Now we are looking inside this blank instrument. If you are new to instrument-building in KONTAKT, you may find this area a bit daunting since there is a lot going on here. Scroll down the instrument to look around and get more familiar with the different sections before moving on to the next step.
You will notice five tabs on the top of the GUI that open different sections of the instrument. We need to look at the Group Editor. Click on the Group Editor tab and you should see a new section appear in the instrument. This is where you create individual groups of samples/wavetables for organization and group effect processing.
Currently there is one group in this instrument that has no samples/wavetables. Let’s create a new group with a wavetable. To do this we will have to import one of the many wavetable group presets that ship with KONTAKT 6. Within the Group Editor there is an Edit drop-down menu. Click on it and select ‘Import group’. Now we can locate and import any wavetable preset. On a Mac, navigate to your local drive’s:
Library>Application Support>Native Instruments>Kontakt>Groups>Wavetables>Basic Shapes folder.
Here, select the Square-Saw I.nkg wavetable.
Play some notes on your keyboard controller and you should hear a square wave tone. It might be a bit too loud so bring the group Volume in the bottom section of the Group Editor down to -14dB. You can double click the number field and type in the value.
In the Group editor you will also see controls relating to the actual wavetable. The Position dial will let you change the waveform from a Square to a Sawtooth or a mix of both in the middle. The dropdown menu right next to the Position dial provides further wavetable manipulation options. Select Flip here and play around with the Form dial to hear what Flip does.
Let’s use an LFO to modulate the Position and Form controls. Right-click the Position dial and select LFOs>sine.
This will create a new sine LFO and assign it to modulate the Position control. In the Mod section below you will see the assignment with an Intensity control. Set the Intensity to 38% and set the Position to 70.0. When you play notes, you will hear and see the modulation in effect. The Position dial’s value is important as the modulation centres on that value.
Let’s also modulate the Form dial. Right-click on the Form dial and select Existing> LFO [-> wavetablePosition]. Set the modulation Intensity to about 40%.
This will make use of the same LFO we used for the Position modulation. It’s good practice to reuse the same LFO if you don’t really need a different shaped LFO with a different rate. It will also make it much easier to navigate the instrument with fewer modulators.
Let’s hear what this sounds like so far, in the context of a beat:
There is no limit to the number of wavetables you can have in an instrument so let’s add one more. Back in the Group Editor’s Edit dropdown menu, select Import group and navigate to your local drive’s Library>Application Support>Native Instruments>Kontakt>Groups>Wavetables>Analog folder.
Let’s load the Bright Lights.nkg wavetable.
EDIT ALL GROUPS
Now that we have multiple active groups it’s very important to understand the ‘Edit All Groups’ button on the top left corner of the Groups Editor. If the button has a bright red background, it means that whatever editing is being performed will be executed on all groups in the instrument. We want to keep them independent so let’s turn that button OFF. Now, select the ‘Group 1’ empty group (do this by single clicking on the name of the group) and from the Edit menu select Delete selected group.
SECOND WAVETABLE MODULATIONS
Now let’s work on the second wavetable. This group is a bit loud so let’s set its volume to -6 dB. Note that this is the same volume dial as the one on the first wavetable but as long as just the one group is selected, only that group’s volume will be affected.
To make the interaction between the two wavetables more interesting, let’s detune the second wavetable slightly so as to get that chorusing effect. To do this we will have to open the Mapping Editor and in there, set the tune to -0.10.
What we have so far sounds quite good but it could definitely use some more movement. Let’s add a Low Pass Filter on both the wavetable groups and have an LFO modulate its Filter Cutoff. Select both the groups – you can do this by turning ON Edit All Groups. Now in the Group InsertFx, Add the Ladder LP4 filter.
The sound is going to be very dull right now but we will fix that with some modulation. Right click the cutoff parameter on the Ladder LP4 and select LFOs>sine. Now the filter cutoff is being modulated by a sine wave LFO. Set the modulation Intensity to 38%.
The rate of modulation is a bit slow. Let’s set this to a musical tempo subdivision. To get to the LFO settings, click on the Quick Jump icon in the LFO mod section. This will navigate the interface down to the modulation section where all the available modulators are housed. The one that has a yellow outline is the one that we are working with currently. Click on the Hz in the Frequency section to see musical subdivision values. Select sixteenth here.
Let’s hear what this sounds like now:
One final touch we will add to this sound is unison detune. This will create additional unison voices which we can detune slightly and spread across the stereo spectrum which makes the synth sound bigger and wider. We can do this with one of the scripts in KONTAKT 6.
Back on the top of the interface, click on the Script Editor to open it. There are five slots here that can house different scripts. In the first empty slot, click where it says Preset and load Factory > Effects > Unison X.
In this script you can choose the number of unison voices you want to add, the amount of detune among the voices and the overall stereo spread. You can set these by ear but keep in mind that the higher the number of unison voices, the heavier the load on your CPU. Here are my settings.
Let’s hear what this sounds like now:
Now that we have built a custom instrument in KONTAKT, it’s always a good idea to save it for recall in future projects. Click on the wrench icon to close the instrument. The name is probably New (default). Change that to Light Saw and hit Enter. Now click on the floppy disk icon on the main menu in KONTAKT and select Save As.
Save the instrument in a location of your choice.
So there we have it. Using the wavetable module in Kontakt, we have developed a custom synth sound that would work great in any EDM track. Enjoy!