A bare-bones UI belies a powerful engine - and a tool that could finally jump-start sound designers embracing an open format. Proprietary lock-in, no more.

Software Instruments, Freed From Sampler Formats: SFZ, Free Sounds, Free Sample Player

“Free As In Free Me From Proprietary Formats.” If you’re ready to explore sounds – as a novice sampler user or as an advanced sound developer – SFZ brings tidings of great joy. When they move from defining mere sounds or samples to describing whole instruments, sound designers need file formats. The problem has been that those formats tend to be particular to one sampler or another – just Kontakt, or just Logic’s EXS24, or just Gigastudio. Yes, there are converters, but because these samplers have different capabilities, converters cause problems. Being able to create instruments for these samplers is …

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Wintry Samples: Recording Snow, Free Snow and Ice Drum Samples, Gnomish Choirs

Photo: Frank Bry, courtesy his blog The Recordist. It’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere. For some of us, there’s little need to remind us of snow and ice. But if you fancy adding some frozen sounds to your music, we have both free samples and expert recording tips to help get your cold on. Frank Bry, a master sound designer, apparently has plenty of access to snow in his home of Idaho, but that hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for the white, fluffy stuff. He’s devoted an entire library to Ultimate Snow with some 300 locations. You can read an interview …

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Black Friday: Free Synths+Effects from Cakewalk, Plus Steep Discounts

Take my synth, please! Grab this instrument, the sample playback plug-in SFZ+, free for Windows. “Black Friday” has become a traditional date for talking discounts, but one price you can’t beat is free. Cakewalk is giving away some of their older effects and synth plug-ins. These aren’t just hand-me-downs – Cakewalk forum members lamented that a couple of these didn’t receive greater development attention. They’re eminently usable on Windows systems now. Available free: SFZ+: The real highlight here, rgc:audio’s excellent SoundFont sampler player, with built-in effects, various performance options, and an all-in-one interface Square I: A very lovely analog subtractive …

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