Komplete Kontrol vs Kontakt: What’s the Difference?

This article discusses the differences between Kontakt 7 and the Komplete Kontrol instrument hub. You might also be looking for the differences between Kontakt 7 and the Komplete 14 software packages.

Komplete Kontrol vs Kontakt header image. This shows a Kontakt instrument running inside Komplete Kontrol.

On the surface, Komplete Kontrol and Kontakt seem to do the same things. But there’s more going on than you might realize at first.

Komplete Kontrol vs Kontakt 7: Explained

Kontakt 7 is a standalone sampler plugin that powers many Native Instruments sample libraries. Komplete Kontrol is a shell plugin that hosts other instruments, plugins, and samples in your collection, including Kontakt. 

Think of Komplete Kontrol like a toolbox, and Kontakt is just one of the many tools that go inside that toolbox.

Komplete Kontrol Software

A tool that cleans up your workflow and organizes all your Native Instruments products in one place. Play instruments, audition new sounds, and create FX chains all in one handy plugin.

Free Download
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
Kontakt 7

Kontakt is an essential plugin every composer and producer needs in their collection. It's the hub for countless virtual instruments. Plus, you can use it as a powerful sampler and wave editor.

Buy Now Get With Komplete 14
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
Lasso Brag

What is Kontakt?

Kontakt is a sampler plugin that powers software instruments created by Native Instruments and other sample library companies. It comes in two versions:

  • Kontakt 7 This is the full version of Kontakt. It acts as the hub for many sample libraries. It’s also a powerful sampler that lets you create and edit your own instruments.
  • Kontakt 7 Player The free version of Kontakt. It only runs select software instruments and lacks the sampling features the full version has.

We’ve covered the differences between Kontakt Player and Kontakt 7 in more detail before. Check out that article to learn more.

Great for Beginners
Essential for Experienced Musicians
Licensed libraries only
Licensed and unlicensed libraries
6 GB of Sounds via Komplete Start
55+ GB of Sounds
Restricted to 15 minute demo mode
Extensive instrument editing tools, including a wave editor and 90 effects and filters
Great for Beginners
Licensed libraries only
6 GB of Sounds via Komplete Start
Restricted to 15 minute demo mode
Essential for Experienced Musicians
Licensed and unlicensed libraries
55+ GB of Sounds
Extensive instrument editing tools, including a wave editor and 90 effects and filters
Lasso Brag

What is Komplete Kontrol?

Komplete Kontrol is an all-in-one tool designed to clean up your workflow. It lets you browse and play the virtual instruments you’ve installed:

  • Standalone NI Instruments like Massive X, FM 8, Battery, and others.
  • Kontakt Sample Libraries
  • Reaktor synths
  • 3rd-party instruments that are NKS-compatible

On top of that, Komplete Kontrol lets you browse the loops and samples you get from Native Instruments Expansions and Sounds.com. It has a very basic sampler you can use to play and edit those sounds.

Browsing & Auditioning Sounds

Komplete Kontrol makes it easy to find specific sounds. You can use the browser on the left to filter out specific instruments and loops by type or character.

Want a violin sound? Komplete Kontrol will show you presets and patches from every instrument in your collection that features violins.

Looking for risers? Or how about something with a “Wah” sound? Kontrol will help you find something with those characteristics as well.

Integrated Plugins

Unlike Kontakt, Komplete Kontrol can natively add external effects plugins within the application itself. These can be any non-instrument VSTs in your collection — they don’t have to be made by Native Instruments or their NKS partners.

This way, you can clear up some clutter and keep everything running within Komplete Kontrol.

A view of Komplete Kontrol featuring a synth plus an effects plugin chain.

Integration With Komplete Kontrol Hardware

Both Kontakt and Komplete Kontrol are compatible with any MIDI controller. That said, Komplete Kontrol integrates seamlessly with NI hardware like Maschine and Komplete Kontrol keyboards.

These controllers have a built-in screen for navigating Komplete Kontrol. On top of that, the physical controls on the hardware make it easier to modify your sounds.

Plus, they’re compatible with most major DAWs like Logic, Cubase, Ableton, and more. So you can control your entire session, select your instruments and effects in the Komplete Kontrol software, and record tracks all from the keyboard or Maschine controller.

Do You Need Kontakt to Run Komplete Kontrol?

Kontakt and Komplete Kontrol are separate programs that run independently of each other. However, Komplete Kontrol is pretty much useless unless you have other products installed.

In other words, you’ll need to install Kontakt to use any Kontakt instruments in Komplete Kontrol.

Can Komplete Kontrol Run 3rd-Party Kontakt Instruments?

Komplete Kontrol can run any Kontakt instrument. That said, non-NKS libraries might not have full functionality.

For instance, non-Player Kontakt instruments won’t show up in the browser. You can’t preview any sounds, and you’ll have to manually load them into Komplete Kontrol.

Keyboard View

For some reason, Komplete Kontrol ditches the default keyboard view that’s present in Kontakt. This view is helpful for knowing where key switches are in select libraries.

It’s not a problem if you have a Komplete Kontrol keyboard, since it lights up the keys to show you key switches.

But if you don’t have one, you’ll have to go out of your way to expand the view if you want to see the keyboard in Komplete Kontrol.

Can You Create or Edit Sample Instruments with Komplete Kontrol?

Komplete Kontrol has a very basic sampler. That said, it’s not nearly as robust as Kontakt’s.

You’re limited to a single sample, and you can do some simple editing and looping. 

It’s more than enough for most producers. But if you want to create complex multi-sample instruments, you’ll need Kontakt.

How Much Do Kontakt and Komplete Kontrol Cost?

Komplete Kontrol is completely free to download. As long as you have NI and NKS-compatible software installed, you can get some great use out of it.

Kontakt 7 is normally about $300. You can also pick up the free Kontakt 7 Player, but you won’t be able to use certain 3rd-party instruments.

Which One Should You Use?

Both are fantastic pieces of software, and each one has its strengths and weaknesses. So a lot of it comes down to personal taste and experience. But here are some of my takeaways:

Use Komplete Kontrol if…

  • You prefer to have your sounds all in one place.
  • You frequently explore sounds across all your instruments and libraries.
  • You have Komplete Kontrol or Maschine hardware to take full advantage of all the features.

Use Kontakt 7 if…

  • You like to create and edit complex multi-sample instruments.
  • You mostly use the same sounds across projects.
  • You prefer the interface over Komplete Kontrol.

Kontakt has been around for much longer than Komplete Kontrol. As someone who’s been using it for nearly 10 years, I naturally gravitate toward it.

Get the Most Out of Komplete Kontrol and Kontakt

Kontakt and Komplete Kontrol are at their best when you have one of the Komplete software packages.

Even the name “Komplete Kontrol” implies a strong connection between the products. In many ways, it can serve as the heart of your Native Instruments ecosystem.

If you’re not sure which package is right for you, check out our guide: Komplete 14 Standard vs Ultimate vs Collector’s Edition.