Kontakt 2.2.1 Review
When Native Instruments launched version 2 of software sampler Kontakt, seasoned users of its predecessors were blown away. Kontakt has long been an excellent sample-replay application. Its library of pre-recorded audio snippets, that can be triggered to create super-realistic instrumental performances, is fronted by an intuitive sound-manipulation interface by which heavy-duty sound processing can be brought to bear. Should you want to mangle a sampled piano so that it fades in with filter swooshes and then loops from side to side of the stereo panorama for infinity, it can do that, and more.
Version 2 introduced a 192KHz, 32-bit sample engine, and the capacity to play an unlimited number of notes on up to 64 different instruments in one instance, depending on the power of your system. A 15GB library was served up behind a massively improved, modular interface that supports surround-sound 16-channel mixdown.
File support was also extended to cover almost any sample format, from Akai to .ZGR (Beat Creator’s file extension). So it isn’t short of source files and, with script-processing support, there’s immense control to be had over the way that Kontakt handles MIDI data.
Kontakt 2.2.1 is more than the usual Universal Binary upgrade. It’s free to owners of version 2 and has some welcome additions, including an import facility for NI’s virtual percussion sampler Battery 3. DR-008, Pulsar STS and files for various other instruments are also OK for import, further expanding Kontakt’s arsenal. Working with sliced loops now benefits from added drag-and-drop functionality and in-sync preview, so if you aim to get down and dirty with the samples themselves, life is much easier. Extra modulation, envelope and tuning functions have been added at the processing stage and there are improvements to the way settings can be managed, loaded and saved, adding polish to an already impressive feature set.
Sound designers and composers, especially those equipped with ROMpler libraries, would do well to invest. If you’ve sounds scattered across multiple volumes, the software’s management functions bring everything together seamlessly.