Saturday, December 22, 2012

Converting Sample Libraries to the Kronos

In this tutorial I'll go through the steps I recommend when converting computer-based sample libraries to the Kronos. 


1) If the sample library is in SoundFont2 (SF2) format, you can of course directly import it.  As a side note, there are a lot of funky SF files out there and it’s not unusual to run into issues when converting them.  Just be aware of this, it can be hit and miss.

2) If you have soft synths like Synthogy Ivory, East West Quantum Leap, or products for Kontakt that run in the Kontakt player or show up in the library tab in the full version of Kontakt, you can bring these into the Kronos only if you re-sample them.  Because you don’t have access to the actual WAV samples, you cannot simply convert them into another format like SF2 and bring them into the Kronos.  They need to be re-sampled.  You would use software like Sample Robot or Extreme Sample Converter to accomplish this.  These products, through an automated process, go and re-sample your libraries.  You could also use this approach sample hardware.  In this tutorial I’m not going to be covering re-sampling.

3) What I will be covering are the steps I would recommend when converting standard sample libraries, and specifically Kontakt libraries, into the Kronos.  What I mean by standard libraries are those that don’t have copy protection and give you access to actual WAV samples.  If you have a library which REQUIRES the full version of Kontakt in order to run, then it’s a standard library and doesn’t typically have copy protection.  Some examples include:
  • Cinesamples – Piano in Blue
  • Sampletekk libraries
  • SoundIron – libraries such as Emotional Piano
  • Hollow Sun
  • and lots more
NOTE: There are a few libraries that DO require the full version of Kontakt but where the WAVs were saved using compression (.NCW).  You will need to re-save them without compression to get access to the waves.


One problem with converting these large libraries to the Kronos is that they can be very detailed and include things like release samples, noises, and other layers that add to the sound.   Now I would argue, that while these sounds do add detail, these components are considerably less critical than the overall sustain sound.  So my recommendation is to edit the library to eliminate everything but the base sounds, in order to guarantee a successful conversion to the Kronos. If you want to, you can add detail sounds later.  It’s up to you as to how much detail you think is necessary and how much work you want to put into it.

So one aspect of the clean up of the library is removing everything but the essential sounds and another is to make sure the layers are lined up nicely in order to create multisamples in the Kronos.  

Here are images of two different piano libraries within Kontakt.  The samples are mapped across the keyboard horizontally and shown at rising velocity layers vertically.  Fig. 1 has a very complex mapping.  Essentially, each note has it’s own velocity map.  This is going to be a challenge to convert cleanly into the Kronos.  If you would still like to convert a library like the one shown in Fig.1, I would recommend using the re-sampling process.

Fig. 2
The library shown in Fig. 2 is mapped in a much more straightforward manner.  This is how you want things to look.  Each velocity layer is going to end up being a multisample in the Kronos. Converting the library on the right should be easy.

While I’m going to be using Kontakt, if you have libraries in other formats such as EXS24 in Logic or Halion, you should be able to use their editors to do the same cleanup or prep that I’m going to show you in Kontakt.

Open Kontakt (standalone mode is preferred).  I use version 3 because it’s supported by all of the conversion utilities (Translator, ESC, CDxtract).  Only Translator 6 supports Kontakt 4 and none support Kontakt version 5.

Fig. 3
The example I’m using is Sampletekk’s Black Grand (Fig.3).  It is available at their website for download.  It’s a Steinway D mic’ed at three positions.  You can purchase the close, medium ambient, and ambient versions separately or as a collection.  I will be using the Close Grand.  It comes in EXS for Logic, Halion and Kontakt NKI format.  The programs are numbered.  Programs one through six are progressively mellower.  Programs seven through ten are progressively brighter.  Sampletekk approaches this is a similar way to the Kronos pianos where the dark or more mellow pianos use more the lower velocity layers while the brighter ones use more of the higher velocities. 

Fig. 4
I’m going to choose Close Grand #3 which is a 14-velocity layer piano.  In order to get to the editors in Kontakt you need to click on the wrench icon.  You will be using the Group and Mapping editors.  As you can see in the mapping editor (Fig. 4) there are zones on top of zones.  This is going to create issue if you try to bring it into the Kronos without simplifying the mapping.  

Fig. 5
So use the group editor to delete all groups other than the basic sustain groups.  Select the non-sustain groups (in this example it would be all the pedal down and rel groups) and choose delete selected group(s).  Now you should have a mapping like what you see in fig. 5 that is very clean with only just the sustain level remaining.  Save the file with a new name….   And close out of Kontakt.


In order to convert these libraries into the Kronos, you’re going to have to first convert them to Soundfont 2 (SF2) format, which the Kronos can then directly import.  There are several conversion utilities that can do this: 
I have found these conversions, especially after one has gone through the cleanup process described above, to work very well.  I use Translator 6 (Mac).  The process of conversion is simple.  Open the .nki file, right-click on it and choose "Convert As..."  Then Choose "Soundfont" and select a destination.  After the conversion is done, use FTP or copy the file to a USB stick and bring it into the Kronos.  You should find that the SF2-Kronos conversion creates a single program with a mapping just like the clean version in Kontakt (or other software sampler).


I hope this helps you in converting some of your sample libraries into the Kronos.  The process might seem a bit complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it you'll find it's really not bad.  Spending a little more time up front leads to a better conversion in the end.