13 Best Free Sampler VST Plugins 2021, Capture Great Sounds

13 Best Free Sampler VST Plugins 2024, Capture Great Sounds

Last Updated on January 1, 2024

Hardware sampling was invented in the 1940s by Harry Chamberlain and rose to popularity with 80s and 90s hip-hop and dance music. Today, sampling is used in a variety of musical genres, be it R&B, rock, country, classical music, or otherwise.

Samplers are first and foremost used to trigger different sounds. But there are also a lot of producers that think of them as instruments unto themselves.

Not surprisingly, as “in the box” digital recording grew in popularity, software samplers also became more commonplace. Today, you can even get them as free VST plugins, and as you’re about to see, there are even some samplers with unique features out there!

In this guide, we’ll look at the best free sampler VST plugins.

Poise: Percussion Sampler By One Small Clue

Poise: Percussion Sampler By One Small Clue

Poise is a free, easy to use percussion sampler. It comes with 16 drum pads, eight samples per drum pad with switching modes (round-robin, random, layered and velocity split), sample browser with preview, amplitude and pitch envelopes, support for 8-, 16-, 24-, and 32-bit WAV, AIF, and SND files, and drag and drop sample loading.

Poise has been developed with the powerful essentials every producer is looking for in a percussion sampler, as opposed to a bunch of unneeded, confusing, unintuitive tools laid out in an illogical way.

Its graphical user interface is simplistic and is not photo realistic by any means. That said, it’s sure to satisfy the demands and needs of beatmakers and producers, so in that sense, it’s got it where it counts.

You can download Poise as a 32-bit or 64-bit Windows VST.

Download: One Small Clue

Grace: Sampler By One Small Clue

Grace: Sampler By One Small Clue

If you make your own patches, you’ll probably be thrilled to discover what Grace can do for you.

It comes with two filters per voice (LP, BP, HP, comb, lofi, and ring modulation, two AHDSR envelopes, two LFOs, two step sequencers, four XY control pads, WAV, AIF, and SND file support, SFZ patch import, drag and drop sample loading (in some DAWs), browser with sample preview, as well as patch import and export.

Grace comes with a patch library from WaveShaper, which contains 54 original patches with vintage synth flavor, captured from analog synths and drum machines.

As with Poise, Grace’s graphical user interface may not “wow” you. But it gives you the ability to tweak your sounds to the nth degree. If you’re into sampling, you will love this functionality.

Grace is available as a 32- or 64-bit Windows VST.

Download: One Small Clue

TX16Wx Software Sampler

TX16Wx Software Sampler

The TX16Wx Software Sampler was modelled after the best hardware sampler.

It offers extensive sound shaping options, unlimited modulation, file browser and active preview, a powerful mapping editor, the ability to record your own samples, wave editor and beat slicer, complex trigger switching, send and insert effects, built-in arpeggiator, and more.

TX16Wx’s graphical user interface may not exactly strike you as eye candy, but it’s easy to use and understand, not to mention powerful, so that makes it worthwhile.

Besides, it’s hard to argue with free.

Download: TX16Wx Software Sampler

Sitala By Decomposer

Sitala By Decomposer

Decomposer’s Sitala is a free, simple, and fast drum plugin. It comes with six knobs, 16 pads, and features a drag and drop interface. It’s even playable like an instrument.

Some of the latest features include editable sample start and end points and beat slicing. They’ve also added support for Windows and Mac versions of Pro Tools, and automatic multi-out in Reaper.

Sitala also comes with controls for shape, compression, tuning, tone, volume/pan, editable MIDI map, built-in file browser, file preview in folders, and a free 808 kit.

Sitala’s user interface, like many samplers, may not be anything to write home about. But in a way, its simplicity is what makes it so attractive. Shaping your sounds is a simple task with Sitala, so for all those times you need to customize your samples, it comes in quite handy.

Sitala is compatible with Mac, Windows (32- and 64-bit), as well as Linux.

Download: Decomposer

Groove BPB

Groove BPB

Groove BPB is a free drum sampler. Groove was originally developed by Bruns & Spork as a premium VST, but they got liquidated. That’s when BPB took over and created Groove BPB, a free, stripped down version of the original Groove.

This virtual drum sampler instrument puts the power at your fingertips, giving you the ability to make your drums sound dynamic and realistic using the modulation controls.

Groove BPB comes with six dual drum slots, which can hold two drum samples at the same time, with per-sample controls for volume, pan, pitch, sample start, and length.

Drum slots are also equipped with a built-in LFO, which allows you to modulate the filter cutoff and resonance, volume, pan, mix, pitch, sample delay, fade in/out, and sample start/end times. These can be modulated via MIDI note velocity.

Groove BPB is available in VST2, VST3, and AU plugin formats for PC and Mac.

sforzando By Plogue

sforzando By Plogue

Looking for something even simpler than what we’ve already seen?

Plogue’s sforzando is an SFZ 2.0 compliant sample player. It comes with one instrument slot and does not give the option of effects or mixers. Basically, if there’s something you want to do with your sounds, it must be done at the SFZ file level.

sforzando utilizes the ARIA Engine that powers the ARIA Player and other Garritan and Plogue chipsounds.

As with most samplers, sforzando does not have a fancy looking interface, and doesn’t offer controls for much besides volume and pan.

sforzando is available as a 32- and 64-bit Windows VST, Mac VST, AU, and RTAS.

Download: PLUGINS 4 FREE

RPS-1 By Contralogic Productions

RPS-1 By Contralogic Productions

Contralogic Productions’ RPS-1 is a pattern sequencing sampler. If you’re looking to create percussion sequences with random variations fast, you’ll love this VST.

RPS-1 works a lot like a standard step sequencer and can output MIDI data.

Its user interface is simple but nice, and it features controls for tune, crush (amount), filter (cut and res), output (dec and vol), as well as a pan knob. This is not a bad tool for making beats!

RPS-1 is available as a 32-bit Windows VST.

Download: PLUGINS 4 FREE

Simple Microtonal Sampler By BipTunia

Simple Microtonal Sampler By BipTunia

BipTunia’s Simple Microtonal Sampler is a microtonal WAV sampler with eight presets, two samples, and 5,376 microtonal tunings.

This VST has a barebones interface, but it’s great for all your micro-tuning needs.

Simple Microtonal Sampler is available as a 64-bit VST for Windows on PLUGINS 4 FREE.

Download: PLUGINS 4 FREE

Scylla By de la Mancha

Scylla By de la Mancha

We’ve looked at some of the best free VST synths before, but Scylla is a bit of a different beast.

This is a multi-layered synthesizer that can produce synthesized audio combined with playback of custom samples and waveforms.

It includes three types of oscillators that can adapt to a variety of styles. The three built-in samplers can accommodate WAV audio samples, which you can modify using Scylla.

You also get a combination of LFO, ADSR and filter envelopes, ring modulation, and granular synthesis. This allows you to create everything from atmospheric pads to weird and interesting effects.

The best way to describe Scylla is as a creative tool, because you can do much with it.

For those who are looking for more than just a simple synth or sampler, here’s a fusion of the two that allows for all kinds of funky sounds.

You can get Scylla as a 32-bit Windows VST.

Download: PLUGINS 4 FREE

AFX By beatassist.eu

AFX By beatassist.eu

AFX is a drum sampler that works specifically with sf2 files. It comes with eight slots, and each slot has an EQ section, a distortion station, and a state variable filter.

It comes with digitally adapted acoustic samples in the form of Bassdrums, ClsHats, Cymbals, Digital snares, OpHats, Snares, and Toms.

AFX is available as a 32- and 64-bit Windows VST on PLUGINS 4 FREE.

Download: PLUGINS 4 FREE

Shortcircuit 2 By Surge Synth Team

Shortcircuit 2 By Surge Synth Team

If there’s something we know about the Surge Synth Team, it’s that they make unique, versatile plugins unlike anything that’s already out there.

Shortcircuit 2 may not be their development focus anymore, but it bears a mention simply because it is a fascinating legacy VST.

It was created in response to traditional samplers that are only designed with library playback in mind. Shortcircuit 2 was created more as an instrument, because a sampler can certainly be seen and used as an instrument.

The streamlined user interface allows for fast editing of the sample-zone level, and the interface features extensive drag and drop support too.

It comes with a max polyphony of 256 voices, multiple outputs (up to 16 mono and eight stereo pairs per instance), two filters/voice (28 types), three step LFOs/voice (doubles as 32-step sequencer and wavetable LFO), two AHDSR envelopes/voice, powerful modulation system, group LFO, group modulation routing, group effects (seven effect types), and more.

Shortcircuit’s user interface is quite sophisticated and feature rich, but you should be able to figure it out with practice and time.

Download: PLUGINS 4 FREE

Stupid Simple Sampler By BipTunia

Stupid Simple Sampler By BipTunia

Stupid Simple Sampler is basically just as it sounds. It’s an easy-to-use WAV file sampler, with a user interface that’s mostly an afterthought. It was inspired by early tape samplers used by the likes of Pink Floyd in the 60s as well as samplers used by rappers in the 80s.

This VST sampler can handle any WAV sample, mono or stereo, at any bit depth or sample rate.

It only comes with five controls – A, D, S, R. Other than that, there’s a control for loading files.

There’s no need to mess with the ADSR controls if you don’t want to, but it does give you more options in terms of sound.

This VST also comes with eight samples – bell, tone, meow, voice, bounce, click, stick, and strings.

Download: PLUGINS 4 FREE

BAT-S12 By beatassist.eu

BAT-S12 By beatassist.eu

Here’s one more drum sampler for all you beat lovers.

The BAT-S12 offers 12 slots where you can load in WAV and AIF files. It comes with body controls, start and end adjustment knobs, attack and release, pitch station, stereo delay, filter, LFO, reverb, pan, gain, and mute.

You can get BAT-S12 for Windows as a 32- or 64-bit VST.

Download: PLUGINS 4 FREE

Do I Need A Free VST Sampler?

It depends on your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).

Most if not all DAWs come with a built-in sampler instrument. But it’s no secret that, while some are quite good, others leave something to be desired.

If you already have some experience with your DAW’s built-in sampler, you probably have a good sense of whether it’s working for you already.

If it is, there’s no need to download and install additional samplers (unless you’re just looking to experiment).

If the built-in sampler isn’t working for you, or if for some reason your DAW doesn’t already have one, then it’s certainly worth looking at alternatives.

Lastly, you don’t need a sampler if you’re just planning to load in a few sounds in your DAW and place them at exact times in your mix. You may as well just import the few files you’re thinking about using, place them at the appropriate locations, and mix them together with all your other instrument and vocal tracks.

The best way to use a sampler is as an instrument.

Why/When Would You Use A Sampler?

You might be quite adept at recording and playing instruments, using MIDI controllers, producing your own beats, drawing in parts using piano rolls, and more. So, why would you bother with samples when you already have all the skills to create any type of music on demand?

As it turns out, there are several key reasons to do this.

The first is if you don’t have the time, resources, or gear to be able to record every instrument, sound, or voice needed for a track. It’s a rare musician that doesn’t have the budget for a quality recording, right (a question dripping with sarcasm)?

With a sampler, you can fulfill on a track’s requirements without breaking the bank. You can save time and bypass the need to purchase additional equipment.

Again, time tends to be one of the biggest expenses in the studio, so time-saving measures can create a reasonable compromise without sacrificing the vision for the music.

The second is because some sounds would just be too time-consuming, onerous, or expensive to create or reproduce. Every producer has had a musician say to them, “I want the piano part to sound like this!” (or some variation thereof), left scratching their heads because they know the gear, skill, and time required to execute at that level would just be too extensive.

Samples can offer a good starting point for getting the sounds you want and even create the structure for an entire song before worrying about getting everything to sound perfect. A template for a song can be created easily and quickly with samples. And the samples could even end up becoming “a part of the song” during the recording process.

The third reason is so that you can easily duplicate the specific feel of a song, which might feature a variety of instruments.

Samples make it easy for you to reproduce what you’re hearing and then translate that into your own creation.

Finally, samples can give listeners something familiar to latch onto. If you’re going to be sampling copyrighted music, then you will need to get clearance for the samples you’re using, but sampling in this manner can pique the interest of the listeners and make them want to listen to your entire song. Meaning – it’s a powerful way to draw listeners in.

Is Sampling Even Worth It?

At first brush, it might seem as though sampling is just for producers and sound engineers who create music in a specific genre. And you might not immediately see the need to get into it, especially if the main way you create music is with a mix of organic and software instruments.

Yet, sampling is something every producer should at least experiment with. Sampling isn’t just loading sounds into a VST and playing them. There’s so much more to it than that. And besides, it can be quite inspiring to sample some of your favorite sounds from your favorite music, and combine them in novel, unique ways.

Naturally, you can’t just sample copyrighted works and release it as your own, even if in the process of sampling a new track was made. You would need to get clearance to be able to use samples of copyrighted works in your mixes (don’t come back to me and say I didn’t warn you).

Getting sample clearance is a big topic, and we can’t get into all the nuances of it here, but if you are ever thinking about utilizing copyrighted works, be sure to go through the appropriate channels to get clearance before releasing any of your music featuring sampled content.

That said, there are plenty of royalty-free samples out there, and as you’ve already seen, most VST plugins come with a small or even larger library of sounds you’re free to use however you see fit.

And don’t forget that you can sample yourself, your friends, and even the world around you for some inspiration. You can self-sample to your heart’s content, and you will never run into clearance issues if you’re using your own content.

So, even though sampling might seem like “cheating,” the reality is you would be hard pressed to find a genre of music where they haven’t been used, let alone a well-known producer who at one time or another didn’t use sampling in their mixes.

Top Free Sampler VST Plugins, Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you’ve come away from this guide inspired to dig deeper into the world of sampling.

There are plenty of free VST samplers available, and they all tend to feature different functionality. It’s quite stunning what you can achieve with some of these unique tools.

So, get a hold of a sampler, start loading up your samples, and experiment plenty. You will learn lots and even have a lot of fun in the process.