Getting Creative With Sample Packs

Creative With Sample Packs.jpg


So, you just bought a new sample pack and the amount of content is a little overwhelming or doesn’t quite fit in with your style or musical key.

Well worry no more, we’re here to explore different ways of getting more longevity from your collections and showing some cool ideas on how to process, re-sample and create new sounds from your latest sample pack.


 Re-pitching in your DAW

This is probably the most simple but definitely the most useful.  Try nudging the sample around by a semi-tone until it fits into the key of your track. 

The whole chord progression or sample might not be quite right but you never know what you’ll find.  There might be a little nugget of inspiration that triggers the next idea which you can easily chop out, re-sample or process to your hearts content. 


Gates For Rhythm

We all know about side-chaining sounds but when was the last time you reached for the humble gate?  Here’s how you can create amazing rhythmic sequences that breathe new life into uninspiring pads.

1.     Create a 'Trigger Channel’ that includes a new pattern that will trigger the gate. 

Note: This can be completely different to the kick but make sure they sound good together.

 Trigger Track Containing Our New Trigger Pattern 

Trigger Track Containing Our New Trigger Pattern 

2.     Now turn off the trigger channel and load your gate onto the channel with your pad sample on it

3.     Set the external input to your ‘Trigger Channel’.

4.     Adjust the setting as you see fit. 

Setting Up your Gate.png

Here’s a brief overview of what the dials do:

Attack – The time it takes for the gate to open letting noise in

Threshold – The level of the signal coming in needed to trigger the gate.  Adjusting this effects how sensitive the gate is

Hold – How long the gate stays open for

Floor - How much reduction is applied by the gate.  Lower numbers yield a less aggressive sound.  

Release – How fast the gate closes.  Slow times make things sound like a little smoother but you might loose some of that aggressive choppiness so it’s worth playing around with. 



Re-sampling sounds has to be the king of all processing options.  This combined with the plethora of options built into most DAW’s samplers the world really is your oyster.

For this tutorial we’re going to create an ethereal pad from a vocal sample.  Here’s how:

1.     Load the vocal sample into your sampler of choice – we’re using Ableton Sampler.

2.     Find the position you want the play head to start and also the best section for 'looping'.

3.     Set the locator accordingly and set the sustain mode to ‘Loop’.

 Our settings of choices for creating pads using a vocal sample

Our settings of choices for creating pads using a vocal sample

4.     Increase the ‘Cross fade’ amount to create a smoother transition as the sample loops.

5.     Add your choice of FX to taste.  This is what we went for to add some movement and space:

 FX Choice - Erosion > Reverb > Freq Shifter > Chorus

FX Choice - Erosion > Reverb > Freq Shifter > Chorus

Tip: Try listening to the difference in outcome between the ‘snap’ mode being on and off. This dictates the speed at which the samples are played back.
The higher the note the quicker the loop hence you can begin to get amazing movement as variations in speed get larger.


Playback Speeds

Instead of use the warp engine why not pitch the sample then start writing at whatever tempo fits the new length of sample you created.  This little adjustment can make you think about melody in a completely different way and is always worth experimenting with.


Warp Modes

If you’re not quite getting the sound you’re after try playing with the different Warp Modes.  Ableton has given us a few tips on what they think you should use them for but we love experimenting and abusing these ideas.

Texture Mode – This setting really comes into it’s own when a sample is pitched.  Tweaking the Flux & Grain Size dials can get some amazing results and really add a unique to any uninspiring samples.

Beat Mode is extremely useful for creating choppy elements and is something that we covered in more detail in our Ableton Tips blog post.   This mode can also be used on complex drum loops simplifying them and providing you an instant loop variation as well as more room in your mix.

Warp Modes Ableton Live.png


Slice To MIDI

Instead of getting choppy why not turn your samples into an instrument using either the slice to midi feature of ‘slice mode’ in your sampler of choice.  In Ableton we’ve used the ‘Simplers’ slice mode to add slices to our piano sample.  We can use our keyboard to trigger the sections of the chord progression in a new order of our liking.  True MPC style.

 Add slices to your sample using Ableon's 'Slice' Mode.

Add slices to your sample using Ableon's 'Slice' Mode.

Tip: Take note of the sensitivity and slice marker position if you’re getting clicks or too it’s chopping off certain notes etc.
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