Vinyl sampling is a practice we’ve used in music for decades. From the days of tape loops to the era of digital samplers and beyond, sampling remains an important aspect of modern music production. Let’s take a look at how to sample vinyl!
You’d think that in the age of digital music, vinyl would be completely redundant. However, there is still a portion of music released exclusively on vinyl today.
Moreover, if that doesn’t excite the crate diggers, there is plenty of vinyl on Discogs that does not exist on digital platforms and more still that has yet to be catalogued.
How to sample vinyl
There are a number of different workflows you can use, so we’ll discuss a few and find out more about various tools you can use to ensure the quality of your end results.
While you could get by sampling with a USB turntable and bypassing more complex workflows, this doesn’t guarantee good results. If you’re looking for warmth and dynamics, it won’t come from an integrated USB interface.
Moreover, having a turntable that allows you precisely control the playback speed of the record is incredibly useful for sampling. This is why DJ turntables like Audio-Technica AT-LP140XP offer the most flexibility for this purpose.
With three different pitch control levels and three playback speeds, you’re equipped to handle records from almost any era.
Audio-Technica AT-LP140XP Silver
A cartridge is a gateway between a record and your sampling signal chain. While it may not be necessary to have a high-end cartridge or tonearm simply for the purpose of sampling vinyl, it can save you time and money.
The better the quality of your pickup system, the less processing your audio will need on the way in or in post-production. In addition, using a cheap stylus can actually shorten the life span of your favourite records, so keep this in mind.
Ortofon Concorde Scratch MKII System
Why do you need a phono stage? Because of the RIAA equalization curve standard used by vinyl records. Due to the nature of the playback system we use to listen to vinyl, any record produced after 1954 requires RIAA equalization for accurate playback.
Do you need to rush out and spend thousands on a high-end phono stage? No, luckily, the compact Radial J33 does the job far more affordably. Moreover, the XLR outputs make it easy to run directly into your preamps so you can manage your input level more easily.
Here, you can also add your studio hardware to the signal path. Your stereo preamps, EQs, and leveling amplifiers can be used to really shape the sound going in.
Radial Engineering J 33
Whether you choose a budget option or a more high-end one, having an interface with decent preamps with accurate gain controls, and a quality conversion stage will ensure your sampling setup yields good results in your DAW.
Depending on the material you’re sampling, you may want it completely clean or slightly coloured. Luckily, the Volt 276 has preamps integrated vintage mode as well as integrated 1176 modeled compressors which can be very useful here.
Once recorded in, you can then edit, slice, and otherwise mould the sampled audio to fit your production workflow.
Universal Audio Volt 276
When you’ve isolated your samples you might wanna go old-school with your beat creation, or just bypass a DAW altogether. A groovebox like the Digitakt gives you a standalone creative workstation for sample-based production.
Not only do you have extensive sample editing capabilities, but you also get sound design tools and a powerful sequencing engine. In addition, Overbridge mode adds plenty of flexibility with ways to manage your samples and projects.
There are many other options in different price ranges, but the Elektron Digitakt keeps showing up as the best all-round sampler. It’s surely earned its place as the modern-day MPC-60.
More about sampling:
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- Print: Audio-Technica
- Ortofon Scratch MKII cartridges.: Ortofon
- Radial J33: Radial
- Universal Audio Volt 276: Universal Audio
- Elektron Digitakt: Elektron