August 11th, 2015 -
Native Instrument's Kontakt sampler rocks, and dominates the sample-playback world.
Chicken Systems has supported Kontakt in a special way since it's release. Several Native Instruments products include our Conversion Engine for loading in a wide variety of formats.
But it's not perfect in paradise. We were always able to read the totality of a Kontakt file, but since Kontakt version 4.2 (and Battery 3.2) Native Instruments changed their file format.
Since then, due to NI's helpful assistance, we have access - but only partial access. Although we appreciate NI's cooperation, we've been talking with them about this shortcoming for some time now, but with no success.
More specifically: With any Kontakt v4.2 or Kontakt 5 file that you create or possess, you only have external access (other than Kontakt itself) to a subset of the parameters. This is important for our products like Translator™, Constructor™, and Kontakt Assistant™, whose functions are magnified if we have access to all the information the file posseses.
What we can't access are the modulators (LFO's, Envelopes, Velocity, Pressure, or any external MIDI), Filters, and Effects. Plus various other incidental Program and Group parameters, and Slice information (when Beat Machine is enabled). Also Kontakt Banks (.nkb) and Kontakt Presets(.nkp) can't be read.
What this means for you is that if you ever want to play Kontakt 4.2/5 files with another sampler, or want to play it on a earlier version of Kontakt, you will NOT get the full programming of the instrument. If you should ever want to use another sampler, either for a limited time/purpose or you choose to completely switch over, all the files that YOU possess are mostly locked into Kontakt and you will find it less than optimum to use them elsewhere.
Again, this wasn't the case in Kontakt v4.1 and earlier. Those were the good old days.
3rd Party Product LImitations with Newer Kontakt Files
This limitation hinders creating really useful 3rd-party software. Our Kontakt Assistant™ and Constructor™ software work intimately with internal parameters. So, for example, wIth a Kontakt 3.5 file, if you want to add or delete an envelope or an LFO or even handle a simple Velocity->Volume parameter - YOU CAN. But none of this is accessible with newer Kontakt files.
This is the current situation. We've been trying to change this since Kontakt 4.2 was released (even prior) in late 2010 - five years ago. Because of the length of time, this puts a large amount of v5/4.2 files in circulation and thus aggravates the situation further.
Now, In Context
Regarding reading or writing sampler files, generally we can read/write them or we can't. Typically the issue is copy-protection, and that's completely understandable. We aren't talking about that, we are talking about user-created files or any non-copy-protected library.
But with the Kontakt v5/4.2 situation, we just can't read an important subset of the parameters, which is unusual.
But with some other samplers, it's could be worse. Both Steinberg's HALion™ 3 and higher, and Magix's Independence™, both chose to completely encrypt ALL program files so it is completely impossible to read nor write them. Not only that, this limitation isn't advertised to users. So if you are one of those users, and you've built up a library of sounds, guess what your options are if you choose to change samplers or want to use your work elsewhere? There isn't any options. You have to start over.
We hate to have that happen with Kontakt, a far more popular sampler.
In contrast, with MachFive 3, everything is open and quite easy to access and edit. Another popular sampler is, SFZ, whcih is completely text-based and designed from the ground-up to be editable. That's true ppower to the user. Why hide or protect information?
Still, NI has been helpful to the degree they have been. We CAN read the files to a large extent. And we - and you - appreciate that. We only feel that a user should have the ability to access ALL the information that exists in a file that YOU create. We are writing this to inspire and inform YOU so you know this is a present and unfortuantely ongoing issue.
What Can You Do About It
Where we want to get to is the ability to access ALL the parameters in a Kontakt 5 and v4.2 file. That would lead to some real nice features in 3rd-party applications. It'll just take a little bit of effort on NI's part, and I hope they do this.
Remember, even if Kontakt 6 allows access to all the parameters again, still there's a massive amount of Kontakt 5 and v4.2 user files out there. Sure, loading them into Kontakt 6 and resaving them can be the solution, but not everyone is going to have Kontakt 6.
As far as what you can do about this. we're not sure. But if you have a contact within NI, or if you write on forums, please make this suggestion to NI that this is important to you and would add value to your Kontakt experience.