One of clubland’s broadest and most enduring genres, house music, is as strong as it ever was, and while various facets have changed over the years, the fundamental 4/4 beats and jackin’ drums are still moving dance floors around the world. We’ve rounded up a bunch of our favourite sample tools for writing your own classic house tracks…
Best All-rounder: Loopmasters Defected House – Copyright
The first pack from the Defected Records and Loopmasters collaboration doesn’t disappoint, as producers Copyright piece together a percussive, groove-laden library of 273 loops, 518 one-shots and 111 sampler patches.
It’s a pack we find ourselves coming back to time and time again for the solid, dependable sounds, and it’s a great all-rounder if you’re looking for some useful loops and hits to help form the foundation of a track.
We said: “You’ll find beefy, analogue basslines, resonant synth chords, and grooving drum and percussion loops, plus a bonus folder of MIDI loops. Everything here has a nod to classic and familiar house sounds, but the superb, lively finish on each and every sample brings the whole package to life. Copyright show a deep understanding of the building blocks of a track, with well-separated drum parts and useful top loop tools, plus a decent collection of playable raw drum hits, warm basses, chords and FX sounds.”
Best Vocals: Loopmasters Robert Owens The Voice of House Music
Possibly the most famous voice in house music through his work in the 80s Chicago house scene with Fingers Inc. and Frankie Knuckles, chances are that you’ve heard Robert Owens’ soulful voice and velvet speaking tones on more than one record.
This vocal pack from Loopmasters contains 8 full song ideas including both spoken and sung verses, and multi-layered sung choruses, plus 14 folders of shorter phrases and loops.
We said: “Decent male soul vocals can be hard to come by, but Owens delivers a truly authentic and classy performance throughout, with a broad range of phrases and lyrics that are perfectly suited for late night club music, and only a hint of cheese here and there. Although you may have to get creative to break away from the house music cliches, this is a great tool for anyone writing deep, soulful or jackin’ house.”
Best Disco: Organic Loops Real Strings Presents Disco Strings Vol. 2
If you want to set dancefloors soaring, then there’s no better way than adding some emotional, uplifting disco strings to your tracks.
This pack from Organic Loops contains 60 live string quartet ensemble loops in a range of formats, including a Kontakt version to quickly play and preview the riffs. As all the loops share the same recording set-up, you can easily mix and match to build up more complex arrangements.
We said: “There are full mixed versions, and stripped down stems of cellos, violas, and two violin parts, with a natural and dry recorded sound. From sweeping melodies, to dramatic stabs, there’s a broad range of riffs and patterns on offer, utilising multiple playing techniques. As an added bonus you also get a folder of disco style pull downs, and fast string runs. This is an excellent pack for adding vibe to your tracks with emotional, light and soulful sounding loops.”
Best Modern House: Wave Alchemy Deep House & Garage
This next one straddles the often blurred line between house and garage, and gives everything a chunky modern edge by throwing in some harder techno elements inspired by the likes of Dusky, Shadow Child, Disclosure and Hot Since 82. This is a great pack for those wanting to write slightly heavier sounding house, but it still manages to retain the jackin’ bump to keep the mood light and bouncing.
We said: “There are folders of drum, bass, synth and keys loops, plus top and groove and chopped vocal loops all at 122 and 124 BPM. You’ll also find chord and bass MIDI patterns, and a handful of excellent bass and drum hits. Everything here has a satisfying crunch and weight to it, with subtle but innovative production that manages to sound current yet original, and avoids some of the cliches we’ve heard in other deep house packs.”
Best Drums: Wave Alchemy Revolution
So much of the old school house vibe came from the use and abuse of classic drum machines. This massive Kontakt instrument from Wave Alchemy puts the sounds of 14 iconic machines at your fingertips, with deep sampling and powerful editing via the excellent GUI.
We said: “You might be asking if you need more drum machine samples, but the beauty here lies in how well the analogue depth of some of these machines has been captured, and the breadth of machines on offer. It’s also a great place to start if you’re looking to add some subtle life and variation to your repetitive house and techno grooves, and the little variations in the kicks in particular can make your beats more pleasurable to listen to on a subconscious level. If you like classic electronic drum sounds, then this is the ultimate sampled drum instrument that captures the originals perfectly, whilst offering plenty of options to create new and interesting kits.”
Best Jackin’: Sample Magic East Coast House
This is a slightly older pack from Sample Magic, but another one that has stood the test of time and remains in our favourites folder due to the excellent, lashing hat loops and toe-tapping bass and music grooves.
The drums, bumping basslines and classic organ riffs are inspired by 90s New York House and New Jersey Garage, and the low price makes this a great value collection of infectious, classic house loops and hits.
We said: “The bass loops are big, rounded, and with very little top end so as to allow space in the mix for the other music elements, and although there’s not a massive variety in the sounds and vibe, the well programmed grooves are funky as hell. Things get even more interesting with the music loops, which include a variety of garage-style organ and piano stabs, alongside deeper synth chord progressions, combining an old-school vibe with tight, up-front production.”