Issue 91
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19 March 2008

zone envelopes

Kontakt 3 is Native Instruments’ flagship sampler. It’s not simply a sample playback engine, it’s a thoroughbred sound designer. It ships with a comprehensive suite of built-in effects and is equipped with powerful modulation options. If you want Kontakt to slice loops a la Recycle, it’ll do that too… and granular sampling. It’s truly an amazing beast and, thanks to the new version 3 release, it’s even better. Let’s quickly cover a few of the coolest new advancements.

Version 3’s 33GB sound library is impressive. Divided into six sections (Band, Orchestral, Synth, Urban Beats, Vintage and World) the library encompasses a broad range of high quality sounds that are opened in the Performance View. This customisable view turns every sample patch into its own instrument, allowing the most important elements of any patch to be arranged onto the plug-in’s skin. So, for instance, the World instruments, when loaded, have a tuning table accessible from a tab on the front of the patch, while other samples like the 808 drums sounds, have an integrated step sequencer.

Kontakt also changes its skin like a chameleon thanks to its powerful Script Engine. A Kontakt script can take the form of anything from simple MIDI mangling, to arpeggiators, step sequencers and full-blown guitar emulation. These scripts are fully programmable once you get your head around NI’s scripting language.

Within Kontakt’s wave editor there’s now a tab called Zone Envelopes, where you can ‘paint’ an envelope on any sample, for any parameter. So, for example: grab a one-bar drum loop from your sample library and drag it into Kontakt, use the Beat Slicer function to chop up the loop and map each hit to an individual key. Now, with the Zone Envelopes you can customise every hit by drawing an envelope directly onto the sample display – things like volume, pan, pitch, filter cutoff or any other parameter – even modulation sources. Very cool indeed.

Suffice it to say, Konkakt 3 is far more than a simple sampler. It reads almost any sample format imaginable and once your sound is on board, many more tools await you. If mangling samples is your gig, Kontakt 3 is well worth investigating. –  Jason Fernandez

Price: $649

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Issue 91