More motivated than ever to make it in beatmaking? You’d better have good sound banks for that. Having an atypical and personalised sound bank is an important step because it helps singularize the beatmaker. We must be able to recognize his musical style at hearing his instrumentals. So as to guide you in the wonderful world of sound banks, I’ve gathered four different ways to find them.
1. Software, presets and plugins
If you entirely record in MIDI tracks (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) with virtual instruments, your sequencer must be equipped with VST plugins (Virtual Studio Technology). To make it short, a plugin represents an interface within the software which principal function is to modify and personalise a sound through various parameters.
Simultaneously, each software has what’s commonly called « presets », instruments and sounds already created and integrated in your sequencer. Each software, from FL Studio to Garageband, proposes several but they’re not all effective and most of all, we quickly know all of them.
2. Invest in additional plugins
This is the unavoidable step to really develop your personal touch in music production. Actually, you cannot go far with the presets and the original plugins, thus it becomes interesting to buy additional plugins. You can find them everywhere on the internet, (here for example) with variable qualities. The main point is to find some VST plugins that will allow you to obtain neater and more professional sounds. For those who would be afraid to break their piggy bank, know that the greatest beatmakers have bought themselves the plugins they use daily.
To make your life easier, here is a little selection of available for purchase plugins, all of them are compatible with Windows and Mac:
Nexus2 (beginner version for 199€ and the most complete for… 2999€): is the one I personally use in my musical composition. Note that the cheapest version still includes 2250 presets, which is a significant addition.
Sylenth1 (available for 139€) is a little more affordable and proposes until 2500 presets. In addition, it is possible to pay this plugin on a monthly basis, which may be advantageous for some people.
Komplete 12 (available for 499€ or approximately 399€ ) : proposes more that 12 000 presets.
Of course, you can find way more websites, but I’ve listed here the ones I’ve used in the past, or the ones I’ve heard a lot about. There are punctually promotions on some of them, especially during the holidays, so stay tuned !
Also note that each plugin is not fixed and is renewed on a regular basis. Therefore, you can download thematic extensions, such as the trap/hip-hop oriented one you can find on my website just here. It is always preferable to invest into extensions because it still allows you to forge your musical identity and to extend your sound bank.
Preset with your MIDI keyboard
To summarize, thanks to these plugins (no matter which one you chose), you will be able to manipulate the presets available or to create your own presets. Everything becomes possible. I’d like to point out that some MIDI keyboards manufacturers propose to offer plugins as a gift for the purchase.
Example: when you buy a keyboard Keylab Arturia 88, you will have it delivered with AnalogLab which I mentioned above. Just a trick to smartly invest in quality material and save some money…
3. Download packs
Generally speaking, it is the way it works for everything that belongs to the drum family: we buy packs (or download it for free), within which there are various drum samples. That is how you can have kicks or snares, for example, that give our instrumentals more rhythm. The samples are a significant time saving given that you just have to slide them in your compositions.
In contrast to presets, that require to be played as virtual instruments, the samples can simply be copied-pasted. Also note that it is possible to buy samples from other instruments, even if it is rarer. It is usually called “ One shot “, that’s to say one note from the preset desired. With this note, we just have to assign the keys from our master keynote with a sampler. Actually, I propose it on this website in the sample pack part of this website (a little self-promotion doesn’t hurt), where I put the One shot samples from the presets I’ve especially created for my covers on YouTube.
4. The instrument’s banks
Until now, we mainly talked about technics related to MIDI methods, but it’s also possible to make analogue records, thanks to real and not virtual instruments. Guitar, synth, harmonica, flute… the typical sounds of these instruments can be recorded thanks to a sound card directly linked with the sequencer of your choice. As an example, the Juno-DS88 synthesizer includes more than 1200 presets at the time of purchase. The good news is that it is generally possible to incorporate additional presets by investing in thematic sound banks. This is what Yamaha proposes with dozens of variable price packs.
Broadly speaking, to mobilize an extended and diversified sound bank is one of the most important dimension of beatmaking. Thanks to the sounds and the specificity of the instruments we use, our compositions will be more originals. You shouldn’t be afraid of taking some risks and experiment with many presets and plugins. The most important is to have fun: the creative process must remain a pleasure !