NI Kontakt is one of the most popular sampling VSTs available out there. It’s so regular that many users and third-party companies have customized thousands of sounds for it. These Kontakt libraries are one of the largest draws on the platform.
However, with so many third-party instruments out there, which Kontakt libraries are worth using? How do they work and what should you do to use them?
In this article, we’ll explain the basics and give you the top 7 great Kontakt libraries to create new and thrilling sounds.
Let’s get started.
What Are Kontakt Libraries?
A Kontakt library is an instrument constructed for NI’s Kontakt sampling platform.
The advanced features of the Kontakt sampler make it easier for users to emulate nearly any form of instrument or sound with recorded audio files.
It means that Kontakt libraries can be created for a wide range of sounds. Kontakt also includes a strong set of tools for making sampled sounds realistic and expressive.
As a result, Kontakt sample sets have become more popular among composers and sound designers who want easier access to orchestral textures and other acoustic sounds.
However, not only traditional music composers can take advantage of Kontakt. If you’ve ever wanted to bring unique and inspiring sounds into your DAW and play them like real instruments, Kontakt has a lot to offer in any genre.
How To Use Kontakt Libraries
To load a Kontakt library you should have some versions of the Kontakt plugin in your DAW.
While that might not be a surprise, many producers aren’t aware you’ll be able to host most Kontakt libraries inside Kontakt Player, the free version of Kontakt.
If you’re trying to play sound libraries as they are without editing any parameters, you just need Kontakt Player.
That said, you can not load any unlicensed libraries using Kontakt Player. That means you can’t access content developed by individual users.
Even so, there are many official libraries out there. Unless you’re after something particular, you’ll likely be fine with Kontakt Player.
That said, if you know you’ll have to go hands-on with the samples in your libraries or create your own, you’ll need to get the full version.
That makes getting started with a completely editable, third-party library a bit expensive.
If you only want a few inspiring sounds to help you start a track, think about trying a loop-based instrument instead of a full-fledged sampler.
Top 7 Kontakt Libraries to Expand Your Sound
Let’s begin with the basics. Kontakt ships with a collection of great instruments that offers you a taste of the power of its sample libraries.
Inside the factory library, you’ll discover sonic essentials like the Analog Dreams retro synths and the Ethereal Earth organic textures.
Add in new creations like the Hybrid Keys that mix synth and keys with acoustic piano and you’ve got a strong set of sounds to get you started immediately.
The factory library is a gateway into all the other great NI content for Kontakt you could download to increase your sonic possibilities.
Some Kontakt libraries highlight just how flexible the plugin could be when used creatively.
Sonniccouture’s Box of Tricks is a special Kontakt sample set based on the studio secrets of UK artist Imogen Heap.
Famous for her genre-defying experimentation and distinctive vocal effects, Box of Tricks packages Heap’s raw sonic materials into a playable instrument.
While it may sound unusual to use a sample set based on the workflow of another artist, Box of Tricks comprises a flexible and compelling bank of sounds that you may simply make your own.
Spitfire is an enormous name in sampled instruments for film and TV composers.
Their Albion One orchestral library is a first-class choice for anyone looking to bring the emotional sound of cinematic strings into their work.
And while it’s a favorite among composers, Albion One sounds just as rich and lush in a pop arrangement.
If you listen carefully, you’ll discover orchestral sounds are more common than you think!
Ex-Periphery member Adam “Nolly” Getgood is related to some of the hottest modern digital production tools out there right now.
You’ll discover his influence on the highly respected Achetype: Nolly guitar software by NeuralDSP and the superb percussion libraries developed by GetGood Drums.
One of the drum sample company’s greatest sets is the Modern and Massive kit. It’s an awesome representation of the powerful and hard-hitting drum sound needed for modern music genres.
If you’re looking for pristine drums with aggression and authority, you should take a look at Modern and Massive.
If you’ve ever heard the haunting sound of a handpan, it’s not simple to forget.
These unique instruments are known as idiophones—tuned percussion whose sound comes from the resonant body of the instrument itself.
Derived from the popular Hang instrument, there are dozens of different kinds of handpan out there.
Soniccouture has created a superb sampled pan instrument for the Kontakt platform with all the ethereal sounds of the real thing.
There are tons of fantastic piano instruments on the market for Kontakt. Some of the most memorable concentrate on the softer, more ethereal side of the piano.
8dio’s 1928 Scoring Piano is an ideal example of the subtle, cinematic sound that brings out all the drama and mystery of a nearly century-old Steinway.
If you don’t like traditional bright and powerful grand piano sounds anymore, just try 1928.
The human voice is the most costly instrument ever.
With the help of a strong sampler, it could take on even more powerful textures.
Heavyocity Mosaic Voices highlights a playable approach to chorale and solo vocals that makes working with vocal textures easy and inspiring.
You’ll discover traditional choir arrangements, electronic harmony textures, and more in this excellent Kontakt library.
Modern samplers are a few of the strongest tools producers have at their disposal.
The massive number of excellent Kontakt libraries proves how much ground you’ll be able to cover with the right samples.
If you’ve made it through this article you’ll have a fantastic start for finding new and thrilling sounds for Kontakt.