Sampling overview featuring VSampler DXi

Last updated on 3/31/2016

Today's contemporary music is predominately created with samplers and audio recording software (like SONAR). Without these tools of the trade, it would be virtually impossible to create many of today's popular songs. Samplers remove traditional creative boundaries by allowing us to use any possible sound as a source for an instrument. These can include the sound of a record playing to add a retro vinyl feel to a track, individual multi-samples of orchestral instruments, rhythm loops, complete instrumental grooves, vocal hooks and phrases. This tip is for users of SONAR, Home Studio 2002, Home Studio XL, Music Creator 2002, and Plasma.

What is a sampler?

A sampler is a device that is able to record and playback sound. A sampler digitatizes a sound and stores it in its internal or external memory. This digital representation of a sound is called a sample. Once a sample had been recorded, it can be played on different keys of the sampler's keyboard or triggered by MIDI data. Most modern samplers also allow processing of the digitalized data, for example adding effects or changing the pitch. Professional samplers are expensive and often have a limited memory to store sample data.

What is VSampler?

VSampler is a "virtual" sampler. That means you don't need expensive hardware to work with it. Most properties of a real sampler are emulated by software when using VSampler. The sample memory is only limited by the RAM of your computer (we recommend 128 MB, but more is better). You get the power of a real sampler at a fraction of its cost combined with the great flexibility of working with software.

VSampler emulates a hardware sample-player with powerful features such as

  • A 24bit/96kHz sampler and synthesizer with up to 64 stereo-voices
  • Support for the latest audio standards, such as DirectSound 8, DirectX instruments
  • Management of sound banks
  • Use as a sound source for internal or external MIDI devices (sequencer, MIDI keyboards)
  • A powerful and extensible synthesizer engine to create new sounds.

Let's begin

This includes some demo songs with samples loaded that you can open into SONAR, Home Studio 2002, Music Creator 2002, or Plasma.

When you install the demo be sure to check the DXi option for your installation. To do so, check the box labeled "Install Cakewalk SONAR Support."

Check the box labeled "Install Cakewalk SONAR Support."

After completing the install, start your Cakewalk program. Open a sample file by clicking FILE | OPEN, then browse over to C:\Speedsoft\Vsampler\Banks and double-click the file named "'Deserted' by Larph.wrk". You can now play this back to get a feel for VSampler.

Let's take a look at VSampler.

Click the FX tab at the bottom of SONAR's Track view.

Click the FX tab at the bottom of SONAR's Track view

Double click on VSampler to bring up its user interface.

Double click on VSampler to bring up its user interface

You will notice eight instruments loaded. Each one is assigned to respond to a different channel.

Notice: Eight instruments loaded, each assigned to a different channel

When using Vsampler in your own projects you can enable this multi-timbral mode by setting MIDI mode from "preset" to "multi."

Set MIDI mode from "preset" to "multi."

Beyond the basics:

VSampler allows you to import a wide variety of sample formats, including:

  • Wave
  • Terratec instruments
  • Sound Fonts (SF2)
  • Akai S1000/5000/6000
  • Steinberg LM4
  • DX7 sys-ex

You can do this from the file menu in VSampler.

Import a wide variety of sample formats

You can also click, drag and drop a sample from the SONAR track view into the preset area in VSampler.

Drag a sample from SONAR into VSampler

This will create a key map for the entire range of the keyboard. You can then trigger the sample with a midi controller.

VSampler also allows you to stream large samples from disk. This is useful if you have samples larger than your computer's amount of physical ram. VSampler automatically loads a portion of the sample into ram to make it instantly available. The remainder is read and streamed from the hard disk in your computer. You can do this by enabling this function from the EDIT MENU | SAMPLE STREAMING | ENABLE option. This can be enabled globally or for an individual instrument.

Stream large samples from disk

VSampler has numerous features that go way beyond the scope of this article. Dig in and experiment.

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