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Topic: Are sample files all a standard format?

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  1. #1

    Are sample files all a standard format?

    I am new to all this. I am using Ableton LIve 7 and orchestral samples included in the program and some additional ones I bought from Ableton. What I don't know and would like some help on is, are all sample files the same format so that I can buy anything and dump them in, or are there lots of formats each of which require separate special handling? Would greatly appreciate advice.
    Thanks,
    Roman Kroitor

  2. #2

    Re: Are sample files all a standard format?

    Your question is so general that I'm not sure anyone would know where to begin!

    Suffice it to say... There are LOTS of different formats... TONS of proprietary sample engines... MILLIONS of products. It is both a pain in the @ss and a blessing at the same time.

    Good luck...

    -Alex

  3. #3

    Re: Are sample files all a standard format?

    Thank you very much Mr. Davis for your reply. Clearly I was (and still am) naive about samples. Anyway, I can now start to try to find my way. I appreciate that you took the time to reply.
    Roman Kroitor

  4. #4

    Re: Are sample files all a standard format?

    Could be wrong about the intent of the question, but I think it's more to do with standalone loops/one-shots/phrases than sample lib content.

    Roman, your best bet is to do some google searches on the following terms to get more detail:

    .WAV -- de-facto standard PCM format for Windows;

    .AIFF -- de-facto standard PCM format for Mac

    Don't get hung up on the "for Windows/for Mac" bits... that's just the history of each format -- MS created WAV, Apple created AIFF (both with help from others). Turns out audio apps on either platform will deal with either format. E.g., SONAR on PC can deal with AIFF, while Logic on Mac can deal with WAV.

    .SDII -- another de-facto standard PCM format from the Mac side. This format comes from an app called Sound Designer II. I'm sure this format is still used today, but I don't know to what extent. Here again, even though SDII is a Mac format, an app like SONAR on the PC can import SDII files.

    There are two special versions of the above formats which are more platform-specific:

    Acid Loops -- these are WAV files with embedded loop meta data -- used for PC products like Acid, SONAR, Mixcraft (a great lightweight multitracker, BTW ), etc.

    Apple Loops -- these are AIFF files with embedded loop meta data -- used for Mac products like Logic, Garageband, etc.

    There's another loop format called Rex Loops which are created specifically for Properllerhead's ReCycle app (which I think runs on both platforms). Also, some vendors have there own REX loop players -- e.g., Cakewalk includes one with certain versions of SONAR and HomeStudio. There may be other 3rd party REX players for PC and Mac. ReCycle may be the only means of creating REX loops, however.

    Of the the above PCM formats I think WAV is more of a global de-facto standard than AIFF, though I'm not a Mac guy so I don't know how true that is. E.g., an app like Kontakt 3 supports import of WAV, AIFF, and SDII, but if you were to go buy a Kontakt sample lib from somebody my guess is that 9.9 times out of 10 it will contain WAV files rather than any of the others.

    In addition to loop format extensions of WAV and AIFF, there are other extended formats as well. For example, there is the Broadcast WAV format, which is a WAV file with embedded timecode. This file format makes import/export between DAWs easy (the DAW can place the imported WAV at the correct point on the project timeline if you tell it to).

    The above covers the basic PCM file formats. When you're talking about sampler formats, things start to get really app-specific. E.g., you could have a sample lib in Akai format, which is it's own PCM format. You could have a library for EXS24 which will contain a bunch of AIFF files (I think?). Or you could have a sample lib for Kontakt, which could contain a bunch of WAV, AIFF, etc. PCM files. Each specific sampler uses it's own file format for storing it's patches. Sometimes those are program-only files, like a Kontakt .NKI file or a HALion .FXP, that reference external WAV/AIFF files stored in a subdirectory. Sometimes they're monolithic files -- like Gigasampler .GIG, or Kontakt's .NKM monolithic format. E.g., a GIG file is a single file containing all patch-level data (zone mappings and such) as well as all of the PCM-encoded data in one large file.

    Hope that helps!

  5. #5
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    Re: Are sample files all a standard format?

    Quote Originally Posted by kbaccki View Post
    Could be wrong about the intent of the question, but I think it's more to do with standalone loops/one-shots/phrases than sample lib content.

    Roman, your best bet is to do some google searches on the following terms to get more detail:

    .WAV -- de-facto standard PCM format for Windows;

    .AIFF -- de-facto standard PCM format for Mac

    Don't get hung up on the "for Windows/for Mac" bits... that's just the history of each format -- MS created WAV, Apple created AIFF (both with help from others). Turns out audio apps on either platform will deal with either format. E.g., SONAR on PC can deal with AIFF, while Logic on Mac can deal with WAV.

    .SDII -- another de-facto standard PCM format from the Mac side. This format comes from an app called Sound Designer II. I'm sure this format is still used today, but I don't know to what extent. Here again, even though SDII is a Mac format, an app like SONAR on the PC can import SDII files.

    There are two special versions of the above formats which are more platform-specific:

    Acid Loops -- these are WAV files with embedded loop meta data -- used for PC products like Acid, SONAR, Mixcraft (a great lightweight multitracker, BTW ), etc.

    Apple Loops -- these are AIFF files with embedded loop meta data -- used for Mac products like Logic, Garageband, etc.

    There's another loop format called Rex Loops which are created specifically for Properllerhead's ReCycle app (which I think runs on both platforms). Also, some vendors have there own REX loop players -- e.g., Cakewalk includes one with certain versions of SONAR and HomeStudio. There may be other 3rd party REX players for PC and Mac. ReCycle may be the only means of creating REX loops, however.

    Of the the above PCM formats I think WAV is more of a global de-facto standard than AIFF, though I'm not a Mac guy so I don't know how true that is. E.g., an app like Kontakt 3 supports import of WAV, AIFF, and SDII, but if you were to go buy a Kontakt sample lib from somebody my guess is that 9.9 times out of 10 it will contain WAV files rather than any of the others.

    In addition to loop format extensions of WAV and AIFF, there are other extended formats as well. For example, there is the Broadcast WAV format, which is a WAV file with embedded timecode. This file format makes import/export between DAWs easy (the DAW can place the imported WAV at the correct point on the project timeline if you tell it to).

    The above covers the basic PCM file formats. When you're talking about sampler formats, things start to get really app-specific. E.g., you could have a sample lib in Akai format, which is it's own PCM format. You could have a library for EXS24 which will contain a bunch of AIFF files (I think?). Or you could have a sample lib for Kontakt, which could contain a bunch of WAV, AIFF, etc. PCM files. Each specific sampler uses it's own file format for storing it's patches. Sometimes those are program-only files, like a Kontakt .NKI file or a HALion .FXP, that reference external WAV/AIFF files stored in a subdirectory. Sometimes they're monolithic files -- like Gigasampler .GIG, or Kontakt's .NKM monolithic format. E.g., a GIG file is a single file containing all patch-level data (zone mappings and such) as well as all of the PCM-encoded data in one large file.

    Hope that helps!
    If someone had explained that to me with such detail when I started 5 years ago it would have saved me a lot of reading.

  6. #6

    Re: Are sample files all a standard format?

    Not only are there different formats, some formats have copy protection. With some samples, you can read them and reformat them for use in other samplers. With copy protected samples, you are limited to the use allowed.

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