Review : The Sampling Handbook by Emmett Cooke

The Sampling Handbook is the ultimate beginner’s guide to developing sampled instruments for Native Instrument’s KONTAKT.  This handbook contains all the resources anyone needs who is interested in recording, editing, developing, and selling their own custom or commercial instruments for the Kontakt platform. Written by film composer and founder of VSTBuzz, Emmett Cooke, this handbook features materials written by Sam Windell and video tutorials produced by Marcus Huyskens of Bad Cat Samples.

 

 

What should I buy?

 

 

There are three options to choose from via The Sampling Handbook website, the first being the Solo Edition. This one contains just the handbook which retails for 39 Euros. At this price, you get just the eBook which is broken up into 3 major sections:

 

  1. The Tracking Session: This section covers everything from planning your project, what types of microphones to use, recording environments, tuning, and the session itself.
  2. Editing: Features extensive information on noise reduction techniques, pre-processing, pitch correction, and workflow tips, tricks, and tried and true techniques.
  3. Programming for Kontakt: This final section covers everything concerning Kontakt’s under the hood features and functionality such as working with groups and round robins, Automapping, how to use FX, Factory script usage, and adding custom elements via Resource containers and Impulse Responses.

 

The second option is the Developer’s Bundle. This packages gives you the The Sampling Handbook plus an Audio version of the ebook, Kontakt Script: A Beginners Guide, and the audio interview with Evil Dragon, a legend among the Kontakt scripting community. The Kontakt Script: A Beginners Guide is a 55 page resource covering the basics of the KSP Language as well as how to apply it to custom GUI functionality.

The third and final option available is the Premium Bundle which is what I would highly recommend if you are in the market to developing and selling your own libraries. Not only does this option feature all of the previous content but additionally you get the Sales & Marketing Manual, Web hosting Ecommerce Guide, WAV samples to practice with, and access to over 4 1/2 hours of video content giving you step by step tutorials outlining the content found in The Sampling Handbook.

 

Is this really a useful guide?

 

The community of virtual instrument users is rather flooded with resources ranging from online forums like KVR, VI-Control, and even groups on Facebook.  Native Instruments even has a forum for users who are seeking help not to mention their in-depth publications included with their Kontakt application such as the KSP Reference Manual. These are all great resource for those interested in developing their own tools but The Sampling Handbook manages to bring a more “user friendly” approach that is easy to follow and helps you get good results quickly.

 

If you get the Premium bundle, the video content is worth the price alone. There are 15 videos that cover a lot of ground and in the age of video tutorials, these videos are professionally done and work well for those who need a visual explanation of this guide. My only complaint is that you have to access these videos via The Sampling Handbook website when you login into your account. I would have preferred using a platform like Vimeo so I could save or pin the individual videos for reference later. This is understandable as to keep the content exclusive to those who buy the Premium Bundle.

 

The rest of the materials present in the Premium bundle are just as user friendly and provide you with the knowledge to get you started in the “commercial” world, if you choose to.  The Sales and Marketing Guide answers many questions such as how to price your product, copy-writing, how to boost revenue via customer loyalty programs and sales strategies, and finally advertising. I have to admit, I have not employed any of the tips and strategies covered in this guide so your mileage may vary. It does, however, promote itself as an introduction into those topics so for those who wish to start a large company, I would encourage you to seek additionally seek professional guidance.

 

But wait, there’s more?

 

The nice surprise that came with the Premium Bundle was the inclusion of some Thumb Piano test samples that allow you to work along side the tutorials and guide book. These samples range from C3-F3 on the keyboard with 3 velocity layers and 10 RR.  They are present in the raw session recordings so it requires you to go through the full process of development, post recording session.  I’m a huge support of education through application so this guide and the materials presented, again, are a great introduction to Kontakt based development.

 

Final Thoughts

 

The Sampling Handbook offers a lot of resourceful information for anyone who wishes to create their own custom sample libraries as well as those who wish to sell them. However, it limits the reader to working within only the Kontakt sampler.  This is to be expected as Kontakt is the industry standard sampler but there are other applications out there that 3rd party developers have access to such as Best Service’s Engine and MOTU’s MachFive.  I would love to see an update in the future of this Handbook to include some information about other samplers that not only gives an overview of them but can provide users with resources to help further your education and development as a content creator.

 

My time spent with this handbook and all of the materials have proven to be very educational as I’ve begun to step further down the path as a developer of my own tools. I’ve recently finished converting some old Gigastudio format libraries into full functioning Kontakt instruments, leasing a new life on some old but great samples.

 

I encourage anyone who is interested in creating their own libraries to consider The Sampling Handbook as required reading because the information found within it is a treasure trove of useful and practical tips, tricks, and techniques that have been proven to work time and time again.

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