No matter the style of music you write, if you compose digital music, you’ve heard of Kontakt. Native Instruments‘ sampler is one of the most popular pieces of music software out there among film, tv and game composers with a huge range of developers creating sample libraries for it. From big developers, to small developers, there is an incredible range of instruments and sound to choose from.
Most people know the bigger developers, but we thought it might be useful to put together a list of the lesser known Kontakt library developers and companies out there. There are some absolute gems of libraries out there that many people just don’t know about. You might know all, you might know some, or you might even know none of them – if we missed any that you think deserve to be mentioned, please let us know in the comments!
1. Bad Cat Samples
Bad Cat Samples offer a great range of incredibly well recorded libraries at miniature price tags. Their catalogue is small, having only 6 libraries currently, but what they lack in catalogue size, they more than make up for in character. You can tell each library has had a lot of time and love put into it, and they are all genuinely fun to play and use in tracks, adding depth and realism to any track.
More info: http://badcatsamples.com/
2. Sonic Zest
These guys have a beautiful collection of Kontakt instruments at really affordable prices (around $16 per library). They try to cover areas not already done by sample libraries, so they have some unique and beautiful sounding libraries that really stand out. Ambient Cinematic Guitar is an incredible little library that has a gorgeous lush sound perfect for contemporary film scores or ambient music. African Tube Percussion is another unusual library that provides a really authentic African sound and is a no brainer for the price.
More info: http://www.soniczest.com/index.html
3. Riverwood Air
Riverwood Air have only 3 products currently – “RAW Power – Metallic Percussion”, “TM Drum” and “Air Raid Siren”. Both percussion libraries are great alternatives to some of the more expensive Kontakt percussion libraries out there and great for layering if you want to get a fuller sound. The Air Raid Siren could come in handy at some point I’m sure and all proceeds go to charity. If you write percussive underscore music, RAW Power Metallic Percussion should definitely be part of your catalogue for the quality of sounds and flexibility you’re getting.
More info: http://www.riverwoodair.com/
4. Atom Hub
Atom Hub are one of our favourite small developers at the moment, as they have a big range of instruments on offer at absolutely tiny prices along with some great freebies. Most of their libraries are either tonal or percussive and the majority are in the $8 to $20 price range. They have some beautiful instruments to choose from which are perfect for layering in your tracks or even for instrumental parts – their “Old Mandolin” is one gem in particular. Atom Hub are currently launching a new range of guitar texture libraries which are proving to be very interesting and well worth checking out!
More info: http://www.atomhub.net/
5. Echo | Collective
“echo | collective is the label under which the guys at Dallas Audio Post release sample libraries and Kontakt instruments for use in film, music and games.” They make some weird and wonderful libraries that make noises, bend sounds and recontextualize things into shapes and forms they were never really meant to take. “Swell” is a very useful cymbal swell library that anyone who writes underscore music should own and “Signal Return” is great for creating unusual feedback sounds and texture. They have some nice freebies and all prices are within the $12 to $75 range with “lite” versions of most instruments available at cheaper prices.
More info: http://echocollectivefx.com
6. Fluffy Audio
Fluffy Audio also have a small range of libraries to choose from with only four libraries on offer (plus a sweet log drum freebie). Like Bad Cat Samples though, their libraries have a lot of character and are beautifully created with some really nice interfaces. Their products range from $15 to $199 and they have something for everyone. Their flagship product “AURORA” is a really unique “hybrid” library that merges layers of organic instruments with synths to create some wonderfully unique sounds.
More info: http://fluffyaudio.com/
7. Taleweaver Orchestra
Taleweaver Orchestra focuses on instruments of the past with their “Ancient Instruments” range. Their product range consists mainly of string and percussion instruments with some unique and unusual instruments to choose from including the hurdy gurdy and plucked dulcimer and are very affordable at around $25 – $50 for each instrument. All instruments are recorded dry and blend easily with other libraries because of this.
More info: http://www.taleweaver-orchestra.de/shop/
8. Sample Oddity
Sample Oddity have a great range of unusual percussion libraries for Kontakt including “Peculiar Percussion”, “Monster Cookie Tins” and “Weird Ambient Stuff”. If you’re looking to add a bit of weird percussion to your tracks, these libraries are what you’re looking for. Most products are around $29, and give you plenty of patches to choose from. Sample Oddity also offer “Thrash DI” which is a handy guitar library to use with an amp simulator for rock/metal tracks.
More info: http://www.sampleoddity.com/
9. Frozen Plain
More info: http://www.frozenplain.com/
10. Sturm Sounds
Sturm Sounds are a German sample library developer focusing on “unusual instruments”. Again, they have a small catalogue with only 6 libraries to choose from, but they definitely make up for the small selection with some very weird and wonderful instruments! From a hair dryer (freebie) to a their Zupfhansel (rough picked old violin) library, they’ve got some great sounds on offer, though their prices are perhaps a little steep at approximately $38 to $78 for each library.
More info: http://www.sturmsounds.com/
Tronsonic focus on creating “tube and tape sampled virtual instruments” for Kontakt. Their libraries all offer beautiful analogue sounds which have that warm, golden, vintage sound of an older era. Prices are all in pounds sterling and are in the £6 to £30 range. They have a couple of great “microtape” libraries which are small loop libraries that have a great vintage feel and their “Tronto” synth is just gorgeous to play with.
More info: http://www.tronsonic.com
12. Precision Sound
Precision Sound have approximately 100 Kontakt libraries on offer in their store in a wide range of categories including vocal, keyboard, stringed, flute, guitar, percussion etc. Their prices vary but most are within the $19 to $39 range and they occasionally have 50% off sales throughout the year. The libraries are well made with multiple velocity layers/round robins and do exactly what they say on the tin!
More info: http://store.precisionsound.net/
ZapZorn Composer Tools technically have two large products – “Elements” and “Solstice” and a great range of smaller “Solo” libraries. Their “Zapzorn Solo” libraries range from around $19 to $29 and focus on single percussion instruments – from bowls, jugs and pipes to forks, knives and spoons! The libraries are perfect for layering percussion in your tracks and for writing tonal percussive underscore music.
More info: http://zapzorn.com
14. Dream Audio Tools
Dream Audio Tools have a nice range of Kontakt libraries that are really useful for so many styles of music. Their “Indie Fingers” range is perfect for corporate, rock and indie music and perfect for background layering or upfront riffs – useful for composers on a deadline and those who can’t play guitar. Prices are fair at around $40 each on average, and you’ll definitely find a lot of use for their libraries in your tracks.
More info: http://www.dreamaudiotools.com/
Although they haven’t released anything in a while, Indiginus are a relatively unknown sample library developer who has some brilliant products. They have 6 products on offer at around $30 to $40 each. Their “Strum Maker IV” library is great for creating acoustic strumming patterns and the “Solid State Symphony” is absolutely perfect for writing certain styles of video game music.
More info: http://www.indiginus.com/
16. Rattly and RAW
Rattly and RAW make some cool keyboard instruments for Kontakt, with perhaps their most popular products being their “Cassamplerette” and “Cassyntherette” libraries. Cassamplerette is a cassette tape sampled keyboard and Cassyntherette is lo-fi cassette tape sampled synthesizer. Pretty strange instruments that have a nice vintage sound and very affordable at £20 – £30 each.
More info: http://www.rattlyandraw.com/
17. Rhythmic Robot
Compared to some of the other developers listed here, Rhythmic Robot have a pretty big range of instruments on offer. Their slogan is “pumping new voltage into old technology!” and they focus on taking the “technology of yesterday and bring it sparking and crackling back to life on our laboratory bench – before capturing its essence, bottling it in sampled form, and sending it out for you to play with“. They definitely succeed in this aim and have won multiple awards for their weird and wonderful creations. Their product line focuses mainly on keyboards and percussion kits along with some weirder instruments in their “laboratory” and “Mongo’s cupboard” categories. Prices range from around £3 to £34.95 with bundle offers available too.
More info: http://www.rhythmicrobot.com
18. Aria Sounds
ARIA Sounds offer orchestral instrument sample libraries at affordable prices – £29.98 for each instrument, though they tend to go on sale at 50% off pretty often. So far they’ve covered celtic harp, solo violin, solo cello, classical guitar and solo french horn. Perhaps their biggest and beset instrument to date though is “Catalyst” – their drum/percussion library.
Catalyst weighs in at 3GB and retails at £39.98 (sometimes 50% off on sale). For that, you get a huge range of percussion instruments sampled with up to 5 round robins and multiple velocity layers. Another great addition to your percussion library collection.
More info: http://www.ariasounds.com/
19. Simple Sam Samples
Simple Sam Samples launched a solo violin library called “Signor Paganini Solo Violin” which has been pretty popular amongst composers. At only $14.95 its a total steal for a very flexible and great sounding sample library. They also make two piano sample library which are very cheap too and sound great.
More info: http://simplesamsamples.com/
If you liked these suggestions, or want to discover more new sample library developers and software, check out www.VSTBuzz.com – up to 70% off on sample libraries, soundsets and plugins each week from big and small developers!