Studio Tips: Sampling

Posted on January 18, 2011

How we sample these days

Back in the days we would go through our extensive record collection, look for interesting breaks or drum sounds, press sample on our Roland W30 sampler, chop it up by hand and make beats. Nowadays things have slightly changed for us. Soft samplers became very complicated with millions of possibilities. We’re not limited to our own old records anymore, and we don’t have to go crate digging to find real gems. We sample stuff we find on the internet. Now, finding samples and searching the internet is really fun, but for us, dealing with complicated soft samplers that look like spaceship controls isn’t.

The Samples

Gay Country & Western from the fifties, Awesome tapes from Africa, Disco from the early eighties, Russian Horror New-wave, Dutch Folksongs. You can all find it on music blogs. You really have to take your time to find the cool blogs, but once you have found the real gems, they are a great daily source for all your sample needs. Of course we’re not promoting copyright infringement, but a cowbell played by a German hippie does sound way cooler than your standard Logic percussion. And no, we’re not giving away which blogs we visit!


Now, say we’ve downloaded this mp3 with the ultimate bongo break. How do we cut this break out and convert it into WAV so our sampler can handle it? Bring on Snapper. Snapper is a smart little application for Mac that will play any audio in your finder and show it as a waveform. Then you can select the part you want to use and convert it into WAV. It even gives you the possibility to place your selection directly on the cursor of your favorite DAW.

Chopping it up

We always loved chopping up samples. It’s a great way of re-using old records and turn them into something of your own. We started out with chopping them up by hand, then came Recycle and now we use FXpansion’s GURU (and its successor ‘Geist’) .
What is great about GURU is that it’s especially designed for drums, it’s simple, and it chops up your samples with an algorithm unknown to man. It means that it will kind of unpredictably choose which part of the sample goes to one of the 16 pads. The fun is that you can rediscover your record collection as GURU may chop and highlight parts you would never think of.
Now, open GURU, choose ‘Loops’ in the browser, make sure it says ‘Slice’ & ‘Auto’. Select the piece of WAV you just cut out with Snapper and GURU will instantly chop up the sample and place the individual parts on the pads. Adjust with the ‘Sensitivity’ slider or with ‘Pad Edit’. Make beats, have fun. Easy.

*this article was published in issue 235 of Future Music.

  • Erickdecks

    nice one! keep it comin….

  • Nice one guys! Love your work ::)

  • I’ll need to look into Snapper and Guru is my go to beat machine hands down.