Free Samples, Virtual Instruments and Plugins

For the discerning Composer and Sound Designer.

'You get what you pay for' is a statement that holds true 90 per cent of the time, but sometimes free can be good!

Free taster samples are a great way to introduce people to your brand and product range. Quite a lot of sampler/virtual-instrument/plugin manufacturers provide freebies these days, this blog post is dedicated to those wonderful freebies that everybody should know about.

1. Cinematic Synthetic Drums by Impact Soundworks

This drum library really caught my attention. As you might have guessed from the product name, it is a collection of drum sounds generated by synthesis rather than recorded audio and it is aimed at film score applications. Andrew Aversa developed the idea of creating CSD after being inspired by Daft Punk's score for Tron Legacy. Modern film scoring tends to be a hybrid of orchestral and electronic synths and drums elements, a style of production that has dominated trends for the last decade thanks to the success of Hans Zimmer and all those at Remote Control Productions. I've spent a rather long time sourcing percussion sampler instruments to create big epic drum ensembles, and while I've found some fantastic tom ensemble sounds I've always struggled to find some electronic percussion to compliment them. Old drum machine samples just don't quite cut it, but these do.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that all the drum sounds have 10 variations for the purpose of round-robins, this is really helpful as it stops the drums tracks sounding flat and mechanical.

Check out these demos below to hear CSD in action for yourself.

The hardcore kicks in the opening of "Technical" (feat. Resonance) by Andrew Aversa really bring me back to the sound of Fall on Tron Legacy.

If you want to learn more about how Cinematic Synthetic Drums was created read the blog here.

If you've read this far you're probably rather interested in hybrid scoring and so you won't mind this little tangent I'm about go on. Impact Soundworks sell a virtual instrument designed specifically for adding electronic elements to your scores.

Juggernaut isn't free but is value for money. It boasts over 500 electronic sound design elements, containing percussion, drum kits, impacts, slams, sweeps, textures, reverses, basses, and much more. Juggernaut really compliments Cinematic Synthetic Drums if you require electronic scoring synth elements. There are other alternatives on the market, such as Heavyocity's Aeon collection and 8DIO's Hybrid Scoring Tools so I suggest checking those out before parting with your cash. Or do it the hard way and be more creative, develop your sound design and synthesis skills and make your own sounds. These products are shortcuts for the working composer, when you need some awesome sounds out of the box quickly because your running against a tight deadline.

2. Spore and Cybernetics Nanopacks by Glitchmachines

These Nanopacks by Glitchmachines are a great collection of Sci-Fi sounds and textures that you could either incorporate in your sound mix for that Sci-Fi short film or video game your working on or use them to provide extra sonic interest in the production of your music composition.

Spore has an intriguing collection of Sci-Fi textural sounds that evolve and mutate, that combine organic and mechanical sounds that evoke eerie atmospheres fit for a soundtrack to the interior of an alien ship. Fascinating to listen to and to try and work out how these sounds were created.

Preview the sounds for Spore below.

Cybernetics has wonderful engaging robotic sounds that convey motion and transformation, along with digital impacts, granulated liquids and morphing composites. Brilliant to listen to even if you just need some inspiration as a sound designer.

Preview the sounds for Cybernetics below.

I suggest heading over to Glitchmachines to read about Microsphere, a new sci-fi sample library by sound designer Ivo Ivanov, focused on the analysis of a hidden sonic universe.

Ivanov recorded electromagnetic fields with special equipment to capture an exotic collection of hidden sounds, including audible data transmissions, noise-beds, code sequences, noise bursts, and other aural artefacts normally concealed from our sensory perception. Sound Design really is a crazy subject.

3. The Unknown

That's all for now, I shall update this blog as and when I find more cool free stuff. Perhaps if you found this blog helpful and used these sample sounds in your work then let me know. Put it up on soundcloud and drop me a link via email.