The Full Guide to Audio SamplesThe Full Guide to Audio Samples


The Full Guide to Audio Samples

Beats with samples all have one thing in common: producers flip an original sound that can’t be found in virtual instruments. From drum loops to vocal chops: every single sample dips into an authentic feel and studio recording quality. This guide explains how you can make the most from free audio samples. Learn how to achieve the best possible quality and compression with your audio files and sample libraries.




December 21, 2023

The Basics: Unraveling Audio Files and Different Formats

In music production, the choice of audio format is akin to selecting the right paint to start filling a canvas to create a masterpiece. You can get cheap supplies or high-quality materials. The same goes for common formats such as WAV, MP3, and FLAC. Each format has its characteristics, influencing the final sonic outcome. So before you start sampling, make sure to learn more about audio formats, lossless precision, and compressed files. Let’s cut straight to the chase:

The Power of Uncompressed Brilliance: WAV Files

WAV (Waveform Audio File Format) is the epitome of audio fidelity. Renowned for its uncompressed nature, the audio file commonly known as “wavs” or “waves” preserve every nuance of your music without compromise. With that said, that’s why all music samples on Tracklib are high-quality WAV files with a minimum of 44.1kHz / 16bit. Keep on reading to learn more about that sample rate and sample playback.

Striking the Balance: MP3 Compression Explained

As one of the most widely used audio formats, MP3 strikes a balance between file size and acceptable quality to the listening ear. However, the MP3 format compresses the audio file which means there’s a loss in quality and sound. When using MP3s, it's recommended to go for a bitrate of 320 kbps. This 'kilobits per second' number explains the audio data processed per second. With bitrates below that such as 128 kbps music samples, you’re heavily sacrificing on quality. Unless you don’t mind about a low-fidelity sound… Speaking of which, Tracklib also offers lo-fi multitracks and stems and lo-fi beats to sample.

Preserving Quality with Lossless Compression: FLAC Files

There’s a reason why music platforms like Bandcamp offer the audio format FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) as a downloadable file. FLAC combines the best of both worlds: compressed digital audio files with uncompromised audio quality. This way, your audio files don’t sacrifice the essence of the original sound recording.

What's a Sample Rate? Precision in Every Note

Now, let's unravel the importance of a sample rate. A sample rate is measured in Hertz (Hz). This dictates the number of audio samples captured per second. A sample rate of 44.1 kHz (44.1000 samples per second) is a standard rate, typically used for audio formats such as CDs and for digital deliveries to streaming platforms including Spotify, TIDAL, and Apple Music. The frequency rate of a vinyl record is at least 25.000 to 18.000 Hz, so that means the sample rate for vinyl records should ideally be higher than 44.1 kHz. Various sources cite 48 kHz as the sweet spot for music on vinyl.

Navigating the World of Sample Libraries

Now that you’re up to speed about audio files and audio formats, it’s time to dig for drum loops, vocal chops, sound effects, snare drum samples, or any other type of single sample you're after. Dedicated sample libraries offer just that: sample folders full of perfect samples. Not sure where to start? Read this extensive guide on music sampling. The overview includes techniques such as looping samples and how to pitch-shift samples.

Clearing Audio Samples

Whether you’re skimming through royalty-free samples or sampling from vinyl records: it’s always important to take note of music clearance. This guide helps you out for a better understanding of music clearance, with clear do’s and don’ts. With a ton of myths and misconceptions out there, research is key before you commercially release beats with samples.

Where to Find the Best Free Audio Samples: Vocal Chops, Sound Effects, Virtual Instruments, Drum Loops & More

A tool like a free beat maker can help you to get your creativity going. For this, you need music samples, of course. Dig into Tracklib’s vaults of 100.000+ original sounds and additional samples. Downloads on Tracklib don’t come for free, but all samples are guaranteed with full clearance. Go as crazy as you want. You can even venture into uncharted territory with multifaceted sounds like a glitch-type sound, isolated drum loops, or mechanical elements.

Alternatively, explore the pros and cons of dedicated sample libraries Splice vs. Tracklib vs. Sample Focus, or dig deep into royalty-free samples with this list of sample libraries with free audio samples.

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