9 Best Sampling VST Plugins 2022

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Best Sampling VST Plugins

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Sampling is addicting and fun.

You can take a variety of sounds, turn them into something completely new, and build layer upon layer to develop your own beats. Of course, you can overdub vocals, instrument tracks, and anything else as you see fit, and even process those raw sounds through your sampler if you wish.

But what are the best sampler VST plugins to maximize your options? Let’s look.

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CMI V by Arturia – Best Overall

CMI V by Arturia – Best Overall

Arturia’s CMI V is a recreation of the first digital sampling system ever created (Fairlight CMI). To be honest, I’m pretty sure they don’t want me to say “recreation” with the lengths they went to emulate every detail of the original, but let’s not get too carried away by the hype.

Anyway, 80s keyboardists were drawn to the Fairlight CMI like a moth to a flame, begging, borrowing, and stealing (not literally) just to acquire their own ultra-futuristic digital sampling workstation.

CMI V lets you work with up to 10 digital instruments of your choice simultaneously. They can all be mixed, layered, split, and sequenced. Each of these instruments can generate sound in three different ways.

In addition to the sampling engine, there’s an additive synthesis engine, and over 300 presets designed by Arturia sound designers.

CMI V gives you countless ways of shaping sounds – you can load up a sample from the included library, load in your own, create a start and end point for your loops, modify the resolution, resynthesize the sample, create custom envelopes, change the sine waves, add multiple custom modulators, and a whole lot more.

The CMI was used lovingly on innumerable hits you’re sure to recognize – “Rockit,” “Sledgehammer,” “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” “Relax,” “View to a Kill,” and a great deal more.

So, in total, you’re getting a MIDI keyboard compatible software synth, 600 presets (from the original CMI library), 360 Arturia presets, preset browser, 10 tracks with a polyphony of up to 32 per track, analog filter response emulation, sampling and additive synthesis, variable bit depth and sample rate, spectral synthesis, “page-R” inspired 32-step sequencer, 24 sources of modulations per track, and more.

As the video below demonstrates, this sampler is a ton of fun to mess around with.

We have it as our best overall option because of the quality of the plugin as well as its versatility. That said, not everyone will require a synthesizer (especially if you’ve already got you favorites installed on your hard drive). But if you want access to those classic 80s sounds, you will find CMI V to be well worth it regardless.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Phalanx by Vengeance Sound – Best Premium Option

Phalanx by Vengeance Sound – Best Premium Option

Vengeance Sound’s Phalanx is a drum and synth sampler, featuring over 6,000 sounds and samples. Keys Magazine thought it was excellent, Computer Music found it powerful and flexible, and Beat Magazine loved its intuitive workflow.

Phalanx features over 3,000 sounds created by Manuel Schleis of Vengeance Sound, a library browser, 32 stereo sample slots in 16 channels (with channel routable to up to 16 outputs), 128 voices (up to 16 times polyphony per pad), 12 types of filters (each with 6 dB, 12 dB, and 24 dB), as well as poly portamento and legato portamento.

You also get an optional anti-alias free sample mode and ultra-high mode, undo / redo function, graphical real-time display of waveforms, editable envelopes (amp, filter, pitch, ModEnv), envelopes syncable to BPM, insert FX with 17 effect types, as well as drag and drop to arrange insert FX.

There’s also a four-band parametric EQ for each sample pad, mini preset browser with presets for FX and envelopes, MIDI-learn, two independent LFOs per sample slot (32 total), three GUI controllers, loop section, arpeggiator, drumkit mode and sample mode, and a whole lot more.

Yes, this thing is feature packed! As result, it’s a rather obvious choice for our best premium selection. This baby can cook.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

HY-Slicer by HY-Plugins – Best Budget Option

HY-Slicer by HY-Plugins – Best Budget Option

HY-Plugins’ HY-Slicer is a combination sampler slicer, step sequencer, and FX chain. Samples can be sequenced using the onboard step sequencer and groove editor. Edit each slice using the many included parameters and run it all through a customizable multi-effect chain with EQ, compression, drive, delay, and other effects.

HY-Slicer also includes a file browser, pattern chainer, scalable GUI, randomizer, and preset manager.

All things considered, HY-Slicer is more than adequate for basic slicing and sampling (much like Slicex, which appears later in this guide). The built-in FX open doors to plenty of sound possibilities too. You certainly can’t expect it to do what CMI V and Phalanx can do, but for basic needs, it will more than suffice.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Palindrome by Glitchmachines

Palindrome by Glitchmachines

Glitchmachines describes Palindrome as a granular morph plotting sampler built with experimental sound design in mind.

In creating Palindrome, they fused four granular samplers along with complex modulation sources and a coordinate plotting grid. This allows you to create unique instrument patches as well as morphing sound effects to spice up your audio.

The grid section lets you create custom paths that will lay a course for a playhead that corresponds with the sampler outputs featuring a bilinear interpolation algorithm. It also comes with eight user-definable multi-breakpoint modulation envelopes. That means you can create complex modulation shapes.

Palindrome also features dual effects processors per sample, four-note polyphony, a deep randomization system, global reverb, a sample library (with 1.4 GB of content), as well as 70+ factory presets.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Polygon 2 by Glitchmachines

Polygon 2 by Glitchmachines

As a hybrid sampler plugin designed for unusual instrument patches and composite sound effects, Polygon 2 is similar in concept (and function) to some of their other creations (like Palindrome).

Polygon 2 comes with four granular samplers, dual oscillator with FM, four modulation sequencers, eight LFOs, modulation utilities, dual insert effects per sampler, global filter, dual global effects, randomizer, variable polyphony, factory sample bank, and 100 factory presets.

Whether it’s modulated bass lines, glitchy percussion, or attention-grabbing sound effects, you can create a lot of cool and interesting sounds using Polygon 2. Where to use it is entirely up to you, but I do see it working best in film, video games, and EDM.

The video below shows you all the customization tools available, and just how powerful Polygon 2 is. If this sampler interests you, be sure to check it out.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Granulizer 2 by Inertia Sound Systems

Granulizer 2 by Inertia Sound Systems

Inertia Sound Systems’ Granulizer 2 is a granular synthesis soft synth that was designed with creative sound design in mind.

With a versatile DSP engine, you can achieve all kinds of sounds, be it metallic, fuzzy, grainy, smooth, wide, or even chaotic, depending on what you’re going for.

Granulizer 2 features an updated interface, a new high-quality granular engine with unprecedented control, grain warping module, Grain FX module, diffusion delay, custom-built presets, and a new, “dark” theme you can chill out to.

You also get spectral shaping, frequency shifter, Magic knob (which gives you control over subtle randomization of specific internal parameters), waveform view with loop section, on-screen tool tips, and more.

Overall, I find the interface very straightforward to work with. The controls are clearly marked, and feature a minimal, attractive, flat vector style design. You can do all sorts of fun things with your sounds using Granulizer 2.

And while it might not strictly be a sampler (the developer seems to like to refer to it as a synthesizer), it sure features functionality that’s like that of a sampler.

The video below shows what you can get just by playing with an acoustic guitar sound.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

CR8 Creative Sampler by Waves

CR8 Creative Sampler by Waves

Waves’ CR8 Creative Sampler makes the process of creating samples fun, fast, and easy. Any sound can be rapidly turned into a playable instrument.

This baby comes with eight sample layers, five stretching algorithms (voice, beats, melodic, harmonic, classic), key and BPM analysis, as well as Easy Loop, Reverse, Freeze, and other controllable parameters.

The built-in ADSR envelopes and built-in filters allow for additional control. There are also four LFO / sequencer modulators and four ADSR envelopes you can drag and drop as you wish.

You can also map your keyboard’s velocity, aftertouch, velocity, pitch-wheel, and mod-wheel to CR8 controls.

CR8 comes with the COSMOS Sample Finder, which means you can browse all your one-shots and loops within the plugin’s ecosystem. Also included are over 800 CR8 sample presets, and over 2,500 one-shots and loops.

Record producer / songwriter Major 7 found CR8 inspiring, music producer / sound designer Seige Monstracity said it was his go-to sampler, and producer / mix engineer ADP thought it was intuitive and amazing.

The video below will show you just how fun and straightforward CR8 can be.

So, to review, you’re getting eight sample layers (stackable, mixable, and splitable), five stretching options, play and launch modes, root and BPM detection, drag and drop LFO / sequencer and ADSR modulators (four each that can be applied to any CR8 control), cutoff, resonance, and drive for each sample, keyboard assignable, and internal sample mixer.

CR8 Creative Sampler also integrates with COSMOS Sample Finder, over 2,500 free samples, and over 800 sample presets.

Learn more: Waves

Serato Sample by Serato

Serato Sample by Serato

DJs should be familiar with the brand name “Serato.” Here we have Serato Sample, which comes bundled with multiple sample bundles – The Art of Sampling Bundle, Sample+ Hip-Hop & Trap Bundle, Sample+ House & Techno Bundle, and Sample+ Jazz & Soul Bundle.

Serato Sample makes the process of finding, chopping, time-stretching (with the world-renowned Pitch ‘n’ Time algorithm), and key-shifting samples effortless.

Serato Sample also comes with key detection, keyboard mode, mono / poly playback, Cue Point workflow, 32 pads, velocity, and more.

As the video shows, Serato Sample has got an easy workflow. Even if you don’t know much about sampling or how it works, this plugin can help you get up and running fast.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Slicex by Image Line

Slicex by Image Line

Image Line’s Slicex takes advantage of beat detection algorithms. This means song and percussion samples can be sliced up into pieces so that they’re each playable from a controller or piano roll.

This sampler / wave editor allows playback, slice reordering, and time-stretching.

Overall, Slicex makes the editing and creation of samples a straightforward process. You can assign samples to your MIDI controller, and it comes with eight articulators with their own envelopes too.

Slicex may be basic, but if you love Image Line products (like FL Studio), then you might find this VST irresistible.

Note: Slicex is only compatible with Windows. There are no working Mac versions.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

What Should I Look For In A Sampling VST Plugin?

There certainly aren’t as many sampling VSTs as there are EQs, compressors, reverbs, or soft synths out there, but there are still enough of them to make your purchase decision a challenge.

Shopping is fun, so “challenge” maybe isn’t the right word, but we know how easy it can be to agonize over whether a purchase is the “right” one.

Well, don’t sweat it. In this section, we lay out the main criteria you should consider when shopping for a sampling VST plugin. These include:

  • Sample library
  • Sample browser
  • Genre
  • Features
  • Workflow
  • Sound
  • Budget

Let me explain each of these.

Sample Library

Does the sampler come with some of its own sounds? If so, how many, and what are their overall quality?

It’s not a requirement that the sampler VST you buy have samples included. If you already have thousands on your hard drive, and you’re not exactly thirsting for new sounds, you don’t necessarily need to buy a sampler with sounds included.

By the same token, if you still want the sampler in question, even though you don’t need the sound library, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it.

A sample library, its overall size, and quality isn’t going to be a factor for every buyer. But it’s something to think about if you want more samples to work with.

Sample Browser

So, you’ve got thousands of samples. But wait… your VST sampler’s interface is only capable of loading one at a time. Or maybe its organization system leaves a lot to be desired. Now what?

This probably won’t happen to you if you choose any of the above samplers, but the sample browser (if there is one), its overall ease of use, the ability to view multiple files simultaneously (especially if you have hundreds and thousands of samples), is important enough to think about for this purchase.

Some plugins may have their own management system not specifically referred to as a “sample browser,” so that is something worth looking out for as well.

But if you want to be able to load up specific files at a moment’s notice without memorizing their names and destination, then you’d want a VST sampler with a competent management system.

Genre

The style of music you produce or specific requirements for live performance and studio needs will likely be a factor in choosing a VST sampler.

Some samplers are geared more towards DJs and EDM producers. Others are great for composing, sound design, films, and video games. And still others are going to be suited to more general use (intros, interludes, or outros in rock songs, pop songs, etc.).

Serato Sample, for instance, is clearly geared towards DJs.

Obviously, you should still choose a sampler that’s ideally suited to your needs. Just because you’re not a DJ doesn’t mean you can't buy Serato Sample, for instance. But it’s something to take under advisement.

Consider your genre needs. It could help you arrive at a buying decision faster.

Features

So, what does the sampler come with?

More than sound quality, and for some, more than samples, the most important consideration is going to come down to features.

Many samples and one-shots are usable and great on their own. But the true power of a sample is unleashed in the tweaking, whether it’s time-shifting, pitch-shifting, modulating, effects, or otherwise.

Limited functionality means less customizability. You won’t be able to do as much with your sounds.

This does not make a specific sampler bad. But all things being equal, most producers will probably choose a sampler that has balanced quality and quantity of features. That means more power to shape and morph sounds.

A straight comparison between different samplers can work, but it doesn’t always tell the full story. To get an accurate view of what sampler can do what, be sure to explore product descriptions as well as video demos and reviews. In theory, all samplers do the same thing, but in practice, they are all a little different.

Also, carefully consider the features you need. Do you need a built-in synthesizer? The Arturia CMI V is an excellent option if you do, but it might be overkill if you’re self-sufficient so far as synths are concerned. If you still want the CMI V, though, there are other good reasons to get it.

If you’re just getting started, then it can’t hurt to experiment with a simpler, more affordable but powerful sampler like the CR8 Creative Sampler.

Sound

Since you are working with pre-recorded sounds, assuming your sampler can handle any type of file, the main thing to think about here would be the quality of the parameters, effects, modulators, and so on. Are you able to mangle, morph, stretch, shift (and so on), the sounds the way you want to, for the purposes you’re intending to use them for?

If not, then you might look for a sampler with different functionality.

Workflow

Workflow is generally a matter of preference, and in the long run, you can force yourself to get used to any workflow.

All things being equal, though, I prefer fast and easy workflows (which can sometimes mean sacrificing other things like sound quality or features).

Consider what you like most and what your needs are.

Budget

VST samplers aren’t too costly. You can generally find them in the $50 to $170 range. But that also means you should be prepared to spend a certain amount of money to get one, especially if you want a quality sampler.

There aren’t too many situations where you’ll require multiple samplers unless you need tools that do distinctly different things. Your DAW might even have a built-in sampler (though it is going to be far inferior to any on this list – I’m just pointing out that you will likely have alternatives after purchasing one).

So, it’s not like soft synths, because if you make electronic music in any capacity, you’ll probably end up with several of those! Sampler? You may only need one or two.

The only other word of caution would be to spend responsibly and avoid going into debt for any purchases. You can always save up for what you need if you’re patient and budget well, and we’d rather see you have a sustainable music career than end up having to sell your studio gear (making the sampler purchase moot).

Final Thoughts

Even if you don’t end up using it all the time, a sampling VST is a great tool to have – especially one that allows you to customize sounds to the nth degree. You just never know when you might end up using it in a beat, song, or composition.

With the best options laid out here, you shouldn’t struggle to find a sampler that works for you. Best of luck!

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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