How to sample with NativeInstruments Kontakt - a brief introduction


Hey folks !

Some of you may have seen in the forum that Sam (soundfix) just got his new Komplete package which includes the Kontakt sampler. Because I sampled a few sounds myself already (in the last 20 years), Sam asked me if I could briefly explain how to sample a own sound.
I thought, this may interest some of you too, so I share this here.

Of course, if you really want to go dive in deep and sample complicated stuff, i can’t treat very much here and it’s just a brief description about sampling and how to do it. NativeInstruments’ Kontakt has incredible possibilities to modify and treat a sound anyway and you can easy find a new hobby with your Kontakt! But however, it’s not difficult to make some good samples your own with Kontakt!

But for those of you having a really no idea how to start with sampling, I try to explain the very first steps here. As soon you want to go a bit further of course you have to read your user manual or browse the web for some tutorial videos (if somebody has some links, please post them, I never looked for those).

Why Sampling?

You can sample a acoustic instrument, noises, your cat and play it on your keyboard or you can sample your favorite piano, a flute, vocal or a old synthesizer! After sampling it properly you can play (or fool around - consider the cat :) ) the sampled sound on your keyboard and do anything with it in real time.

Another reason for sampling: I had a customer who wanted to play and record a very difficult “french accordion lick” in my studio, but he couldn’t play it properly on his accordion. After i tried to play it, but it wasn’t good enough either. So I recorded some single notes, truncated them nicely, named and exported them in a directory for using them as samples in Kontakt.
Including mapping and everything it probably took me 10-15 minutes… and it worked out fine :). Since that day i have a nice accordion, i like it much better than any expensive library i have until now!

Technical background and what you have to consider

To make your own sample you have to consider first, how many samples you want to record. A vocal for example sounds already like Mickey Mouse after pitching only three half tones, because of the formants shift of the voice. Well, there would be technologies around today that make it sounding better, even when you pitch it over six half tones. But of course it a lot of memory around these days too, so in case of a doubt it's better to take some more samples. The second thing you have to consider is, if there is a velocity switch you have to make for being able to reproduce better dynamic like the original instrument. Modern grand piano libraries use sometimes over 120 velocity switches… (The Vienna Imperial form Vienna Symphonic Libraries has as much I know about 500 sample per key, including pedal up/ down, string resonances etc…!) For such sampling projects you better use a robot to hit the keys… :)

But not only that big projects makes sense, sometimes a very easy sampling does a very good job, often better than some preset libraries from big manufacturers. But you don't have to reproduce the dynamic of a original only by sampling multiple velocity switches, but you can also vary it by adjusting the filter and volume settings depending e.g. on the keyboard velocity. On my accordion sample I described above, the filter and volume is not primarily controlled by velocity, but much more with the ModWheel for example in order to reproduce the dynamic of a real accordion.

How to start sampling

If you want to sample something, you have to record the samples first in your DAW, then truncate and export each sample individual, because Kontakt has no recording capability. And usually it's a bit easier and quicker to truncate your files in your DAW rather than truncating them in Kontakt.

Then, as second step, you choose in Kontakt „files / new instrument“.

Click on the screw wrench to open the instruments editor, choose „mapping editor“ and drag-and-drop your wav files you previously exported from your DAW in this grid.
You have to define the lower and upper limit for each sample regarding the velocity (vertical) and key number (horizontal) by just trim the borders of the zone with your mouse or by entering the values in the fields below. Keep an eye on the „root key“, so you really got the right notes on the right key. That's already it, and you can play your sound on your keyboard.

Of course you could also loop your sounds, but to save time I would rather record the samples a bit longer, because usually you won't hold the key for ever, of course it's depending on the instrument. The side effect is, that the sound, especially natural sounds, sound more organic and real like this, compared to a loop. My accordion for example is not looped and it suddenly stops playing as soon it reached the end of the sample. But for me this should be long enough. If not, I can still loop it later.

After mapping, you can start with dynamic treatment and filtering, envelopes, LFO’s, external Midi Controllers, steppers, random parameters, effects etc.
Kontakt provides pretty much like a modular matrix, almost everything can be done and modified by another parameter!

All those modifiers and filters you apply to either the entire instrument or you can group some samples and apply separate settings to separate sample groups.

But for to first steps I recommend to not make any group, just try to assign a volume envelope, a filter and then try to assign it to volume and filter to get some dynamic in the sound.

Hope you have fun! Share your experience here!!

Cheers, Mat Steiner


Wow, that is some big work on instruction, Mat. I’ll save it in case I need it some time.


what are the chanced you want to share that awesome accordion library you made :slight_smile: haha

nice post mat, I’ve always wanted to try making my own sample patches but have never had an environment quiet enough to do so. One day!


Awesome idea! I think I’ll do it one day :smiley:
I found an amazing free cello library, sampled by a cello player and it sounded more emotional than other expensive libraries (with its obvious limitations) :slight_smile:


Thank you so much Mat!! Thanks for taking the time to explain all this :slight_smile:


Your welcome guys!

btw: Of course you can listen to the described self-made accordion in two tracks of my portfolio:
-one has the word “International” in it
-the other one has the word “Cordeo” in it (incl. a accordion solo part later on)


Nice Mat. And of course if the instrument you are sampling has different playing modes, i.e. a violin playing either staccato, pizzicato or legato, you can sample each variations and use key switching to move from one another on the fly. Just google “Kontakt key switching” and you will find some very helpful tutorials.


Mat, you rock! I have had Kontakt for about 2.5 years now and had heard about its power as a sampler but had never tried it before. This will help get me going on it - maybe at the very least get some custom percussion sounds created to save some time. Or ukulele riffs…


Great advice! I recently used my microwave as an unsettling synth pad in a thriller track, so there’s basically no limit to the fun you can have with kontakt.


I see Mat Steiner but i do not see a community super star badge on his account! WHY NOT WHERE IS IT :smiley:


Great one Mat! Nice instructions!
Did this with some traditional arabic instrument at some point…but guess I never put enough effort into it.You do need to work a lot to achieve a good result. I mean, all the editing and stuff.


Much of my instruments are sampled by me, ukulele, guitar, bass, percussion, violin etc. It’s fun and exciting but it is also slow and labor intensive. The results can be very good.

Whenever the sampling in multilayers, is where you get the best results and more reality.

If you have time and inclination forward … you will like.