RECORDING TIP: Why do so many VST samplers SUCK?

Let’s talk hip-hop sampling.

In my (and many, many others’) humble opinion, sampling and sample-chopping in Maschine is ridiculously fast. It is. Watch the 2 minute video above. Granted, he’s using manual slice mode, which is super fast, but manual sample chopping (MPC-style, NO slicing) is still fast as hell. This is true with Maschine standalone, or the plugin version (for me, inside Reaper, or Ableton).

Why is sample chopping easy with Maschine? Because you can manually edit the sample start and end points (on each pad/chop) with the encoders. You can also zoom in and out, and scroll, with them. This is CORE sampler functionality and should be everywhere, with EVERYTHING.

What sampler plugins also offer this functionality?

Poise (Windows-only) by One Small Clue (Shannon Oram) of Australia (I really hope they get the fires under control down there… god, I hope so… it breaks my heart every day)… anyway… Shannon abandoned Poise in 2018, and it hasn’t been updated since 2016. It is still the easiest-to-use, most powerful MPC-style VST sampler out there. Without a doubt. Search YouTube for videos about it, including my 4-part tutorial series from 2012 or 2013… covering every aspect of it, in about 45 minutes.

Geist 2 by FXpansion (now a subsidiary of Roli). You can midi-map the sample start and end points (and loop start/end points), and enable those midi knobs/encoders for every “focused’ sample (the last pad you hit) but what sucks is, the waveform display isn’t updated with your edits! With Maschine and Poise, you can see the greyed-out part of the waveform, where you edited the start and end (so you can still see the entire length of each sample). Close, but no cigar, Geist 2. Still, Geist 2 is a lot of fun.

Ableton Live 10, with Push 1 or Push 2. You can edit the start/end points and loop start/end points from the Push hardware and any other hardware that has an Ableton MIDI Remote Script (such as the SL MKIII by Novation, or the Launchkey Mini MK3, when they’re in Device Mode). Re: the Loop start/end, that’s always been able to be midi-learned, since version 7, I believe. Which is nice, but the actual start/end flags were only able to be controlled from hardware, since Push 1 (Push 2 makes it better as you actually see the waveform edits, instead of sample numbers).

Reasamplomatic5000 (built-in sampler plugin by Reaper)– You can map the sample start/end points, through the “Learn” function of Reaper’s FX chain window. Not exactly easy, but possible. But… it’s not exactly quick to set up say, a 16-part sampler… you need multiple instances of Rs5k on the track, and have to configure things in a specific way. Not easy. Though, possible. Especially using the MPL RS5k Sample Manager, but still, mapping the sample start & end for the last-hit (focused) sample seems convoluted.

honorable mention: ShortCircuit (no longer available). Powerful… can have the start/end points mapped, through Reaper’s FX chain window. Kind of a pain, but good. People still rave about ShortCircuit. Make sure you use version 1, not 2, as 2 is unfinished and buggy as hell.

What sampler plugins or software programs DO NOT offer this very basic functionality?

FPC by Image-Line (FL Studio).  You need to have Edison open, to chop your audio, and then hit an icon to drag the chopped audio into FPC, and if you need to make further changes, you can’t. You have to go back to Edison and do it all over again (wtf).

BATTERY 1, 2, 3 AND 4 by Native Instruments (mouse only). Why is this sampler so PRETTY but so damn DATED? Give me total midi CC control of those start/end points!!! People still insist Battery 3 is better than Battery 4 (I’d agree).

TAL Sampler. SO much can be midi-mapped and learned…. EXCEPT the start/end points!! Are you KIDDING me?

GEIST 1 Still a fun plugin/instrument… but, mouse only!

SERATO SAMPLE. Very fast, and A LOT of fun but…… mouse only. EDIT: Even at version 1.2 which just came out in February 2020. STILL mouse-only.

ABLETON LIVE / SIMPLER (unless you own Push 2, or the Novation SL MKIII, or Novation Launchkey Mini MK3). The only one you can visually see (on the hardware) is Push 2. However, you can edit the LOOP start/end points with the SL MKIII, and Launchkey Mini MK3… which isn’t the same as the SAMPLE start/end points… it still gets the job done! But…. you cannot map those functions to any generic midi controller. You have to use a controller that is supported by Ableton, via Control Surface scripts.

NUANCE and VICE (both from New Sonic Arts). Nope. Pretty interface, and several things can be midi-mapped, but not the start/end points. Why?

Sitala (free Ableton Simpler-style plugin). You can do a lot of cool stuff, but you can’t adjust the start/end points from hardware.

GRACE by One Small Clue. Free sampler (same guy who made Poise). Can’t map the sample start/end points. Annoying!

ADSR Sample Manager I REALLY like this… asked them if they could midi-map sample start/end points… they said it would be implemented, but no news yet. Feb 18th, 2020 brought version 1.5, but this still isn’t implemented.

Xfer NERVE. No can do (and yo… $200?)

Fxpansion Guru. Can’t do it. Guru is still very much-loved… but, can’t do it.

Punch / Punch 2 by Rob Papen. I don’t think you can (correct me if I’m wrong).

RitMix by Soundbridge... so much potential here, squandered. Entirely too much mouse-clicking. Gorgeous interface, but come on… more controller stuff, LESS mouse, please!

BPM by MOTU. I know this is oldschool and hella overpriced. But I don’t think you can with this one, either.

Impact XT (Studio One version 4). Really, really nice plugin (which should be made available, for any DAW). But, offer midi-mappable sample start/end points!!!

WHY is this function so blatantly ignored? Also, show me the WAVEFORM inside the plugin, please? Like Maschine, like Simpler, like Poise… like Geist 2 (but showing me GREYED-OUT areas, where I chopped it)?






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  1. Stizer

    You gotta try MPL RS5K manager script.

    • ccaulder

      I have. It’s good but MPL does not explain fully how to automate the start/end points for the focused sample. He often makes people feel stupid in the forum, when they ask questions about his script. Appreciate his work but it’s not quite there… Poise (from 2009) still blows it away… it’s close, but it’s not quite there. And there’s a decent amount of lag, editing the start/end points of a focused sample (even with just the mouse). If he could clearly explain exactly how to automate the start/end points from a midi encoder, I’m all ears. 🙂

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