When looking for free sample packs online, you’ll find thousands. The sheer amount may overwhelm you, which is why it is important to have a use case in mind.
Sample packs come in all sorts of variety. For example, you’ll find them categorized by genre e.g. Hip-Hop, Trance, R&B or by instrument 808, guitars, piano loop etc. They may also be categorized by sound types such as melodies, harmonies, and drums (percussions).
Sample packs come in either audio or MIDI formats. In the audio format, you will not be able to rework the notation of the samples to suit the key or genre of your beats unless you use the Ableton resampling technique I explain here by converting audio to MIDI. The MIDI format is by far the easiest sample format to use since you can easily edit your notation and key.
For this tutorial, I shall review the best free sample packs for Ableton and their utility. I will categorize the sample packs by instrument, as by approaching this topic this way, you will find utility with these sample packs for any genre.
Heavyweight 808 by DMP Authority
This is a fresh sounding next generation 808 sample pack I use for my productions.
This sample pack provides 101 premium sounding, high quality and fully mastered 808 samples for free. You will find utility with this sample pack for your Hip-Hop and R&B productions. Generally, the 808 is common in these genres, however, with skillful sample selection you will find utility for your EDM, Drum n Bass, and Dubstep productions as well.
Michael Brad in association with DMP Authorities has spent countless hours designing this sample pack, and therefore, you can expect that these samples are 100% original. The samples come in the few lossless formats, the Wav. Ensuring that the samples will not truncate when sharing and transferring samples. Furthermore, on sound quality, the samples come in 24 bit rate and a 44.1kHz sample rate.
The best part of this sample pack is that the samples are royalty free. This is so good because you will not have to hassle paying to clear the samples or acknowledgments. You can download this sample pack here. You will need to create an account with DMP Authorities in order to be able to download this sample pack.
Site Exclusive: 100 Free Synth Bass Samples
The Free Sample Packs website is one of the many sources of sample pack banks. They provide their own packs in addition to sample packs by third party websites. When it comes to free synth bass, this is the most robust of them all.
These samples sound like the synth basses you would find in vintage synthesizers like the Juno or Jupiter V6. These samples are perfect for cross-genre productions but particularly for EDM and Pop music, and genre fusion. You will find 100 24-Bit Wav. Files in this pack and the samples are 100% royalty free. You will find this sample pack here.
Melodies & Harmonies
Cymatics Python MIDI Collection
This is the first MIDI sample pack on this list. The beauty of using MIDI samples is the ease of use, and customizability of the MIDI notation. You can easily change and rearrange the notation of the chords or melodies to fit your production.
The best part about the MIDI sample format is, that your sample is not the sound of a specific instrument. You can choose which instrument to play the MIDI sample, and even separate the melody and harmony so that different instruments are playing these sections.
This sample pack provides you with 51 melodic and harmonic (chords) samples for your production. These samples suit Hip-Hop, R&B, EDM and even Soul music. Cymatics has collaborated with an unnamed Grammy nominated pianist to bring us this incredible and authentic MIDI collection. There is no particular categorization in this sample pack by genre. You will find the MIDI samples by key signature however.
With MIDI samples and a little bit of music theory knowledge, I encourage you to customize your sample to fit the use, and key of your production. This will help your beats sound much more unique. You can download this sample pack here.
COSMOS Nostalgic Guitar Loops
I highly recommend this sample pack for a generalist melodic guitar loop sample pack. You will find utility for nearly every genre in this sample pack. The samples are inspiring, moody, nostalgic and emotional sounding melodic guitar loops.
In this sample pack you will find 80 total files – 17 nostalgic guitar loops, and 63 separate stems categorized in general emotions for what you may be looking to compose. Every stem is in 24 Bit for high resolution sound, and comes in the Wav. Lossless format. The tempo for these stems ranges between 106 – 162 BPM. You can download it here.
Drums and percussion sample packs usually come in either audio one shot sounds, loops or MIDI samples. Here are a few packs I recommend for your productions.
Sorcerer’s Stone Hi-Hat Midi Kit
This sample pack comes with a mixture of MIDI and audio samples. This pack will provide utility for your Trap hi-hats. It comes with 5 MIDI loops that you can customize to fit your beat, as well as 3 basic 2-step, 4 step and 16-step loop patterns. In addition to this, you have 3 open and 3 closed hat one-shot samples you can use. You can download this pack here
Snare Designer – Free Snare Drum Sculpting Pack
This is by far my favorite acoustic snare sample pack.
This pack brings you loads of versatility producing for Rock, EDM, Jazz or Pop. Paramagnetik spared no expense creating this sample library, sampling the classic Ludwig Acrolite, Mapex Birch and Pork Pie Little Squealer snare drums, and doing so as you should when recording a live drummer. You shall get recordings of the snares’ tops, bottoms, overheads, near and far room samples. This pack is downloadable here.
Retouched Linn Drum Samples
This is a more generalist sample pack for your drums by Baker. The Linn drum has been sampled and resampled by numerous plug-in companies and sample pack curator since the 80s. The original Linn drum has been on numerous records by massive artists such as artists including a-Ha, Madonna, and Billy Idol among many others. Baker has done this differently by resampling this vintage drum machine to fit modern music production.
The Baker website hasn’t shied away to make this 80’s instrument their own. They have resampled drums and added layers to some hits, added new reverb tails, saturation, and even added new bodies to some of the kick drums. They have aimed to modernize this kit to suit modern genres such as modern 80s, Synthpop, or Synthwave music.
In this sample pack you will find 3 Claps; 4 Cymbals, 12 Hihats, 15 Kicks, 12 Snares and 3 Toms samples. All samples are royalty free and come in Wav. Available here.
Ambient & Sound Design
This type of sample pack will provide you an insane angle to your beat making. Your peers will ask you, “wow where did you find that sound? How did you make that sound? Which plug-in is that?” That is because these types of samples are very abstract, vaguely musical, cryptically alive and unique.
No this is not a gimmick. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has its own sample pack. This pack grows every day with every new recording from space. NASA has made a habit of recording all sorts of sound recordings from their missions.
In this sample pack you will find commentary from astronauts and earth command, mission briefs and bytes, sounds from Mars like winds and earthquakes, solar winds colliding with spacecraft and the drone of the ionosphere from planets so you can hear and use the sound of the cosmos. NASA has provided these samples for free on their website, and come in the Wav., MP3 and M4R for your use and are downloadable here.
Kleine Stücke Small Tape Collages
This sample pack by Berlin based producer HAND in association with Puremagnetik is a collection of small experimental sketches of his famous analog and tape sound design, and is free for you here, and best of all, royalty free.
Recording Analog hums, tape hisses, wowed splices and fluttered oxide, you will get an abstract sounding sample pack here for your productions. Some of these samples are outright abstract, and others vaguely musical. The musical samples are like a vaguely remembered dream of a forgotten time. Simply and truly incredible sample pack. It comes with 21, well designed samples in the Wav. Format.
In my experience, I have gotten the best of sample packs by mixing and matching the different sounds. Also by editing the audio or MIDI samples to make them unique to me. Also after editing, mixing and layering, you may discover a new sound. I encourage you to slowly and surely collect your own samples into folders for later. Be it your kicks, interesting sounding harmonies, a bass sound, even an ambient sound. You may find yourself creating a beefy library you can share with your peers on the internet and even sell your very own sample pack. Have fun!