We’re continuing the bpb Freeware Studio article series with a list of the best free sampler VST plugins for Windows and Mac.
Follow the links for download info, demo videos and screenshots:
- Grace by One Small Clue (Windows)
Highlife by discoDSP (Linux, Windows)No longer free!
- LinuxSampler by The LinuxSampler Project (Linux, Windows)
- Sforzando by Plogue (Mac, Windows)
- Shortcircuit 1 by Vember Audio (Windows)
- TX16Wx by CWI Technology (Mac, Windows)
Without any doubt, the best freeware sampler on today’s plugin market is Grace by One Small Clue. It lacks some of the more advanced features found in various commercial samplers (and even some freeware ones such as Shortcircuit 1 and TX16Wx), however Grace makes up for it with a brilliant workflow and easy access to all of the plugin’s parameters. Building a new sample library from scratch is an incredibly simple task with this plugin and it is now my go-to sampler 90% of the time. A highly recommended download!
In addition to the standard sample editing controls, Grace also features a highly flexible modulation section which can help you transform static samples into exciting and lively sounds. It also comes with a nice sounding set of multi-mode filters, a pair of step sequencers and several XY pads which are very helpful in live performance situations.
My second pick for the best freeware sampler would most definitely be Shortcircuit 1 by Vember Audio (make sure you get v1.1.2). Once a very pricey piece of commercial software, this plugin was built by a talented developer who later worked for Ableton and now develops Bitwig Studio. Simply put, Shortcircuit is a powerhorse sampler with pretty much all the features you’d need in a sampler plugin, and then some. It’s multitibral, supports multiple outputs, and works with WAV, SFZ, SF2, Akai, REX, and a bunch of other formats.
Highlife is another very good
freeware sampler, with one very special feature – it can be used to automatically convert VST instrument patches into multi-sample libraries and export them in SFZ format. So, if you have a virtual instrument that is taking up a large amount of CPU, you can load it up in Higlife and thus significantly reduce the CPU load! Other than that, it works with standard WAV files and can also load SFZ and Akai libraries. UPDATE: Unfortunately, Highlife by DiscoDSP is not free anymore.
TX16Wx is a powerful freeware sampler for Windows, inspired by older hardware sampler designs. Probably not everyone will be a fan of the classic hardware-style workflow (it took me quite a while to figure out how it works so I eventually had to reach for the manual), but it does come with certain advantages and can actually be quite fun. Without any doubt, TX16Wx is a very powerful tool once you become skilled at using it. The plugin can work with WAV, SF2, and AIFF files.
It’s worth noting that TX16Wx is actually the only Mac OS compatible plugin on this list, actually making it the best freeware sampler choice for Mac users. Windows users could definitely benefit from it as well, although it is slightly more complicated to use when compared to Grace.
That’s all for this edition of bpb Freeware Studio! Feel free to suggest your own favorite sampler in the comments and please support BPB by spreading the word about your favorite articles! Thanks!