fbpx

5 Best Free EXS24 Instruments (That Work on Sampler Too)

EXS24 was a fantastic sampler in Logic Pro X that has recently had an upgrade. Now simply known as ‘Sampler’, Logic’s inbuilt sampler instrument matches the capabilities of ESX24 but with a more efficient build and streamlined user interface.

There aren't many instruments built for ‘Sampler’ yet, however, EXS24 instruments are still fully compatible with the new build. This means .exs files work with the new Sampler. As a new producer, you'll want to make use of as many plugin & instrument freebies you can get before investing in some. So, in this article, we'll run through the best free EXS24 instruments available.

What Are The Best Free EXS24 Instruments?

Here's the complete list of the best free EXS24 instruments:

  1. Indossa Synths on Tape
  2. Patronus Station
  3. Lorenzo’s Drums
  4. Box Harp
  5. Discord Choir

1. Indossa Synths on Tape 

Compatibility: Logic Pro X, Ableton, Studio One

Pros

✅ Lots of synths included

✅ High quality recordings

✅ Warm and crunchy tape sounds – great for Lo-Fi

Cons

❌ Dense sounds require a lot of EQ and compression to mix properly

The Indossa Synths on Tape bundle includes 23 unique synth instruments captured on tape which are playable as EXS24 instruments. Every note captured and there are no loops which means they are very realistic sounding instruments. These synths cover a whole range of sounds and functions from melodic to bass synths. It also comes with loads of free samples of retro drum hits.

How Does it Sound?

Indossa Baked Preset

These synth instruments sound amazing and it’s definitely worth downloading them – and maybe donating when you purchase to support the creator. These EXS24 instruments feel very lifelike to play and it is like owning all these different synths. This collection offers great depth and warmth and a very direct sound for adding effects.

The bass sounds are also huge. Because they are recorded to tape I found them really useful for recording Lo-Fi, retro, synth-wave type of music and they have that old-school tape vibe built-in.

2. Patronus Station 

Compatibility: Logic Pro X, Ableton, Studio One

Pros

✅ Really unique sound

✅ Very atmospheric

✅  Can be used melodically or for texture

Cons

❌ Because the sounds are so expansive they can easily dominate a mix

❌ Audio recordings they can sometimes require some fine-tuning of pitch

Patronus Station is an EXS24 instrument created with recordings of Tehran’s Subway System. This instrument is a pad that can be used melodically – as a pluck – or for atmosphere and there are three soundscape instruments included in the download which are great for sound design.

How Does it Sound?

Metro Preset
Metro Soundscape 2 Preset

This instrument adds a haunting atmosphere to any track it’s added to. The way this instrument is constructed allows you to add lots of intricate details to your tracks instantly and it gives them a great sense of space and texture. This instrument is definitely worth downloading. I had loads of fun experimenting with the instrument and the three soundscapes that were included and I found that they really added depth to my tracks.

3. Lorenzo’s Drums

Compatibility: Logic Pro X, Ableton, Studio One 

Pros

✅ Really lifelike drum sound

✅ Easy and quick to play

✅ Makes your tracks sound more realistic and live than Logic’s midi drums

Cons

❌ The drum sounds are not very velocity sensitive and require tweaking in midi notes

❌ Rolls and fills are hard to achieve with a natural sound

Lorenzo’s Drums is an EXS24 instrument that samples a Yamaha drumkit in a room – and the mics are set up like a live performance.

How Does it Sound?

While this instrument might seem quite simple it is the best free drum instrument I have come across. The mic settings are a professional and realistic blend of an overhead, snare, and kick mics.

It is a raw, not-too-processed sound, which gives it a lot of flexibility in adding effects and character. The recording is great, and it works well when mixed with other instruments to give that human drummer feeling.

4. Box Harp

Compatibility: Logic Pro X, Ableton, Studio One

Pros

✅ Warm sound

✅ Really well recorded – with two different playing options

✅ Unique instrument

Cons

❌ Velocity controls affect the volume and not the timbre of the note

This EXS24 instrument samples a homemade box harp. The samples are very high quality and you are offered two different presets – plucked and picked. 

How Does it Sound?

Box Harp (Picked)
Box Harp (Plucked)

This instrument has a warm and intimate sound but it is also very unique – as it samples a homemade instrument. The two different presets give you very different sounds which makes the instrument very versatile, and they also sound great when played together. I found this instrument really easy and fun to play and it sounds great whatever you play with it – chords or melodies. It works especially well in an ambient context and gives a great contrast to electronic instruments. It mixes well especially with some added chorus and reverb.

5. Discord Choir

Compatibility: Logic Pro X, Ableton, Studio One

Pros

✅ Warm and deep sound

✅ Well recorded and mixed for an atmospheric sound

Cons

❌ The attack and decay is difficult to control and makes the instrument hard to play

This EXS24 instrument was created during lockdown and is composed of voices of singers singing a note over Discord. These have then been edited, time-stretched, treated with EQ and reverb to create a warm, atmospheric, glitchy but very human instrument. 

How Does it Sound?

This instrument is a must add to any collection. It is warm and very expressive. I really enjoyed using the vibrato that was controllable with the mod wheel to make the instrument even more expressive. This instrument feels very human and realistic despite the glitchy aspects. The voices are mixed well and the added effects make this instrument great for a variety of genres, especially ambient and experimental styles of electronic music production.

How Do I Load Sampler Instruments in EXS24?

To load any EXS24 instrument on Logic Pro, follow these simple steps:

1. Download the EXS24 instrument of your choice

Head to any website that has an ESX24 instrument and download the file. We're using Pianobook.

pianobook free esx24 instruments

2. Extract the .exs file from the downloaded folder

Use winrar, 7zip or the Unarchiver on Mac to unzip the files. You can use the native zipping feature on Mac OS as well, however, if it's a .rar file, you will need to get the Unarchiver on the Mac store.

Extract the .exs file

3. Move the .exs file to the Sampler Instruments folder

This can be found in [User]>Music>Audio Music Apps>Sampler Instruments

move exs file logic pro x

4. Open Logic and create a new Sampler Instrument

Open logic, click the “+” on your track and add a new software instrument. You can then open the new Sampler plugin.

logic pro x create new track

5. Open the sampler instrument window and select the instrument from the dropdown menu

On your software instrument track, click the button above the mixing fader and this will open your software instrument collection. Then select Sampler from the menu and open your new instrument.

logic pro x sampler instrument

6.     The instrument is now ready to play!

Summary

To recap, here is the complete list of the 5 best free ESX24 instruments:

  1. Indossa Synths on Tape
  2. Patronus Station
  3. Lorenzo’s Drums
  4. Box Harp
  5. Discord Choir

The instruments we have discussed today allow you to hugely expand your sound within your DAW. They have all been created by people sampling their own sounds, making instruments, and distributing them for free but despite this they are all very high quality and add a human dimension into the clinical digitalised environment of Logic Pro X. Even though the much-loved ESX24 is no longer, it lives on in ‘Sampler’ and you can even create your own instruments to add to this list.

FAQ

Where Can I Download More Free EXS24 Instruments?

Here are the best free ESX24 Instrument resources:

  1. Pianobook
  2. Indossa's Webstore
  3. Apples List of Recommended Libraries

A quick Google search will bring up loads of different free EXS24 instruments as well as tutorials on how to make your own. There a lots of Reddit forums, websites, communities, and google drive folders, that share and recommend instruments and sample libraries that people have created. If you have some money to spend then it is also worth checking out Apple’s list of recommended Sampler Libraries.

The best resource is definitely Pianobook – a website that brings together samplists from across the world who post all their sample instruments and sample libraries for free. Another one to definitely check out is Indossa’s web store which has loads of great sampled synth sample libraries – from typical synth instruments to faithful recreations of retro gear.

These are available for free but with the option to donate when you download.

Where is EXS24? I Can't Find It!

Logic Pro doesn't include EXS24 anymore. Logic Pro had an update and ESX24 has been replaced with “Sampler”. You can still play instruments, your previous sample library, and any .exs format instruments from EXS24 in the new sampler.

If you're on a newer version of Logic you will not have access to the old layout however the new sampler layout is more streamlined and intuitive than the old EXS24 one – but still very fiddly and quite hard to navigate.

Does EXS24 Work in Garageband?

EXS24 instruments are playable in GarageBand but only if you have used it on Logic and saved it as a patch. There is a thread that explains this process in more detail but this means that you cannot use these instruments in GarageBand unless you already have Logic Pro.

If you want to expand your instrument library on GarageBand then you are best off using virtual instruments and plugins. You can find more free synth VST plugins here.