Even on Mac, the new Kontakt can use the memory you’ve got installed. On Windows 64-bit, Kontakt (and Battery, too) can use memory beyond … well, what you’d even imagine installing.

Native Instruments has updated its sampling engine, releasing beta versions 3.0.5 for its Battery drum sampler and 3.5.0 final for the flagship Kontakt sampler. Both are free upgrades. (For anyone who thought that somehow Maschine was replacing Battery, it isn’t: the former is a drum machine, whereas the latter is more like a high-end drum sampler.)

There are a number of significant enhancements, but perhaps the most interesting is the support for 64-bit memory addressing. On 64-bit Windows Vista (and upcoming 64-bit Windows 7), that gives you true 64-bit memory addressing for — well, more memory than you have. (The theoretical limit of Windows’ 64-bit architecture on Intel is 16 terabytes.) This allows native 64-bit memory addressing on Windows for both Battery and Kontakt.

The Mac isn’t quite capable of that just yet (at least no audio applications beyond Apple’s own developer tools support 64-bit memory addressing yet), but the Kontakt Memory Server gives you up to 32 GB on 10.4 and later. Clarification: The Kontakt Memory Server is available now only for Kontakt.

The other important development for both Battery and Kontakt is that compatibility with Pro Tools 8 under Mac OS 10.5 Leopard has been restored.

Getting Kontakt on 64-bit is a very big deal, because of the widespread popularity of the sampler. At the same time, the fact that it’s not alone is a good thing — it suggests 64-bit memory for samplers may be catching on. Steinberg’s HALion, Cakewalk’s Dimension Pro, Garritan’s ARIA, and the open source Linux Sampler Project are some of the more familiar samplers that have gone 64-bit recently. (Note that, despite its name, Linux Sampler can run 64-bit on both Linux and Windows.) Cakewalk did a lot to lead the way here on Windows by getting both its SONAR host and Dimension Pro (among other plug-ins) fully 64-bit early. Garritan is equally interesting, because their Plogue-based engine is getting licensed out to soundware makers and, architecturally, is built more as a cross-platform engine. Garritan ARIA is also targeting Linux, and Cakewalk and Garritan are also supporting the open SFZ format.

Okay, I should have put that in a table. Imagine a table in your mind. Wow, that looks beautiful.

To use the 64-bit Windows functionality, you will need a separate Windows install that’s 64-bit. In other words, you’ll need to use this disc. (Windows 7 will work the same way.) Photo (CC) Andy Melton.


Kontakt 3.5 now displays libraries of sounds – built-in and third-party – for easier navigation. Screen image courtesy Native Instruments.

What else is new in Kontakt

64-bit is the headline, but there are other enhancements, too, in the Kontakt engine:

  • “Zero-memory” DFD means you use less memory when streaming from disk (and using less memory is usually the very reason you’re streaming from disk)!
  • True multiprocessor/multi-core support for enhanced performance
  • A virtual rack of all your installed libraries and third-party content, so it’s easier to find your sounds
  • Direct MIDI learn (meaning everything is finally assignable), improved automapping, bypass for effects slots
  • Pro Tools compatibility now works properly on Mac Leopard
  • KSP aftertouch interpretation – so now you can do something with that aftertouch-transmitting keyboard of yours

Update: Note that these are Kontakt-specific features, and not relevant to Battery for reasons clarified below.


In addition to addressing more memory, enhancements to the disk-streaming functionality means Kontakt will also use less memory.

Battery vs. Kontakt

Updated: You will note that Native Instruments is updating Battery and Kontakt more or less at the same time, and they do share some core technologies that allow that to happen. They aren’t exactly the same under the hood, though, as NI explains to CDM:

The core engine technology is the same in Battery 3.0.5 and Kontakt 3.5, but Battery uses a “lighter” version because of its typical use case as a drum sampler.

It doesn’t include the Memory Server and the multiprocessor/multicore support because these features really only become necessary with multitimbral operation, high polyphony and a huge number of instrument samples (and heavy effects usage) like in Kontakt.

Let us know what you think if you’re a Kontakt/Battery user.

New features in Kontakt 3.5 versus 3.0 [Native Instruments]
Public beta of Battery 3.0.5 [at the NI public beta site]

  • Nice… knew there was a reason that I installed Win7 64bit…. to open a sample set 9gb in size and then compose Enoesque micromusic

  • Hellgi

    "The Mac isn’t quite capable of that just yet (…)"

    I assume you mean ""The Mac *version* isn’t quite capable of that just yet (…)".

  • @Hellgi: No, actually, I mean the Mac — at least as far as Core Audio applications (see addendum). My understanding is that it's not possible to support 64-bit-native audio addressing on Mac audio apps, at least not yet. That's *my* understanding, anyway — I'm confirming that that's the case. That could change in a future OS update, though I haven't heard anything yet about Snow Leopard. (I should be talking to Apple's audio folks soon; I'll ask.)

    Certainly, the situation right now is Windows gives you a range of 64-bit-native (memory addressing) audio apps, and the Mac doesn't — period. But that still isn't a black-and-white choice, because the reality is most Windows users are stuck with 32-bit (or running in 32-bit compatibility on 64-bit, even if only for a few plug-ins), and when you compare 32-bit to 32-bit, the Mac is able to address more memory and in a more flexible way.

  • Wow. It's been a while I updated my Kontakt. I still have that old dusty Komplete version 3. Gotta upgrade!

  • I really hope this version solves my Kontakt problems with Logic Pro. I can not use more than 3 gig of RAM without Logic crashing, freezing or behaving weird. I did think however that Logic does provide 64-bit for it's plugins, but I must be wrong.

  • @speakerf00d — what version are you on? Have you tried loading JUST Kontakt and nothing else?

    You shouldn't be able to get more than 3GB of RAM prior to 3.5 as I understand it.

    Basically, it's not actually possible to mix and match 32-bit and 64-bit plug-ins on either Mac or Windows (or Linux, in fact) — talking memory addressing. (64-bit signal processing is another matter; that can actually happen on a 32-bit processor, a 32-bit OS, and a 32-bit app — it's just slightly slower computationally)

    So Logic doesn't provide 64-bit plug-in support, because Mac plugs are all 32-bit. Even on Windows, that's what's keeping a whole lot of people on the 32-bit OS. Or they're running the 64-bit OS, but only able to do 32-bit memory addressing, because they need to be compatible with some 32-bit plugs.

  • I am pretty excited for this. Now, if only KORE were updated for 64-bit support AND multi-core processing! THAT would make me jump for joy.

    Also, I know that 64-bit Sonar has bit bridge so that you can still run 32-bit plugins if you must. I'm sure you've covered that on here somewhere, but I also found a link to this FAQ that explains more: http://forum.cakewalk.com/tm.asp?m=1111935&mp

  • Yeah, Cakewalk's FAQ is really great there — and it means SONAR is a perfect host, really, for the new Kontakt. 😉

    For 32-bit processes and 32-bit Windows, this tool they link looks really nice. I have to try it out.

  • Zavosh

    Possibly a rookie question, but what app is running in your menu bar that's showing RAM usage?

  • koalaboy

    Zavosh: That's the Memory Server under Kontakt 3.5

    I'm really happy with this, as it gives the main 64bit advantage (large samples) I need under OSX, without all the compatibility problems to make *everything* 64bit.

    I could stay with everything else being 32bit for a long time 😉

  • Zavosh

    Ah yes, I just noticed that after the update. Good stuff.

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  • sletz

    Peter, OSX Leopard already support 64 bits audio applications. But very few application exist. Apple AU Lab is one of 644 bits application available.

  • bletch….

    kept trying to download the batter 3 beta today….'no files to extract''missing or corrupted files'…

    what a load of blattery 3

    anybody having similar pwobwems???

    i got a pc


  • Apple always seems to be behind when it comes to making it's operating systems compatible with popular, whether it's MS word or whatever.

  • Matt F

    I found that, when I installed the K3.5 update, my instruments had significant differences in Logic 8.0.2.

    NI were unaware of this issue; nevertheless I've reverted back to 3.0.whatever-the-hell-it-is, because I was worried all my instruments will be altered. I'm too scared to move forward because a similar thing happened with the latest RP Predator update; also in Logic. Anyone else had this sort of trouble?

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  • Steffan

    If you're on a PC, one word: jBridge