Review – MainStage Auto Sampler

review mainstage auto sampler

Since the release of MainStage 3.1 users have discovered Auto Sampler. It allows the user to sample external and software instruments, then creates an EXS24 instrument for use in both MainStage and Logic Pro. Creating custom instruments can save RAM and CPU by loading fewer instruments and/or samples, as well as eliminating the need of having external instruments connected. All of this is a bigger advantage to MainStage users, who are typically using smaller computers and hauling everything to the gig.

Review – MainStage Auto Sampler

Auto Sampler is a direct descendant of Redmatica’s Auto Sampler, a company Apple purchased three years ago. Those familiar with Redmatica’s product should be able to jump right in with MainStage’s version. Those new to the plugin will find a very simple learning curve.

Placement and Routing

Auto Sampler is an Audio FX plugin and can be placed in a MainStage channel strip at any level. It is found under Audio FX > MainStage > Utility > Auto Sampler.

Auto Sampler as Insert

It will sample audio from anything placed upstream in the audio signal flow. Depending on the channel strip placement, one can sample external MIDI instruments and software instruments with or without added effects. Route two (or more) instruments to a bus and place the Auto Sampler in an Auxillary channel strip assigned to the bus audio and create a hybrid instrument.

Auto Sampler Signal Flow

The Interface

The Auto Sampler interface is straightforward. There are only three factory settings that cover sustained loops and drums. These are useful for understanding settings and can be modified to the user’s requirements. The keyboard showing the sample note range can be modified graphically or with numeric entry. The sampled interval is adjustable by semi tones.

Additionally there are settings for sustain (Auto Sampler will trim sample lengths if the note decays before the sustain time has been reached), layers (up to eight) and response curves (seven choices). The curves create more samples (smaller range) in either the upper or lower MIDI velocity values, depending on what is selected.

There are five loop settings and user definable loop start and end points. There is also a one shot setting, useful for percussion and sound effects.

Auto Sampler GUI

All the settings are material driven and based on the need of the user. One will likely have to play around with them to create the best samples. It might be best to limit parameters such as note range and/or sample interval to create a quick test. Be aware that a detailed sampling of a large instrument can be an overnight event.

Once the audio routing and sample parameters have been established, trigger some notes with the virtual keyboard or a MIDI controller. Look at the Audio Input meters to make sure the audio levels are solid. Adjust the input gain slider as needed. Then hit the Sample button. A save window pops up to allow for naming the instrument and creating a save path. The default save path will put the instruments in a folder called Auto Sampled. The location is User > Music > Audio Music Apps > Sampler Instruments > Auto Sampled. This is only the EXS24 instrument, not the actual audio files created by sampling. This will be in a folder showing the name in the save window and found at User > Music > Audio Music Apps > Samples > Auto Sampled. Once saved the sample process begins. There is nice visual feedback on the wave form including a peak level readout and loop points (this can go by quickly!).

Once the instrument is sampled, just load an instance of the EXS24 and either look in the patch list for a new folder called Auto Sampled, the Instrument Channel Strip Inspector’s Plugin Library tab (MainStage) or the Library (Logic Pro). Select the instrument and start making some music!

If you’re looking for a way to create new and interesting instruments combining your hardware and software instruments, or just looking for more tips on how to use Auto Sampler, don’t miss “MainStage Auto Sampler Explained” at!

Doug Zangar

Doug Zangar

A Logic Pro user since the late 80’s with its predecessor Notator, Doug has become an expert in Logic Pro and MainStage. He has been an Apple certified trainer since Logic 6, created and leads the Seattle Logic User Group, and has authored numerous video tutorial series on Logic Pro and MainStage as well as other DAWs and plug-ins.

Based in Seattle, he runs Apple certified trainings, teaches Logic Pro for the Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program Masters in Music degree and tutors individual users. His use of Logic Pro includes writing for film, commercials, web sites and working with singer/songwriters.
Doug Zangar

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  • John Henry

    Great Article. Thanks

    • Doug Zangar

      Welcome John. Lot of possibilities with Auto Sampler!

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