I have some trepidation about the subscription model for plug-ins and DAWs, as regular readers might have figured out by now. But when it comes to buying loops, I think subscriptions—which are now a big part of the way they’re sold—are a positive development.
With a loop subscription, you get a lot more value than buying individual collections or single loops à la carte. Plus, you don’t have the same potential issues of future access that you do with subscription-based plug-ins or DAWs. If you have to revisit the song where you used the loops at a later date, you would still possess the ones that you downloaded, even if you no longer subscribe or the loop site is out of business.
I spent some time researching some of the major loop sites to see what’s new and how they implement their subscriptions. Here’s what I found (alphabetized by company name):
Like many of the sites covered here, Loopcloud offers a tiered subscription system. For either $7.99, $11.99 or $21.99 per month, the company provides a specific number of points that can be used to purchase samples and loops. Subscribers also get a number of free sounds per month.
Loopcloud offers a nicely designed application (Mac and PC) for auditioning and downloading sounds. It syncs to your DAW, and you can audition a loop in the context of a song before committing to it.
A Loopcloud subscription also comes with cloud storage for your specific loops, including those acquired from other sources. The amount of space depends the tier of the subscription.
Noiiz offers not only loops and samples and presets for several synth plug-ins, including Xfre Records Serum, Lennardigital Sylenth1, and Native Instruments FM-8 and Massive, but also features its own collection of virtual instruments that can be accessed in your DAW through the company’s Noiiz Player plug-in.
Three subscription plans are offered: $5 per month Light Plan, $10 per month Regular plan and the Unlimited Plan (yes, it allows you to download unlimited loops and samples). The latter is only available on an annual basis, but its $199 price tag comes out to only $16.58 per month, which is an excellent deal.
Noiiz features a slick, browser-based interface from which you can drag and drop sounds into your DAW. From what I can tell, its sound collection is weighted toward electronic sounds but also has some organic content.
Sounds.com is Native Instruments’ own loop site, and it leverages the company’s long and successful track record of producing sound content. It features three subscription tiers: $9.99, $19.99 or $20.99 per month.
As you might expect from Native Instruments, the loops and samples available lean toward electronic genres and hip-hop, but you’ll also find loops for cinematic productions, soul and pop. There’s a lot of really cool content. What’s more, the site includes exclusive collections from name artists such as Junkie XL, Yogi the Producer, DNMO, Tiffany Gouche and many others.
Splice is another impressive loop source. It features monthly subscription tiers ($7.99, $13.99, $21.99, $29.99) that offer a different number of credits for purchasing sounds. Its browser-based catalog of loops and samples is easy to use and offers good variety and excellent filtering.
Your subscription also entitles you to download presets for several synths, including Serum, Massive, Sylenth1 and Reveal Sound Spire.
Splice’s workflow includes an app (Mac/PC) that provides cloud-based access to all the samples you’ve downloaded. The company also offers cloud-based storage for your DAW sessions at no extra charge, but it’s limited to projects from Ableton Live, FL Studio, Logic Pro X, GarageBand or Studio One.
The newest loop-subscription site that I found is called Yurt Rock, which was launched this year by Ryan Gruss.
He’s a Nashville-based drummer and entrepreneur who previously founded and ran The Loop Loft, a high-quality site focused mainly on drum loops that was purchased a couple of years ago by Native Instruments. I was a huge fan of the Loop Loft’s products, so I was excited to hear about Yurt Rock.
Rather than a tiered system, it costs a flat rate of $9.99 a month to subscribe. Its catalog, though considerably smaller than some of the others, is much more heavily weighted toward instruments that are played rather than programmed.
Its audio loop collections are mainly based on the work of individual artists like Charlie Hunter (guitar), Victor Indrizzo (drums), Joey Waronker (drums), Terrance Higgins (drums), Sean Hurley (bass) and Bob Reynolds (sax), to name just some.
The recording quality of the loops is excellent, and the performances are top rate. Yurt Rock mostly also offers MIDI loops and a selection of sample collections for Native Instruments Maschine.
All of these sites have particular strengths, and I would recommend checking them all out before deciding where to put your monthly money. No matter which one you pick, you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck.