by Ronan Macdonald

4 free KONTAKT libraries to lend your trap beats a unique, moody vibe

808s and trap hats are a given – but how about textural drones, evolving pads,
and baritone ukuleles?

If you want your trap and hip-hop productions to truly stand out from the crowd, you need to be constantly on the lookout for interesting, original sample libraries – but you don’t necessarily need to spend any money to get hold of them. For this round-up, we’ve scoured the web to find five free KONTAKT instrument libraries that will take any basic trap beat in a darker, and altogether more interesting, direction.

You’ll notice that, with the exception of Trap Gods, our quality quintet doesn’t offer much in the way of 808s, boom-bap drums or any of the other head-nodding staples you might be expecting. That’s because we’ve collated them under the assumption that you’re already sorted for such readily available and ubiquitous sounds. Instead, we’ve got a more diverse and thought-provoking collection that best suited for layering on top of those fundamental elements. With that in mind – and noting that all of these instruments require the full KONTAKT and so aren’t compatible with the free KONTAKT PLAYER – let’s get started.

Soundethers Freefall

Built in Jeremiah Pena’s free Photosynthesis Engine, this 180MB collection of 14 spaced-out instrument patches and six multis focuses on textural drones and ambiences, produced using a combination of field recordings and synthesis, but also includes a couple of beats and ‘pulses’. Each NKI comprises up to three freely mixable sample layers, and the interface is packed with parameters and processors, including amp, pitch and filter envelopes; amp, pan, pitch and filter LFOs; amp and filter (pre and post-effects) step sequencers; and key-triggered insert and send effects. The Photosynthesis Engine is amazingly powerful, and Soundethers’ excellent samples really play to its sound-design strengths.

Cinematique Instruments Marble Free

A cut-down edition of Cinematique’s supercharged sequencing KONTAKT instrument, Marble Free taps into six of the full version’s 63 sampled sources to conjure up 46 dual-layered presets. The sounds themselves are fantastic, giving trap and hip-hop producers a wealth of impactful percussion, delicate melodics, expressive pads and more, but it’s the versatile ‘open’ sequencers that bring the whole thing to life, facilitating independent modulation of 12 sound parameters (Pan, Filter, Reverb, Stutter, etc). The equally brilliant ‘marble’-controlled master effects table, meanwhile, enables real-time sweeping back and forth through user-designed volume, reverb, filtering and distortion control sequences. A roller in every sense.

Beats24-7 Trap Gods

This 1 GB library nets you 66 fresh and funky multi-sampled sounds, each one contained in its own dedicated NKI. As well as 808 subs, kicks, snares, hats and percussion, you also get a raft of extremely polished basses, keys, lead synths, plucks, pads, strings and more. And with three onboard effects (Reverb, Delay and Chorus), an amp sim with three-band EQ, ADSR envelope shaping, and a morphing resonant filter, there’s a huge amount of customization potential built right in. Divine!

Cinematique Instruments Cement 2

A quirky, fun library with a decidedly niche remit, Cement 2 lets you step sequence and mix the sounds of three very specific multisampled instruments: baritone ukele, guitar harmonics, and marimba. Programming the sequencer is as simple as clicking blocks into the eight-lane grid, and each lane can be set to any note between C2 and B3 (transposed globally by up to two octaves). The volumes and decay times of the three sounds are independently adjustable, the low-pass filter can modulate randomly with each step, and simple distortion and rotary speaker effects provide instant sonic transformation. A great source of plucky chords and monophonic riffs, and perfectly suited to bass music of all kinds.

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