A software sampler is a piece of software which allows a computer to emulate the functionality of a sampler.
In the same way that a sampler has much in common with a synthesizer, software samplers are in many ways similar to software synthesizers and there is great deal of overlap between the two, but whereas a software synthesizer generates sounds algorithmically from mathematically-described tones or short-term waveforms (i.e., less than 100 ms in length), a software sampler always reproduces samples, often much longer than a second, as the first step of its algorithm.
In the 1990s and 2000s the increases in computer power and memory capacity have made it possible to develop software applications that provide the same capabilities as hardware-based units. These are typically produced as plug-in instruments—-for example, using the VST system. Some such samplers provide simple sample playback facilities, requiring the user to turn to other software for such tasks as sample editing, sample recording, and DSP effects, while others provide features beyond those offered by rack-mounted units.
Also the 1980s saw the invention of tracker sequencers on home computers. The original trackers were able to perform 4-channel resampling in realtime using Amiga's Paula Chip. Since the early 1990s trackers performed multi-track resampling in realtime as pure software solution on PCs. This was possible with the usage of highly optimized assembly code, an early example is the InertiaPlayer released in 1993. An example of a recent PC tracker with good sampler capabilities is Renoise.
- Ableton Sampler
- Cubase (using the sampler track), by Steinberg
- DirectWave by Image-Line.
- DropZone by Cakewalk
- FL Studio (using the sampler track), by Image-Line Software.
- HALion by Steinberg.
- Kontakt by Native Instruments.
- KueIt Pro by Mixcity Inc., trigger audio by hitting keyboard keys on a computer or by using a MIDI device
- LinuxSampler, an open source sampler for Linux, Windows and OS X.
- MachFive by Mark of the Unicorn.
- Morgana, a software emulation of a classic 8-bit sampler created by 112dB.
- MusicSampler, an open source software similar to Soundplant that lets you map music actions and transitions to computer keyboard keys.
- NN-19 and NN-XT in Reason, by Propellerhead Software.
- Petri-foo open source sampler, forked from Specimen.
- qwertyGO Trigger sounds, samples and songs with your computer-keyboard or midi-device.
- Renoise integral internal sampler
- Soundplant – lets users trigger sound files of any length and type with computer keyboard keys
- Specimen open source midi-controllable sampler for Linux.
- TX16Wx by CWITEC
- UVI Falcon
- Wusik Station
- Sampler as an integral part of every sample-based music tracker
- Ziegs, Matthias (2005). "Resampling Qualität im Vergleich" (in German). MAZ-Soundtools. Retrieved 2011-02-05.
- Inertiaplayer 1.0b[permanent dead link] 100% Assembler [...] up to 32 channels [...] This player was released 24 Dec '93, while you where singing in church (iplay.doc)
- V., Simon (2001-05-08). "Sampler anti-aliasing and pitch-shifting comparison". www.simonv.com. Retrieved 2011-02-05.
- "Trigger samples from your QWERTY keyboard with SoundPlant 42". MusicRadar. 2014-11-10. Retrieved 2016-03-08.
- "How to play sounds using a computer keyboard". CNET. 2011-09-19. Retrieved 2016-03-08.
- "Download of the Month: Soundplant". Electronic Musician Magazine. 2003-04-01. Retrieved 2016-03-08.
- "Useful Utilities For The PC Musician". Sound On Sound Magazine. 2005-09-01. Retrieved 2016-03-08.