Samplab is a free VST plugin (AU available for macOS) that makes your loops and samples stand out from the crowd. It analyzes the audio, converts it to MIDI, and lets you rearrange the notes.
Whether you use Loopcloud, Splice, sample packs (Slate Digital makes awesome packs), or anything similar, finding the right loop/sample is just the first step. The better it is, the more chance other people feel the same way.
So, the second step is figuring out how to make it completely distinguishable from what anyone else might do with it. It’s nothing new; as music-makers, we are used to chopping and adding effects to samples in order to be different.
But most people have probably walked away from a great sample/loop because it’s too common at least once.
Samplab offers a different approach to making your samples/loops unique. It takes your harmonic audio sample and turns it into MIDI. Once you have MIDI notes, you’re free to edit pitch, note length, tempo, and so on till you’re happy.
When you drop your audio into the Samplab plugin, it sends it to the Samplab server for processing. During this step, you’ll need to be connected to the internet but can work offline once the MIDI result is received.
At this point, the plugin becomes a virtual instrument that will play back the MIDI notes and any changes you make.
Before you make any changes, the MIDI sequence should sound just like the audio track. It will be interesting to test Samplab with more complex audio and see how authentic the sound remains when you make more severe changes to the MIDI. So far, Samplab seems to be very accurate in creating the right notes and playing back the correct sound.
Functions like Flex Pitch in Logic Pro X also allow us to create MIDI events from audio tracks. The difference is that it’s rarely as accurate and doesn’t playback in the same sound.
Samplab cuts out some tedious work like manually adjusting some MIDI notes that are slightly off. It definitely provides a much faster, easier way to work, and I really like that!
The obvious benefit of using Samplab is that you have more editing options when you don’t want the chopped sound. It’s not just about changing the key either (we can do that in Output’s Arcade); it’s about dropping in chord substitutions and changing the feel.
As I said, I do want to push Samplab more and see how the results stack up, but I like it. I think it’s a very cool idea that could prove to be very useful.
Download: Samplab (VST/AU plugin format for Windows & macOS)