The Story of Serato Sample
by Matt Perry
The Serato Sample story is one that is pretty well known internally at Serato but its beginnings are not really talked about outside of the company. I hope to shed a little light on the powerful and fun plugin and its humble beginnings.
With Serato DJ Pro being the thing that Serato is most known for, its easy to forget that Serato actually started off as an audio production company which launched its first product in 1998 - a time stretching algorithm called Pitch ‘n Time.
In a way, Pitch ‘n Time is the backbone of Serato Limited and the foundation of nearly everything. It has enabled Serato to stay competitive throughout the years, weaving its algorithm through almost every product.
The popular plugin is still widely used in many high-end studios and home producers’ bedrooms alike. After 20 years it's still one of the best in the market.
Fast forward to 2016, after many years of success in the DJ marketplace making innovative software and expansion packs. Serato recognized a need to take some of the most popular user cases from the DJ software and package it in to a tidy VST plugin.
This was the beginning of what was to become Serato Sample.
Initially, the plugin was just another way to facilitate what was developed with Serato Flip™. Which is to say, a way to automate the cue point actions that you perform jumping around different parts of a song in Serato DJ Pro. This involves triggering and retriggering them again with the cue point markers that are associated to pads on Serato DJ-supported controllers.
Serato quickly learned that a lot of DJs were also producers and used Serato DJ as a sketch pad for ideas or beats. By using the cue points they were easily able to identify parts of songs and “chop” up these samples and loop them up, only to export them as audio to a DAW and then add the additional layers in the DAW to finish the song or beat. Serato’s vision was, why couldn’t we make that fun and quick and easy in a DAW within a VST/AU plugin?
After some time developing prototypes through the trial and error and internal testing, some really cool things started taking shape and it became clear this could be more than just cue point automation.
With all the development on the music player app, Serato Pyro (launched in early 2016), there were some big advancements in the beatgrid detection which allowed for accurate detection of fluctuating tempos. Add with the power of Pitch ‘n Time and the key detection from Serato DJ, Serato Sample started to offer some unique tools that other samplers didn’t have in one package.
This tackled a couple common stumbling blocks for producers. Like, “Once you have a sample with a different tempo as the song you’re working in, how can you change the tempo without affecting the pitch?” Or, “Once you have your main sample idea and want to add another layer, how do you know the key of the samples and match them together?” Finally the auto set functions were added to make it easy to identify parts of the songs that allowed you to “Find Samples” or “Set Random” cues and find uncommon parts of the song that work well together.
At NAMM 2017 Serato took a bunch of the most talented producers they knew in LA and ran some intense user testing, gathering further feedback to make the plugin really become what you know it as today.
Since its release Serato Sample has become a huge asset to producers of all genres, allowing for a fun and inspiring way of manipulating sound with high quality results not found in many other samplers or plugins.
If you haven’t already tried it, get your hands on the free 30-day trial and find new ways of chopping up and matching up your drums, samples and vocals for any occasion.
Matt Perry will be conducting a masterclass at IMSTA Festa in LA on May 19. Register for IMSTA Festa HERE.