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Looking to expand your repertoire of sound libraries?
What are the best free sample libraries for Kontakt?
We round up 10 of the best free Kontakt libraries to add to your collection today.
About a month ago, I saw that Native Instruments’ world-class sampler Kontakt was on sale. For a while, I had been looking at getting it and figured that this was finally my chance to own it. Really I was looking forward to having a wealth of amazing sample libraries in my arsenal.
This was until I realized it was at least another $400 to get the Native Instruments Komplete sample pack, and Kontakt itself only came loaded with a few libraries. While I began to make plans to save up for the Komplete bundle, I started wondering…
Are There Any Good Free Sample Libraries for Kontakt?
Maybe, like me, you didn’t do your research before purchasing Kontakt and wound up disappointed. Luckily, there are plenty of great libraries available for Kontakt that are completely FREE.
Whether you are starting your Kontakt library or adding to it, we’ve rounded up 10 must-have free Kontakt libraries to add to your collection.
(One quick note before we dive into the list: nearly all of these libraries require the paid, full version of Kontakt to work properly. If you have the free version of Kontakt, you will have a 15-minute time limit for using these libraries before you have to restart the plug-in again – and some don’t even work in the free version at all, so do keep that in mind when reading this.)
Our Top 10 Free Sample Libraries for Kontakt
Cinematique Instruments Klang Series is our pick for the best free Kontakt library. This free series of sample libraries, updated monthly, gives you access to a lot of unique and creative sounds you can add to your tracks.
Project Exodus by 99 Sounds will give you the most out of a free Kontakt library, as it offers 127 atmospheric, sequenced, and instrument patches to choose from.
For those looking to add a more cinematic quality to your tracks, The Free Orchestra by Project Sam is perfect for you, giving you the ability to add orchestral and choral elements to your work.
With that out of the way, here are our top 10 picks for the best free Kontakt sample libraries:
Cinematique Instruments Klang Series
99 Sounds Project Exodus
The Free Orchestra by Project Sam
Signal by Output
BigCat VSCO 2
Amore Grand Piano
Shreddage 3 Stratus
Waves Factory Old Tape Drums
1. Cinematique Instruments Klang Series
The Klang series of instruments from Cinematique Instruments offers some of the most unique and creative sounds you can add to your Kontakt library. This is a collection of free Kontakt instruments that is updated monthly with a new instrument.
The only catch is that each instrument is free only for a year. However, they cost only a few dollars to purchase once the free version is gone, and by the end of a year, you will have probably decided if you want to keep any of these instruments or not anyway.
The instruments are particularly great for creating compelling ambient textures within your music. So as someone who really loves playing with ambient sounds, this collection is perfect for me.
Examples of the instruments available include Lost in Thoughts, which is a Juno 60 Saw Pad with reverse textures and run through a grain effect. Cinematique Instruments has even figured out how to turn field recordings into musical instruments with Berlin Signal Tone, a collection of sounds recorded at the Berlin Subway.
Each instrument offers a few simple controls, allowing you to fine-tune the sounds even further. The variety of unique sounds you can get with this series makes it a must-have for your collection.
Just head on over to their website and listen to the audio demos, I guarantee you’ll be wanting to use these sounds in your tracks as much as you can!
2. Project Exodus by 99 Sounds (Best Value)
Project Exodus is a free synthesizer designed for Kontakt by Bryan Lake. It is available to download from the website 99 Sounds, a site that contains tons of different instruments and sample libraries that are entirely free. It is an all-around great resource for every producer.
Project Exodus is a synth designed to add a cinematic quality to your music. Its 127 patches are split into 3 categories: Atmospheres (drones, textures, ambience), Instruments (synth pads, leads, basses), and Sequences (looping percussive/melodic lines).
After messing around with this one myself, I have to say it sounds pretty great. You are also offered delay and reverb controls, filter controls, ADSR envelopes, and tube distortion, giving you the ability to seriously customize these patches. Not bad for a free synth!
There are a surprising amount of free orchestral libraries for Kontakt on the market, but The Free Orchestra by Project SAM takes the cake. This free pack comes with 12 presets, each of which includes different combinations of orchestral instruments. You can take a listen down below, I think the presets sound great:
The Free Orchestra includes presets such as Ominous Lows (a brass ensemble consisting of piano, harp, bassoon and a dark tremolo orchestra), Tongue in Cheek (a homage to classic cartoons consisting of clarinet, double bass, piano, and wah trumpet), and Luminous Choir (a combination of 6 altos, 6 tenor, and 6 bass voices).
This instrument also offers attack/release controls, a lowpass filter, a “boom” knob, reverb and limiter controls, a preset master EQ you can turn on/off, an octaver, and reverser.
While it may not be as customizable as other orchestral libraries (some of which we will talk about in this article), I think this library can be better used in any style of production.
It has many presets and controls that go outside the limits of a traditional orchestra sound, which makes it more useful to those who aren’t making orchestral music, but still want to use those sorts of sounds in a track.
4. Signal Free by Output
Output is well known for their awesome Arcade sampler, but they offer many other great virtual instruments, such as their pulse-engine synth Signal. This is a synth designed specifically for creating rhythmic, pulsating synth sounds, and offers a lot of advanced controls to create the sounds you want to hear.
While there is a $199 paid version, Output offers a free version of Signal that gives you a pretty decent starter pack. With this you get 4 sound sources, 2 GB of content, and 25 pulse instrument presets (compared to the paid version which includes 50 sound sources, 40 GB of content, and 500 pulse instrument presets).
The free version also contains an LFO, arpeggiator, stepper & looper, as well as basic and advanced modes. This synth is perfect for Pop and EDM but really is a must-have for producers of all stripes.
5. VSCO 2 by BigCat
BigCat has turned Versilian Studio’s Chamber Orchestra (VSCO) into a free Kontakt library! The VSCO Community Edition is an open-source library of sounds from the VSCO catalog which other developers can use to make their own sample library.
This is the library that BigCat is drawing from for their Sketching Chamber Orchestra, made specifically for Kontakt. Take a listen to these demos, I was very impressed by how realistic these samples sounded:
This library includes two dozen instruments from the VSCO Community Edition library, and through Kontakt, you can easily mix and match the different instruments to create whatever kind of ensemble you’d like.
BigCat also provides reverb controls, ASDR controls, EQ, scripted legato, faux RR, and mod wheel cross-fading controls, giving you plenty of flexibility over each instrument’s sound. If you’re looking for a free orchestral library that’s a little more traditional than Project SAM’s library, this is the one for you!
6. Amore Grand Piano
Precision Sound’s Amore Grand Piano is a really great-sounding piano that is free to use in Kontakt, and that’s pretty much its entire appeal. While there may not be as many advanced controls as some of the other free sample libraries, if you’re looking for a solid grand piano instrument, this is it. Take a listen to these demos to hear the quality for yourself:
This library comes from a recording of a Yamaha Grand Piano and offers controls for delay, EQ, IR Reverb, and keyboard response. This is an incredibly solid piano to add to your collection.
Note: This one does not work AT ALL in the free version of Kontakt. Also, if you are on a Mac, this program will download as a .RAR file (a different type of .zip file) that may require external software to unpack.
7. Sennheiser DrumMic’A
As a drummer, if I want live-sounding drums, I tend to record them myself and augment them with some samples.
While I’ve looked into some digital alternatives, I’ve always had trouble finding sample packs that capture the realism of live drums. However, I have to say that Sennheiser’s DrumMic’A instrument for Kontakt sounds impressively realistic.
One really cool feature of DrumMic’A is that you are able to select the type of microphone you want on each drum, essentially changing the tonality of each drum sample. You can choose from a variety of Sennheiser and Neumann microphones in this instrument.
There are also a variety of different drum kits to choose from, as well as a mixing window that allows you to adjust EQ, compression, level, panning, delay, and reverb. There are event transient shaping controls and a global control for the amount of snare bleed and velocity of each drum hit.
Sennheiser has really put effort into capturing the nuances of a live drum recording, and having those as adjustable features adds some nice realism to these live drum samples.
If you don’t have the ability to record live drums but still want that sound and feel, I would highly recommend this free sample library.
Once again, this boils down to Impact Soundworks’ impressive ability to capture the nuances of a live electric guitar performance. On this instrument, you are able to control everything from vibrato to hammer-on and slide volume.
Having this much control over the sound of the guitar allows you to create an incredibly natural performance. If you’re looking for a way to incorporate electric guitars into your music inexpensively, this is a solid choice.
9. Wavesfactory Old Tape Drums
Wavesfactory has a decently sized collection of free Kontakt goodies, but the Old Tape Drums library stuck out to me the most. This is a sample library that comes from a recording of Ludwig Vistalite drumkit (famously played by John Bonham) onto a cassette tape.
The result is a lo-fi drum sound that has a lot of character to it. You can adjust the level of tape noise, speed, color, and tuning on the samples. If you click on the “effects” tab you can also add your own effects such as chorus, distortion, etc. into the mix.
Finally, the instrument comes with stop, play, pause, rewind, and fast forward buttons you can engage to add those sounds into your track. If you’re looking for lo-fi drums, this is the perfect pack for you.
10. Lockdown Kitchen
Rattly & Raw’s Lockdown Kitchen library came about when their in-house mix engineer got bored during quarantine. He ended up sampling various kitchen utensils and surfaces and turning them into a percussion sample library.
I’m always looking for unique percussion sounds to augment my main drums in production, so I was super interested in this when I came across it.
On top of all the cool kitchen samples, you also can add effects to them such as reverb, compression, and distortion. This would be a great addition to your collection if you want to add some unique percussive flair to your tracks.
I would also like to mention that Rattly & Raw have some very creative and funny free instruments for Kontakt, including The Hipster’s Bongos and even a mobile game you can play inside of Kontakt!