Getting Started with Ableton Sampler: Loading Multiple Samples

In many ways, the Sampler in Ableton extends the functionality of the Simpler. In fact, if you are at all familiar with using several Simplers in one Device Rack, you will find much of the Sampler workflow familiar, so take heart! In this short tutorial, we’ll discuss some peculiarities that arise when attempting to load several audio samples into one Sampler instance.

One benefit of the Sampler versus the Simpler is that the Sampler makes it very easy to keep your sample playing back at its original Root Pitch, regardless of where you position the sample on your keyboard. Anybody who has tried to use Simpler and had their snare sound come out as a belchy rumble knows what I’m talking about.

The first step is to drag an empty Sampler instance into a MIDI track and navigate to wherever you have the group of samples that you’d like to load. In my case, this is a folder full of snare samples.

Now, select all of the samples that you’d like to load. Remember: You can’t just drag the folder (I have no idea why), you have to select the samples en masse by using Shift-Click. Drag into the main Sampler window.

You should, at this point, have a small message in the Sampler window that indicates how many samples you’ve loaded. Huzzah! Remember this number, as it will come in handy later.

Now, for the fun part. Open up the Zone tab and note how the green bars extend all the way across the keyboard graphic. That is almost certainly what we don’t want, since it will mean that every sample will be played simultaneously on every key of the keyboard. We must change this.

Decision time: Would you rather have the samples laid out across the keyboard, or would you rather be able to scroll through the samples with knob? If it’s the former, then stay in the Key tab of the Zone editor. If it’s the latter, then you’ll want to go to the Sel tab of the Zone editor.

Either way, select all of the samples by Shift-Clicking again in the sample list of the Zone editor. Now, drag the bars (all of them should move) so that they cover as many keys as there are samples. Doing this will make sure that there is only one sample per key (very useful if you haven’t loaded exactly 128 samples). Remember that there are 12 keys per octave.

Now, right click and select “Distribute Ranges Equally” from the menu. This will distribute the ranges equally across the largest range in the samples. That is why we made the range a little bit smaller.

If you’ve done this correctly, you should have one sample per key which is played back at its original pitch. Or, if you’ve decided to use the Sel tab, you should have one sample per notch on your MIDI controller knob.

Make sure to holler at me below or on the Twitter if you have any questions!

3 Responses to “Getting Started with Ableton Sampler: Loading Multiple Samples”

  1. Dome Chomsky June 1, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    what’s the advantage of this over a drum rack? with regards to snares, you’d probably end up wanting to compress them all slightly differently, no? (at the expense of cpu?) i guess it’s only good if you wanna use the filters and oscillators in the sampler?

    seems like it might make more sense for chopping a sample à la mpc?

    • Anthony June 1, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

      TBH, I would use Drum Racks, too. I originally posted this in response to a question about Sampler.

      I really just used the Snares as illustrative example, to keep things simple. I’m going to discuss sampling melodic next and then we’ll get into the guts of root pitch, etc.

      • Dome Chomsky June 2, 2012 at 12:17 am #

        cool, thanks alot, my dude.

        keep up the good work.

Leave a Reply