Best Kontakt Libraries in Each Category
Are you looking for the best Kontakt library to buy for black Friday or the holiday sale season? Or maybe you just got Kontakt and want to grow your library of sample instruments? The Kontakt library market is huge, and it can be overwhelming to choose sometimes. In this post i'm going to share what I consider to be the best Kontakt libraries in each instrument category.
The idea behind this is that if you had to just buy 1 library from each of these categories, which ones should you buy to have a world class sample library with as much re-use as possible. I'll also be sure to name any secondary options or runner-ups where applicable. Every single library in this list I personally own and use in my own music.
The categories for this discussion are:
Best Bass Kontakt Libraries
Best Sound Design Kontakt Libraries
Best Ambient / Atmospheric Kontakt Libraries
Best Synth Kontakt Libraries
Best Orchestral Kontakt Libraries
Best Percussion Kontakt Libraries
Best Piano Kontakt Libraries
Before we start, if you want some free sounds head on over to the Genera Studios store and click on the 'Free' page! We're adding free content every month.
Best Bass Kontakt Library: Substance by Output
Substance by Output is a hybrid bass library with a very sleek user interface and 300 presets. To me its the best bass Kontakt library because it contains sound sources of electronic and acoustic basses, live brass sections, huge polysynths, analog mono-synths, sound designed bass sounds, and much more. You could buy this library and use it to cover bass sounds, synth sounds, ambient sounds, and sound design elements.
Best Sound Design Kontakt Library: Gravity by Heavyocity
Sound design can mean a lot of things, but Gravity by Heavyocity fills in a lot of the definitions. The core of the library is centered around huge impact sounds, risers, and hits - all powered by an incredible engine. In addition to this it includes over 780 pad instruments with unique motion effects and playable trigger effects as part of that powerful Gravity engine.
Runner Up: Orbit by Wide Blue Sound
Orbit gives you controls over 4 sound sources (which can be chosen out of a list of 101) to modify the volume, pan, tuning, and filter parameters. Then the rhythmic mode at the bottom of the screen is used to control the 'orbit', or how the engine cycles through these sound sources over time. The sound sources are diverse, but mostly stay in the atmospheric and synthy vibe.
Runner Up 2: The Planet - Deep Scan by Atom Hub
The Planet - Deep Scan is a truly unique library with giant evolving soundscapes. No other Kontakt library will suck you into its world and aesthetic quite like Deep Scan. The sounds can be best described in their own words, "Strange. Dark. Evolving. Unsettling. Weird.".
Best Ambient Kontakt Library: Exhale by Output
Exhale is a playable vocal engine by Output with over 500 presets, 10 GB of raw material, and an absolutely incredible GUI. Theirs nothing inherently 'ambient' about this library, but many of presets and the raw sound sources make for an incredible ambient sound. Output has crafted an incredible engine for this which gives you a lot of modulation control, and a lot of control over the effects inside Kontakt.
Runner Up: Imogen Heap's Box of Tricks by Soniccouture
Box of Tricks is a collection of instruments recorded and sound designed by the amazing Imogen Heap. I use the vocal, cello, and array mbira instruments the most for ambient type sounds. This library fill a lot of needs at the same time, so its worth checking out.
Runner Up 2: Haunted Spaces by Soniccouture
If you're looking for a more atmospheric type library, then Soniccouture's Haunted Spaces Kontakt library is a great one. It ranges from actual background ambient sounds, to a diverse selection of sounds recorded in unique spaces.
Best Synth Kontakt Library: eDNA Earth by Spitfire Audio
This category was very hard to pick mostly because there aren't as many great synthesizer Kontakt libraries as there are for example Orchestral Kontakt libraries. To me eDNA Earth is the best one, but its not necessarily just a synth library. eDNA Earth by Spitfire Audio was created by taking orchestral samples and sound designing them beyond recognition, and putting them into a synthesizer engine. There are a lot of great synth sounds, ambient sounds, orchestral sounds, and more.
I made a walkthrough video to show you how the library works in more detail.
...and a sound demonstration video.
Runner Up: SSS-Polysynth by Square Saw Sound
SSS-Polysynth by Square Saw Sound is based off of the very rare EMS Polysynthi. Square Saw Sound has done an excellent job sampling this instrument for future generations, and sculpted a great GUI and preset package to go along with it.
Check out this video I made exploring the sounds:
Runner Up 2: Signal by Output
You really can't go wrong with any Output products. Signal by Output's concept is that its a library of sampled pulse sounds you can blend and modulate in an insane amount of ways. The raw sound sources vary between fat analog synths and live acoustic instruments. Honestly i'd just recommend buying Output's full suite of products if you like any 1 of them.
Best Orchestral Kontakt Library: Albion One by Spitfire Audio
Albion One by Spitfire Audio really is the perfect introduction to orchestral sample libraries, in my opinion. Retailing at only $449 you will get 87 GB of samples covering strings, brass, woodwinds, orchestral percussion, and a crazy sound designed mini eDNA Earth. This was my first official orchestral Kontakt library and I think it should be yours too - even its slogan is cool, 'Start scoring movies now'.
Runner Up: Metropolis Ark 1
I only recently picked up Orchestral Tools Kontakt libraries, and Metropolis Ark 1 is absolutely incredible. The samples all sound epic and huge, and it gives you access to a very large collection of instruments and articulations - strings, woodwinds, brass, male choir, female choir, epic percussion, electric guitars, electric bass, and acoustic drums. Depending on your writing style and genre, Metropolis Ark 1 may be the better buy over Albion One (especially because of that choir section, the damn thing actually auto-rotates vowel and consonant sounds!).
Best Piano Kontakt Library: Plastic Ghost Piano and Olafur Arnalds Composer Toolkit
I'm cheating with this one a bit because I couldn't decide between these two libraries, and they have very different applications.
Plastic Ghost Piano by Sound Dust is a hybrid piano created from bursting noise through a convolution reverb loaded with the samples of the piano, and blended with several other versions of its sound. Olafur Arnalds Composer Toolkit by Spitfire Audio includes an incredible realistic felt piano that is truly inspiring to play with.
Can you guess which piano I used in this track?
Another great piano library for Kontakt is the Ships Piano by Sound Dust which allows you to blend between 3 piano sounds in incredible detail. The School Grand is a binaurally recorded grand piano in an ancient stone walled Hogwartsy school hall (words from Sound Dust), the Ships Piano is a small piano that was also recorded binaurally, and the Room Upright samples were by by reversing the samples, sending it through a reverb, and then reversing it again (also recorded binaurally).