Native Instruments‘ free sample player, Kontakt, is every music producer’s entry point to the industry’s largest collection of sampled instruments. Kontakt is a universal host to hundreds of realistic sampled libraries from dozens of manufacturers. The best Kontakt libraries should first and foremost sound amazing and be suitable for a range of different music.
Best Kontakt Libraries 2023
Some manufacturers use their own built-in module to load and play virtual instruments. Still, there’s a huge majority of sample libraries out there using Kontakt; mainly because it’s a free, reliable way to keep your samples organized and ready for playback. In some way, it allows companies to focus purely on sample creation, versus module development as well.
Companies like Spitfire Audio, Cinesamples, Output, Sample Logic, and more, all produce fantastic libraries for a number of different applications.
A far cry from the more ‘traditional’ orchestral library, Output’s Exhale is a modern, innovative vocal library. The idea behind Exhale was to build a vocal-based library. This would be an oversimplification, though, because some of the vocal samples have been effected to the point where they sound like lush pads and totally unrecognizable synth-y sounds.
Output caters to the demands of today’s pop/hip-hop/R&B/electronic producers, and this instrument is an excellent starting point for finding inspiration. It’s easily one of the best Kontakt libraries if you’re searching for something unique.
GetGood Drums are a company specializing in drum samples and plugins suited to progressive metal, extreme metal, modern hard rock, fusion, and more. Renowned modern metal producer/engineer Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood and Periphery drummer Matt Halpern collaborate on every library to bring users the highest quality drum samples performed by one of progressive metal’s finest players.
Everyone needs great drum samples, and GetGood delivers.
- Related: The Best Drum VSTs for Any Budget
Albion One is Spitfire’s most well-known orchestral library. It features a 109-piece orchestra, accompanied by a percussion section. Albion One was recorded at the world famous Hall at AIR Studios London, so it contains plenty of natural room reverb. This could be a good or a bad thing depending on the style of music you make.
The library itself is cinematic in nature, but is also highly adaptable across multiple genres. You can choose from 4 mic positions and a wide range of articulations, including Spitfire’s renowned legatos, for extra control. This orchestral library is one of the best for first-time users or anyone looking to add an epic touch to their productions.
Plus, it’s one of the more affordable ways to get into pro-quality samples.
Symphonic Destruction is an entirely new approach to the traditional orchestral sample library. Heavyocity combines traditional, hybrid, synth, and even heavy guitars in their innovative symphonic library to help fuel your compositions. The package includes approximately 27 GB of samples for the latest Kontakt engine.
Box of Tricks by Soniccouture is an exclusive collection of Imogen Heap’s personal instruments. Each has been sampled in great detail, and comes complete with a variety of tools and effects to further shape the sound in creative ways. Her most famous instrument is her Array mbira, which has been faithfully recreated in this library and played as you would in real life. The core library contains 30 GB of sounds across 13 Kontakt instruments.
Infinity is a seemingly infinite source of sounds, including all the patches from Cinematic Guitars 1, 2, and 3. This gigantic library features over 2,000 sound sources, 1,000 soundcore presets, and 750 instrument presets. Sample Logic apparently came up with 2,400 trillion possible combinations, which is insane. Maybe start with a preset and see where that goes!
This library has the power to add drama to project beyond anything else.
Brass samples are a worthy addition to every collection. This specially-priced bundle contains 5 libraries from the CineSymphony series. It’s a full brass collection containing Cinesample’s CineBrass CORE, CineBrass PRO, CineBrass Descant Horn, CineBrass Sonore, and CineBrass Horns of the Deep libraries.
It’s easily one of the best sounding brass sample libraries out there — and if you don’t need the total bundle, you can always purchase libraries separately.
There’s nothing quite like a great choir instrument. The human voice is one of the most organic, intimate, and moving instruments we can use to express emotion. Mosaic Voices is a versatile male and female choir instrument which ranges from epic to intimate and from synthetic to soulful. You can even layer numerous sources to create lush textures and even haunting drones and pads with choir vocals.
Spitfire Studio Orchestra is actually a bundle of four different libraries, made to last you forever. It was two years in the making, and it features the finest session players, recorded in the intimate Air Studio One.
The Studio Orchestra Collection is suitable for composers of all styles, giving users the best control over individual sounds. This is sort of the big brother to the more accessible (and affordable) Albion One. But where Albion lacks some of the finer sample control Spitfire is known for, Studio Orchestra makes up for that. And if Albion One had too much reverb for your taste, these samples are a bit drier.
If you’re looking for one of the best Kontakt libraries featuring orchestral samples, look no further.
Morphestra 2 is a 22GB collection of 3,500+ ‘morphed’ cinematic instruments derived from orchestral recordings. The result is a modern day virtual instrument considered the best of any effected orchestral sample library.
It’s geared for film, TV, and game composers, morphing together sampled symphonic winds, strings, and percussive instruments. If sound design is your thing, Morphestra 2 is an excellent addition to any collection.
While smaller in size compared to some sample instruments, Scoring Acoustic Guitars delivers a huge palette of inspiration in just under 3 GB of material. This library contains sampled acoustic guitar phrases as well as nylon/steel string pedals to create tension and movement in a score.
12. Output Substance
Output has really stepped up to the plate in recent years as they design and develop brand new virtual instruments for a variety of production needs. Substance is a bass engine at face value. Under the hood, it combines electric/acoustic bass, brass sections, synthesizers, and sound design into single patches. This is not a virtual emulation of typical instruments; rather, Substance is an instrument for totally fresh takes on electronic production.
Best Kontakt Libraries: Conclusion
From orchestras and brass ensembles, to vocal samples and drums, these are but a small selection of the best Kontakt libraries out there! No matter what style of music you make, having a well-rounded collection of virtual instruments is integral to any setup.
Kontakt is the perfect platform to assemble just that!
- RELATED: Apogee Duet 3 Review: Ultimate Portable Interface?
- RELATED: Artists Who Changed Music: Jeff Beck
- RELATED: The Basics of Reamping