Transforming Sounds Using Kontakt's Tone Machine

Using unexpected sources as the basis for sound design is the name of the game in this article. Toby Pitman whisks up a pad sound from hi-hats in Native Instruments' Kontakt.

Kontakt is probably the most widely used and most powerful software sampler on the market. Its creative toolset is packed with so much fun stuff for making new sounds that it’s almost to much to comprehend! 

In this article I’ll show you how to make this pad… out of a Hi-Hat sample! 

This is pretty easy to achieve using one of Kontakt's many powerful granular sampling algorithms called Tone Machine which allows you to impose pitch characteristics onto non-harmonic sounds like percussion. 

Step 1

Let’s start off by creating a new instrument from the File menu:

new instrument

Step 2

Hit the wrench icon to open up the instrument parameters. Open up the Mapping Editor and drag in a sample from the Finder. I’ve used a sample from my Ultrabeat Samples folder that came with Logic Pro. Make sure you drag onto the top of the mapping window so you cover the entire span of the keyboard. The lower down the window you drop on to the lower span of your sample.

drop a sample in

You can also do this step by just dragging a sample to an empty space in the Kontakt rack. 

Step 3

Set your Root note for the sample to C1.

Root note to C1

Step 4

Select the Tone Machine algorithm from the drop-down:  

Tone machine algorithm

This will give our non-harmonic Hi-Hat sample a musical quality. You’ll notice the sound takes on a digital quality. That doesn’t matter as we’re going to stretch it beyond all recognition! Here are some notes as they stand now!

In the parameters for the Tone Machine I’m going to set the Speed to 2.6%. This is going to stretch the sample into something we can use for our pad. 

Speed to 2.6%

I’ve also set the Formant to +12 semitones. The Formant affects the timbre of the sample (dark -> bright). Here’s what we have now:

Step 5

Now in the Group Insert FX I’m going to add a 4-Pole Ladder filter:

4-pole ladder filter

Step 6

Cutoff is at around 320Hz, Res at 48%. I’m going to add some modulation to the Cutoff. Click add modulator and choose LFOs > sine.

Adjust the cuttoff and resonance

Set the amount to 16%.


Step 7

Scroll down to the bottom of the instrument. Set the Frequency of the LFO to 0.6 Hz and give the Volume envelope an attack of around 3500 ms.

Adjust LFO and Envelope

Step 8

I’m going to load in a Solid Bus Comp to my Group Insert FX.

Solid Bus Comp

Step 9

Here are my settings. These will vary from sound to sound.

The settings so far

Here’s what we have so far:

Step 10

Finally I’ll add a Delay into my Insert Effects.

Add a delay

Here’s my finished sound:

Not bad for a Hi-Hat! You can take this as far as you like. Here’s the same sound with the Formant being controlled by the Mod Wheel:

Step 11

You’ll find you get some interesting results depending on what you use for your source sample. This was made using a SFX sound from the Electro House Kit in Ultrabeat.

Electro House kit from Ultrabeat

All the movement in the sound is based on the sample content:

You’ll find that the more diverse and interesting the source sound is, the more varied the result will be. The possibilities are almost endless here so good luck!! 

For the past 20 years Toby has worked as a professional guitarist, programmer and producer. Clients include Sir Paul McCartney, George Michael, Shirley Bassey, Yusuf Islam, Giles Martin as well as the London 2012 Olympic Ceremonies. He has also worked extensively in TV, Advertising and Film. As well as composing himself he has also ... Read More


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