How to install third-party KONTAKT libraries?

KONTAKT Sample Libraries come in two flavours.

1: Those that run in the free KONTAKT Player and

2: Those that will only work with the full (paid) version of KONTAKT.

Here we’re going to focus on the latter as those are the ones that you’re more likely to struggle with loading into KONTAKT (the first time at least).

The information presented in this guide is applicable to most third-party KONTAKT Sample Libraries, and our (Sounds and Samples) KONTAKT Sample Libraries are amongst them.

KONTAKT (Full Version) Sample Libraries

To use a third-party library (a library that has not been encoded by Native Instruments, the producer of KONTAKT) you must be using the version of KONTAKT that the library was created in or newer – KONTAKT is not backwards compatible.

Developers almost always state the version of Kontakt required for their libraries and it’s important to check that you have the right one before you make a purchase. At Sounds and Samples we try to use KONTAKT 5.5x when possible but be sure to check in the product page before you make a purchase, and when in doubt, drop us an email.

How to check which version of KONTAKT you have

The quickest way to check which version of KONTAKT you are using is to click on the KONTAKTlogo at the top left of KONTAKT’s Window. This will pop up an information box in the middle of the screen which will show the version number you have installed. Just click on the pop-up to close it.

Storing Instruments on your System

The extracted sample library always includes one or more KONTAKT Instrument files (NKIs) and the audio samples – usually in WAV File Format. For most libraries, the WAV files are only included for you, to use in other Software Samplers and DAWs, if you’re not able to use KONTAKT Instrument File.

Once you’ve extracted the ZIP Archive you’ll normally have a single folder that contains all of the files needed to use the Sample Library.

The folder can be stored anywhere on your system but it’s a good idea to keep all of your sample libraries on a dedicated hard-drive, preferably an SSD which greatly increases performance. Although you can move this folder to any location on your computer it is important that the files within it are kept together. Removing files from the folder can cause numerous problems with opening the library in KONTAKT that can be difficult to fix. In general you should rarely need to venture into this folder from your file browser or alter any of the files within it – you may occasionally add files though if you make changes to one of the library’s instruments in KONTAKT and want to save them as a new version.

Storing Instruments on your System

The extracted sample library always includes one or more KONTAKT Instrument files (NKIs) and the audio samples – usually in WAV File Format. For most libraries, the WAV files are only included for you, to use in other Software Samplers and DAWs, if you’re not able to use KONTAKT Instrument File.

Once you’ve extracted the ZIP Archive you’ll normally have a single folder that contains all of the files needed to use the Sample Library.

The folder can be stored anywhere on your system but it’s a good idea to keep all of your sample libraries on a dedicated hard-drive, preferably an SSD which greatly increases performance. Although you can move this folder to any location on your computer it is important that the files within it are kept together. Removing files from the folder can cause numerous problems with opening the library in KONTAKT that can be difficult to fix. In general you should rarely need to venture into this folder from your file browser or alter any of the files within it – you may occasionally add files though if you make changes to one of the library’s instruments in KONTAKT and want to save them as a new version.

How to open Sample Libraries in KONTAKT

Although they won’t show up in the Libraries tab there are a number of ways to open third-party instruments in KONTAKT. The simplest method is to locate the instrument file you want to load using your system’s file browser and drag it onto the open KONTAKT window. This method can be fairly slow if you have a lot of sample libraries or they are organised into several sub-folders, but it’s a good way to quickly audition a new library you’ve just downloaded before finding a permanent home for it.

Another method is to select “Load” from the file menu at the top of the KONTAKT window and then browse for the sample library in the dialog that appears. If you’ve opened the library recently it will also be available for quick access in the “Load recent…” sub-menu.

Files Tab

One of the most common ways to load third-party sample libraries is to use the Files tab in the KONTAKT browser, this is accessible by clicking the Files button just next to the Libraries tab. This provides you with a file browser built into the KONTAKT interface where you can select the instrument you want to load.

This is faster than the previous methods but still relies on moving through a file browser and several folder levels to find the instrument you are looking for.

KONTAKT’s Quick Load

The quickest method to load third-party instruments into KONTAKT is the Quick Load catalogue which can be accessed by right-clicking in the KONTAKT window or by clicking the “Quick” button on KONTAKT’s top menu bar. The Quick Load browser opens up at the bottom of the KONTAKT window, below any instruments you have open. It’s similar to a file browser but allows you to define an organised folder structure just for KONTAKT instruments, banks, and multis. This doesn’t affect the actual folder and files on your hard-drive and will only exist and be accessible inside KONTAKT.

Adding folders and Instruments

Right-click in one of the columns to add a folder. Right-clicking on a folder you’ve already created will allow you to delete or rename it. To add KONTAKT Instruments to a folder just click and drag them from either the Files tab, Libraries tab, Database tab, or your operating system’s file browser and onto the Quick Load catalogue.

Loading an Instrument

From the Quick Load browser you can right-click on an instrument and select “Load”, double click it, or click and drag it into the main KONTAKT window to open it. There are some other ways to access your Quick Load catalogue items but these are the most straightforward.

Please refer to the KONTAKT reference manual to find out more about the various methods of loading instruments into KONTAKT.