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PavlovsCat

FREE Sample Libraries Worth Recommending

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I wanted to make a special thread with great freebies to encourage those without cash, but who love making music, that there's lots of good stuff out there for them to enjoy. I was inspired by the Pianobook Advent Calendar thread and thought it would be great to have a thread where we just shared links to freebies we love and can recommend, as there's a lot of free libraries out there, but it's a lot of work to figure out which are worth downloading and which are not worth downloading. 

I'll start with some of my favorite Pianobook libraries, most of which happen are  in KONTAKT, but a number of them are also available for the FREE DECENT SAMPLER sampler and some are in other formats like sforzando and SoundPaint that are free. I'm starting with pianos, but I'm going to update this in the future with other free libraries I find worth recommending and I urge others to post their favorite free libraries. 

PIANOS 
First of all, pick up anything by Christian Henson, one of the founders of Spitfire. He's shared a lot of nice character pianos, especially felt pianos -- and I really love felt pianos. There are a lot of free pianos on Pianobook with issues -- especially noise in the samples. There was one piano I loved the character of, then I held a whole note and heard a bird singing. In a sense, it's lovely, but in another sense, you don't always want a bird singing when you hold a note. Here are some of my favs: 

Pianobook
The Summer Piano
Autumn Piano
Spring Piano
Quarantine Piano
Isolation Piano
Schimmel Piano
UNIK
Midnight Upright (layered piano and synth)
Living Room Upright Piano
Kawai UST7 Upright Piano
Nordiska Piano Deluxe (upright)
and too many others to think of off hand. 
https://www.pianobook.co.uk/

Sonic Atoms
This is one of my favorite free pianos. There are a few patches and the dev did some wonderful things with those patches. It uses the free version of HALion SE and this was so good, I bought some of the developer's paid libraries just out of gratitude. 
https://sonicatoms.com/novel-piano/

Sound Paint

Totally free piano and player. A must download in my opinion. An old Steinway grand piano with a lot of nice patches. 
https://soundpaint.com/

Production Voices 
This developer makes superb sample piano libraries and his free piano libraries are also superb. I particularly love his Death Piano. To quote Elton John, it's weird and wonderful.  Some of his freebies -- now donationware -- are for KONTAKT and others for the free Sforzando player. 
https://www.productionvoices.com/death-piano-le/

Spitfire Labs
They have a lot more than free felt pianos and it's all free and really nice.  Also be sure to download their free orchestral library, BBC Discovery, 
https://labs.spitfireaudio.com/#type=&search=&new=true

Westwood Upright Felt
This felt piano requires KONTAKT, but it's a nice little freebie. 
https://westwoodinstruments.com/instruments/upright-felt-piano/

Sonixema 
Their free Piano Textures (KONTAKT)  is beautiful, a must have, IMO. 
https://www.sonixinema.com/collections/free

Again, I encourage my fellow forum members to add to this and post their favorite free libraries. I started with pianos, and you can add your favorite pianos, but I think it'd be great to just share links to any free sample libraries that we love and want to tell others about. 

Peace, 
Peter

Edited by PavlovsCat
Fixing grammatical errors.
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14 minutes ago, JoeGBradford said:

Great idea - I'll try to remember to post my recommendations tomorrow!

Thanks, Joe. There's a reason I love this forum and spend the majority of my time on forums here, the people. This has always been the friendliest, most helpful DAW/music making forum I know of. I just thought, there are some people here who may not have money to take advantage of the deals, some who spent all of their money on deals, and just people who love freebies. There is a ton of very good to great freebie sample libraries out there, but sifting through the poor ones and mediocre ones can take a lot of work. I put together the above list pretty quickly, looking over my sample library files and I'm sure I'll think of more later that I missed, but I wanted to get it started and thought there's a lot of people here who could make my list better. 

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8 minutes ago, PavlovsCat said:

This has always been the friendliest, most helpful DAW/music making forum I know of.

100% agree

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19 minutes ago, PavlovsCat said:

 There's a reason I love this forum and spend the majority of my time on forums here, the people. This has always been the friendliest, most helpful DAW/music making forum I know of.

Spot on - I have had so much help over the years and there are many great people here. I tend to be at the free budget end of the market but mainly because I can only devote a small amount of time to music making so significant investment would be out of scale with my efforts. There is just so much great free / low cost stuff around that combined with my major purchases of ST TS Max 2, Garritan Personal Orchestra and Reason 10 I have far more than I need (though I still have free GAS!) 

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Beware of the free Spitfire BBCSO Discovery library! That pulled me into the Core upgrade! 😂

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6 minutes ago, abacab said:

Beware of the free Spitfire BBCSO Discovery library! That pulled me into the Core upgrade! 😂

If I didn't already have Garritan & Miroslav (the latter via TS Max 2)  I may have been pulled too!

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1 hour ago, abacab said:

Beware of the free Spitfire BBCSO Discovery library! That pulled me into the Core upgrade! 😂

Yeah, it's a pretty darn smart strategy when you look at it. And it's a strategy I really like because it also benefits those who can't afford to purchase the full library and realistically won't be able to in the near future.

Edited by PavlovsCat
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https://synthmagic.com/free-stuff/

He used to have several free synths and they were just as good or better than many paid synths. I guess right now there's just that Cassette Deck Hammond Extravoice which I haven't tried yet, but this is probably the one developer where I would buy Kontakt if I didn't have it just to use his synths, so I'm sure it's awesome. He's about that 70's/80's movie theater thriller analog synth soundtrack vibe and he's a fantastic preset creator, which is great for me as I'm not into sound design so I like to get my sounds, tweak a bit and go. But his paid synths aren't too much either, I'm sure they'll be a Christmas sale. You might be able to find the other free Synth Magic synths on Kontakt Hub. Yeah you need Kontakt to use his stuff. 

Edited by Christian Jones
You still don't have Kontakt? Do you also still use a pager?
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I got the Kontakt 6 crossgrade at 50% off this year during an NI sale, for about $124. That opens the door to a lot of free or very cheap libraries!!! :)

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Ronroco is great - instrument (5 mic positions with mixer, and 4000 samples with round robin) and loops, and although a bit old (2014), it's usually on lists of best free Kontakt libraries. Was originally through Samplephonics, but now on the Noiiz site as free download:

https://www.noiiz.com/sounds/free_packs/703

Quote

The Sonas Ronroco is a stunning collection of Ronroco loops and one shot samples, presented as a Kontakt instrument and delivered to you 100% free of charge! Please note that to run the Kontakt Instrument you will require a full retail version of Kontakt version 5.1.0 or above and the library will only work in demo mode in the Kontakt Free Player.

What is sounds like: 

 

Edited by Carl Ewing
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I'm not sure how many of these are still available:

O'Grady's Wurli

Pettinhouse had a bunch of free electronic/dance drum libraries.

Soniccouture's Rocksichord and Tape Choir.

Hollow Sun has a bunch too

Edited by Magic Russ

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3 hours ago, abacab said:

Beware of the free Spitfire BBCSO Discovery library! That pulled me into the Core upgrade! 😂

Amazed at the sound for 300mb.  If only sample developers could figure out how to make a smaller files instead of promoting drive bloat.

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Some of My  Favorite FREE String and Orchestral Libraries
 

BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover 

Comes with a free sample player plugin. 
https://www.spitfireaudio.com/shop/a-z/bbc-symphony-orchestra-discover


Project Sam: The Free Orchestra

Works with the free KONTAKT Player. 
https://projectsam.com/libraries/the-free-orchestra/
 

Orchestra Tools Layers 

Comes with a free sample player plugin. 
https://www.orchestraltools.com/store/collections/45
 

Free Pianobook String and Orchestral Libraries
CP Strings and Winds
String Textures (it's hard to believe this is free) by Angus Roberts-Carey -- download everything by this talented man!!!  https://www.pianobook.co.uk/packs/string-textures/
NFO Orchestra Swells, NFT by Dan Keen - download everything by him!!! Once more, it's hard to believe he makes his libraries free. Gorgeous string libraries. https://www.pianobook.co.uk/profile/dan-keen/
The Ghanbari Sessions

PocketBlakus Cello 
A great little free cello library, but it requires the full version of KONTAKT.  This is a must if you have KONTAKT. 
https://vstbuzz.com/freebies/pocketblakus-cello/

 

Edited by PavlovsCat
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I was almost going to share the first song I fully played and recorded 21 years after I stopped playing professionally due to a tendinitis injury that causes pain after even a few minutes of playing because I used some free libraries on it. Earlier this year I got a new PC mainly for music and video editing and I had downloaded PocketBlakus and I'm pretty sure I used a free Pianobook piano library and started playing and singing John Lennon's "Isolation" and started adding tracks. It seemed appropriate, as we were in quarantine where I live due to the pandemic. But I own a ton of paid piano libraries and string libraries, but I was just playing around with these free libraries and I thought the vibe was cool and started playing Isolation -- it's as easy as it gets to play even if you stopped playing 21 years ago! But I was kind of blown away at how good the libraries some musicians make and give away at no cost -- how generous and kind it is. And it was when I was loading my sons gaming PC with music software and wondered if I could use my libraries on his machine that I decided to just load his up with freebies that I was blown away what you can do with all free libraries and Cakewalk. 

Edited by PavlovsCat
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I'm not sure if all of these are worth recommending, but there is another thread about free instruments that might have something of interest:

Edit: Here are the Soundethers freebies TracingArcs mentioned:

https://www.lootaudio.com/category/kontakt-instruments/soundethers/caleidoscope-kontakt

https://www.lootaudio.com/category/kontakt-instruments/soundethers/Space-Evolutions

Edited by pseudopop
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