We explore what's new in the latest version of NI's flagship sampler.
After a considerable wait and much speculation, version 6 has finally acceded to the Kontakt throne. Although it's punted as 'Kontakt 6' by Native Instruments, the VST refers to itself in the plug-in list simply as 'Kontakt', with no number to signify the version. Whether this suggests that subsequent updates will be incremental (and free) or that there will be future payable tipping-points is not clear. Perhaps this is the last whole‑number revision of Kontakt as we know it, to be eventually replaced by a completely reworked product under another name? This is not a rumour, just to be clear — it's merely my febrile imagination running wild.
So is this update a game changer for existing Kontakt users? Does K6 look any different — bigger fonts, cosmetic changes, or a new colour scheme? Well, no. Visually, K5 and K6 are completely identical — the differences, though not numerous, lie under the hood. People whose use of Kontakt goes no further than loading and playing libraries exactly as they come out-of-the-box (be it in the free Kontakt Player or the full version) will probably view the new features as inconsequential and not be tempted to splash out on the full upgrade. However, anyone who creates their own sample material or simply likes to tweak and adapt (unlocked) existing libraries will find a handful of welcome additions.
A new component to the sample playback engine, the wavetable module expands Kontakt's potential for creating exotic and unusual synthesized sounds. It relies on having some ready‑made wavetables to hand, but as NI curiously don't include any in the package (why not?) I experimented by dragging in an 'ordinary' guitar sample to see what...
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