What is a Loop, Sample or Sound library?

A "loop" is a piece of audio data that is used as part of a larger musical production. In the early days of sampling, the most common type of audio used was that of a 'drum loop', which consisted of a short, one or two-bar recording that was then "looped" to play from beginning to end, and repeated as often as necessary to fill up the length of a song. This term has come to describe any section of audio that is used as an element to a song or a production, regardless of whether it is repeated or not. A "loop" can be anything from a one beat long guitar riff, to a five minute drum performance, to a non-rhythmic synthesizer sweep, and anything in between. A "loop" is different from an "instrument" or "one shot" in that it is intended to be placed sequentially in an audio track, rather than played or triggered polyphonically in a sample-playback engine.

A "sample" is a generic term used to describe any audio that has been recorded digitally, and then is used in conjunction with other sounds in a musical production. It can be used to describe "loops" or relatively static and/or repeating audio fragments, and it also is used to describe melodic or percussive sounds that are played or triggered from a hardware or software interface. Some of the many examples of a "sample" are: snare and kick drum sounds triggered from an Akai MPC2000, a one-bar guitar recording that is copied and pasted into a track of ProTools for the length of the song, or a collection of audio recordings of a solo violin, which are then played chromatically by responding to MIDI note information in a sample playback plugin.

A "sample library" is a collection of samples, usually with a unifying theme, sold as a product. The 'sample library' is most often sold as a collection of samples. A 'sample library' can consist of loops, multisamples, one shots, or all three.

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