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How To Decide If Sample Packs Are Worth It

By Matthew Vultaggio

November 11, 2020

When first starting to make music, I wanted to find out if sample packs are worth it or not, so I did some research and wrote about it.

Sample packs are worth it because they provide high-quality sounds for your own productions, save you time, and are great ways to kick start your songs. There are several free sample packs available today on the internet, so purchasing sample packs is not even necessary.

There are lots of great reasons to actually use sample packs in your music, but how can you actually find out if a sample pack is worth it to you or not?

Let’s look closer at this topic, my friend. 🙂

Are Sample Packs Worth It? (Finally Explained)

There is a laundry list of reasons why sample packs are worth it. I’ve written down a bunch of my favorite reasons below.

If any of these reasons vibe with you, then you can confidently know that sample packs are worth it for you as well!

Here are the top 5 reasons why sample packs are worth it:

#1 Access to high-quality sounds

One of the main reasons that sample packs are worth it is because they provide you with high-quality sounds that you may not have access to.

Don’t have a vintage drum machine or synthesizer handy?

No problem.

Someone else has already painstakingly recorded multiple velocities and versions of different sounds for you.

In some cases, they have even sent these sounds through high-quality preamps, audio converters, and sound effects.

#2 Sample packs save you money

Similar to the last point, having a library of vintage drum machines and instruments can be a super expensive endeavor.

It is definitely a lot cheaper to purchase a sample pack of these sounds than it is to actually purchase the actual instruments that are being sampled.

What is cheaper: a $20 sample pack or a $2,000 drum machine?

Obviously, there are benefits to owning the original instruments but from a cost-perspective, sample packs are simply glorious here.

P.S. Check out the 5 best sample packs for deep house, for the best budget, premium, and free sample packs.

#3 Sample packs save you time

Having to set up, connect, and record the sounds of an instrument can take a whole lot of time.

Especially, if you are not an experienced sound engineer who knows how to record things in the highest quality as quickly as possible.

On top of that, learning an instrument or even the intricate details of how a drum machine or synthesizer works can take a whole lot of time in itself.

With sample packs, you can simply drop the sounds into your DAW and focus on making great music instead of the laborious recording process.

#4 Access unique or unusal sounds

Sample packs also provide you to access unique or unusual sounds that you wouldn’t necessarily normally create or go for in a normal studio session.

It is a lot easier to grab a sample pack of rare Cross-Grainger Kangaroo-Pouch Tone-Tool samples than it is to hire a professional player or purchase and learn how to play that instrument yourself.

Okay, that example was a little wild but I think you get the idea.

Sample packs allow you to easily experiment with unique and exciting sounds in your music.

You can even import these samples into hardware devices that allow for sample import to breathe new life into your gear. Check out the 5 best drum machines for Techno (and underground dance music) for some examples.

#5 Sample packs allow you to focus on making great music

This right here is my ultimate reason for loving samples:

Sample packs allow you to completely focus and dedicate yourself towards the main goal: making great music.

You don’t have to worry about purchasing and learning instruments, recording them, and then making great music.

You can simply grab the sample pack and get on to creating that #1 pop-hit or club banger that the world so desperately needs right now.

Are Sample Packs Right For You To Use?

But how can you decide if sample packs are right for you to use?

Here is a nice list of things to consider when deciding if sample packs are right for you to use in your own productions and music:

What is the length of the sample?

Are you using a short, percussive sample or a longer melodic sample?

For shorter samples: don’t sweat it, just use it!

There is no copyright issue here and most people won’t even notice you are using a sample from a pack since it is so short.

For a deeper (and more legitimate) look into music copyright laws, check out this book on Amazon.

How much are you modifying the sample?

When it comes to melodic samples, you should make sure that you are cutting/chopping/editing the sample to sound more unique.

When possible don’t just drop a long melodic sample that is unaltered.

It is a lot more obvious that this is from a sample pack and it is a pretty unoriginal thing to do. So, put your spin on it!

My thoughts: if you are modifying the sample a whole bunch, go nuts, and use it!

How many times has that sample been used?

When deciding if a particular sample in a sample pack is worth it or not, you should definitely consider how many times that sample has been used.

If that sample has been used a lot you may not want to use it in your production as it may be easily recognizable.

If you find yourself in a situation where you aren’t modifying a longer melodic sample AND it has been used in lots of other productions, that would be a reason to reconsider using the sample.

Will you use the sample in the final version?

One great reason to use samples is that they can kickstart the creative process for you.

If you are simply using the sample from a sample pack to kickstart a song and plan to recreate, replace, or heavily modify it before finally releasing, go nuts with that sample, baby!

How did you get the sample?

Finally, we need to look at the legitimacy of the sample you are looking to use.

If you purchased the sample from someone or a company then you are creatively and technically in the clear.

However, if you illegally downloaded the sample or you sampled someone’s work without their permission, you are less in the clear.

But, with that said, you can still honestly get away with it. It just depends on your risk tolerance. 🙂

Are Sample Packs Worth Paying For?

With so many free resources on the internet, it can be challenging to decide if you should actually purchase sample packs to use in your own productions.

Here are 3 ways that can help you decide if you should pay for a sample pack or not:

  1. Do your research. Look around to see if there are any reviews or recommendations on the sample pack on forums and Reddit to see what other people think.
  2. Look for freebies. Most sample pack stores have a handful of free packs for you to test out. Give those a try first and if you like what is in the free pack, you will most likely enjoy their paid packs.
  3. Test out one sample pack from a sample store. This is a great way to try out one of the cheaper options a store has available to get a feel for how usable their sounds are in your productions.

Ideally, the sample pack you are looking for will have a nice page with sound examples and even some reviews from customers.

However, not all companies will put forth the effort to add lots of examples and the reviews that are on their site may not necessarily be real.

This is why it is always a good idea to do a quick search to see if you can find anyone talking about the sample pack online.

Otherwise, you should be able to test out the quality of the store’s sample packs by trying out a free pack or a cheaper pack if they have those available.

Are Sample Packs Cheating?

I previously wrote about this in my article, Are Sample Packs Cheating? The Definitive Answer, but here is the basic summary of my findings in that article:

Using sample packs is not cheating, but it can be seen as unoriginal.

As long as the samples inside are cleared for copyright and you got the sample pack legally, using sample packs is not cheating.

The idea of “cheating” in music is truly a subjective thing. So, it really depends on who you are trying to impress here.

The only 3 people you really need to consider are:

  1. Other creatives (ie: producers, artists, etc). In most cases, any negativity from other producers is coming from a place of jealousy or elitism. So just forget about them.
  2. Actual music listeners. The only thing that music listeners care about is finding and enjoying great music. They don’t care about “cheating”.
  3. Lawyers. Copyright law states that only a piece of music’s lyrics, melody, harmony, and rhythm can be copyrighted. Just make sure you aren’t stealing someone’s work and you are using legit sample packs.

Related Questions

Is it bad to use sample packs?

Great question! Using the samples, loops, or MIDI files you find in sample packs is a great way to save time and finish your songs faster. Just make sure you obtained them legally and don’t over-use them!

Are sample packs royalty free?

Another great question! Most sample packs are royalty-free and ready to use in your productions. However, it is always a good idea to check first before purchasing the sample pack or officially releasing a song that use it’s samples.

Is using drum loops cheating?

Another great question! Using drum loops is not cheating but can be seen as unoriginal. Make sure you modify your drum loops by chopping them up, layering them, and/or adding some effects.

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