Home Studio Music Production Tools Compared 2022: Loops, Samples or the ‘Real Thing’

Loops and sample banks have become widespread in today’s electronic music production. There aren’t many songs on the radio right now that don’t use both. Loops and samples have a clear edge. Both allow you to ‘play’ an instrument without having to own or even possess it. Loops and Samples allow you to incorporate difficult-to-find Vintage Synthesizer sounds, as well as exotic Temple Gongs and Shakuhachi Flutes, into your work. Most producers will have a difficult time locating the “genuine thing” when it comes to exotic instruments like the Shakuhachi, therefore we’ll concentrate on Synthesizer and Keyboard Sounds in this comparison. Analog synthesisers are widely used in today’s music. When should you use loops, when should you utilise samples, and when should you use the “real thing”?

Loops for music, Acid Loops, Apple Loops, and more Using loops in a musical composition obviously does not necessitate a high level of musical ability. To make a decent-sounding musical piece, you don’t need to know anything about notes, keys, or even paying procedures. However, you will still require a’musical ear.’ Even using pre-produced loops, you won’t be able to make something really good if you are tone deaf or have no sense of rhythm. There are a number of good loop-based production tools available, including Acid for the PC (which is even available as a completely free version) and Garageband for the Apple Computer, which costs $49. More professional music-making software, such as Logic Pro and Cubase, allows you to use loops as well as record live instruments or Virtual Instruments and Synths, including virtual samplers. The advantage of pre-recorded loops is that you can choose from a large number of loop CDs. Loops with exotic instruments, sizzling guitar licks, classic synths, and even whole Symphonic Orchestras can be found. AcidMusicLoops.com has a diverse collection of Loops CDs. Unlike other loops producers, their loops CDs all include loops in both PC and Apple formats. Of course, there are a slew of other websites that sell music loop CDs for PC/Acid or Mac/Garageband. Even if you are an accomplished musician, loop CDs are a great way to broaden your musical horizons. You may be a fantastic keyboard player, but your guitar skills are lacking. Get a few decent Guitar Loops CDs and you’re good to go! Overall, we gave Music Loops a ten for selection because its CDs have the most range of instruments and performing styles. Electric rock guitars, reggae horns, Indonesian gamelan, and classic Moog bass tones are all possibilities.

Here is the score card for Music Loops CDs:

  • Available Selection – 10
  • Ease of Use – 9
  • Sounds ‘Real’ – 9
  • Flexibility – 7

WAV Samples, Sample Libraries, SoundFonts, and more You can broaden your musical horizons by using samples once you have access to a sampler, whether it’s a hardware sampling keyboard like the new Workstation keyboards from Korg, Yamaha, or Roland or a virtual (software) sampler. You are no longer bound to the musical notes performed by someone else on a Music Loop; instead, you can use a sampler to produce your own lead lines, chords, riffs, and more. To use samples, you must first be able to ‘play music.’ All a sample library does is make a certain sound you want to utilise playable on your keyboard. You must play the game. You can play all types of unique and rare (and most expensive) instruments without having to own them thanks to the miracle of sampling. On an analogue synth, it can take hours to build a good-sounding original patch, but with a good sample library, the programming work is already done for you. You simply select the sound you desire and are ready to perform. This is a significant advantage when it comes to classic synthesiser sounds, as none of the older synths had any means to save programmes once they were created. When you turn off the synth, all of your hard work is gone. Samplingsounds.com has a good range of Classic Synth, Vocoder, and Keyboard Samples. They also have a helpful comparison chart that illustrates which sample format to utilise with various hardware and software samplers. We assigned digital sample libraries a 6 for’realistic sounds’ since some of the subtleties of genuine instruments can be lost when reproduced with a sampler. When played on a sampler, an electric lead guitar or saxophone, for example, never sounds very authentic. When it comes to guitar and most horn sounds, Music Loops or the ‘Real Thing’ are highly recommended. When played back on a sampler, other instruments sample almost perfectly and sound exactly like the actual thing.

Here is the score card for Digital Samples:

  • Available Selection – 8
  • Sounds ‘Real’ – 6
  • Ease of Use – 6
  • Flexibility – 8

The Real Thing – Classic Synths, Keyboards etc.

Even if it isn’t possible for most people, using the “genuine thing,” a conventional keyboard, rather than a digital “clone” in the shape of a music loop or sample library, gives you the most freedom. You can play whatever you want in your own manner and programme your Synth to sound precisely as you want it to sound. On the downside, you’ll need to a) know how to play, b) know how to programme, c) find a vintage synth, and d) keep an eye out for tuning issues. Many classic synths and keyboards require periodic tuning since they do not remain in tune well. On the plus side, analogue synths and keyboards react to your playing style quite differently, and some of the nuances you get from playing the “genuine thing” or a music loop generated with the “real thing” may be lost when using digital samples of the same keyboard in a sampler. Only’genuine thing’ received a ten for’sounding real.’ We had to give it a 4 for availability because Classic Keyboards are becoming increasingly difficult to come by at a’reasonable’ price and in good working order.

Here is the score card for Real Classic ‘Analog’ Keyboards

  • Available Selection – 4
  • Sounds ‘Real’ – 10
  • Ease of Use – 4
  • Flexibility – 10

To sum it up: What to choose has a lot to do with your level of playing ability. Music Loops CDs come out the winner overall because of the large selection and ease of use but for a ‘real musician’ I guess nothing will ever beat the ‘real thing’ For the rest of us, Music Loops and Digital Samples are a great way to expand our musical universe.

Alan Steward Producer and Sound Designer – MusicLeads.net
Worked with Grammy winning artists like the Temptations and the Baha Men

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