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Working with Samples

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Samples are simply recorded audio in compressed or uncompressed form. They can be almost anything, from someone singing or playing a real instrument or an atmospheric recorded effect to the sound of a hand-clap, drum beat or percussion hit. Samples can be used in three fundamental ways - either played as a sound in their own right, played as an instrument, or played as percussion. Some samples are meant to play once (atomic or one-hitters), others are meant to played in succession (loops). Loops are meant to be played in the sample-track. You can find some links to samples in useful resources here: Useful resources.

LMMS comes with ready to use samples, divided into folders. Just press the sample-button on the Side Bar.

Built in samples 1.0.0.PNG

These samples are shipped with your LMMS installation, and are placed in

Program Files/lmms

You can also use samples that you add to the collection yourself.

Those samples should be added in:

(default) C:/users/*username*/lmms/samples)

When you use the LMMS "My Samples" LMMS looks in both those places to find samples, and you can then add them to your project.

File formats

Your sound files can be in a number of formats:

  • Lossless
    • Uncompressed
      • WAV - Microsoft WAVe format
      • RAW PCM samples in a file.
      • AIFF - Audio Interchange File Format
    • Compressed
      • FLAC - Free Lossless Audio Compression
  • Lossy
      • Ogg - Open wavelet compression format
      • MP3 - Layer 3 MPEG audio encoding
      • AAC - Advanced Audio Coding
      • Speex - An Ogg subformat optimised for speech compression
      • VOC files created using Creative Labs Soundblaster cards
  • Other
      • AU - Can be both lossless, with and without compression and lossy.
      • DrumSynth (ds) files

NOTICE: LMMS does not support all these kinds of formats. For example does it not support AAC and mp3.

Samples as longer sound-files : Solos, Vocals & Sequences

A sample treated just as a sound-file means that you want to play the sample back at exactly the same pitch and speed it was recorded at. You can put the sample in an AudioFileProcessor plugin (AFP) in the Song Editor and then create a note in the Piano Roll Editor that is the length of the sample. It can take some experimenting to place the end of the note to fit the length of the sample. By doing this you are also limited to playing only the sample loaded into that AFP track. There is an easier way.

In the Song Editor, you can use the Add Sample Track button (Add sample 1.0.0.PNG) to create a track that plays sound-files. This is the best way, if you want to add a several bar long sample, like a vocal or perhaps a whole song you want to add instrumentation to.
Click on the sample track timeline to create a new segment for a file. You can then add a file into that segment by either double-clicking on the segment (which will display a File Open dialog for you to choose the file to be played) or by dragging a file from the Side Bar into the segment. The file will be played in that segment and the segment will expand to take up the entire length of the file. You can further crop the segment shorter (to clip sound off the end) by dragging the end of the sample left or right. All the regular actions of the song editor apply to sample-tracks.

Sample-Track also allows you to play several different files in the same track. This is useful if you have recorded a chorus, solo and bridge separately (for example) and want to combine them into the same track. Simply create more than one segment and drop your samples into this.

You can also overlap samples and they will play simultaneously rather than one occluding the other. However, there is no indication in the sample of where the overlaps are, so even though you can put one sample completely over another you will not be able to see the sample underneath unless you actually move the top sample. This can be confusing and is not recommended.

Unlike other music composition programs, these tracks are stereo by default. If you have two mono recordings for the left and right channel and want to include them as a stereo pair, you can add them individually into separate sample tracks. At the moment there is no way to pan each track left or right, however. You may be better off at this stage combining the two tracks into one stereo track in your favourite audio editor.

Samples as loops

The Sample-track can be used for loops, and you can get perfect looping of any sample, that are build without a silent part. Use a program like Audacity for sample-editing.

To use looping samples you should follow this method.

  • Set BPM to a value lower than that of the loop.
  • Insert the sample-loop in a sample-track

As you can see here,


the sample ends (yellow mark) before the the end of the current bar (red mark) This shows you that the sample has a different BPM than the low one you deliberately has chosen.

-It helps to set the magnification a bit high.

  • Turn BPM UP

As you increase the BPM you can see how the loop-sample extends towards the bar-devider (at red line). Here


the fit is perfect. We can see that the BPM is 55, and at that value the yellow and red positions are identical. This mean that you can use that particular sample in a song at 55 BPM and any multiplum of 55 (110 & 220 but only 110 makes sense :)

You can now just duplicate the loop-sample to the extension of bars, that you like. The looping will be perfect.

If you need a specific loop to be in a specific BPM, eg the one we had here (110 BPM) is needed in a 140 BPM song, then you need to use a program like Audacity, and build a new sample. Here


You can find a tutorial that explains how to do that.

LMMS cant do that for you.

Samples as instruments

Typically, you will use a sample as an instrument when the sample is of an instrument playing a single note and you want to play that note at different pitches to make a melody or harmony line.

In order to create an instrument using a sample, drag the sample from the Samples section of the Side Bar onto the Song Editor. This will create a new track with the sample in an AudioFileProcessor Plugin instrument window, already displayed if you need to change some parameters. Often you might need to change the amplitude, start or end time, or the base note of the sample in order to get the sound right, so having this window opened for you makes this easier. To close it, simply choose its close window or the large instrument button in the Song Editor.

You then create notes and edit them using the Piano Roll Editor.

Samples as percussion

A common use of samples is for percussion and repetitive note patterns. To do this, drag the sample from the Side Bar into the Beat + Bassline Editor. You can also double-click on a sample to directly add it to the Beat + Bassline Editor. Like other instruments, the instrument plugin is displayed when the track is opened in case you want to edit any of its parameters.


Prev: Working with Instruments Up: Manual Next: Composing in the Piano Roll Editor