Samples & recordings - How do you deal with them? Management, organization, etc

Hi everyone, been working with samples for a while now and I’ve been through lots of different editors and foldering tricks. I recently tried DSP-Quattro and it seemd pretty solid to me. Also figured that indexing them doesnt really help so settled on random generated/semi related names.

I feel like It’s an important part of the creative process. Especially when there are massive sample packs laying around, its often easy to get lost

Would love to hear your thoughts & experiences :slight_smile:


Sample organization has always been a struggle for me. I usually just have an sd card with my “go-to” sample packs that i can easily swap between my computers. Then i have another folder with a bunch of randoms that i go to on ocassion. I destroy the samples so much after processing that I can usually get away with only using a few for a while.

Sample organisation is where I need to improve as well.
I do have a huge lot of samples, but I find myself using less and less (mostly I only use those I have created myself, plus a couple drum samples that I really like). Still, while I keep deleting third-party samples I don’t use, my field recording folder is getting bigger and bigger.
Right now I just deal with it by organizing things into folders, and marking the best ones using finder labels (thanks god for xtrafinder for bringing back coloured labels, after Apple stupidly killed them in favour of the pointless tags).
Quickview usually does the job for previewing, but it won’t support flac (I tend to compress some longer audios to flac to save space) and it does a terrible job at previewing very short samples (eg. percussive hits and drums). Also… I’m really annoyed by having all the folders littered by Abletons .asd files. So some sort of sample manager would still be a good idea I guess. But then… spending 100€ for a sample manager seems a bit out of proportion for what I need it for…

I love AudioFinder

Among the many other things it can do, it supports tagging, which is very helpful to me. Allows me to organize along multiple dimensions simultaneously, which a folder hierarchy cannot do. It’s easy to build up view of files that span multiple folders. You can save any set of search results as a persistent list. The way it lets you audition samples is perfect. I’m totally in love with this piece of software. Some earlier versions had stability issues, but that all seems to be ironed out now.


Yeah I was really tempted to get this! Seems very nice and handy. It’s even less than 100€… I’ll just have to find a good excuse as to why I need this :slight_smile:

1 Like

It looks really solid. I feel you @papernoise :slight_smile:

The secret here really is the discipline you bring to establishing a controlled vocabulary for your metadata and using it ruthlessly. On MacOs (the only platform I’m conversant in anymore) you can add an arbitrary number of tags to any file through the right-click menu, then apply Smart Folders to build virtual collections of files. I’ve not stretched my tagging to include BPM but I suppose you could.

The Smart Folders also offers a “date last opened” option - which I use to apply a diff to my other files in order to see the ones I’ve not used since x date.

Software to help you organize your files is only as good as your commitment to organization.


That’s smart. I tend to forget about these features of OS X, but they are very useful.

1 Like

I tend to treat samples and session audio the same and my samples are not trimmed, organized by sound source/instrument, bpm, or length (unless I get them from someone else). More often than not, a “sample” is 30sec - 30min worth of stuff I’d like to reuse and restructure into a tune.

Each were given unique names in the past but I started simple numbering schemes back in 2015 (306a, 306b, 306c, 306zz etc.)

Last year I amended this to include the last digit of the year. First file I make today would be 03067a until I chop later…


Have we not learned the lessons of Y2K?

I jest, of course.

I always found the new Mac tags to be totally annoying and useless… mostly because they replaced the coloured labels, which were one of the most brilliant features of MacOS ever…

1 Like

The tags can still have colors. I guess I don’t see what’s missing.

You can still add plain color labels by right clicking or using the menus.

Yeah I know how the new tagging system works.
What I mean is that the old “labels” thing was nice because the whole folder/file name was highlighted, then when they introduced tags, they reduced the colours to some tiny dots that most of the time hover somewhere quite far away from where you need them. So if you were relying heavily on the coloured labels highlighting the folder names to navigate your harddrive, you just lost you main means of orientation. But hey, there’s xtrafinder for those who like me like the old labels back.

That is all true. Agreed that it’s a shame the old style colors are gone.

I tend to organize things in large general groups and use search anyway. Also sort by date is mt best friend.

I got used to adding the date in a YYMMDD format at the start every file name on my HD (eg. 170310_filename.wav). So it’s easier to see at a glance when the file was created/recorded. Also I use some suffixes like “pn” for stuff I have recorded (eg. 170310_pn_filename.wav). The idea is that no matter what I do with these files, I have some info that cannot get lost or stipped away so easily. So even if the sample is on a different OS (like linux) or on some piece of hardware like the Octatrack, I have this info.
Apart from that I just file everything in a folder system. Dividing by type (percussive hits, field recording, etc.) and then subdividing by some sub-cats and so on. I have my own creations in a different top-level folder than stuff I’ve randomly downloaded from the net, and I use coloured labels to mark the ones I really like. Though I should come up with a different way to do that, something more OS-agnostic, maybe just add a symbol after the date.
One thing I learned about these things: you’re never done… you need to keep tweaking the system :slight_smile:
But another thing I like to do is to use as little tools as possible to achieve as much as I need. So I like to use the most basic features of an os (folders, filenames) and those that are equal to all OSes.


Can I necrobump this thread for 2019? I’ve been looking at a way to batch manage my samples, get them all the same format, level and sample rate etc and be able to send them to destinations like norns without all the cruft like ableton asd files. Has anyone got any new workflows?

Loopcloud by Loopmasters is interesting if you’re working in a DAW. It’s free because they want you to use it to access and buy commercial samples. But you can just use it to organise your own samples.
It has a VST plugin which you run in your DAW so that you can preview samples in your project with matched tempo. There’s tagging, automatic key detection, etc…


I need to get my samples in order, have collected many over the years. How do you normally organise yours? At the moment I have a samples folder with drums in a subfolder and misc/melodic in another. The drums are organised by the machine they have been sampled from. I am wondering if that’s the most logical. Perhaps organising by type of drum (kick, snare etc) would make it easier to create novel kits. Just looking for some pointers from their more knowledgeable samplers in the community. Thanks.


I’m on Windows mostly, and giving Resonic a try.