The Best Free Kontakt Alternatives

In the world of computer music production, Kontakt is the standard format for sampled instruments. However, it comes with a price because Kontakt cost a whopping 399$ US! What can you do if you don't have that kind of money to invest in a virtual sampler? Here's our list of free Kontakt alternatives. While nothing really compares to Kontakt, we think that you'll be able to do a lot of what Kontakt does for zero dollars.

1. Beat's Zampler RX

Zampler RX is a free sampler that can load Sfz files. Once loaded, you can shape your sound using an array of very high-quality effects, filters as well as a flexible amplitude envelope. Many free and commercial libraries are available for it and they are all very good.

Website: Zampler RX

2. Plogue's Sforzando

If you want a quick and easy way to load Sfz & Sf2 (soundfonts) files, Sforzando is the best option available. You can download a collection of sounds for it on their website, courtesy of ARIA Engine. However, Sforzando is aimed at more advanced users because you'll need a text editor and basic coding knowledge to program your own sounds for it. That being said, there's plenty of Sfz and Sf2 files available for free online, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Website: Sforzando

3. TX16Wx Software Sampler

TX16Wx is the best Swiss army knife style sampler in the list. The plugin can load wav, aiff, ogg and FLAC files as well as Sfz and Sf2. A lot of sound shaping possibilities are offered, among them: various filters, a modulation matrix and a build in audio editor. TX16Wx is a very powerful software sampler and it's surprising it didn't get more recognition. If the free version is not enough, there's also a Pro version that ads ever more options.

Website: TX16Wx Software Sampler

4. Magix Independence Free

Perhaps the best plugin in the list, Independence Free comes with a 2 gigs library of high-quality sounds. As you can see from the screenshot, there's a lot of parameters to tweak and almost anything you can think of to shape your sound is there. The only drawback is the limited file formats in can load: Akai S1000/S3000 and soundfont. In a way, you could see it as a glorified soundfont player! But in reality, it's much more!

Website: Independence Free

5. Vember Audio Shortcircuit

Shorcircuit used to be a commercial plugin but since its development has ceased it's not available for free without support. The best thing about Shortcircuit are the filters and modulation capabilities. You can really do a lot with a handful of samples and Shortcircuit! Another important aspect of Shortcircuit is the possibility to load REX2 files. REX2 files are samples which contain metadata that slices the audio into separated notes/hits. Instead of stretching the sound it will play the notes on time according to your desire length. The format as been created by Propellerhead and is now a standard in computer music production. Lastly, an important limitation to keep in mind: Shortcircuit is only available for Windows in 32-bit VST format.

Website: Vember Audio Shortcircuit

6. One Small Clue's Grace Sampler

Grace is an easy to use sampler that loads Sfz files as well as wav and aiff samples. The sampler comes with a small factory library consisting of bass, leads, drums, synth pads and vintage keys. There's a definitive retro vibe to the factory samples, something that is very cool. All the sounds are highly usable and well build.

Website: Grace Sampler

7. IK Multimedia SampleTank 3 SE

SampleTank 3 SE is the free rompler offering by IK Multimedia. With the additional free libraries available for it, it's not an all-around solution like Independence Free or the SampleScience Player, but the free sounds are so good that they are well worth the download. In order to access the plugin, you'll need to register and once in your account you'll see the downloaded libraries separately.

Website: SampleTank 3 SE