, 32 stereo outputs while 6 channel surround is also supported.
Of course, you’ll need access to profssional-quality samples too! We hear year you, and that’s why you can. Download 100 royalty-free one-shots, loops, FX & full sample packs right now for $2.99 on RouteNote Create!