Sample libraries are a part of music production these days— at some point pretty much every producer will eventually pick up a sample library plugin like IK Multimedia’s SampleTank.
SampleTank is an excellent plugin that couples a huge library with powerful sound design controls, mixing features, and customizability.
It should be a go-to for any producer who doesn’t want to compromise on instrumentation or sample quality.
In this article, we’ll explore everything SampleTank has to offer and we’ll unpack what each tiered version has to offer from it’s lite version to it’s more advanced paid options.
What is SampleTank?
SampleTank is a complete sound and groove workstation created by IK Multimedia. It comes with authentic digital, sample-based re-creations of thousands of instruments in a broad range of categories.
The plugin is an incredibly useful catchall for producers looking to use a variety of instruments in their music with a reasonable amount of control.
SampleTank 4 is the newest version from IK Multimedia, here’s how its main features work.
Hot tip: SampleTank 4 SE is now included with yearly subscriptions to LANDR Studio. You’ll get SampleTank SE, 30+ premium plugins, unlimited distribution, unlimited mastering and much more.
Every instrument at your fingertips
Mid and pro-tier SampleTank 4 versions come with hundreds of instruments—all professionally recorded and ready to go.
The library comes with easy-to-use categories so you can find what you need quickly or browse to find inspiration.
It’s pretty incredible that any producer can easily use any instrument in their production, no matter how obscure or difficult they are to play.
It’s pretty incredible that any producer can easily use any instrument in their production.
Dedicated controls for each instrument
Every instrument in Sampletank comes with a dedicated control panel that opens up controls for various synth-inspired parameters.
The control panels included amp and filter ADSR envelopes, a pretty serious modulation matrix, 16 options for various high pass and low pass filters and even oscillator controls.
That amount of flexibility opens up tons of options for sound design—enabling you to really create your own sound with the samples as a starting point.
Mix and shape your instrument’s sound
SampleTank’s instrument controls also include a dedicated mixer that adds even more control over the sampled recordings, especially if when using multiple SampleTank instruments in one project.
The mixer also includes linear modular effects racks and various EQ settings to really help with dialing in a custom sound that fits your mix.
Choose various outboard gear emulations like plate reverbs, channel strip EQs, delays, overdrives and much more.
Make your own sample libraries
One really cool feature about SampleTank is that it allows to upload your own samples directly into its sample engine—so you can easily build your own sample library.
It works well if you have a pack of loops you’d like to play with on a keyboard format—and have all the additional controls, mix options to perform them with.
Or if you want to build your own sample-based instrument—say you have a vintage synth in your studio that you’d like to digitize, creating a custom library in SampleTank is a great option!
Perform your instruments
SampleTank also comes a variety of ways to program performances of its sample instruments.
It has its own MIDI piano roll that makes it easy to input MIDI notes and compose a part.
Plus, it has an arpeggiator section that offers a ton of control over any instruments that would make sense to arpeggiate—like a synth, keys or strings part for example.
SampleTank also has you covered for live performances. In its live mode you can build groups of instruments that you can map to your keyboard and then easily switch between them for different songs in a setlist.
That means you can have a group of instruments ready to go for one song and then easily change to an entirely different group of instruments for the next song.
Which Sampletank is best for you?
There’s a handful of SampleTank offerings out there that come at a variety of price points.
Each has its own unique features, with its more advanced versions having larger sample bases and considerably more instruments and features.
Let’s explore what version of SampleTank has to offer.
Custom Shop is the free version of SampleTank 4, anyone can download it and start using its sample libraries right now.
Of course, Custom Shop is fairly limited compared to its paid counterparts. It has 50 instruments and about 4GB of sample content.
This is a great option if you’re looking for a basic sample instrument that’ll open up doors to bigger productions.
SampleTank SE is where the rubber hits the road, it comes with a massive 2,000 instruments and 30GB of sample content.
SampleTank SE is where the rubber hits the road.
That’s a huge library of instruments to work with!
This is an excellent option for any emerging producer, especially because this sample library works as a great go-to for finding samples of any instrument imaginable.
Hot tip: While SampleTank SE comes at a $149 price tag, it’s currently bundled as part of LANDR Studio—for $149 you get SampleTank SE, 30+ plugins from premium developers, unlimited distribution, unlimited access to LANDR’s industry-leading AI-mastering tool and more!
SampleTank 4 is the flagship edition of SampleTank—featuring an additional 70GB of sample content and about 6,00 instrument sounds, this sample library is for the serious producer.
Not just because it has more features, but simply because it’ll take up a considerable amount of space on your hard drive!
The amount of sound choice you get with SampleTank 4 is truly staggering, so if you have some big production ideas on the go this could be a serious contender for your go-to sample library.
At $299 this is a great option for anyone with big production needs.
If you love SampleTank and find yourself going to it for almost all your sounds, consider upgrading to SampleTank 4 MAX.
Like it’s name suggests, MAX puts the already impressive SampleTank 4 on steroids, offering an additional 260GB of sample content—and about 8,000 instrument sounds in total.
If you love SampleTank and don’t rely on anything else its $499 price tag is worth it for the huge amount of extra content.
The dankest tank
SampleTank is an incredibly versatile plugin that absolutely belongs in every producer’s plugin library.
Whether you’re looking for some free sample based instruments to play around with or if you’re looking for a serious plugin with a massive sample library—SampleTank has something for you.
So, don’t be afraid to dive in and give the plugin a try for yourself.
And of course, if you’re a LANDR Studio subscriber definitely make use of this one. We’re super excited to have this plugin in our suite of premium plugins!