Hi everybody, I was reading this article : http://soundandpictureonline.com/2010/12/a-medal-mix-the-ea-sound-team-talks-audio-production/

I was wondering if Kontakt or any other sampler/synth could be a real solution for making ambiences?

How can it speed up ambiences creation compared to a regular Cubase/Pro Tools only workflow?

Thank you guys, and enjoy the read.

6 Answers 6


I believe that there is a misconception about Kontakt. It is an extremely powerful sampler but that doesn't mean that it is for musical content. Its just that most people have been producing kontakt patches that are musical because people are looking for it.

Take a look at the video for this pack by NI and you can see how they create new ambiences. Its not the quickest way compared to just synthesizing it but you get extremely good results. I like the part about using the train sounds and layering it. http://native-instruments.com/#/en/products/producer/powered-by-kore/paranormal-spectrums/

Kontakt can do this very well because it has an extremely powerful set of sound shaping tools. Honestly, the tools are way more than you would need to make musical instruments. You don't need to get into scripting if you are not building extremely complex instruments with live control. Scripting is really used if you want to package the instrument properly but since you are building ambiences, I don't think you will need the power of scripting. You could use it if you want to building the instrument nicely for constant sound generation.

The usefulness of using Kontakt to build ambiences is the flexibility to pile various sounds on each other and change the way they interact. You could use ambience samples and sounds like the train leaving the station and manipulate into a nice ambience track. Then top it up with one of the many synths available in Kontakt to have a nice low moving drone. You could even layer another patch in with voices. Then you can ‘play’ the instrument with a midi controller and change parameters on the fly. You can edit the midi to clean up the performance as well. I feel that sounds are much more ‘alive’ if they were performed rather than dragging and dropping in.


Personally, for exotic ambiences and soundscapes, I much prefer to work in Alchemy over Kontakt. Not that Kontakt isn't capable of them, but Alchemy is really designed from the ground-up almost specifically for them - at least it sure feels and behaves that way for me. Couldn't live without it.

I find Kontakt much better suited for when I need "real" instruments. Your mileage may vary, and Kontakt is certainly capable of all sorts of weirdness. They are all samplers, and at the end of the day it's got more to do with what you feed it than anything.

I'd also recommend taking a look at Metasynth, and AudioMulch while you're at it.



Try Reaktor if you want to synthesize ambiences. Maybe even Absynth -- but if you ever synthesize ambiences, prepare for someone to comment that it sounds digital. If I synthesize a background, I usually couple it with a real layer element -- its kinda the same way you play off a fake orchestra by adding 1 real instrument, like a violin, and all the sudden its a whole different feel.


For pure sound design, it's entirely up to you really.

Kontakt is a pretty big piece of software once you get into scripting and all that, Camel Audio's Alchemy software is great for processing sounds if that more what you want to do, and so is Native Insturments Absynth.

If you are willing to spend lots of time learning what is essentially a modular programming environment then Reaktor is well worth the effort (and things like puredata, Max/MSP or CSound might let you take that stuff even further if you wanted to). An alternative with Reaktor is to purely use stuff other people have built but put new sounds into them, or use them as the basis for your own creations. If you only want to play with stuff other people have made then I believe there is a free version of Reaktor that only opens patches other people have made and doesn't let you edit them. There's also a Kontakt player that only opens Kontakt instruments but that will be more or less useless if you want to use your own raw materials to build new sounds.

I would say that if you are doing music stuff at all then it's definitely worth having something that can at least import Kontakt patches; as a file format is seems to be almost as ubiquitous as the Akai S-series was through the 90s.

  • 1
    sorry to contradict you on the Reaktor/Kontakt Player issue... but those will only work w/ Ensembles/Instruments from the Factory Selection (or other stuff you can buy seperately) - without editing, of course native-instruments.com/#/en/products/producer/kontakt-player native-instruments.com/#/de/products/producer/reaktor-5-player
    – Julian
    Jan 10, 2011 at 20:43
  • yes, it's important to be aware of that - heard of a few people that've been caught out. Jan 11, 2011 at 2:19
  • Oh, contradicting me is completely fine when I'm wrong :) I haven't used Kontakt or Reaktor Player because I have full versions of both, but had assumed they were slightly less hobbled than that.
    – Matt
    Jan 17, 2011 at 13:12

I excessively use Kontakt for alienating recorded samples, since its ton of features (built-in FX, wavefile editing, scripting etc.) speeds up my workflow dramatically.

That said, don't for get to try out morphing in Kontakt with AET!!


Hector pretty much nailed what I meant in the article: I used the source we got at Burro and Fort Irwin to build a large collection of battle elements such as weaponfire, explosion samples, mortar-bys, etc. (at various distances), then used Kontakt to perform them into Nuendo ambience sessions. This saved a tremendous amount of time in the long run over what would have been the tedious task of individually cutting hundreds of weaponfire bursts/tails, single shots, artillery, mortar-bys, and so on. Performing the elements via Kontakt (and using a lot of variations to keep anything from getting stale) resulted in natural-sounding background layers created very quickly. Other samplers can of course be used in the same way.

Kontakt is a very powerful piece of software which I barely scratched the surface of on MOH. I don't have any experience using it for ambience synthesis (I've used Reaktor rather than Kontakt to create occasional synthy, electro-sci-fi elements), but it was very useful for the above.

  • tyler its great to read your post. I used Kontakt in a very similar way, essentially designing and pre mixing complicated multi layered ambiences in Kontakt. Its a very powerful tool. I especially like that you can drag and drop from soundminer directly into a keyzone
    – studio13
    Jan 12, 2011 at 4:20
  • @Tyler- Don't suppose this article exists elsewhere, the native-instruments link above is dead. Jul 2, 2012 at 1:35

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