Any tips for improving Kontakt Performance?

Hey all,

I know many of you are using Kontakt, so maybe you have a useful tip for me.

I just bought the Abbey Roads Modern Drums from the Kontakt 10s anniversary offer. For my taste, they sound fantastic, only problem: they’re massively overstraining my CPU.

So I replaced my old Athlon XII 250 (yep, I know…not the fastest one) with a 6core Phenom II x6 1045T but still…not enough :frowning:

With everything else, I realized more ‘headroom’ now with the new CPU, but the AR Modern Drums still result in digital mayhem. Even with the ‘light’ versions of both drumsets, which only take aroung 180MB RAM!

Therefor my questions:

  • Is it just not compatible anymore with Win XP? (I have WIN XP, 32bit, 4 GB RAM [only 3.x are in use, as we probably all know]). In System Requirements, NI doesnt even mention XP or Vista anymore, it’s all WIN7
  • Has anybody experience with tweaking the multiple core usage in Kontakt Player 5 ? No matter what I do, I always see only one core working, even if I assign manually 4 cores to Kontakt Player and 2 to my DAW (Presonus Studio One Producer)
  • In Presonus Forum, I got the anwer that you need a minimum of a 8GB Ram 64 bit Intel (!) System to be able to use this NI stuff properly… true?

    Any useful tips are greatly appreciated.

    Cheers, Basspartout :slight_smile:

The Abbey Roads library should be light on resources - it is on my setup, so yes, id say that you are being constrained by your 4GB memory. I’d bite the bullet and upgrade to win7 64bit and more RAM. You could try using the Kontakt memory sever as a stop gap solution but with only 4GB of memory it won’t really help IMO as your DAW will be using up most of that.

You need more RAM like yesterday. 4gb won’t cut it these days.

Thx guys,

but I dont get it: as I said, the light sets of AbbeyRMD only take around 180 MB RAM in Kontakt player. Studio One has 3 indicators for CPU, HardDIsk and RAM usage, but only the CPU goes crazy when using ARMD.
For example: Alicia’s Keys uses almost 400 MB of RAM and plays fine, even with a short NI reverb turned on. It really benefitted from the new CPU, but here I can play full chords with both hands whereas playing BD, Snare & HiHat with ARMD is almost impossible. :confused:

IMO either your new CPU isn’t fully functional or your DAW isn’t compatible with multithreaded processing or you didn’t set it up right.

I don’t think it has anything to do with abbey road drummer or your RAM.

One tip that may be useful is to use the “purge samples” or “purge all samples” option of Kontakt, then you’re loading in memory only the samples that you really use in the project and not the complete instrument with all the keyswitches and variations. There are some tutorials on Youtube about this, perhaps it helps

Abbey Road’s drum samples are quite poorly set up in Kontakt compared to other libraries.

First of all though, if you are using Kontakt within a DAW as you are (as opposed to outside a DAW and wiring it in through Plogue Bidule or another Virtual Instrument Host) - DO NOT enable the multicore processing.

You want your DAW to have multicore processing enabled and NOT Kontakt. This is something that multiple composers I know have done for a while on both Mac and PC platforms and it works.

(You can do it the other way round, have the DAW do single processing and Kontakt multicore, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The point is, don’t do both. You will find hundreds of forum posts about this online).

Another trick to get better performance from Kontakt inside a DAW is to not load tons of instruments in one instance of Kontakt. It’s better to have multiple instances of Kontakt, then 1 big instance having 16 (or more) instruments in it. Don’t ask my why, but most DAWs seem to handle Kontakt better this way.

However, the biggest problem in your specific case is not actually Kontakt, it’s Modern Drummer itself (and the other NI Drummer programs). I’m running a Windows 7 64-bit computer with a top Intel processor, 32 GB of RAM and all samples streaming off SSD’s…and Modern Drummer still eats (not kills, but eats) CPU. The CPU usage is way too high for just a drumset, especially compared to Superior Drummer / Addictive Drums or EZDrummer. So why is this?

The reason for this, is because there are so many ridiculous effects and EQs (which NI have put quite a lot of time and effort in to) on the drums. These can really make the drums sound great, but the effects - especially those inside Kontakt - have always been horrible CPU hogs. I don’t touch them.

It is the effects that are giving you CPU spikes, not RAM or hard disk problems. Low RAM may be a factor, but it’s not the main one. The effects and your multicore CPU usage as mentioned earlier is what’s giving you the problems. I’m 99% sure of that.

I’m going to illustrate this effects thing right now for you. Here is the kick drum effects channel in Modern Drummer on one of the ‘mixer’ presets - Soul - RnB.

Look at that! You have at the bottom lit up: a compressor, a transient master, and an EQ. And these effects are all pretty high grade effects (by NI standards). And that’s just the Kick Drum!!! These are all killing your CPU :smiley:

Let’s continue with the snare drum!!

We also have the transient master, compressor and EQ on this as well. Woohoo, More CPU killing going on. :smiley:

And it continues like this with all the drums.

But, I’m not finished. There is almost certainly going to be some reverb on some of your presets too…

Mmm…yes… a bunch of pretty pictures showing off NI’s mediocre convolution reverbs, probably all preloaded into the patches (this is the case in the Kontakt factory library too. Watch your CPU die a quick death once loading a few Kontakt orchestral library patches. It loads a new reverb EVERY TIME you load a new patch. Reverb = kill CPU).

You can probably see my point right now. I’ve given enough examples. However…

…Just to prove my theory that it’s the inbuilt effects that are killing your CPU, load up the ‘INIT’ preset in the Mixer presets window. Here is a picture of where to get that.

Once you’ve selected that, try playing a few notes. I bet your CPU usage disappears :slight_smile: … but!! … your drums are gonna sound a bit crappy.


Native Instruments Modern Drummer is a really awesome piece of kit, but you’re going to need a decent CPU to have it running with all the bells and whistles. A solid state drive will certainly help, but it’s the EFFECTS that are killing people on this. The sample pool is not that large and so more RAM or a better disk isn’t going to help things the most. (But it will help).

I would implore you to switch to an Intel CPU as soon as you can. I know it means getting a new motherboard as well, but Intel are so far ahead of the game I don’t understand why people buy AMD chips anymore.

However, I’d also implore you if you don’t want to change your CPU, to make sure not both Kontakt AND your DAW are doing multicore processing. I’m not guaranteeing that this will work, but it may help.

I’d recommend more RAM (you can never have enough), but in this specific case, that shouldn’t be what’s holding you back. Your DAW does not take up 4 GB of RAM when you first load it up (usually between 75MB - 250 MB depending on the DAW), so you should have more than enough RAM to deal with one instance of Modern Drummer / Kontakt 5 Player.

Finally, you’re still using Windows XP? Time to get Windows 7. It might be a painful upgrade, but it’s super stable and great for audio.It’s not that Kontakt isn’t compatible with XP, it’s just that NI developed Kontakt 5 primarily for Mac OSX and Windows 7, so it’s going to work best on those platforms.

I hope all of this helped.

Basspartout said
  • Has anybody experience with tweaking the multiple core usage in Kontakt Player 5 ? No matter what I do, I always see only one core working, even if I assign manually 4 cores to Kontakt Player and 2 to my DAW (Presonus Studio One Producer)

Are you doing this in the Task Manager? DON’T!!! Leave that stuff alone. Your computer is good at handling this stuff :wink:

I left a couple of things out above:

A quote from the Presonus One manual (I don’t own Presonus DAW, but searched through the online manual)

If any playback issues are encountered with third-party virtual instrument or effect plug-ins
that have their own multiprocessor support implementation (e.g., NI Kontakt, FL Studio), it is
recommended that this support be disabled in the plug-ins
. In this case, Studio One will
manage all processor scheduling.

(which is what I recommended above).

Here’s the process for you to make sure you’re doing the multiprocessing thing correctly.

I don’t have Presonus One, but you should check your multiprocessing is enabled. Probably in an Options or Preferences and then a submenu under ‘Audio’ or ‘Engine’ or something like that.

Then you go into Kontakt (load it up in your DAW) - and then go to Options / Engine, and change Multiprocessor support to ‘Off’. Here is a picture illustrating this.

Don’t touch anything else anywhere after that when it comes to multiprocessing!

FINALLY, one small tweak that is good for audio users in Windows. This is how to do it in XP.

Start > Settings > Control Panel > System > Advanced > Performance Settings > Advanced Tab > select “Background Services”

It’s not essential but usually helps.

OK, I’m done!!!

OMG, Gareth :shocked:

Thank you a thousand times for taking the time to answer in such detail. (humbly bowing in awe smiley missing here!). Man, I owe you one. It all makes perfect sense and I will try it out (again). I realized of course, that there’s a lot of effects going on and the first thing I always do with NI stuff is to turn off reverbs etc. But it seems, I didnt do it right. One thing I realized though is, the drums really sound a bit crappy once you turn off all the effects… maybe I can reroute them on seperate outputs and make up for it with less CPU hungry Presonus built in fx.

Man, huge thanks for the tip with the multicore processing. You’re putting me a little to shame here, you know my DAW better than I do, lol, I should have found this Presonus info loong ago :bashful:

Man, again, thanks so much! I owe you one. Gonna try it out now and post my results later that day. :slight_smile:

Cheers, Sascha

btw: quite impressive instrument rack you have there on the left side :open_mouth: , and, although I guess Im risking to out myself as a noob again: why are your keys so many different colours ?

Basspartout said

why are your keys so many different colours ?

You need to enable in Kontakt the ‘Show Keymapping’ feature. You can do this by going to ‘Options’, ‘Interface’, and tick the box saying - ‘Show mapping and keyswitches on keyboard.’

This is a very useful feature for big libraries with lots of keyswitches. NI do a good job of this with the drum libraries, as the colours are telling you what is a cymbal, a tom tom, a snare, a kick, etc…

Basspartout said

you know my DAW better than I do

Most DAWs are fundamentally the same. The difference between each of them is usually just workflow, so solving technical problems on any DAW is usually not that hard! Or maybe I’m just a total geek :wink:

I vote Gareth as the most helpful forum user.

Mihai_Sorohan said

I vote Gareth as the most helpful forum user.

+1 Me too. Had pretty much the same problem. Now completely solved thanks to Gareth’s superbly detailed post. Go on Envato, give him one of those twinkling stars! :slight_smile:

Basspartout said

maybe I can reroute them on seperate outputs and make up for it with less CPU hungry Presonus built in fx.

You can! :slight_smile:

But then you’d be missing out on some of the essential work that the NI sound designers put into these instruments (that obviously went into the built-in effects and the related presets). The samples themselves are good, but not that superior to other good libraries. That’s why I admittedly don’t really get the concept of these drum instruments.

And since I want to have full control over each and every drum sample anyway, i’ll probably go on working with my beloved selfmade drumkits in battery forever… :wink:

PS: If you’re having problems figuring out HOW to route each bus to a separate output, contact me…

IMHO you should upgrade to a modern OS (Win7). WinXP sucks in multicore performance and there is a reason why Steinberg, NI and others don’t support WinXP anymore…

You could always freeze the track in the mean time. Let your machine live a little longer to save up a little more to get a beefier machine. :wink:

snip from site:

"Track Transform and Event-Based Effects

Studio One now features an innovative Track Transform feature, as well as event-based effects.

Audio and instrument tracks feature the new Transform feature, which you can think of as a very flexible alternative to “freezing.” An entire audio track can be rendered in place with one click, removing any inserted effects plug-ins and conserving CPU power while still allowing normal editing. One click restores the original audio events and any inserted effects.

One click can also transform an instrument track into an audio track, and the audio can then be edited normally. (Notes are displayed as a clear indication that the audio has been transformed from an instrument.) This conserves a lot of CPU power with today’s advanced virtual instruments, and it opens many creative possibilities that were too bothersome to attempt before now. And, as you might guess, one click brings the instrument track right back.

Furthermore, every audio event in the arrangement has its own insert device rack, where any number of effects can be inserted, just like the insert device rack found on all mixer channels. When the desired sound is achieved, these effects can be rendered with a single click, removing the effects plug-in and conserving CPU power. And of course, one click can restore the effects for further editing at any time."

Hey guys, thank you all so much for your help, tips and support :slight_smile:

I switched off the multiprozessor mode in Kontakt but this didnt make a noticable difference so far. But I must admit, there are certain irregularities with my system, although everything runs with the new processor (except Firefox!!!), I dont really feel I can ‘trust’ it anymore.

For example, although I invested in a supposedly good and quiet cooler, I have to turn on the automatic Energy saving modus, otherwise, if the CPU runs full speed all the time, the cooler noise is much too loud for recording.

I will get Win7 as soon as possible and set up a new system.


you are completely right, the only thing that makes Abbey Road Modern Drummer usable is turning off all the effects by loading the INIT set. Sounds ridiculously poor!! and the CPU load is still much bigger than EZdrummer or Addictive Drums with effects!! for example) and I dont know if I’m more angry at NI for that than being astonished that they manage to make these rather shitty samples sound so great through all the effects. Of course, If I’d known the ‘CPU price’ of that, I would not have bought it. So like this, it is a future investment.

thanks, Tobias, for your kind offer, I’m not sure if I want to go through the hassle of rerouting all the drums, considering the instrument still consumes a lot of CPU even without the effects. And also, listening to these drums without effects, it will take quite an effort to make them sound any good I think, but maybe I will give them a try.


since I come from a Athlon XII 250, I’m quite used to freezing when it comes to NI stuff and fortunately Studio One makes that supereasy for single events or complete tracks.

Damn, I want to keep working, recording… it is such a drag to deal with all these technical issues. :stress: For testing purposes I switched some cores on and off today (for some strange reason, my Firefox only works up to 2 cores now, crashes immediately if more are enabled), and guess what: everytime I changed the number of cores, I had to reactivate all my NI stuff. Thank you very much for that, NI :reallyevil:

I think it is also important to mention that if you have at least 8GB of RAM and a decent CPU, you willl still “hit the ceiling”. The ultimate bottleneck in the end is always the drive (in case you already have 8GB of RAM). So therefore you should have a SSD drive going. Set the buffers very low, so you need less RAM and the fast SSD drive will be able to get the chunks into your sequencer.

Mihai_Sorohan said

I vote Gareth as the most helpful forum user.


frozensatellite said

I think it is also important to mention that if you have at least 8GB of RAM and a decent CPU, you willl still “hit the ceiling”. The ultimate bottleneck in the end is always the drive (in case you already have 8GB of RAM). So therefore you should have a SSD drive going. Set the buffers very low, so you need less RAM and the fast SSD drive will be able to get the chunks into your sequencer.

It depends.

If you are using a lot of sampled instruments, then yes, this is correct. But if you are using a lot of synths and effects (which - apart from Omnisphere and Kontakt based synths - don’t take up much disk space) then having an SSD is a bit irrelevant. Your bottleneck will then be the CPU.

It’s very easy to overtax a CPU once you start loading up a few instances of Massive and some nice reverbs. Also, load up some funky Alchemy presets, and watch your CPU die :smiley:

FWIW, Abbey Road Drummer should easily be able to run on a regular 7,200 RPM drive. Especially if it’s on a different drive to the system drive.

As far as SSD’s go, actually best solution is to have MULTIPLE SSD’s. Better to have multiple small ones (if you have enough SATA ports on your motherboard) then one big one. Of course, if you can afford 6 x 512 GB SSD’s - then go for it!

Frozensatellite’s advice of setting the buffers low IF your samples are running off an SSD is excellent. If you want to do this in Kontakt, go to ‘Options’ - ‘Memory’ and then Override the instrument’s preload size to about 12.00 - 18.00 kb and watch your RAM usage drop dramatically.

When dealing with sampled instruments, it’s been proven that having multiple drives (and your instruments spread out over them) is far preferable. Otherwise, you’ll run into the bottlenecks mentioned above. One SATA port can only handle so much abuse! You have more SATA ports probably, so … use them! It’s amazing how many computers I’ve seen that are not really being used to their maximum potential.

My computer is laid out as follows. My motherboard/case allows for 7 internal hard drives. I have 2 externals for backup.

C: - System drive/programs/plugins and NOTHING else (Intel 320 SSD) 120 GB (ALWAYS 40-50% free)

E: - String samples (Crucial M4) - 256 GB

F: - Brass and woodwind samples (Crucial M4) 256 GB

G: - Choir and miscellaneous or ‘odd/quirky’ samples (Samsung 830) - 256 GB

H: - Percussion samples - (Samsung 830) - 256 GB

I: - ‘Power’ synths Omnisphere and Alchemy and Trillian, and other ‘synthy / sound design’ samples - (Crucial M4) 256 GB

K: - Audio / Video / WAV file drive - (Western Digital Black) - 1TB

M: (External eSATA or Firewire 800) Project Backups and Purchased Downloads (Glyph) - 2 TB

N: (External eSATA or Firewire 800) Game testing/debug. Completed projects. Fun stuff, etc… - 2 TB

I also have 1 TB of storage at - which is where I keep anything that is finished. Great backup system which I just sync with my ‘M’ drive.

This is by no means, the ‘PERFECT’ setup, but if you’re doing big orchestral stuff, and you want it to get bigger and better, etc… you’ll need more disk space. The rule of thumb is to get more drives rather than one big one and spread things out :slight_smile:

guitarsstate said
Mihai_Sorohan said

I vote Gareth as the most helpful forum user.