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Follow the steps in this chapter to register and install all necessary software to run Kontakt.

Before you can make music with Kontakt, you must first register and install the necessary software via Native Access, then setup your Libraries. Follow these instructions to get started.

Installation via Native Access

Native Access allows you to install the software for Kontakt and its related instruments. If you are new to Native Instruments, you must first create a Native ID. To learn more about Native Access, visit our support page here.

  1. Download and install Native Access here.

  2. Open the Native Access application.

  3. Create a Native ID, if you do not yet have one.

  4. Login to Native Access using your Native ID.

  5. Click the Available tab in the upper header.

  6. Click Kontakt.

  7. Click Install for the following products:

    • Kontakt

    • Kontakt Factory Library

    The software is installed automatically.


If you are new to Kontakt and want more information, visit Kontakt Player and Kontakt.

Operating Modes

Once the installation process has finished, you should find the Kontakt 6 installation directory on your hard drive. Before you start Kontakt for the first time, it is worth explaining that there are two fundamentally different modes of operation.

You have the choice of running Kontakt as a “stand-alone” application, in which it will behave like any other program on your computer. Alternatively, you can use it as a virtual instrument plug-in within your sequencer or DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) application. The most important difference between these modes concerns the way in which Kontakt handles MIDI and audio streams. In stand-alone operation, Kontakt will address your MIDI and audio hardware directly, which requires you to specify some details about your hardware and drivers. When using Kontakt as a plug-in, these details will be taken care of by the sequencer host application. The following sections will explain both modes in more detail.

Stand-alone Operation

When you launch the Kontakt application in the installation directory, Kontakt will start as a stand-alone program that provides its own application menu. In this mode, Kontakt will receive MIDI data from one or more ports of a MIDI interface and send audio signals directly to your audio interface. This can be very useful if you don’t need the additional functionality of a full-blown sequencer environment, for instance when you’re using Kontakt as a live performance instrument or as a sampling host on a stand-alone computer. Also, when you are creating or editing complex sample libraries yourself, using the stand- alone version is often easier than opening Kontakt in a DAW or sequencer.

When you start Kontakt in stand-alone mode for the first time, both audio and MIDI will need to be configured. In order to make Kontakt receive MIDI notes from your keyboard and play sound in response, you will first have to tell it which hardware it should use. This is done via the Options dialog, which should appear automatically upon the first start.

You can also open this dialog at any time by clicking on the Options button at the top of the main window. This is the central place for configuring all aspects of Kontakt’s user interface and its sample playback engine. For more information, refer to Options Dialog.


The Options button

Low Memory Warning on Start-Up

Sometimes a memory warning is displayed when running several stand-alone instances of Kontakt simultaneously. This “low memory” warning dialog appears when Kontakt is running with no admin privileges or if a second instance of Kontakt is started and is requesting RAM which the first instance has already reserved. Hence, running several stand-alone instances of Kontakt simultaneously is not recommended.

Audio Configuration

In the Audio tab of the Options dialog, you can specify which audio device Kontakt should use for playback and adjust global playback parameters. The Audio tab provides the following options:


Audio tab of the Options dialog

  • Driver: With this drop-down menu, you can select which of your operating system’s device driver architectures Kontakt should use. Most professional audio devices provide ASIO, CoreAudio (Mac) or WASAPI (Windows) drivers.

  • Device: This menu lists all connected audio interfaces that match the driver architecture chosen above. Use this to select the audio interface that you would like to use for playback.

  • Sample rate: This drop-down menu allows you to set the global playback sample rate at which Kontakt will operate. Common values are 44100 Hz for music and 48000 Hz for film production. Note that this does not have anything to do with the sampling rate at which your samples have been recorded — if the playback rate does not match a sample’s recording rate, Kontakt will handle all necessary conversion steps transparently for you.

  • Latency: The size of the audio playback buffer in samples. Small values will shorten the delay between pressing a key and hearing the resulting sound (this is called “latency”), but may cause drop-outs and stuttering when playing a lot of voices at the same time. Conversely, setting this to a higher value will make playback more reliable at the cost of more latency. Note that this control is not always available, as sometimes the latency is handled by your hardware drivers.

Latency Optimization

The load that typical digital audio calculations generate on your processor is often not constant and predictable; parameter changes, additional voices or other processes can all cause momentary peaks in the load, which can result in drop-outs or other audio artifacts if not properly compensated for. That is why audio programs do not send the audio signals they generate directly to the hardware, but rather write them to a short buffer in memory that is then sent to the actual hardware. This concept allows the program to bridge short irregularities in the stream calculation and thus become more resistant to processing peaks.

This “safety net” comes at a price — the buffering causes a delay, known as latency, between the triggering of a note and the actual sound. This delay gets longer with increasing buffer sizes. Hence, it is vital to tune the buffer size in order to find a good compromise between latency and playback reliability. The optimal value depends on such diverse factors as your CPU, memory and hard disk access times, audio hardware and drivers, and operating system environment.

In order to find the optimal buffer size for your system, we recommend that you begin by setting the Latency slider to a healthy middle value between 384 and 512 samples, and then gradually decrease the value during your normal work. When you begin to notice drop-outs, increase the buffer again by a small amount.

The latency slider of Kontakt, set to 512 Samples.

Latency Slider

Generally, it is a good idea to have as few other applications running in the background as possible when working with audio software. Also, if you unable to get below a certain buffer size without drop-outs, consult the documentation of your audio hardware to find out whether you can access it via an alternate driver architecture, as some architectures allow more efficient low-level access to the hardware than others.

MIDI Configuration

The MIDI tab of the Options dialog provides a list of all MIDI inputs and outputs that have been found on your system. These are ports of physical MIDI interfaces connected to your computer, but also any virtual MIDI ports that may be provided by drivers or other applications to facilitate inter-application MIDI usage.


MIDI tab of the Options dialog

In order to make Kontakt respond to MIDI data from the outside, you have to enable one or more ports that appear in the inputs list of the MIDI tab. Make sure the Inputs button is highlighted and identify the port(s) that you intend to use for MIDI input in the list. If the Status field on the right side of an entry reads Off, click that value and assign one of the MIDI port identifiers (A-D). This enables the respective port, which will later be identified by the selected letter throughout the user interface.

Plug-in Operation

The plug-in version of Kontakt allows you to use it as a virtual instrument inside your sequencer or DAW. This allows you to run multiple instances of Kontakt, alongside other sound generators and effect plug-ins. Each instance can be triggered by MIDI data from within your sequencer, with the audio output fed directly into the signal flow of your virtual mixer.

Depending on your operating system and choices upon installation, Kontakt provides VST/VST3, Audio Units (AU), and AAX plug-in formats.

Refer to the documentation of your sequencer to determine which format is right for your setup; if you have activated the appropriate format at installation time, Kontakt should appear in the plug-in selection list inside your sequencer. If it does not appear, re-run the installer and ensure the appropriate plug-in is marked for installation.


Note that AAX plug-ins are supported in DigiDesign hosts only. For other hosts, check the documentation for which plug-in version to use.

The way in which virtual instrument plug-ins are integrated into the workflow very much depends on your sequencer; consult its documentation to find out how to instantiate and work with the Kontakt plug-in.

Changing Outputs in Pro Tools

  1. After changing the output configuration in Pro Tools, you need to close the session running.

  2. Unplug Kontakt. Quit Pro Tools.

  3. Restart Pro Tools.

  4. Plug in a new instance of Kontakt. Reopen your session.

When setting the new output configuration for Kontakt make sure to select this configuration as default setting.