Essential Sample Libraries
Recommended By A Composer

Hammersmith Pro
(By Soniccouture)

A beautifully sampled Steinway & Sons piano recorded at British Grove Studios in Hammersmith, London. It’s worth noting that this library takes up quite a bit of computer real estate coming in at 52GB and containing over 30,000 samples.

The UI in the Kontakt patch offers total customizability to your sound with enough microphone setups and a user friendly mixing panel & FX sends. Its use of round robins (intelligent anti-repeat) allows the sound to sound as natural as it can be without any repeating notes that our ears can pick out. This is definitely a must have library whatever genre you are in for it’s versatility and truly astounding sound it produces.

(by Heavyocity, also available at Native Instruments)

Damage is a percussive library which offers hybridity for both traditional cinematic orchestration and the more contemporary industrial electronic style. It is great for adding depth and grit to your drum tracks. It features a multitude of patches to choose from ranging from thunderous low hits, toms and snares to full kits.

Their samples are effects heavy, giving you a wide spectrum of options to adjust the sound. Unlike other percussive libraries, Damage does exceedingly well in allowing you to play faster rhythms without compromising the realness of the recordings, thanks to its brilliant use of velocities and round robins (anti-repeating notes).

The Quiet Piano
(By Matteo Pagamici, available at Pianobook)

This hidden gem is a definite if you like more resonant and softer pianos. Available at for free (’Pianobook’ is a great resource for free samples across the board).

With a simple UI you can adjust the resonant tone and pedal noise whilst also choosing a tuning to suit your composition. Its little imperfections are great for that natural sound making it one I use all the time.

Albion One
(By Spitfire Audio)

Albion One is an extremely user friendly library and one that I would consider essential as it features everything you need for an orchestral recording. Although Spitfire’s range of libraries has since grown vastly (e.g the BBC symphony orchestra and many more) Albion remains a great choice for a cornerstone of your collection.

Since purchasing the original Albion when it was first released, it has been revamped and expanded upon; making this sample library even better than before.

Cinebrass Core & Pro
(By Cinesamples)

Although Albion One contains sufficient brass, Cinebrass is a huge step up if you’re looking for a heap more articulations and power. The Cinebrass Collection has grown since I purchased it as there were only the core and pro libraries, but in my opinion these are enough to get you going.

Check out the Twelve Horn Ensemble True Legato patch; it’s brilliant for those powerful sweeping horns you hear in scores like Hans Zimmer’s. Also try out the Monster Low Brass Articulations for extremely dark and gritty brass punches if you need the brass on steroids.

Session Horns Pro
(By Native Instruments)

If you are after more contemporary/pop style horns then this library is a great starting point. You’ll notice a fair few Native instrument libraries listed on here so you’re probably better off buying their Komplete bundles as you’ll get more for your money.

This easy UI allows you to play solo or ensembles very quickly with a section preset to get the type of sound you want whether it be a vintage brass sound or a pop horn section. Having used and loved this library for a while now I am also looking at getting Big Fish Audio’s ‘V-Horns Brass Section’ as the samples & articulations sound a step up from this library. (V-Horns runs on the UVIWorkstation)

(By Cinesamples)

I originally had the Cineperc EPIC sample library which has now merged into Cineperc to form a larger collection of orchestral percussion. This library is a great tool and if the new version still has the patch I refer more specifically to the hand claps & snaps patch (I still own the legacy product).

The rest of this library is great but this mention is mainly for the claps due to their fullness and all round versatility. With the ability to mix the microphones, you are able to achieve both a big crowd feel and a more intimate sound. This is a patch that I use on most of my tracks when claps are called for.

808 Warfare
(By Producers Choice)

No matter what genre you are working within, it’s always good to have 808 subs ready for action. There are plenty of great one-shot samples out there but if your looking for a trusty go-to library then this is the one.

They are quick to load and already mapped out so you can get playing instantly with tons of patches to choose from. (My favorites are the clean and compressed patches).

Bohemian Violin
(By Virharmonic)

There are plenty of solo violin instruments out there but if you are looking for an easy to program, excellent sounding violin straight as you start the patch then the Bohemian Violin is a great one to go with.

Using the UVIWorkstation by UVI, you’ll get all the articulations you need. The violin has a very realistic feel to it although the playability can sometimes be laggy, so it may require some fine tuning afterwards.

Scarbee Vintage Keys
(By Native Instruments)

A perfect alternative to a piano if you are looking for those rounded tones. It’s a good pick for writing with and layers very nicely in your mixes, especially if you are going for those soft and dark tones.

Tip: If you want a clean and big sound, select ‘insert’ and enable ‘amp’. adjust the bass and treble accordingly and this just takes those samples and creates a huge warm tone.

Vintage Organs (By Native Instruments)
Union Chapel Organ (By Spitfire Audio)

Depending on the style of your writing, an organ is a great tool to have. Vintage Organs has some nice patches for contemporary/blues/rock styles. The drawer style UI mimicking the controls on the organ gives you plenty to change to get the right sound for you.

However, if you are more of an orchestral/film music composer then you’ll probably want to get the Union Chapel Organ first. Being a pipe organ (residing at the infamous Union Chapel in London) you’ll get its grand textures and air that’s needed for a great bit of orchestral music. This is another Spitfire Audio Library so you can trust that the samples are top quality.

Addictive Drums 2 (By XLN Audio)
Native instruments Drum Collection (By Native Instruments)

I’ve mentioned the Native Instruments Collection as they have a large and varied collection of drum & percussion sample instruments. If you prefer electronic based samples then Battery 4 (standalone plugin) is great to have at your disposal. Otherwise the sample instruments you can get in Kontakt like Butch Vig Drums, Modern Drummer, The Abbey Road Drummer Collection or more percussion based instruments like West Africa, Cuba or India.

I have access to record real drums, so I use sample instruments like Modern Drummer from the Abbey Road Drummer Collection and a few other Native Instrument sample instruments which are great for drum replacing/adding in to thicken up the sound

Tip: you can use Massey DRT drum replacer to quickly turn the audio transients into midi so you don’t have to manually add each sample.

But if you are looking for a more varied selection that's all in one for ease of use, Addictive Drums 2 is a brilliant option. Being a standalone plugin, you can access all types of kits & electronic samples. with a simple to use UI that gets you started extremely quickly with lots of different drum sounds to choose from within a kit.

What are your essential sample libraries? Head to our Discord to dicuss or comment on our instagram posts: Part I, Part II.