Samples. You can love them or you can hate them. But what you can't do is avoid them, or their use in Electronic Dance Music production. In addition to paid content, there are many great sample libraries that are completely free, made available by independent sound designers and top production houses. In this article, I want to share with you some free EDM sample resources, and also some of the free sample libraries I have stashed away in my personal sound library that I find myself using often.
The content in this list is free to download and use, but most require either an email address or a free account to get your free samples. I have labeled each link below as requiring an Email Address, a Free Account, Freely Accessible without either, or being Various if the site is a combination of other web resources.
1. Free Sample Websites
These are some great websites that focus on free music content. In addition to free samples, some of these sites also provide other free content such as synth patches and free plug-ins.
Link: sampleradar.com Freely Accessible
SampleRadar is the collaboration between MusicRadar and Loopmasters that brings you weekly high-quality samples straight from Loopmasters extensive catalog of sample libraries. You can download this weeks free library as well as previous weeks, for a total of over 30 GB of free sample content.
Bedroom Producers Blog
Link: bedroomproducersblog.com Various
In addition to a great list of free samples from around the internet, Bedroom Producers Blog is a website that seems to somehow bring you news of free software and sample giveaways before anyone else. In addition to free samples, I have also snagged free Plug-ins from both Native Instruments and Waves Audio that are now paid plug-ins on their respective websites.
How To Make Electronic Music
Link: howtomakeelectronicmusic.com Various
How To Make Electronic Music is another great resource for free samples, plug-ins, and other freebies from around the web.
Link: freesound.org Free Account
Freesound aims to create a huge collaborative database of audio snippets, samples, and recordings released under the Creative Commons license. This huge database has almost any and every sound you can imagine available. Each sound designer sets their own CC license, but many have decided to make their work available under the Public Domain and are free to use in your productions.
2. Sample Websites with Free Content
Most premium sample and loop production houses will offer free samples of their various products. The production houses below are kind enough to give you free samples straight from their retail sample libraries that you are free to use–the goal of course being to let you hear just how great and usable the content is and persuade you to purchase the full library.
Link: samplephonics.com Free Account
Samplephonics, how I love thee. Samplephonics has to be one of the most generous production houses I have come across, making free sample banks of nearly every single sample library they create. Most of the free sample banks include around 10 loops taken straight from the full product, allowing you to get a good feel for how the sample bank will fit into your production workflow.
Some random sample freebies:
Link: wavealchemy.co.uk Free Account
In addition to loop libraries and multi-layered instruments, Wave Alchemy also focuses on one-shot samples from vintage drum machines. Instead of giving samples from their retail products, Wave Alchemy has made available complete libraries for free, including 808 drums samples and sound effects from vintage gear.
Link: audioanimals.co.uk Free Account
Audio Animals is a mastering house/ sound design studio, and have some great sample packs available for free in the samples section of their online store.
Link: functionloops.com Email Required
Function Loops has made one of their retail sample libraries available for free just for jumping on their mailing list.
Glitch Machines is a sound design studio that focuses on glitch and dark sample packs. They have three full sample "nanopack" libraries available for free download.
Link: seaweedfactory.blogspot.com/ Freely Accessible
If you are into glitch and circuit-bent sound and production, The Seaweed Factory has you covered with a handful of well crafted glitch and bent samples. The libraries have been produced from a wide range of "instruments" including hacked synths and circuit bent children's toys.
3. Free One Off Sample Packs
Below are two sample resources that have proven invaluable to my productions. How the sound designers are giving these away for free is a mystery to me, but nevertheless I am very grateful that they have decided to do so!
Markus Hakala's Kicks
Link: Markus Hakala’s Kicks All In One Freely Accessible
Simply put, Markus Hakala is a boss. He has made available all five sets of his personal tuned kick drum sample libraries. That's right, these kick drums are musically tuned to various notes and are labeled for easy usage. Below are three demos of the five kits that are included in the single download.
Link: sixbitdeep.com Email Address
6bit Deep has created two awesome sample libraries. What makes these sample libraries different from others is the amount of amazing analog gear that was used in the production of the libraries. For example, an ordinary hand clap recording has been processed and turned into an amazing sounding snare clap.
The use of samples is not going away any time soon. While there are various views and opinions for and against the use of samples in production, the simple truth is that they are a tool. It is how a producer uses their tools that will ultimately decide if the tool is effective or not. I hope you have found some useful tools in this list that will help you along in your EDM productions.
Do you have a great sample resource that wasn't mentioned here? Share the link in the comments and let us know how you've used them in your own productions.