.wav, the Lowest Common Denominator

This post is a result of a recurring frustration with “proprietary” sound samples. Audora Audio and Spitfire Audio have great sounds that I hoped to use. Regretfully, they require their own software.

Do you convert from oddball formats to .wav or .mp3? How? OR, how do you access other .extensions.

Maybe I’m using too basic a setup. I’ve got Cantabile 3 Solo, Grace software, and DSK sound samples (.wav and .sfz). Any help would be appreciated.

I don’t use any Spitfire software, but I see that they have some free VSTs.
Can you use Spitfire Labs to play the Spitfire samples?

This is how the term “hacking” got to be so popular. I started out looking for .wav samples. Like chopping down a tree, hack, hack, hack, now I’ve been to so many websites, I don’t even remember what I’ve tried.

I know my setup does very well with wav files. So how can I convert the multitude of proprietary extensioned files to wav files?

Essentially, this is because they just don’t WANT everybody to extract and re-use their samples - Spitfire Audio are a high-quality sample library company, and they graciously allow us to use some of their sounds for free by using their instruments - good enough for me. Still, they reserve the rights to their intellectual property - they don’t want people to extract their samples and use them otherwise. I respect that intention - maybe you could, too?

There are a ton of proprietary formats out there for sample libraries - and that is for two reasons:

  1. efficiency: having a compacted (and often compressed) format allows easier installation than copying thousands of .wav files.
  2. copy protection: sample library companies spend hundreds / thousands of hours to get these sample to sound just “right” - they want to control how that content gets used. Wav files can just get copied and distributed everywhere - that’s not a good model to recover the investment made in producing these libraries. So these formats are specifically made so the can’t just be “converted to wav”.

Plus, most of these sample libraries are spread across thousands of individual samples - and the patches aren’t only contained in the raw samples - there’s a lot of very smart zoning, layering and switching going on that makes the final sound so playable - not something you could imitate by just extracting the raw samples, even if you found a way.

If you want to use sample sets with your setup, simply search for free sfz or soundfont sample libraries - there’s still a ton of pretty good free content out there.

There are some tools that can “sample” a vst instrument (essentially, they play it automatically and record the output), but I don’t recommend that - the result is mostly not up to much.

And I can’t really condone “hacking” commercially produced content - even if provided for free. This is definitely against the producer’s intent and usually also against their terms and conditions.



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If you are just looking for a few sounds here and there and not something like a complete set of guitar notes sampled with bends, pull-offs, hammer-ons, etc., Audacity (free) can be used to record what is coming through the PC speakers and then save to WAV. I’ve done that many times to get WAV files for Grace. Want to sample Spock saying, “Pure Energy”? Ozzy screaming, “All Aboard”? Play from YouTube and capture with Audacity. Tedious for many samples, but great for one-offs.

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It’s easy to assume unethical behavior, however years ago I found a way to send Audacity $40 USD since I was using their software a lot. They thanked me and sent me a shirt with the embroidered Audacity logo. I still have it and advertise for them at jam sessions.

No, my point is that – whether free or paid for – there isn’t enough life left to learn all the software out there. I did download some “free for 30 days” software but never even got it to fire up. If I had gotten them to work, then I would probably have had to switch from one to another when jamming. I’m not a pro, but imagine that would have been even worse then.