If you're looking to chop and slice some samples to make some sweet, sweet beats, then we've got you covered.
Sampling has come a long way since the early days of Akai hardware. Nowadays, there are plenty of high-quality sampler VST plugins on the market that can help you stretch, chop, re-pitch, and mangle samples to create complex and out-of-this-world music.
Come dive in with us as we explore some of the best sampler VST plugins on the market today!
What Is a Sampler VST?
Before we get started, let's answer this important question.
A sampler VST plugin is made to sample, chop, slice, and playback audio samples, such as chords, melodies, drum samples, and more.
Though samples gained popularity in the hip-hop world, today you'll find samples in various genres including EDM, pop, hip-hop, alternative, and more. The sampler has become a major instrument in the arsenals of modern music producers.
1. Serato Sample
- High-end pitch n' time algorithm
- Flawless key shifting and key detection
- Intuitive sample finder
Serato Sample comes from one of the most celebrated pieces of DJ software on the market. Sample was Serato's first dip into the plugin realm, and this sampler VST is one of the most innovative, forward-thinking VSTs that we have seen in years. It's incredibly powerful with a wide range of editing features and sample management modules, enabling you to chop, snip, and transpose samples in any way you please. Plus, we can't go without mentioning the top-of-the-line time-stretching algorithm that Serato Sample uses.
One of the main selling points of Serato Sample might be the Pitch 'n Time features which, to this day, is one of the most complex time-stretching algorithms on the market. If you need to sync the tempo of multiple tracks at once, you can do it without just about any artifacts.
The sampling engine can be set up to chop 16 samples, which you can either choose manually or allow the software to choose itself. With built-in samples and pads, you can layer and blend your samples to give them more depth.
Lastly, the plugin makes it very easy to find samples, which is great for creating a more efficient workflow. Even if you have several gigabytes of sample libraries, you can find what you're looking for in a pinch.
2. Accusonus Rhythmiq
- High-quality beat assistant
- Built-in keyboard fills
- AI drum sampler
It's quite fitting that this creative sampler VST has such an eccentric name, as it is certainly one of the most unique plugin options on the market today. You'll find an infinite amount of power in this plugin with plenty of beat variations in one easy-to-use interface.
Rhythmiq is pretty much your own personal drummer, and a lot more cooperative than a live one. The cool thing about Rhtymiq is that it'll analyze your beats and suggest unique variations for you.
We know that AI technology in plugins can be a bit intimidating. However, when it comes down to it, you're in control. With build-ups, beaks, and fills, you can tweak your beat variations to your liking. There are also plenty of cool effects you can employ, including Arrange, Reverse, and Silence.
Overall, Rhythmiq provides you with a unique and exciting way to perform with your drum samples, as well as a top-notch suite of functions, perfect for those who are in need of a bit more creative processing.
3. TAL Sampler
- Full-featured analog modeled synthesizer with a unique sampling engine
- Tons of presets to choose from
- Analog-style output section
In the world of software samplers, TAL Sampler is somewhat of a legend. For how long it's been around, it's not surprising how large the legion of followers this thing has is. The difference between this plugin and other software sample player plugins, which take pride in making sure the sound production is pristine and of the highest quality, TAL adds a little bit of grit and distinct character to every piece of audio that passes through it. It's very much like using an old hardware sampler.
Now, in reality, TAL Sampler is much more than a sampling engine. In fact, it's a full-fledged synthesizer when you really look at it. The cool thing is that you can drag and drop your audio in the plugin window and play it back just as you would play with a virtual instrument.
Like other samplers on this list, you get access to a few multi-mode oscillating filters and plenty of music mangling capabilities. What really sets TAL apart from other samplers, however, is the output section. You can choose from a wide range of top-of-the-line digital-analog converters, recreating the characteristic elements of old-school analog circuitry that was only found in hardware.
If you've ever used old hardware samplers, then you might be familiar with the gritty and edgy attitude that they had. This was all thanks to the circuitry limitations hardware builders had back in the day. It can be quite challenging for software developers to recreate this in their software samplers, which is why you don't often hear it. However, TAL did an excellent job incorporating this bit of analog goodness.
For most music producers, this is just about as close as you're going to get to the warm and full sounds of a classic Emu or Akai sampler.
4. Reason Studios Mimic
- Reason software that can be used in multiple DAWs
- Three different sampling modes built-in
- Massive collection of onboard effects
Reason Studios released Mimic as one of its built-in sampler VST instruments. The cool thing is that you can use this plugin no matter what DAW you use. It's so easy to make it part of your workflow. Plus, beyond acting as one of the best samplers around, this plugin comes with many other effects, utilities, and synths.
There are three separate sample manipulating modes you can use.
For starters, you can use it to play melodies and chords, thanks to the fact that it's a pitch-based sampler. To preserve the timing of each of your samples as you change the pitch, you can choose from one of the many pitch-shifting algorithms.
Secondly, you can use this to chop up your sample into multiple slices so you can trigger new ideas on the fly. You'll find a handy sensitivity knob built into the sampler, which helps it find the transients of your loops and samples.
Lastly, you can trigger up to eight different samples to trigger them uniquely, settings start points, pitch points, and more.
5. Arturia CMI V
- Emulation of one of the world's most iconic sampler instruments
- Onscreen keys and dedicated controls
- Tons of incredible samples and instrument presets to get you started
Arturia has certainly made a name for itself over the past few years for emulating some of the most iconic vintage keyboards and synths throughout history. When the company came out with the CMI V , it was an obvious gamechanger. CMI V emulates the Fairlight CMI Sampling Workstation, which is one of the most highly-regarded sampling instruments of all time.
Beyond hosting all of the features of the original CMI Workstation, you'll find a wide range of modern features that bring this instrument into the 21st century. With additive synthesis capabilities and a host of unique modulation features, you can take your sounds to new heights.
The CMI V allows you to blend and sequence up to ten instruments at once to create out-of-this-world instruments. Plus, there are three unique sound generation methods you can use for every instrument. Not only can you cook up some of the most legendary sounds from the 1980s to play with, but you can also create completely new sounds and textures.
It's also worth noting that the CMI V is the only software plugin that comes close to the original Fairlight CMI unit. However, it's so much more than your average clone, providing modern features that make it exciting for younger users. Having the ability to take sounds and synthesize them in a completely unique and old-school way is more than enough to make this a must-have for any producer's arsenal.
6. Vengeance Sound Phalanx
- Over 3,000 factory sounds to choose from
- 32 stereo sample slots
- Convenient arpeggiator control
Phalanx is a high-quality sampler VST with a wide range of loop mangling and drum sampling features. One of the best things about Phalanx is that you can make magic with just about any source material you have, mangling sounds beyond recognition to make something completely new.
Phalanx is more like Geist from FXpansion or Battery from Native Instruments than Native Instruments Kontakt. While it's a synth and drum sampler, the features in this sampler plugin are more geared toward the realm of beatmakers. However, it does just about anything you could want it to do.
When you open up Phalanx, you'll get access to 16 sample pads, which you can route to 16 outputs in the plugin. Each of the pads can hold two samples, allowing you to have up to 32 sounds in just one "kit." There's also a polyphonic section that you can max out to 256 notes, so you'll never have to worry about one sample triggering another.
The samples in the library can be shaped in numerous ways, from low-pass and high-pass filtering to pitch controls and beyond. However, one of my personal favorite effects is the sample rate and bit-crushing effect.
Though Phalanx is an extremely powerful sampler VST, it is surprisingly easy to use. With a very intuitive workflow design and an extensive modulation matrix, you can get any result you have in your head in a matter of minutes. Plus, there are many sound design capabilities that are very robust, allowing for a high degree of creative sampling.
Overall, Phalanx is a top-notch drum sampler that is pretty much capable of anything you want it to do. Whether you already use a drum sampler or not, we highly recommend checking out Phalanx's sound-manipulating capabilities.
7. Native Instruments Kontakt
- In-depth sampler with keyboard mapping
- Tons of additional sounds and instruments
- Get started with the 2,000-sound Komplete Start bundle
Kontakt from Native Instruments might be one of the most popular software sampler options for hobbyists and professionals alike. This is because Kontakt has well over a thousand libraries with various instruments that you can add to your collection. When it comes to complex scripting, multi-timbral arrangements, and sampling, it's a truly incredible plugin.
Note that there is also a free VST version, though the paid version is far more capable.
It's important to note that Kontakt Player 6 isn't your typical sampler. The user interface is very complex, though, with plenty of routing options, keyboard mapping, and more, you can basically create your very own instrument VST with ease.
8. GlitchMachines Polygon 2 Sampler
- Four included granular samplers
- Tons of unique LFO and modulation possibilities
- 100 factory presets
Polygon 2 is a sound design-centric sampler that is very useful for people who make experimental electronic music. Compare it to most sampler VSTs, and you won't find many similarities, as it takes a very unconventional approach, encouraging users to think outside the box.
The workflow in Polygon 2 builds its foundation atop four sampler modules, which you can use in play or loop mode, taking advantage of incredible granular capabilities.
There are so many ways to add motion and life to your samples, including the three effects processors, the two multimode filters, the four variable-slope modulation envelopes, and the eight LFOs. You can use the modulation matrix to control the global parameters within Polygon. With a very precise degree of control, you can easily create rhythmic and evolving sounds with ease.
One thing we really love about the Polygon Sampler VST is the sub-oscillator, which you can use to enhance the low frequencies in your loops or samples. Essentially, this sub-oscillator module allows you to add a fifth voice, which you can output in a sine wave or square wave.
9. BeatSkilz Drop-X Sampler
- Three auto-mapped sample layers
- Drag and drop design
- Automated pitch mapping
Drop-X Sampler from BeatSkillz might be one of the best drag and drop sampler VSTs out there today, with an impressive amount of power and flexibility. By simply dropping your samples into the window, you can quickly map them across your keyboard. You can add up to three layers of samples and auto-map them by pitch, speeding up your workflow.
From creating unique stutter effects to crafting intricate and complex drum rolls, Drop-X Sampler can get everything you need to get done on a single-page interface.
Drop-X Sampler comes with ten sound banks, including drums, percussion instruments, synths, basses, vocals, and much more. All you need to craft full-on compositions can be found at your fingertips. Of course, what really counts is what you're able to do with all of the sample content given to you.
We highly recommend checking out BeatSkillz Drop-X Sampler if you're new to the world of sampling and you're looking for something simple yet effective to start cutting and composing samples.
10. GlitchMachines Cataract
- Segment multiplexer plugin
- Dual sample scanner modules
- Global parameter sequencer
Though it might not be a traditional sampler, the built-in modulation sequencer and dual sample scanners make this a wonderful choice for anyone who wants a unique plugin for sound design. In my eyes, Cataract is best for people who work in electronic music production, as it helps you create a wide assortment of textures and sounds, perfect for experiments in sound design.
You can use the morphing capabilities and generative parameters with the modulation and sample scanning feature to suss out some pretty incredible patterns. Whether you're looking to create a full-fledged glitch fest or some soft, delicate rhythms, Cataract can get the job done.
Each of the two sample scanners has two sample slots, two LFOs, and a multi-mode filter. You'll also find a unique modulation matrix, five MIDI-triggered save states, and four percentage-based randomizers. With the multi-mode delay unit and the three-band EQ, you can take your tone-shaping possibilities even further.
11. Image-Line DirectWave Sampler
- Versatile and powerful multi-format audio sampler
- Fully programmable synthesis section
- Randomization layering
DirectWave Sampler from Image-Line might just be one of the most versatile sampler plugins on the market today. No matter what format you use with your samples, including WAV, AKP, SF2, NKI, REX, GIG, EXS24, and more, DirectWave Sampler will work for you.
You'll find an abundance of helpful features, including a useful mod matrix, 128-note polyphony, and 16-part layering. Beyond simply slicing and chopping your loops, you can use DirectWave Sampler as its own instrument.
One of the main features of DirectWave Sampler is that you can use it to trigger loop regions. It reacts well to velocity-sensitive controllers and allows you to layer various loop regions, creating complex compositions from a wide array of music material.
In terms of price, you really get a bang for your buck with DirectWave Sampler. Since it's compatible with just about every audio format, you pretty much have zero limitations when it comes to putting it to use.
Best Free Sampler VST Plugins
1. Big Fish Audio Momentum
- High-quality one-shot engine
- 18 slice effects
- Sampler loader
Momentum from Big Fish comes with plenty of powerful tools that make sound-shaping an absolute breeze, making it one of the best free sampler VST plugins around. The user interface was very well-thought-out for a free sampler VST, giving you tons of intuitive controls and a library that is easily accessible.
This wonderful free virtual instrument allows you to take your samples and loops to the next level. There are plenty of great sound sculpting tools that provide you with tons of control over your sound.
For a free sampler VST, Momentum is surprisingly powerful. The user interface is very user-friendly.
The slicing effects and looping technology are nothing short of modern, helping you create and produce cutting-edge tracks with ease. In terms of the standout built-in features, you'll find 18 slice effects, a stutter delay, a reverse button, and a pitch-shifting module. The stretching algorithm is also pretty high-quality, allowing you to change the speed of your samples without many artifacts.
Overall, Big Fish Momentum is a very handy free sampler VST for just about any project, delivering a killer one-shot engine that will help your samples stand out nicely in your mix.
2. Sitala Decomposer
- Beat slicing
- Editable Sample Start and End Points
- 16 assignable pads
If you're looking for a simpler free sampler VST, Sitala by Decomposer is one of the best out there. It's a fantastic addition to just about any producer's arsenal. You'll find a wide range of options for manipulating the various elements of the given signal. The interface reminds us of Ableton's Sampler, which Ableton users will likely enjoy if they want a third-party VST to use in another DAW.
The algorithms used in Sitala are exceptional. One thing we noticed right off the bat is how well the automatic silence detection works, making sure that the sound starts on the first actual sound rather than the noise that might be at the beginning.
You'll find four effects in Sitala, ADSR controls, tuning controls, and more. It's easier than ever to simply drag and drop a sample onto the interface and get to work.
- Adjustable velocity and attack and release times
- Real-time recording and playback
- Adjustable playback speed
InstantSampler is a real-time recording sampler, perfect for recording and playing back audio in numerous ways. It's a very simple interface with a floor function, which prevent clipping, attack and release times, and adjustable velocity control.
You can adjust the playback speed with ease and play our audio in a loop or reverse mode, as well as adjust the fade length and loop size.
One of the main selling points of InstantSampler is that it is great for live performance. Live musicians can easily record or playback audio in real-time without having to fumble with a complex interface.
4. Grooove BPB
- Powerful drum sampler plugin
- Realistic velocity controls
- Easily accessible modulation controls
Grooove BPB might just be my favorite free drum sampler for pure expressiveness and playability. Beyond that, the modulation controls are very easy to access, allowing you to make drum sounds that feel life-like and dynamic.
You'll find five slots on the interface with pretty basic controls, as well as a sampler loader with ADSR parameters. The dynamic velocity controls are pretty solid, giving you the option to give your drums samples some personality. It's perfect for those who make organic music using drum samples.