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I am just now setting up my recording computer and like any rank beginner, I have done some searching through the web for what VSTs I could get that were free and actually worth having.  I came across a VST Cello for Kontakt.  So, curious, I looked into Kontakt.  Gee,  they have a free 6GB suite of things.  I read further.  I need the Native Access control  which will download and install  KOMPLETE KONTROL, and the library.  I read some more.  It will install stuff and I would need to run it and then I tell cakewalk to scan for VSTs, which it will find.  Is there a reason for all this?  Or am I mistaken, and once cakewalk has the VSTs, I can remove the Kontrol and the Native Access?

Why does it need to be so complex for "free" VSTs?  Other VSTs go into my VST folder and everything is fine.  Is this system that good that people put up with this?

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You're looking at Kontakt Player, which is not going to be usable for any free Kontakt library. For that, you need the full version.

As a rank beginner, you really ought to stick with the instruments included with CbB for right now.

 

 

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Hey man,

All fair questions. So, Kontakt is essentially just a fancy sampler-- one that can play a few different audio file types, including some that are proprietary and exclusive to Native Instruments. Native is the company that makes Kontakt, Komplete, and Reaktor. Their software caught on with the market and there are now hundreds of plugin companies that make their virtual instruments exclusively for use within one of these three sample players.

The world of plugins is much like any other software medium and can actually be relatively complicated and can take some time & experience to understand. Hence the gentlemen's comment above. 

But yes, to use any of Native's sample players you will need to (as you will find some other plugin companies also do, some fortunately not) install their "Access" (just a glorified installer, really) as well as the sample players(s) themselves, and then install the proper instrument files from any third party developers who have made their instruments available in Kontakt / Komplete / Reaktor.

Breaking it down real fast, there are:

VST2 & VST3 = audio effects plugins (.dll or .vst3) stored in one if those respective folders that your DAW should be able to scan and therefore include in it's plugin folder for you to use.

VSTi = virtual instrument plugins to be kept in the VST2 folder. Will show up 8j your DAW's instrument plugin folder for you to use.

Kontakt / Reaktor = generally third party of Native Instrument virtual instrument plugins exclusively for use in a Native sample player. These files need to be installed into a specific folder that the player can access in order to use. Unlike VSTi plugins, you will open the sampler itself from your instruments folder and use Kontakt or whatever player it calls for to then open the virtual instrument.

This is kinda a rough rundown just so you kinda get how this stuff works, but you'll figure it out. I personally have fun finding interesting free plugins with which to screw up some audio for (hopefully) the better.  :). The gentleman above is right about one other thing though: use the great majority of your time recording, arranging, and mixing your music. Accumulating free software can become a sort of junky thrill akin to hoarding, and you can lose sight of what it is about that software itself that makes you happy in the first place. So, be cautious, but have fun, my friend. Don't be daunted-- even the greatest producers started not knowing anything. 

Good luck to ya.

Edited by Brendan Martin

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Kontakt is a significant investment in time (learning curve) and money. You'll find that a great many users here are fans, and some of us have invested obscene amounts of money into the Kontakt paradigm. But although I am an ardent proponent, I agree with bdickens when he suggests it's probably not the best place to start - unless, of course you are wealthy and not planning on buying a new car this year.

Cakewalk bundles the TTS-1, which is an excellent choice for getting your feet wet. It's actually a pretty decent sample player.

There are a number of free instruments out there, enough to keep you engaged for a long time while you mull over what to eventually spend real money on. There are many lists online (example, example, example, example, example) to get you started. They're all free and don't require a sample player like Kontakt, so there's no risk in downloading and trying them out. Note that many of these lists include older VSTi's that may not have aged well, or have since become paid commercial products.

If you're specifically after organic instruments rather than traditional synthesizers, I would encourage you to take a look at Spitfire Labs stuff. Spitfire is one of the best sample library developers out there, but most of their high-end products require Kontakt. However, the Labs line uses its own player and is totally free. They have been adding new instruments pretty regularly - the collection now includes strings, piano, brass and percussion instruments.

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Another thing to keep in mind is when you are checking out samples of strings and piano and any real instrument, what you hear isn't necessarily what you want in your mix. Don't disregard something free that may not sound very good solo until you try it in a mix. You can pay a lot of money for great sounding sample libraries only to EQ and Compress the living daylights out of them to sound right in a mix with other instruments, but when solo'd they sound bad at that point.

CbB comes with an excellent starting base. It includes Studio Instruments: Electric Piano, Strings, Bass, and Drums as well as TTS-1 which bitflipper already mentioned.

Also, there is a set of FX VST's called PX-64 Percussion Strip, VX-64 Vocal Strip, and TL64 Tube Leveler. They are disabled by default. You have to go in to your plugin setup screen in CbB and enable them. You can really manipulate your samples and anything with those and get some excellent results, especially drums and vocals. There are a lot of youtube vids about them. You'll also see Boost 11. IIRC it's a 32bit version but the 64bit version is already enabled by default so don't enable it.

99% of what I do I use SI Strings, SI Bass, and TTS-1, and a ton of free synth's. There is more free stuff out there than you can shake a stick at. https://plugins4free.com/ is a good site. Sonic Anomaly makes some really good free mastering and FX VST's. Their website seems to be gone but you can still get their VST's here. Here is a good free piano put out by The University of Iowa of all places.

Another suggestion is, create a folder named FreeVSTs or something like that and put your free stuff there to keep it separate. Makes it easier to backup too. You can give each one it's own subfolder. Most of the free stuff from sites like Plugin's 4 Free come without an installer and just a .dll file and you simply put it where you want and rescan for VST's at startup. It helps keep track of things and if you have one that crashes you can easily get rid of it. Kontakt Player is different, it embeds itself everywhere. You can get a few cool free things for it, but there's equal and better by random people out there.

Edited by Shane_B.
Edited for clarity.

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Thank you all for these informative replies.  This all started when I went looking for a cello vst and stumbled across "pocketBlakus Cello" which was labeled a "for Kontakt".  It looked interesting, so I pursued it and in the process went to Native Instruments, and saw "Komplete Start" and thought what the hell.  Then I saw all that was involved, their need to install where they wanted etc.  My post, and even now is just a rant.  I saw what looked like a decent cello, and I wouldn't be able to try it out - well - because.  I really do not think this would be for me.  I am aware that I will eventually find what I am looking for;  I agree that what I want to do is record and refine my skills.  That is good advice. 

You guys will probably hear from me in a few months when I start sorting out exactly which microphone I may want for my vocals.

Thanks

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What I would suggest is this.

Rather than looking for plugins already, just spend some time fiddling around with the stuff that comes with CbB. It has most of the basic tools and effects you need to make music instead of hoarding plugins already. Sure, you'll eventually start having dozens of plugins but will only use the same ones over and over.

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16 hours ago, dave coomber said:

You guys will probably hear from me in a few months when I start sorting out exactly which microphone I may want for my vocals.

 

Uh oh. Be aware that if you post that question, opinions will span many pages. Better set aside a few days to read them all.

I could just give you the correct answer now, but that would be off-topic.

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2 minutes ago, bitflipper said:

I could just give you the correct answer now, but that would be off-topic.

You are such a  tease 🤣

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Hey, someone had to do it . . .

On 2/19/2021 at 6:01 PM, dave coomber said:

You guys will probably hear from me in a few months when I start sorting out exactly which microphone I may want for my vocals.

He has some excellent video's on a variety of topics. His video about compression completely changed how I approach mixing. 👍🏻

Edited by Shane_B.

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A $4,000 microphone won't make you sound like you have a $4,000 voice. If anything, it'll amplify your flaws.

I reckon my voice is worth about $300, tops, which is why I use an inexpensive AKG handheld and reserve my expensive mics for things that warrant the extra detail.

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I still use my Audio Technics stage mic I bought for $99 back in the 80's. The foam inside the screen is crumbling away. I bought a Blue Bluebird and it's very sensitive to my voice. I have a very boomy voice with a lot of sibilance and it pics up everything. I spend more time fixing vocals than I do anything else. Honestly, I should probably sell it. It's like brand new.

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Just looking for a cello? A likely story. 😉

I got Spitfire's Discovery edition of BBC Symphony Orchestra because it was free and might be fun. What harm could it do?

Well I've spent getting on for hundreds of hours watching how to orchestrate and a fair wedge upgrading to the Core edition.  I'll probably never use even 10% of the potential of this software but the enjoyment you can get playing these instruments through a keyboard or (midi-pickup) guitar is worth every second of my time and every penny of my money.

Bottom line is walk before you can run. Plenty of excellent tutorials out there to get you making your music. Enjoy what is already available first.

Edited by Tony Conway
missed a word out

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You probably want Kontakt, but probably not before BF this year.

In the mean time, there are a lot of good samples out there in the sfz format.  These samples are usually free as are many sfz players such as sforzando.

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SI Strings is actually rather good. I have some Spitfire stuff, but always start with SI Strings for simplicity, and it frequently ends up in my final mix, especially if the strings are not intended to poke out too much 

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One night I was scrolling through some old projects and came across one in which the strings sounded particularly good. I pulled it up to see what I had used for it, and to my surprise it wasn't any of my fancy libraries, but good ol' Dimension Pro.

grannis is correct. If all you're after are subtle string pads, Kontakt is overkill. SI Strings will often do just fine, as will the strings in the TTS-1.

Speaking of Spitfire, I'm really loving my latest Spitfire acquisition, Legendary Low Strings. 49 bucks, no Kontakt required, and sounds absolutely amazing. 

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Posted (edited)
On 2/27/2021 at 12:46 PM, bitflipper said:

Speaking of Spitfire, I'm really loving my latest Spitfire acquisition, Legendary Low Strings. 49 bucks, no Kontakt required, and sounds absolutely amazing. 

Spitfire BBC Symphonic Orchestra Discover edition is available for free. :)

https://www.spitfireaudio.com/bbcso/

 

Edited by abacab

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Posted (edited)

Wow!  Thanx for all these comments.  I kinda got lost in setting up my computer, interface and other related stuff and hadn't looked back here.

I do need to make one confession. I do have a microphone.  I used to be in a band in the 60s and I have an Electrovoice 664, which is a pretty good dynamic cardioid.  One of its outstanding features:  the president of the company would go out on a stage at sales conventions to demonstrate this mic.  He'd walk out on stage with the microphone in his hand.  Then, on a table he took a 2x4 and used the mic to pound a 16p nail through the 2x4.  He would then screw the mic onto its stand and deliver his talk.  I will probably start with this mic for a while.  I just tested it out last week, and its pretty good.  I think I may want to explore others, probably next fall or so.  I do sing, but I also do some classical guitar,  which the 664 did not seem suited for.

Thanx again for all this response

dc

Edited by dave coomber

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