Libraries You Need #1 – Komplete 7/8

I’ve received quite a few questions from producers looking to expand their gear, or looking for a place to start.  This is a pretty difficult question to answer, there are quite a few libraries that I use on a regular basis, as well as live sampled instruments (guitar, random sound effects, etc).

If you’re using Ableton Live like me, you’ll know that the sounds and samples included in the Ableton Live library are nowhere near as complete (or useable) as the built in effects (like the algorithmic reverb, we’ll cover that in another tutorial).  Sure Ableton’s Cello is not bad, and the piano can work in the context of a mix (not as a solo instrument in any way).

Native Instruments Komplete 7/8 is, in my opinion, the best value for the price.  At the time when I bought it, it came in around $480 and didn’t include some of the extra things you get now (I have version 7).  I’m not going to list everything you get, but I will focus on a few of the things which in my opinion make up for the value of the product in it’s entirety while the rest of the inclusions are just bonus.

Kontakt 4 Player

This is an industry standard Sampling engine.  When I say industry standard I mean, most of the sample libraries you’re going to want to look into in the future are “Powered By Kontakt” and require the full version of Kontakt 4 or higher.  Some of the libraries that require this:

  • Symphobia / True Strike
  • LA Scoring Strings
  • Cinesamples (everything they offer)
  • Native Instruments own library offerings
  • Many many more

Also included with Kontakt is the basic Kontakt library.  This is anything but basic.  You get a decent collection of entry level orchestral instruments (cello, violin, viola ensembles, brass ensembles, 24 groupings with 4 or 5 patches each all from the VSL library), random assortment of medium sampled (multiple velocity layers, most notes independent) world instruments and band instruments.  Guitars, organs, etc.

You also get a handful of premium Kontakt libraries.  These are deep sampled instruments with up to 10 velocity layers per note, and independently sampled notes (for most of the main ranges on the pianos).  The libraries included that you’re likely to care about:

  • New York, Berlin and Vienna Grand Pianos
  • Abbey Roads 60s drums

The pianos are amazing, all sound unique and solo’d using Kontakt’s convolution reverb are pretty convincing instruments assuming you tweak the velocities to not sound repetitive.  The drums are useful, I recommend some of their other drum libraries over this one if you want to make rock music or you want a more versatile drum kit (I currently use the Abbey Roads Modern drum kit for most of my stuff).

Guitar Rig 4

If you know how to play guitar, and plan on recording guitar at all, this tool is indispensable.  I’ve found nothing short of recording an actual guitar amp to sound anything remotely as good as Guitar Rig.  It has replaced a number of other amp simulators in my workflow and I’ve never looked back.  You can check out my songs, or the Native Instruments examples for more information.  I plan on writing a tutorial on getting the best sounds out of Guitar Rig (or other amp simulators) in the future for those that are interested.

Along with guitar rig (look at all the bonuses!) you also get Native Instruments’ convolution reverb plugin Reflektor.  This is “powered by Guitar Rig” so it requires Guitar Rig to be used.  Note, convolution reverbs tend to take lots of computer power so I only use it for guitar sounds (and it sounds phenomenal) and solo instruments or instruments that receive the main focus from a mix.

Massive (Subtractive Synthesis Synthesizer)

You need a synthesizer for sound design, or electronic leads and basses, depending on how far your music will go into that territory.  This tool makes it in just about all my songs, if not as an instrument then at least as an atmospheric pad.  The learning curve is pretty high, but it’s definitely worth it.

These three plugins together make it in 95% of my songs, and made up probably 100% of my sounds for the first 3 months of compositions.  From here you’ll be able to see which specific sounds you want to upgrade and you can start to focus on other instrument libraries to upgrade specific sounds for the types of music you’re creating.

Another plugin I didn’t mention here, is Battery 3 (also included in Komplete).  This is a drum rack replacement.  You don’t get access to the samples so creating your own drum kits is quite a pain, but a lot of built in kits are very useful and with a little distortion can cover many of your compositions.

4 Responses to “Libraries You Need #1 – Komplete 7/8”

  • Brad Jensen Says:

    Brain …..may I call you Brian or do you prefer Mr. Doyle? You don’t have to even dignify that with an answer. Anyways I just read you’re blog and am curious about what you think about Sonar X1 producer I have all the expansion packs and stuff its been great. I’m still pretty new to the usb/MIDI world and my first DAW was Ableton Live 8 and I agree the out of box library is not good. I play a ton of piano and B3 so it wasn’t working out for my gigs. Then I heard about Sonar and have played a ton of gigs using all the soft synths and NIB4. I then picked up Arturias synth collection. Now I wish I would have never bought digital pianos and the like because the sound quality is far superior to any hardware synth. Now I just recently was givin a unopened 12 disc set that happens to be komplete 7 full (@ least I think so its 90GB) by a buddy who made my year. I am now wondering if I even need sonar anymore. My laptop is booming with software and .wav samples. Live is a much lighter program compared to Sonar. I am wondering if there is a way to use live 8 like mainstage. People say Ableton is more dj friendly. I play in 2 rock n roll (classic) bands for extra dough and have a really great main original project as well. We anything from funk hard rock, jazz, blues to phish type jam band stuff. My controllers are the CME UF80 classic v2 (not a very big fan of anything but key action) plus an Akai Mpk61. Sorry I’ve rambled and about the grammar I’m on my phone and trying not to work. But basically my question is about lives live use for the for mentioned music we play. I wish I could figure out how to program like 10 vsti presets so I didn’t have to scroll down real quick in between songs I’m almost always late for the count off. Any help you can offer on anything I’ve mentioned would be awesome, if it makes sense. Thanks for you time.
    Sincerely, Brad T Jensen

    • Brian Says:

      I don’t have any experience with Sonar unfortunately (I used Cakewalk a long long time ago, which I think was originally produced by the same company, but I could be wrong
      ). In the end you should use whatever full featured DAW has the interface you find most productive. So if Sonar offers everything you need, I think there’s no problem sticking with that especially if you like the built in library / effects.

      That being said, Ableton Live is definitely geared towards DJs/Live productions. Can it be used for rock / blues? Of course, I do it all the time and know of other recording musicians that use it just for recording / looping without really using any VSTs at all. For me I see the pros of Ableton Live being the ease of which I can record ideas and loop them while I layer things. It definitely caters to a more improvisation based workflow, which is often how I write rock or blues music (write a simple ABACA type of song, then improvise variations over it and finally lay it out as a track). This is one reason I haven’t switched from Live (that and I’m finally hooked on the interface).

      I hope that answers your question, feel free to email me if you have any more or you can continue to post on these threads as well.

  • Andy Says:

    Hi Brian, thanks for the info

    would you be able to give me a bit of help?

    I am looking at making music for film and games also and wondering what to use.

    I am thinking of combining Albion with Komplete 9 Ultimate or Omnishphere.

    What would you choose if you had the option?


    • Brian Says:

      Omnisphere is quite powerful. If you’re looking for a powerful synth, I think it’s a bit easier to use “out of the box” than Massive (included in Komplete 9) because it’s more straightforward to program.

      That being said, Komplete 9 is going to come with the full version of Kontakt which is basically the industry standard sampler engine at this point. I think Albion will work with the free version of Kontakt but I’m not 100% sure.

      You can’t really compare Komplete 9 and Omnisphere though. Komplete comes with all sorts of useful plugins which I feel are indispensable. I’d definitely go with Komplete over Omnisphere if I had to pick. You should check out the Native Instruments site to see what has been added to Komplete 9 (I’m only familiar with 7 and 8)

Leave a Reply