Sampling terminology explained!

Sampling terminology explained!
25th October 2019 Dave Rose

You might have come across certain phrases on Noiiz and thought “What on earth does that even mean?!” Well, hopefully this post can help clear that up! Here is a list of common phrases we use in relation to sampling and what they mean.

 

Bit Depth
You might have come across 8, 16, 24 or even 32 Bit wav files. This refers to the number of ‘bits’ of information in each sample. If a bit rate is lower, it will contain less information and therefore each sample will be less detailed and usually less accurate. That’s why old 8 bit video games have that kind of crushed, distorted sound.

 

Crash
In sample world, a crash often refers to a crash cymbal, but is also used to refer to other effects sounds that might sound similar or be used in a similar way. Crashes are often used for impact or to act as a rhythmical marker at intermittent periods or at the beginning or end of a section.

 

Check out these crash samples on Noiiz

 

DAW
DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation and is a term used to describe computer programs for making music like Ableton Live, Logic Pro, FL Studio or Bitwig.

 

Dive/Downlifter
Kind of like an upside down Riser, Dive effects usually have lowering pitches and often signal the end of a section.

 

Check out these downlifter sounds on Noiiz

 

Foley
We borrowed this from the film world! Foley is named after a sound effects artist called Jack Foley and describes recorded sound effects that are added to films and TV in post production. In the music world, we use this term to refer to field recordings of real sounds that are used in a musical context, like using leaf rustling as a shaker, or a dustbin lid as a snare. We like foley at Noiiz! ❤️

 

Check out these foley infused loops and samples on Noiiz

 

Hat/OH/CH
When you see ‘hat’ in sample world it usually refers to a hi hat cymbal or something that sounds similar. It’s used as a high frequency percussive element, usually as part of a beat with a kick and a snare. OH refers to ‘open hat’ and is a longer sound, CH refers to ‘closed hat’ and is a shorter, sharper sound.

 

Check out these hi hat loops and samples on Noiiz

 

Lead
Another synthesizer term, this typically refers to a preset that is designed to occupy the mid frequencies of a song and often in mono. Sounds are usually bright so they cut through a mix, much like a guitar solo or lead vocal would.

 

Check out these lead loops and samples on Noiiz

 

Loop
A loop is a sample that has been designed to, you guessed it … loop! It is designed so that the phrase can be repeated over and over again, for example and electronic drum beat or a synth bass line.

 

Check out these loops on Noiiz

 

MIDI
MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface and enables communication between physical devices and/or computers. A MIDI file can contain notes and other information, so that a program like a synth plugin can interpret this and generate sound.

 

Mono
When an audio signal is mono, it only contains one ‘channel’ of information. This means when you play it back through a pair of speakers, the information will be the same in each speaker. Imagine recording a big room with one microphone then playing it back through one speaker – that’s mono. Typically the result of this is that the sound feels ‘centred’ or ‘narrow’. Old recordings were mono, think gramophones!

 

Oneshot
You probably won’t find this word in the dictionary, but we use it to describe a sample that is not designed to be looped, like a snare drum, or a single piano note.

 

Check out these oneshot samples on Noiiz

 

Pad
A pad or a ‘synth’ pad usually refers to a sustained chord generated by a synthesiser and often triggered by playing a single note. I’m going to be honest, I searched everywhere to try and find the history of the word but found nothing, so if you know where this originates then let me know! 😄

 

Check out these pad loops and samples on Noiiz

 

Pitch Shift
This refers to the process of using an algorithm to change the pitch of a sample, for example if a sample has a note of C, you could increase the pitch by 1 semi tone to make it C#.

 

Playlist
Like a sample pack, a playlist contains a bunch of samples. On Noiiz, these are taken from multiple packs and produced by multiple artists, much like a playlist on Spotify.

 

Plugin
Plugins come in a variety of formats like VST, AU, AAX, which are configured to work with different programs and operating systems. A plugin is a small program that can be loaded inside another program. For example, I could load a sampler like Kontakt as a plugin inside a program like FL Studio.

 

Preset
A preset is a pre defined configuration for a software program. For example, a ‘synth preset’ would contain a pre defined configuration of settings for a synthesizer, like Massive or Serum.

 

Ride 
A ride cymbal is used to create rhythm and to fill up the frequency spectrum. In sample world, a ride might be a ride cymbal or something that sounds similar or is used for a similar purpose.

 

Check out these ride loops and samples on Noiiz

 

Riser
A riser is usually a sound used to build tension. Sometimes they may have a melodic element like a gradually rising pitch, other times they might be more noise based like white noise with a gradually opening low pass filter. They are often used to build up to a new section.

 

Check out these riser loops and samples on Noiiz

 

Royalties
When it comes to a sample or a full piece of music, one or more people/organisations might have ownership over the copyright or have rights to a % of future revenues generated. There are two types of copyright – song copyright, which is ownership of the lyrics and melody and master recording copyright, which is ownership over the particular recording of a song. Often, these copyrights are assigned to companies – song copyright to music publishers and master recording copyrights to a record label.

Royalty Free
When you see the phrase ‘royalty free’ it refers to the license you get when you download a sound from Noiiz, which essentially means you don’t have to pay any royalties to us when you use the sound. We will never claim any royalties from you when you use the sound and you are free to use the sound in your music as you wish. Technically, you do not own the copyright to the sound itself, but you own a license that enables you to use the sound in your music.

Sample
This word can be used as both a verb and a noun.

‘To sample’ a piece of music typically refers to the process of using a section of an existing piece of music, then re interpreting it, manipulating it or adding it to a new piece of music.

A sample is therefore a a piece of music that has been ‘sampled’, or in the case of the content on Noiiz, it is typically a recording or a musical part, as opposed to a finished song.

 

Browse all samples on Noiiz

Sample Pack
A sample pack typically contains … wait for it … samples! It has evolved from a previous era of ‘sample CD’s’ where royalty free samples were burned to CD and sold in shops. Nowadays, sample packs exist predominantly in the digital world as a collection of files and folders.

 

Browse all sample packs on Noiiz

 

Sample Rate
Digital audio contains lots of individual samples, which, when converted into electricity eventually tell your speakers cone what position it should move to. Sample Rate refers to the number of samples in a given timeframe, so for example and audio file with a sample rate of 44.1khz will contain 44,100 samples per second. Quite a lot when you think about it! Sample rates of less than 44.1khz (CD quality) can usually be detected by most people as audible distortion.

 

Sampler
A sampler is a software program that enables the playback and manipulation of samples. Some examples are Kontakt, Noiiz Player, Serato Sample and [other sampler].

 

Stab
A stab usually refers to a short, chordal, often melodic burst of sound that is often bright sounding and triggered by a single note on a sampler or a synth. A brass stab, for example, might be made up of a short, bright chord played by brass instruments. Think Run DMC!

 

Check out these stab loops and samples on Noiiz

 

Stereo
Stereo signals contain 2 channels of information and usually there will be slightly different information in each channel. When played back through a pair of speakers, different sounds come out of each speaker and can therefore be used to create a sense of space, depth and position. Imagine recording a big room with two microphones at opposite ends of the room, then playing back one microphone through the left speaker and the other through the right speaker. It’s going to sound much ‘bigger’ than the mono recording.

 

Time Stretch
This refers to the process of using an algorithm to make an audio file longer or shorter. For example, it can be used to change a drum beat with a tempo of 120bpm to a tempo of 140bpm.

 

Virtual Instrument/Sampler Instrument
Virtual Instruments typically refer to real instruments that have been recorded lots of times (sometimes referred to as multi-sampling) and then mapped out into a sampler like Kontakt or the Noiiz Player.

 

Check out these virtual instruments on Noiiz

 

Wav
Waveform Audio File Format, sometimes known as WAVE or WAV, is a file format originally developed by Microsoft and IBM and uses raw, uncompressed audio.