Choosing a Sampler

Tonight I go out to record my samples. I’ve already made the important decisions of which stops to record, and done a comparison of mic techniques. So the next question is, which sampler do I spend my time working with? What are the benefits of each one? How much do they cost?

Well, going through a list of features on these samplers, I am confronted with a list of features that I don’t need. In essence, to fulfill my mandate of being as transparent as possible I will only require the ability to internally loop the sample. That is to loop a section of it while maintaining the natural decay of the room. There are obviously other controls which I’d like, such as volume, but those aren’t nearly as important as the looping. At least not in the patch itself.

My initial instinct was to go with something like Native Instrument’s Kontakt, a stong, powerful, commercial sampler. The 400$ price tag was a bit scary, but it seemed like this would be a tool that was easy and fun to use. However, I started to question the nature of the project, the spirit of the thing, if you will, and I realized that if I were to choose a sampler like Kontakt (or AirMusic’s Structure), that I’d be limiting how this product could be used. That’s when I did some digging and found the SFZ file format. It’s an open-source patch format that’s already become somewhat of a standard in smaller samplers (at least according to it’s website). So if I were to work in this format I wouldn’t be limiting my audience to Kontakt, Structure, EXS24, or HALion, although it seems I would be alienating these audiences by using a format not supported by these major players.

So here’s my dilemma: Who do I build this for? How easy is it to transcode these patches? Should I even be worrying about this?