What do I need to know about "samplers"?

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One aspect of home recording I've not really educated myself about is "samplers". There are numerous posts here that indicate it's an essential component of a DAW setup, but I'm unclear on whether this primarily refers to sample playback instruments (e.g., Kontact, Decent Sampler) or something more oriented to capturing and manipulating samples. I play guitar and keys, am comfortable with basic recording & mixing, know how to work with VST/VSTi plugins. I mostly work in instrumental classic rock / progressive rock styles. My attempts to search for "sampler 101" sorts of posts / articles /videos have mostly led me to posts about "how to sample from another track", which isn't something I see myself doing.

Bottom line: am I missing out on a tool that would prove really valuable to me? Thanks.
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sampler_( ... nstrument)
Don't confuse Samplers with Romplers.
Samplers are used in cases when you have a sample and you want to manipulate it, then playback.
* For instrument: You have recorded a sample of a dog barking, and you want to turn it into an instrument. In a sampler you can crop the relevant section, apply an envelope, a filter, and turn it into a chromatically playable instrument. Basically it is like a synth, but instead of an oscillator it is your sample.
* For drums: there are plugins that designed to play drum kits and are based on a bunch of editable samples, it is kind of a sampler if you can edit each drum sample.
* For beats: You are into beats, and you want to capture a section of an old vinyl and turn it to a beat. Akai samplers are known for this type of workflow. You will be able to slice and dice this section and create an arrangement of slices, which turn to be a new piece of music.

Romplers are similar to sampler instruments, but do not allow a direct editing of the samples, they are meant for a direct use by a musician.

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What DAW do you use? (if it has a built-in sampler, then you're not "missing out")

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Sampling is playing back something which was recorded. Samples can be manipulated in many Many MANY ways.
DaveL60 wrote: Fri Apr 19, 2024 5:01 am One aspect of home recording I've not really educated myself about is "samplers".
[...]
My attempts to search for "sampler 101" sorts of posts / articles /videos have mostly led me to posts about "how to sample from another track", which isn't something I see myself doing.
Try that, and you have educated yourself ;-)
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You only know if it's valuable to you by trying it out. Bottom line is that they're not essential for anything - you can make your music quite happily without a sampler. For others they're essential because sampling is just what they do.

I was around when samplers first came out, and they were incredibly useful those days, mostly because gear was very expensive. So it was a way of getting different drums without having to buy drum machines, you could sample vocals without hiring a singer, you could make chords out of mono synths by sampling different notes, you could record audio when DAWs didn't exist and sequencers were midi only or you were limited by heinously expensive reel to reel that only gave you 8 tracks and had to be physically tape-spliced. Nowadays it's both cheaper and easier to do so many of those things, technology has moved on. Samplers can be useful but tbh I can't remember the last time I used one. I can manipulate audio in my DAW, my DAW drums have every variety of drum and pattern I could want, VST plugins have unlimited polyphony, and even the hw I want to toy with is a fraction of the price. And if I want a proper sampler my DAW now has one.

If you've got the time and inclination, it might be worthwhile trying sampling. But tbh you're not missing anything. If you can make your music happily without one so far...carry on. But it might also open up new possibilities for you. :shrug:

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DaveL60 wrote: Fri Apr 19, 2024 5:01 am Bottom line: am I missing out on a tool that would prove really valuable to me? Thanks.
there are few different ways to answer that question. A musical sample is one of the most common building blocks of modern production. Without samples the entire movement of bedroom production would be near impossible. It is not an exception that people make their tracks or entire albums using only samples. I fact, most of the musicians use now sampling one way or another: as simple drum breaks, entire sample libraries or big VST orchestras. However, I think it's absolutely fine if you don't feel the need for using samples or wan't to make samples yourself.

I personally like samples because sample manipulation can transform or "flip" an ordinary sound (simple guitar riff for example) to something unexpected. Not sure if it makes my music somehow better but it makes the process more interesting and enjoyable for me.

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