Killer sounds without the threat of a copyright takedown? Yes please! These 10 free sample packs will suit the modern producer or music maker’s every need.
Unless you’re recording straight into a cassette deck, any modern music maker has searched for free sample packs at least once. Whether you’re trying to texture a mix with field recordings or hunt down that perfect percussion sound, samples are essential piece of every producer’s toolkit.
But sampling requires some careful play, and a sound you’ve sourced from a live broadcast, track, or old Youtube video could well lead to a lawsuit you’d rather not face. Since we’re all good natured, law abiding artists, here’s a bunch of free sample packs you can use without worrying about a spicy email from Sony BMG.
Created by Happy Mag with local producer Lupa J, Sydney Sounds is a free package created for Ableton Live users. It contains a variety of sounds that Sydney residents will be well familiar with, such as the train line announcements or the ding of your Opal (Sydney’s ticketing smartcard) being denied.
Given Lupa J’s production style and the fact that Sydney trains serve as the creative backbone of Sydney Sounds, the pack will appeal most to makers of industrial-leaning music.
Amongst the package you’ll find a 16-sample drum rack edited out of the clunks, crashes, and drones of an urban freight train passing a station, as well as a number of more ambient samples.
Try out Sydney Sounds for yourself via the link below, or find out more about the pack here.
Yellowstone Sound Library
While it’s not a sample pack in the classic sense, the Yellowstone Sound Library is one of the biggest sample gold mines you’ll come across on the internet. A project that catalogues field recordings of the rich fauna and flora found in Yellowstone National Park, this is hard to beat if you’re looking for natural samples.
From the song of a sandhill crane to the slow pitter-patter of a creek bed, this has it all. Every sound is sampled at 44.1 kHz and is available for free as an mp3 download – happy browsing!
Both an artist collective and creator of sound tools including VSTs, sample packs, and more, Puremagnetik is a name many electronic creators will have come across. Their range of nebulous creations are often richly textured and suitable for experimental musicians, though they’re polished enough that most electronic composers will find a use for their packages.
Their range of free sample packs are created specifically for Ableton Live users and include drum kits, loops, soft synths, and more. Check out the full range below.
Compiled by the folk at MusicRadar, SampleRadar is a collection of over 70,000 free samples originally distributed on the cover discs from Computer Music or Future Music magazines. Pretty well every genre or sound you’ll need is covered here, from heavy metal drum samples on the extreme end to a collection of ’90s-style ambient samples for easier listening.
Every sample pack is downloadable in WAV format, so you can use them in whichever DAW you call your own. They’re also royalty-free, so there’s no sweat keeping them in your final mixes.
Free Ableton packs
Any Ableton user will be familiar with the various packages which either come pre-installed in your software, or are available online as add-ons. What a lot of people don’t know is that many of these packages – including some fantastic sample packs – don’t cost a cent.
Beats, loops, and sampler VSTs are all available, covering a range of styles. Many of the packages are curated by artists or other prominent Ableton users, such as their certified instructors.
A caveat here is that they’re not technically free – you need a licensed copy of Ableton Live to use these packs. Given that covers massive portion of the home production market though, we’re including these packs in the list. If you have Ableton, these are ripe for the sampling.
Library of Congress
Many don’t know this, but any audio you can find archived in the US Library of Congress is safe to use. Every sound is in the public domain, meaning the copyright has expired, the owner chose to place the sound in the public domain, or a copyright never existed in the first place.
Right now there’s just short of 25,000 audio recordings on in the Library, making for a gorgeous collection of old world, historically significant sounds.
Legowelt Sample Kits
Aside from making his twisted, psychedelic dance music (which you should absolutely check out), Dutch producer Legowelt has put together some grade-A sample packs over the years. They catalogue the sounds of some pretty hard-to-find or iconic hardware such as the Yamaha DX7, the Korg Mono/Poly, or the BOSS DR660.
Everything is recorded from Legowelt’s own gear, and available in WAV format. As per the man himself:
“Load them in your S900 Fruityloops Ableton Reason Octamed Tracker Akai MPC Electribe Korg ESX Ensoniq ASR Machschine Octatrack Analog Rytm or whatever u use!”
That’s right, America’s own space agency makes a habit of recording and releasing far-out sounds from all over the solar system. Included are recordings processed from interactions between solar wind and the ionospheres of each planet which are then converted to audio – meaning you can hear what Mars, Saturn, or even the Sun sound like.
As per their Media Usage Guidelines, NASA doesn’t object to any commercial use of this audio as long as you’re not slagging them off or pretending you’re an officially NASA-endorsed artist. Which should go without saying, really.
Philharmonia Sound Samples
The London-based Philharmonia is a world-class symphony orchestra, founded in 1945 and still in operation today. They also offer a massive free-to-use sample package covering “all standard orchestral instruments, as well as guitar, mandolin, banjo, and a vast array of different percussion instruments.”
Orchestral recordings are about as far out of reach as you can get as a home-job music producer, so this collection really hits the spot. Not to mention most of the paid orchestral sample packs out there are on the expensive end.
Right up there with SampleRadar or the other massive royalty-free databases, Freesound currently hosts over 24,000 sample packs ranging from totally excellent, to garbage, to utterly bonkers. Some digging is definitely required, but that’s half the fun right?
To keep yourself from trudging through too much mud, we’d recommend sorting by Number of Downloads where you’ll find some excellent packs covering Storms, Soundscapes, and Tibetan Buddhist Chanting, and heaps more.