Native Instruments new Sounds.com is a music-maker’s wet dream

Native Instruments new Sounds.com is a music-maker’s wet dream
Credit: Native Instruments

Native Instruments today unveiled Sounds.com, an online sample bank for music production. If you’ve ever been frustrated trying to find the perfect snare, or wished you could just grab some loops and score your video, this might be the answer to your prayers.

Typically gaining samples for music production involves digging through the crates (buying a lot of used records), scouring dozens of websites, or purchasing prohibitively expensive software banks.

Native Instruments is trying to change that with Sounds.com. Currently the website remains in beta and is only accessible to customers in the US, but the company has plans to extend that to other regions soon.

What’s different here is that the website runs smooth and fast, searching and filtering is damn-near perfectly implemented. And nobody is trying to get you to pay hundreds of dollars for a curated “sound pack” that may or may not have what you’re looking for.

Simply put, music production is expensive. Even with PC and Mac based recording solutions that have somewhat bridged the gap between million-dollar studios and home solutions, and better hardware all around, there’s still the issue of obtaining legal samples and sounds to use.

Sounds.com doesn’t quite work the same way as bundled software or other pay-to-download loop and sample websites do. In fact, it’s a total 180 in that aspect.

 

 

First off, it’s smooth and fast. When you’re zoned out in your production cave, you don’t want to be screwing around waiting for pages to load. Inspiration can be fleeting and finding the right sound should be a matter of listening, not looking – Native Instruments delivers.

You can quite literally go to the website and have one of the friendliest ‘click-to-results’ ratios of any website you’re likely to visit. You don’t have to login to see if what you’re looking for is there. Anyone can browse the nearly 600,000 samples.

If you do create an account, which is also simple, you can download thousands of samples for free. If you choose a paid subscription, at $9.99 monthly, you’ll have complete access to all of the audio in the Sounds.com library with unlimited usage.

Matthew Adell, Chief Digital Officer at Native Instruments, told TNW:

What we want to do is inspire people, and lower the barrier for producers by making it (Sounds.com) easy and convenient to use … This is something we foresee being used, of course, by music industry professionals but also by game developers, YouTube creators, and more.

Of course all of this looks amazing, but the important thing here is how good it sounds and whether or not there’s any value there. More often than not subscription libraries are like the TV packages from Comcast or DirecTV: a few things you want and a bunch of stuff that nobody could possibly care about.

This one is different. Sounds.com has a fantastic library of audio, and the quality is fabulous. The audio previews are MP3s – which probably helps to keep the loading times at near-zero – but the downloads are high-quality lossless WAVs that should be sufficient for just about any project.

There are no limitations on usage either, you don’t have to credit Sounds.com or Native Instruments. The content creators that the company works with are compensated for their work whether you download them for free or as part of your paid subscription.

It’s not perfect, and it probably won’t replace your library if you’ve got Waves Mercury or something like that – but it doesn’t have to. If you have a great library already then Sounds.com could be your morning inspiration as new sounds are added every day.

Honestly, at first, when I checked out Sounds.com I was prepared to dislike it. I’m not a big fan of web-based solutions for music production because they bring the internet and all its bullshit into my recording studio and I don’t have time for that.

But it’s actually ridiculously easy to use, and Adell told us the company will eventually create plugins for recording software and direct integration into your DAW. One day “sooner than you probably think” he says, the ever-evolving Sounds.com library will seamlessly connect to your workflow.

The bottom line here is Native Instruments has done something you don’t often see from professional audio software/hardware companies: made something awesome, and made it available to virtually anyone, regardless of income bracket.

Sounds.com — even with a free account — is an actual bargain. And I can see hip-hop and dance music producers getting entire albums out of its banks. And there’s even more mileage there for solo artists and video-content creators.

Really, the only thing missing here is the smell of dusty vinyl and old album sleeves.

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