El Rosa

Free instrument samples? Libraries? where to start?

10 posts in this topic

Hello Everybody!

So I finally was able to upgrade to a more decent laptop and I'm moving from garageband to Logic Pro X (choose logic because of similarities with garageband)

My question here is, where to start regarding music samples and libraries??? Logic pro has some sounds that come with it, but they don't sound awesome except for the drum sets (in my opinion)

I did some research on google and on the forum, and I'm overwhelmed with all the results and sounds, samples and stuff available, from free to expensive ones, I don't know what to do. Of course I'm looking for the free stuff because I don't have the money to spend and because I'm just starting to seriously try to produce my music.

I would like to ask for help, if someone could point me to the best free sounds or samples available. What do YOU use?

My music doesn't have a genre in specific, I have influences from classical, latin, electronic, rock, pop, and more, so I'm looking for sounds from all "popular" instruments like brass, woodwinds, strings, bass, guitars, and of course synth and electronic sounds too.

If there's a thread or discussion with this information that I didn't see, please point me to it.

 

All help is appreciated, thank you for your time and I hope to share my remixes soon. (also need to learn some equalization and masterization, so info on those topics is welcome too)

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Almost all free samples are going to be either crap or require you to give some personal information in exchange for some small instrument.  I've spent years amassing my sample collection and figure i've easily spent over $3,000+  to get everything I need/want (this is ONLY counting sample libraries and sample based synths).  Took about 6 years to get it all. You can bypass much of the collecting by going with East West's Composer Cloud which gives you a ton of samples for a low monthly fee.  Of course you don't actually own any of them so when you stop paying all of your projects are going to break if they are not bounced to audio.  

http://www.soundsonline.com/composercloud

FYI samples can be a hefty investment so it might be better to start off with NI's Komplete so you have something useable to learn with.  Poorly sequenced/mixed samples aren't going to sound any better than poorly sequenced/mixed soundfonts or synth patches.

If you decide you want to start playing around with a sampled instrument start with one or two you know you are going to need to achieve what you want and learn each of them one at a time.  Each library has it's own learning curve and method of developing a realistic performance so it's going to take more time than you might expect to get all the details down.  

 

good luck!

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2 hours ago, Garpocalypse said:

FYI samples can be a hefty investment so it might be better to start off with NI's Komplete so you have something useable to learn with.  Poorly sequenced/mixed samples aren't going to sound any better than poorly sequenced/mixed soundfonts or synth patches.

I agree with everything Gar says except the first half of this.

Spend the most amount of money on the highest quality stuff you can afford right now or save up a bit to get the highest quality stuff you can then.

It's true that poorly arranged, badly sequenced compositions are gonna sound bad whether you're using the best of the best or the worst of the worst, but I'm a victim of this frighteningly common mentality that if you're inexperienced, you should start with the low-end stuff and work your way up. It's music; not surfing or learning to ride a bicycle with training wheels where you can outgrow your board or bike.

Would you rather be a n00b with the best stuff out there and then become a top-tier composer and still have the best samples money can buy or would you rather become a god-tier composer with utter shit samples and now have to spend MORE money (quite easily thousands depending) on quality samples? The choice is clear, to me.

I know it sounds dramatic, but this has become one of my greatest regrets in life. I bought all this low-end shit and then some mid to higher-end stuff like ProjectSAM and in the last while, I've really been focusing on improving my orchestration and arranging skills and it's made me realize I should've just gone with the ProjectSAM or maybe Cinesamples stuff to begin with, because now the cheaper, old, "entry" stuff is useless and money essentially wasted.

 

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Orchestral sounds is something you'd best look elsewhere for. Depending on your needs, something like the Kontakt factory library (part of Native Instruments' Komplete; I highly recommend you get Komplete rather than just Kontakt) or an old library like Miroslav might be good enough. I use them - but I don't make much orchestral music. Or you might want to save up a few thousand bucks for the really big orchestral packages. It's difficult to say without knowing your needs. And none of that's free.

Logic should have everything you need when it comes to electronic sounds, though.

If you're only a few years into this stuff, just now going from GB to Logic, I'd recommend something like this:

1) Learn Logic's instruments, how to get a decent performance out of them. This is free, now that you have it. Find their limitations, and figure out what it is you need from future purchases.

2) Get Native Instruments' Komplete. You get Kontakt, which you'll probably want for future libraries, as well as its basic sound library which includes a wide range of instruments and a lot more options than Logic's own sampler has. Find its limitations, and figure out what it is you need form future purchases.

3) Decide whether to build a library out of smaller purchases (that usually run in Kontakt) or one big monster of a library (often its own plugin). If you're not at this point drawn towards orchestral music, you might find that you need better drum samples, or a good fake/sampled guitar, or more synths, or brass for jazz, or... something else. Figure out what you need before you start spending any money.

While there is free stuff out there, I'm not sure I'd bother with it myself. These days, the tools I use the most outside of Logic's own stuff are Pianoteq (mostly the e-piano add-on), Omnisphere 1, a couple of things from Komplete, and a couple of SampleTank things. That's for e-piano, pads, various uses, and drums, respectively (with overlap). But I started with just Logic's own stuff, and that was years ago, before Sculpture and Alchemy. I think my 5 first remixes were done with just Logic's built-in stuff back then, though I can't say for sure.

Sorry to not answer the question, but it's difficult without knowing your needs. Even then, it's difficult to say whether a new tool is the right way to go, or just more skill with the tools you've got. What do you want to make? 

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1 hour ago, AngelCityOutlaw said:

 

Spend the most amount of money on the highest quality stuff you can afford right now or save up a bit to get the highest quality stuff you can then.

Would you rather be a n00b with the best stuff out there and then become a top-tier composer and still have the best samples money can buy or would you rather become a god-tier composer with utter shit samples and now have to spend MORE money (quite easily thousands depending) on quality samples? The choice is clear, to me.

I know it sounds dramatic, but this has become one of my greatest regrets in life. I bought all this low-end shit and then some mid to higher-end stuff like ProjectSAM and in the last while, I've really been focusing on improving my orchestration and arranging skills and it's made me realize I should've just gone with the ProjectSAM or maybe Cinesamples stuff to begin with, because now the cheaper, old, "entry" stuff is useless and money essentially wasted.

 

While ACO has a good point, I honestly wasn't talking about "entry level" anything anywhere in my post. Orchestral samples are an entirely different beast and for those you are better off going with the best library you can get with a, dare i say it, "workflow" that appeals to you.  I had a chance to try out ProjectSAM's Symphobia and wasn't much of a fan of the inflexible ensemble oriented patches.  It's easy to get your big generic filmscoring sound with them but that's all it's capable of doing. Since I invested in EW's Symphonic Orchestra Platinum (which is still a viable collection despite what some would have you believe) I'm able to use a lot of those instruments in other genres and create an ensemble that's exactly what i want to fit what i'm working on. On the otherhand, someone who does a lot of freelance filmscoring and needs to have something not so personal banged out in a short time would probably get great use out of Symphobia. 

It's a given that you have to do your research when looking for sample libraries.  Check out demos, watch videos and get a feel for what you are getting yourself into.

 

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1 hour ago, Garpocalypse said:

While ACO has a good point, I honestly wasn't talking about "entry level" anything anywhere in my post. Orchestral samples are an entirely different beast and for those you are better off going with the best library you can get with a, dare i say it, "workflow" that appeals to you.  I had a chance to try out ProjectSAM's Symphobia and wasn't much of a fan of the inflexible ensemble oriented patches.  It's easy to get your big generic filmscoring sound with them but that's all it's capable of doing. Since I invested in EW's Symphonic Orchestra Platinum (which is still a viable collection despite what some would have you believe) I'm able to use a lot of those instruments in other genres and create an ensemble that's exactly what i want to fit what i'm working on. On the otherhand, someone who does a lot of freelance filmscoring and needs to have something not so personal banged out in a short time would probably get great use out of Symphobia. 

It's a given that you have to do your research when looking for sample libraries.  Check out demos, watch videos and get a feel for what you are getting yourself into.

 

Well you did say "something usable to learn with" which I saw as the same thing - the advice takes many forms.

and I disagree about Symphobia (I wasn't referring to it specifically, though) only being capable of the style that I think you're referring to. Though it's true that it's primarily aimed at that kind of music.

 

 

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This is a lot of information, thanks to everybody for sharing their opinions, I noticed that you were mostly focusing on orchestral libraries, but which ones do you recommend for synths and electronic sounds? Again I'm just gathering info because at the moment my economy doesn't allow me to spend on instrument libraries (yet).

I don't consider myself a total noob when it comes to music, but "professionally" producing a track is something that I am new to. My biggest worries are like I stated before, getting good sounds, and then learning to equalize/masterize. I don't know any of that either, and don't know where to start haha.

Here's something mine, not totally finished but was done in garageband and now I just changed instruments in logic to see how it sounds. Actually there's both versions in sound cloud, garageband and logic. 

For example here, I would love better saxophone sounds.

 

 

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Well, the good news is you already seem to have a pretty strong intuitive sense for how to balance your sounds (and also just how to write music that works). In that track you linked, only the saxophones really stick out to me as bad.

That being said, you can't get free saxophones that sound better than that; it's just not gonna happen. Anything that would sound better would take a lot of work, and that's work that someone would sell it for to make money on.

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On 3/24/2017 at 10:15 PM, El Rosa said:

This is a lot of information, thanks to everybody for sharing their opinions, I noticed that you were mostly focusing on orchestral libraries, but which ones do you recommend for synths and electronic sounds? Again I'm just gathering info because at the moment my economy doesn't allow me to spend on instrument libraries (yet).

I don't consider myself a total noob when it comes to music, but "professionally" producing a track is something that I am new to. My biggest worries are like I stated before, getting good sounds, and then learning to equalize/masterize. I don't know any of that either, and don't know where to start haha.

Here's something mine, not totally finished but was done in garageband and now I just changed instruments in logic to see how it sounds. Actually there's both versions in sound cloud, garageband and logic. 

For example here, I would love better saxophone sounds.

For electronic sounds, there are many, many free options out there that are fantastic sounding.  These are synths that I use in a lot of my own music:

I've used all of these in several tracks of mine, and some of then like Synth1, Tal-u-no and SQ8L are present in the great majority of my songs.  They're all just a google search away.

Regarding Effects, here's a comprehensive list of great effects that you can use and again, some of them I use in many of my tracks, like the great reverb effect Ambience, great eq effects like SonEQ and SlickEQ:

http://bedroomproducersblog.com/free-vst-plugins/

I also recommend getting EVERYTHING from Variety Of Sound.  FerricTDS is a staple of every single one of my mixes.

https://varietyofsound.wordpress.com/

Good luck!

EDIT: Forgot the TDR Nova: http://www.tokyodawn.net/tdr-nova/
This is a MUST for any producer in a budget to help you mix and master your tracks.  There are very few multiband eq/dynamics vsts out there that are this good, even ones you actually have to pay for.  Must have.

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This post is kind of rambling and disorganized, please bear with me! .-.  I'm still pretty new to OCRemix, far from being a professional, and make music in my spare time, but I've spent thousands of hours using Logic.

Don't underestimate what you can do with Logic Pro X's built-in plugins; they are extremely powerful. Sure, some of the presets might sound pretty synthetic and cheesy at first, but that's where clever manipulation of MIDI parameters and EQing come in. You can get some pretty great results using the expression and modulation parameters alone for some of the built in orchestral samples, particularly the strings and woodwinds.

As far as synth sounds, Logic Pro X ships with a pretty massive library: 

The Alchemy plugin, which they added only a few updates ago, will have a preset for pretty much every electronic genre you could name, and then some -- it's now my most-used plugin. It is extremely versatile and is actually one of the big selling points for Logic Pro X now. Sculpture is an extremely flexible and awesome synth modeler that can produce a wide range of sounds as well. EXS24 ships with some quality samples and can import soundfonts; you just need to drop the .sf2 file into the proper directory. The ES1 bass synth and ES2 oscillator synths are also very powerful. Ultrabeat is pretty fantastic and pretty easy to use.

For orchestra, there's always the basic stuff in Squidfont; it's not the most authentic on its own, but works fairly well layered with other sounds. French horn is legendarily difficult to capture using samples; to get an even reasonable sound I had to layer the Squidfont legato French horn with a Garritan horn choir and a synth! Saxophone is also extremely difficult to realistically set up, if not more so than French horn. There used to be a Ben Boldt library with some okay orchestra samples in it as well but I can't seem to find a download that is working at the moment...

EQing is something you can develop a sense for; Logic's built in channel EQ is also very simple to use. You can get pretty good through experimentation but it's best to know what frequencies to boost and reduce as well; a chart like this one is a good starting point. Single out a regular snare drum on a track sometime, and turn on the analyzer; boost somewhere in the 180-220hz range and the 4500hz area and see how much of a difference it makes. :) 

Also, while I don't really recommend using Apple Loops in a real project, sometimes they're handy for inspiration. They make good placeholders in some projects until you're ready to replace them with something you made yourself. Same for the Drummer tracks.

As far as external plugins, the posts above mine cover a pretty good range and the majority of them I already have sitting around on my hard drive. The top three third-party instrument plugins I personally use are the Garritan Personal Orchestra, MusicLab RealGuitar, and Image-Line's Drumaxx, but none of these are free and they also require some effort to get sounding great.

Anyway, I liked your Sonic 2 mix above a lot. Your composition skills are definitely there.

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