Multisamples and when to use them

As our hardware capabilities increase and the quality of our mixes improve, we start to look for better sounds. We are used to our large sample libraries. When the hard drive space runs out there is always an additional external drive around. Along with growing numbers of terabytes grows our desire for better sound quality in music productions.

Over the past few decades disk space was a serious limit. Another limit was Internet connection speed. Luckily these times are over. WAV samples have been standards for years now. Even if they take more space, I can’t imagine a serious music producer using mainly mp3 or other lossy format. Also, when you use a compressed file, your software needs an additional time for decompression. For normal music playback it doesn’t make any difference. But if you think about milliseconds beat match that cannot be forgotten.

WAV samples offer high quality sound we need. The sound is clear and its frequencies haven’t been cut off. Thanks to this we can use pitch correction for the wav samples to change their notes and play the whole melodies using only one sound. This is fast, easy and every single serious DAW has this option built in. The pitch correction is available also as a VST and can do much more, but this is material for another article. Soon you will find it linked here.

Using wav samples is a good idea to compose the bassline or additional harmonies. But when you are going to compose the main melody, you will want to recreate sampled instrument as close as possible you would like to get multi-samples.

Wav samples vs multi-samples

The main difference between traditional wav samples and multi-samples is that a multi-samples pack contain a set of wav samples. Each sound (or at least most of) is recorded separately and and all the recordings are organized into a collection called often a soundfont as this structure reminds of letters in a font. There are several types of multi-samples, each of them is designed to fit particular software.

Here are the most popular multi-sample formats:

  • SF2 (soundfont2) is compatible with most virtual samplers, for example:
    • FL Studio DirectWave
    • Logic Pro EXS 24
    • Kontakt
    • HALion
    • Emulator X
    • Proteus X
    • Machfive
    • Independence
    • VSampler
    • SFZ+
  • SXT is a format for Reason NN-XT sampler
  • EXS24 is a format for Logic Pro EXS24 sampler