Play Samples Like Synths

By adding loop points to any sample, we can extend how long it plays and turn it into a playable instrument. In this tutorial I'll turn a one-word vocal into a choir and riser effect.

Picking a sound

While this technique will work with any sound, it’s best to pick a sound with an interesting texture. This could be a medium-length effect or percussion sound, or a vocal. A good rule of thumb is that if you wish the sound would last longer, it’s a good choice. For this tutorial I chose Vox 34 from the Urban Heat sound pack.

Setting Loop Points

The next step is to load it into a tool that will let you set loop points. In FL Studio, that tool would be Slicex or Edison, and in Ableton Live it would Simpler.

For setting the loop points, it’s a good idea to set the two points at a place in the sample that are roughly the same volume and timbre. I also recommend placing the loop points at the same part of the wave cycle.

In this example, I set the loop start where the wave is moving upwards across the zero point, so I’ll did the same for the loop end point.

Loop Start Point:

 Loop End Point:


Loop Tuner

Another tool in Edison is the Loop Tuner, which uses a crossfade and blur effect to smooth out the difference between loop start and end points.


Preparing Sampler

The next step is to load our sound into a sampler and tune the sound. Check out the drum tuning tutorial for a quick technique using a bandpass filter and tuner plugin. Lastly, I smoothed the attack and release to turn this into a cheap mellotron choir.

Just for fun, here it is with chorus and reverb: 

Riser FX

Another trick is to take a short fx sound and make it a long riser. To turn this into a riser, place one long note in the playlist. Then, increase the pitch range on the pitch bend knob, and set an automation line from low to high. Experiment with different shapes to get different effect sounds. For risers, I prefer sounds that accelerate. You can see how the sound moves faster and faster in Soundcloud's waveform player:

Author Bio: Sean Duncan is an electronic music producer and freelance writer from Seattle, WA. 

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