3 Best Audio Sample Manager Organizers To Find That Perfect Sound

Get your audio samples in check! See the best 3 sample manager and organizers on the planet right now.

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When you first start making music with your computer one issue you might run into is finding the perfect sound for your song. As you discover different sample packs to use in your DAW, you’ll have a ton of folders containing a ton of different audio samples like drums, vocals, melodies and more.

You might have 40+ different kick drums, but they’re spread over 20 different sample packs. When you want to make a song, you’ll have to go into each one of those folders and search for the perfect kick drum.

This can really slow down your creative spark and take your focus away from making a song…and that’s the complete opposite of what I want to happen to you. Every music making adventure should be fun and productive regardless of your skill level. If it’s not fun and productive it will show in your song.

There are three companies that have created software specifically to avoid the issue of having to dig in folder after folder looking for a single sound.

They’re called sample organizers, sample managers or sample software. They all mean the same thing and you’ll see the top 3 sample organizers available right now. They range from completely free to affordable to a decent chunk of money – but they all have a unique way of organizing and displaying your audio samples.

Depending on your needs, the free sample manager might be perfect, but for those that have an extensive audio sample library, the paid options may be more useful.

The Best Audio Sample Organizers & Managers

Let’s check out what your top three options for sample organizers are.


ADSR Sample Manager (Free)

ADSR Sample Manager (Free)

ADSR Sample Manager is the best choice for a free audio sample library manager. If you have a growing audio sample library and need a program to organize and find samples, this is a no-brainer. It will cut down your sample hunting time fast.

You can search by keyword to quickly locate samples, but you’re not able to filter by tempo (beats per minute) or key (A, D#, B etc). This could be a deal breaker for you, but for just starting out it’s still a useful free sample library management app.

ADSR Sample Manager (Free)

Keyword filtering is fast and you can stack as many keywords in the search box as you want. Some times you’ll find that all you enter is something as vague as “bass” and then see what ADSR sample manager spits out. Other times you’ll need something very specific and you’ll enter “bass”, “synth”, “slap”.

Keep in mind that the results will depend on the quality and quantity of your audio sample library that’s saved on your computer.

Something that’s sorely missing is being able to search by tempo (beats per minute), musical key and sample type (loop/one shot). You can adjust the preview tempo and key (that sometimes doesn’t work), but you can’t filter by tempo and key.

ADSR Sample Manager (Free)

ADSR Sample Manager is MUCH better than nothing, but is it better than the paid (affordable) and paid (a decent amount) alternatives?

It does have some down sides that makes me urge you to continue reading this guide to compare it with the paid audio sample managers.

Since ADSR created this audio sample organizer software, they’ve tied it into their own sample library. This means if you search for a sound, the results could show files that aren’t in your own library, but are available to buy (with credits) from the ADSR shop. This can get a bit frustrating as you can find the perfect sound you were looking for, but then realize that it’s not actually on your local hard drive, but it’s in the cloud on ADSR’s servers waiting to be bought with credits.

This is partly why the software is free.

When you first load up ADSR, you will have to add the locations of your local audio sample library. This is easy as clicking “Add Library” then navigating to where your audio samples are kept. It’s fairly fast – I was able to add a folder containing 566 files in about 30 seconds. If your library is much bigger, expect a few minutes wait at least.

Adding an audio sample folder with 566 files to ADSR Sample Manager in about 30 seconds.

Something else that might make you consider the two paid options over ADSR is that previewing audio is not very responsive.

By that I mean when you click a sample to hear – even on your local drive – it’ll take 2-3 seconds to load up. This might not sound like much, but when you’re digging for a good kick drum through 50+ options, having a responsive preview is important. You’ll get a bit frustrated otherwise.

The color options are a bit hard to read too, it’s not a clean interface, there are contrasting colors like bright blue on a dark background. It’s not the most user friendly.

ADSR Sample Manager will help you organize your audio sample library, but if you have more than a few hundred samples (which is easier to accumulate than you think), I would advise you check out the next two options as well.


COSMOS Sample Organizer (Paid)

COSMOS Audio Sample Manager

COSMOS audio sample manager is a paid audio sample manager. It’s usually about $14.99 and almost always on sale from $29.99.

It’s layout is a bit different than ADSR audio sample organizer – the waveforms are next to each audio file instead of on the bottom and the search fields are on the top.

Something notable that COSMOS audio sample organizer does that ADSR doesn’t is allow you to filter your local sample library by instrument, key and BPM. This is essential when you start making music and your library gets large…it happens often and FAST!.

COSMOS Audio Sample Organizer

An example where this might be really useful is if you’ve already got the drums and bass down but need a good lead riff. Plug in your song’s BPM (tempo), key (pitch) and lead synth instrument and you’ll see compatible audio files. Preview them right away and then simply drag the audio from COSMOS to your DAW.

COSMOS Audio Sample Manager search by BPM (Tempo) and Key (Pitch)

Most DAWs allow for time stretching audio files, so say your song was at the tempo of 120BPM, you could search for audio files between 110BPM and 130BPM and they’ll sound OK when they’re time stretched as it’s not too far from their original tempo.

Some not so great things about COSMOS and why I chose NOT to use it as my audio sample organizer. When you get new samples and you want to add them to your library, you’ll need to instruct COSMOS to rescan your drive for the new audio samples.

Depending on how large your audio sample library is, it can take a while…which is understandable, but it sometimes doesn’t index the new audio files. Even when you search for them specifically, they won’t show. I’m not sure why this is, but I ran into this problem a lot with COSMOS. Eventually they showed up, but I don’t know why they didn’t do so when it was refreshing the database over and over.

It wasn’t reliable for me – It wasn’t finding, indexing and making available new samples that I was adding. For an audio sample manager to be useful, it has to be up to date with all the samples I have. I couldn’t rely on it.

Something to note – COMOS isn’t something like Splice where there are endless amounts of sounds to choose from, the audio files are sourced directly from your computer, not somewhere else in the cloud. If you don’t have a “synth” “slap” “bass” audio sample saved locally, you’ll get zero results. Something to keep in mind.

One neat option of Waves COSMOS is that they have a sampler plugin that can pull audio from the COSMOS local database. Then you can start layering or stacking your samples onto of each other for a completely different sound. Here’s an example – you want to make a killer lead synth sound, you’d open up Wave’s CR8 sampler, then select a synth lead sound from your sample library. Next, you can simply open another tab inside CR8 sampler and find another lead synth sound and see if that works layered on top of the first one. You could do this many times if you want – a great way of making your own unique sounds that no one else has.

You can buy and download the sampler from the Waves website here. It comes bundled with COSMOS, so you won’t have to buy that separately.

Is COSMOS audio sample manager better than ADSR? Yes, it enables you to search by BPM and key – vital functions for an audio sample library manager.

Is COSMOS the best audio sample library organizer. I don’t think so. Read on..


Sononym Audio Sample Library Manager (Paid)

Sononym Audio Sample Manager

Sononym is my third and final recommendation for an audio sample manager – and I think it’s the best….at least it’s the best as of right now.


It ticks most of the boxes that you need from an audio sample manager:

  • Search by BPM
  • Search by Key
  • Search by One-Shot or Loop
  • Find similar sounds to an audio sample
  • Search by audio sample category (Leads, Bass, Claps, Sweeps)
  • Quickly refresh the audio sample database for new sounds
  • Fast playback preview of samples
  • Search by “brightness” and “harmonicity”

I have a TON of samples I’ve collected over the years. Sononym is a bit sluggish when you first type a keyword search in – which I understand. Once you have your first search entered (by keyword, or pitch (key) or BPM (tempo), things get snappier.

The previews are fast – this is essential. You want to audition the samples as quick as possible so you can find the perfect one for your song.

The search works really well. One notable difference between Sonomyn and ADSR / Cosmos is that you can use smart search keywords. Exclude a search keyword by prefixing it with a “-“. So you want drum loops but not kicks? Type “drum -kick”. This will instruct Sononym to find samples that have “drum” in their file name but exclude any samples that also have “kick” in their file name.

Sononym Audio Sample Manager search filters

Something smart that Sononym does is account for synonyms. So, for example you search for “hihat”. All these are the same thing:

  • hh (short for high hat)
  • ophh (short for open high hat)
  • clhh (short for closed high hat)
  • chh (short for closed high hat)

Sononym Audio Sample Manager Synonym

They all mean hi-hats, but to a computer, they’re not the same. Sononym fixes this by having an on-board thesaurus.

Sononym will also smartly suggest keywords to search by. So for example, you search for “bass”. Sononym suggests “guitar”, “drum”, “loop”, “synth” or “growl”.

Sononym Audio Sample Manager Suggestions

Yet another thing that sets Sononym apart from ADSR and COSMOS is the “similarity search”. You can instruct Sononym to find sounds that are similar to the chosen one in:

  • Spectrum
  • Pitch
  • Amplitude
  • Timbre

This is handy if you find a sound that you like, but want to see if there are any better options before you commit and use the sample.

Sononym has a lot more nuances that make it a really good audio sample manager/organizer. But its foundations are strong and it will make sense of even the largest sample libraries. Sononym isn’t free, it’s $99, but you can catch it on a sale of $50. You can install it on multiple computers (good if you have a desktop and laptop) and you’ll get updates for one full version.


If you use a lot of samples in your music productions, you’ll eventually get overwhelmed with the tons of free audio sample packs there are available – you’ll find yourself spending more time looking in folder after folder instead of making music and being productive.

ADSR, COSMOS and Sononym are the top 3 audio sample library managers available right now.

If you’re completely new to audio sample organizers/managers, I’d recommend you start with ADSR for free. It’ll help you get an understanding of how sample managers/organizers work and see if you need access to the advanced search features Sononym offers.

You can download a demo of Sononym to try for a month, it’s got a lot to offer, but once you get it figured out it makes looking for that perfect audio sample easy.

No matter which audio sample library manager you use, they are all designed to make your life easier as a creator of music. They all have a unique way of going about it, but all essentially provide the same functionality.

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