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Review of Kompakt

Soft sampler that's easy on the Budget

By Tweak



  • Ergonomically designed for setting up a multitibral sampler in your sequencer
  • Loads Akai, Gigasampler, EXS
  • Comes with a decent Library of more than 200 instruments.  Something for everyone here.
  • Works in Win XP and Mac OS X
  • Making keymaps is simple, but crude and there is no way to edit the maps
  • No sample looping facility
  • Balks loading Kontakt instruments
  • Poor documentation
Native Instruments Site
Official Product Description and Comparison to Kontakt


Native Instruments Kompakt Software Sampling (Macintosh and Windows)

Kompakt is a streamlined sampler that ships with a comprehensive library and can import the most common sample formats. Powered by the efficient Kontakt engine, Kompakt combines intuitive handling and a capable architecture with excellent sound quality. The factory library contains more than 200 instruments, from detailed and convincing pianos, to basses, loops, drums, guitars, strings, and more from the outstanding East West and Zero-G libraries. Kompakt is the quickest way to build a production-ready instrument collection, and it can also import Kontakt, Gigasampler (tm), EXS (tm), AKAI (tm), and other common formats.


Native Instruments Kontakt (Macintosh and Windows)
 Kontakt was designed by Native Instruments to be the most powerful sampler ever created. Kontakt fuses an innovative design with an advanced sampling engine. The result is an inspiringly fast and intuitively flexible sampler with exceptional sound quality.

See Tweak's Review

Native Instruments Intakt Software Sampler (Macintosh and Windows)

Intakt is a state-of-the-art sampler specifically designed for rhythmic loop playback, manipulation, and mayhem. Intaktís convenient one-screen interface features tremendous sound shaping abilities without disrupting the creative flow. Using multiple algorithms, Intakt automatically syncs to tempo, while an outstanding library of loops from Zero-G and East West provides sample source material for nearly any musical style. Naturally, Intakt provides a wealth of sound shaping options, including a first-class multimode filter, an envelope follower, two LFOs, effects, and more.
See my review

Garritan Personal Orchestra Soft Synth (Macintosh and Windows)

Personal Orchestra includes a comprehensive orchestral sample library, Native Instruments' KONTAKT sample player, GenieSoft's Overture LE Notation Program, Cubasis VST Sequencer (for PC), GPO Studio and AMBIENCE Reverb.


Soft samplers are the rage today.  They have successfully taken much of the market from their hardware counterparts and for good reason.  Soft Samplers are cheaper, are easier to set up, can quickly access any .wav file on your computer and can sometimes load the same quality cd roms that the hardware samplers do.  And that's not all, when used in a sequencer as a plugin, you can add a chain of effects to your sampled instruments with other plugins that you could never do in hardware. 
Gee, it sure is a sunny dream is it not?  Almost.  The rain on the parade is that soft samplers have a veracity for eating up the power of your CPU.  The heavier the soft sampler, the worse it gets.  Gigasampler and Kontakt are heavies. Yes you can do incredible things with them but you will pay with your CPU.  Enter Kompakt.  Native's latest softsampler is designed to take the lead out of soft sampling and provide you with a nimble, fully tweakable soft sampler that will fit right into your sequencer of choice. 

I would not call Kompakt small.  The screen layout is rather large.  You can close parts of the display, like the keyboard, effects, envelopes and the browser  so that only the top 2/5ths of the window you see above is showing. 

Real-Time tweaking possibilities are great. But lacking are the hundreds of filter, envelope and eq presets of Kontakt.  Also missing is the Tone Machine and Time Machine, a mapping editor, looping editor, internal busses, insert effects and a lot of Kontakt's standard goodies. Thankfully, Native did provide presets for the effects.  You get Reverb, Chorus, Delay and a Master filter that works like a parametric eq.  Just fine for sample tweaking.  Tape saturation, compression, lo-fi, distortion, enhancers...are NOT part of the Kompakt package. Also, there are no BPM or time stretching functions in Kompakt as there are in Intakt.

But there are advantages that try to recapture the losses.  In Kontakt you might have to spend some time opening and closing little + and - buttons till you get to the effects, making a simple mouse tweak a several minute operation in Kontakt.  The joy of Kompakt is that its right there on the screen.

The Joys of Kompakt

The interface is set up for making a multi.  You can do several instantiations if you want, but why? You can load up to 8 instruments in a Multi, assign each to a different midi channel.  Instruments can be accessed from a drop down panel, once they are saved in Kompakt format,  making selection easy.  You can also find sounds in the browser.  There is no user-definable "favorites" menu implemented in Kompakt, so be sure to save instruments to the Kompakt directory.  

I loaded lots of EXS instruments with no hitch at all  Nice!  I can now use my thousands of EXS instruments in Cubase SX, and they sound really good.  With the master filter (eq) I can actually make them sound a little better.  I didn't try any cd roms yet.  E-mu stuff is not supported--I hear it someday may be.  But because I was able to translate emu to EXS by Chicken systems Translator, I can load all those translations into Kompakt.  Nice Again!  That made me happy because now I have samples by the tonnage in Cubase.  Of course I could have loaded them into Kontakt, but the truth of the matter is that Kompakt, at this juncture loads EXS better than Kontakt (which seems to typically get the EXS filter wrong.) 

Compatibility with Kontakt--Not always so

I've used Kompakt in 2 songs with success.  I was happy with its performance for the most part.  But Imagine the surprise when you try to load a Kontakt instrument and are greeted with the alert "CAUTION: This patch is in Kontakt format and is unlike to sound as intended".  Its true Kompakt does not particularly like Kontakt instruments. Makes sense as Kompakt doesn't have half of Kontakt's features.  But! Worse yet, Kontakt cannot load Kompakt patches!  "The Patch cannot be loaded (unknown error).  Uh Gee, guys, this should be possible.  But it is not in version 1.01. 

So who should get Kompakt and who should get Kontakt?

Here's my take on it:

Kontakt is for people that want to build quality instruments from their samples.  If you are thinking of building carefully tweaked drum kits and instruments, go for the real deal.  The lack of keymap editing in Kompakt and no undo means if you make a mistake laying down the 57th drum in a map, you are sunk.

If loops and drum kits are really important to you look at Intakt.

Using Other Native Instrument-based Libraries

Some sample libraries now come with a Kontakt or Kompakt "player" that allows you to load the instruments and do some global editing of filters and envelopes, but not remap the samples.  For example the Garritan Personal orchestra uses a Kontakt player and StormDrum uses a Kompakt (and Intakt) player.  To get the most out of these sample libraries Kompakt makes a lot of sense.  With it you can get into mapping the samples the way you want.  With other soft samplers (Halion, EXS, etc.) you can't access the wave files in these collections, but with full versions of Kontakt or Kompakt, you can.

Kompakt is good for loading instruments already made with other soft samplers and from some cd roms.  Its also good for quick and dirty mapping of a few wave files, particularly dragging in a wave file of a whole track and tweaking it down.  Kompakt will stream from disk, so larger samples are not a problem.  So consider Kompakt for what it is--a lite version of a soft sampler, designed for fast work in a sequencer.


Tweak's Articles on Software

Software Synths and Samplers INDEX
Understanding the Virtual Studio
What is a Software Sampler?
What is a Soft Synth?
What are Software Processors?
Spectrasonics Omnisphere
Spectrasonic's Trillian
Superior Drummer
My Favorite Vintage Soft Synhts
Stylus RMX
Battery by Native Instruments
Albino 3
Guru Review
StormDrum Review
Korg Legacy MS20
Garritan Personal Orchestra
Altered States
FM7 and FM8
NI's Komplete Bundle
MOTU's Ethno
Are Hardware Samplers Obsolete?
Antares Filter
Logic's EXS24 Sampler
Kore 2 Review
Kontakt 3
Waves Gold and Platinum
Software Plugins Price List


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