One of the greatest inventions in music production is sampling! The art of taking a recording or a slice of audio and manipulating it to create new stuff, be it music or otherwise. Sampling is especially prominent in theater and digital music production like Hip-hop or EDM, but lately it’s basically everywhere.
To make sampling easier in the digital domain, more specifically inside a DAW, many manufacturers created sampler plug-ins, and some of them even ship integrated with the DAWs themselves. Then, it’s no surprise that REAPER includes one as well, one of the most powerful sampler plug-ins out there in my opinion, the ReaSamplOmatic5000. In this article I’ll be guiding you through its basic use and parameters.
Loading the plug-in in a track is as simple as any other. First, click the FX button on the track you want to add the sampler to.
This will open the FX Browser, where you must search for ReaSamplOmatic5000. Then, double click it or drag it to the track.
Here REAPER opens the sampler, and you may find yourself kind of lost. I must admit that this sampler is not the best in terms of interface and experience design, I really wish it received a nice update to better distribute the functionalities in a more friendly design. Still, don’t panic, once you get to know where everything is, you’ll find how powerful it can be.
Loading samples can be as intuitive as dragging one or various samples from your file manager or Media explorer directly into the sampler or using the Browse… button.
And if you load various samples at the same time, they will automatically arrange as a multi-velocity sample stack.
You can also load the item(s) you have selected in the Arrange view by using the Import from arrange button.
The sample you load will show in the Sample display at the top section with the sample’s properties around it. Once loaded, the drop down menu allows you to select any other sample in the same folder.
The black button on the right triggers the sample without using any MIDI.
Then, you can select the maximum and minimum volume output with the Volume and Min vol. parameters.
To the right you can find the MIDI velocity values that this sample obeys to. Most of the time you probably want to leave them as 1 and 127 for Velocity minimum and Velocity maximum.
The sample won’t play if the incoming MIDI note is outside of that velocity range.
The Sample mode determines how the sample responds to the incoming MIDI notes and the Note range and Pitch range parameters. These are the sample modes available
Freely configurable shifted: Allows you to freely configure the range of keys and pitches that the sample will obey, select this if you need to fully customize the Pitch range of your sampler and be creative.
Sample (ignores MIDI note): It’s the default, and just plays the sample regardless of what MIDI note is playing, suitable for drum triggers. This mode completely ignores the Pitch@start and Pitch@end parameters and disables them.
Note (semitone Shifted): Lets you decide a starting pitch from which the sample will shift according to each note and adjusts the rest. If you’re using this mode, you probably want to activate the option Obey note-offs at the bottom.
The Note start and Note end can be set by playing a note and double clicking on each parameter, the Piano roll in the MIDI editor will name the notes in range according to the sampler.
Pitch@start is at how many semitones the sample will play respective to its original pitch, Pitch@end is how high it should go. If you have the sampler set to Freely configurable shifted and want the notes to line up with what is being played, set the Pitch@end one semitone below the actual pitch of the sample.
So let’s say that you want to create a simple piano sampler and have a G3 note that is intended to produce the notes from E3 to B3, in this case, you should load the note sample and set its Sample mode to Note.
Then, set the Note start to 52 (E3), Note end to 59(B3), and Pitch@start to -3(G3) as E3 is three semitones below the original pitch of the sample. The Detect pitch button should recognize the note accurately for most applications.
You can check that the pitch of the sample is right by inserting the ReaTune tuner in the same track just after the sampler.
ReaSamplOmatic5000 has a few more settings pretending to pitch:
Pitch offset: Lets you micro-tune your sample so that it is right on pitch, this is set in semitones and fractions of a semitone. Make sure that if you’re using the Freely configurable shifted mode, the Pitch range is set correctly before setting up the Pitch offset.
Pitch bend: Sets the maximum Pitch bend you can do with the Pitch wheel in your MIDI controller, this is set in semitones.
For most applications, the default values work just fine.
If your sample is too long and you need only a slice, or you want to cut a piece of a song, you can easily crop it by dragging from the edges of the Sample display.
This is specially useful for producers that like to create beats and loops based on song slices. You may notice that if you import an item from the Arrange view that is already cropped, ReaSamplOmatic5000 will follow that crop.
This is a classic ADSR envelope and behaves just as expected.
You can also control the Envelope from the yellow dots and lines in the Sample display.
Note-off release override only works when your sampler is set to Obeys note-offs and the sampler receives a note-off message before the sample gets to the end.
When the sample gets to play to the end, it will always use the usual Release value. But if Note-off release override is active and you let go of the key, the sampler will use the Release override value instead (Thanks to the people in the Reaper User Group – RUG in Facebook for clarifying this).
Max voices: Refers to the amount of copies of the sample that are playing at the same time. This means that when this parameter is set up to 1 the sampler will work as a Monophonic sampler, 1 sample at a time.
But if this is set to more than 1, it will work as a Polyphonic sampler and you’ll be able to play chords.
Portamento: Is the time it takes to glide or slide between two notes, in this sampler it only works while two notes overlap, and setting this parameter to anything other than 0 ms forces the sampler to work as a Monophonic sampler.
ReaSamplOmatic5000 is an absurdly powerful sampler, capable of multi-velocity sampling and even round-robin when set correctly across multiple instances. I think that a nice redesign can help it to properly catch people’s attention and ease the use of it.
I hope this guide gives you a good enough insight on its properties and capabilities at least for a basic use. Maybe give this one a chance before deciding that you need an expensive software or hardware sampler. Don’t forget that if you have any question, you can ask the community, just like happened to me in the process of making this article. Try it out and have fun!