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This Year in Free Stuff: Best Free Samples and Music Software of 2016

December 30, 2016

SOUNDWARE
Function Loops Free Label Sampler 2016, Parts 1 & 2
With almost 150 sample pack titles on its roster, Function Loops has plenty of material from which to pull. So much so that it has given away two large label samplers in 2016: The Function Loops Free Label Sampler 2016 Part 1 and Free Label Sampler 2016 Part 2 both come with more than 550 MB of royalty-free loops, samples, MIDI files and synth presets taken from collections that focus on genres such as Deep House, Techno, Trap, EDM, Psytrance, Moombahton, Future Bass, Future Bounce, Future House and well… you get the picture: future-y stuff. Function Loops’ genre-focused music and vocal packs usually cost $15-25 for packs less than 1GB, but it also bundles huge collections together for an overall discount. They also have about 10 other free sample packs available, so you’ll be perusing their goods well into, wait for it, THE FUTURE!

ABLETON LIVE DEVICES
AfroDJMac’s 2016 Free Ableton Live Device Body of Work
More than any one person, AfroDJMac has contributed to this column time and again with his free Ableton Live Packs full of Instrument Racks, loops and Effects Racks. He’s made nearly 150 of them already, including standouts from 2016 such as his Crumar Performer instrument, Super Marios World pack, Vinyl FM Piano, Black Hole Drum Rack and Thanksgiving Thank You Synths. The Ableton Certified Trainer and artist’s final gift of year dropped on the big holiday itself: the 12 Synths of Christmas. They comprised an Ableton Live 9.7 session with 12 Operator FM synth Instrument Racks, including effects. The sounds range from cold and wintery to warm and comforting, but they all include premapped Macro controls and would all fit nicely into evocative synth music. (You must and Operator license to use them.)

DAW
Tracktion T5 DAW

While Tracktion has offered a free DAW for a while, the former T4 DAW has been retired, and the T5 DAW is now a free download. This is a lean, but extremely capable program, with unlimited multitrack audio and MIDI recording, editing, mixing and AU/VST plug-in hosting. It has included effects and some cool approaches to the one-window interface, such as audio editing and MIDI step sequencing directly on a clip’s track (although using multiple windows is also an option). If you decide to upgrade to T7 DAW (tiered pricing: $60-200), all your T5 sessions will be compatible.



PLUG-INS
Plugin Alliance/Brainworx bx_rockrack V3 Player

Regular readers of this site probably already scored the Plugin Alliance 100% Free Bundle, but whether you have it already or not, it’s time to head back over to the site and pick up the latest generous donation to your free plug-in library. Plugin Alliance and Brainworx just released the bx_rockrack V3 Player earlier this week. It features the same great sound of the full-on bx_rockrack V3 guitar-amp simulator ($199 MSRP), however, it limits you to 26 non-editable presets for processing guitars, synths, vocals, and whatever else you want. There is no time-restriction, however, so you can permanently enjoy the presets featuring eight component-level amp models based on coveted Marshall, Mesa and ENGL hardware amps. The 26 presets give you flavors from clean Jazz-style tones to berserker metal screams. The preset toolbar is automatable, and there’s a Master Output knob as well.

Should you decide that you like these amps so much you need the full version, from October 10-31, 2016, users of bx_rockrack V3 Player will be able to upgrade to the full bx_rockrack V3 for $79, a savings of more than 60%.



Slate Digital - The Monster Extreme Dynamic Processor
If you’ve got an iLok2 dongle, you’re in luck, because Slate Digital has released The Monster! Calling it an “extreme dynamic processor,” Slate Digital designed the Monster to emulate the compression/limiting of vintage FET hardware. Hearing should be believing on this one, so check out Slate’s informative video with ideas on how to train the Monster to work for you.



Soniccouture's Free Toys
And now a little something for everyone. A specialist of Kontakt and Kontakt Player instruments, Soniccouture offers many reasonably priced sample-based speciality instruments, but they’ve also made a few of them available for free once you register an account. These include Concert Kazoos, Speak & Spell (sampled from a circuit bent version of the ‘80s gadget) and the RMI Rocksichord, which was a super-obscure electric harpsichord used mostly in the ’60s and ’70s.

Native Instruments Kinetic Treats - Free Until January 4, 2017

Go ahead and rub your palms together greedily, because it’s that time of year again when Native Instruments plays Saint Nicholas and starts handing out the presents whether you’re naughty OR nice. This time around, NI has gifted us with a 420MB Kontakt virtual instrument called Kinetic Treats. It runs on Mac or Windows inside the latest version of Kontakt or the free Kontakt Player.

Sound Designer Jeremiah Savage, also the man behind Native Instruments’ Kinetic Metal, has created an instrument of evolving and textured sounds derived from high-quality samples of children’s toys. NI has made Kinetic Treats’ operation a secret that you have to find out for yourself, but the movements of the music box and tin robot in the interface shown in the photo at the top of this page contribute to altering a sound’s parameters. The second black & white image shown here give some further clues. Listen to the audio demos on the linked product page.

APPS
Liine Skram - Electronic Music Maker for iPad
Newly available as a free download, the Liine Skram app creates a direct music-making experience through multiple sound and sequencing modules. Many of them specialize in the thick, nasty and filthy sounds of tried-and-true acid house and minimal techno genres. Additional device modules will be available later as in-app purchases.



Errozero Acid Machine 2

While we’re on the techno tip, take heed to Errozero’s new Acid Machine 2, which you can now play for free from the Google Chrome web browser. This suite pulls inspiration from the Holy Trinity of acid-house, Roland’s TB-303, TR-808 and TR-909. In a style similar to Propellerhead’s ReBirth, Acid Machine 2 stacks two TB-303 emulations on top of a drum machine with 808 and 909 samples. For each instrument, you create banks of patterns in the Editor view, string patterns together in the Sequencer view and add effects with the distortion, delay, chorus and filter modules.

The browser version of Acid Machine 2 supports MIDI controllers and even has MIDI Learn, however, you cannot save your sessions unless you purchase the PC/Mac desktop version of Acid Machine 2 for 6.99 British pounds. The paid desktop version will also let you import both ReBirth and ABL2 files.



Mixvibes Remixlive App
When people think of DJ software, they usually default to Serato DJ or Native Instruments Traktor. However, Mixvibes Cross is one of a couple of underdog choices that delivers pro-level features at a good value. Now, the latest from Mixvibes comes in the form of a remixing app, currently on iOS only (iPhone or iPad).

Mixvibes Remixlive approaches sample/loop remixing in a familiar way with a pad grid for launching, tweaking, editing and effecting audio, but also adds its own twists in a very approachable interface. For free, you can remix with six 48-sample packs in the trap, electro, hip-hop, deep house, dubstep and drum & bass genres. Additional sample packs and advanced features cost extra, including advanced sample editing, unlimited recording and sample importation.



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