The Road Less Travelled

I’m sure most of you have heard a GPS in a car before, the way it speaks to the driver, giving directions. When you miss your turn, the GPS will do a little computing and find the next best path to travel and often will say “re-routing” (I like to mimic it in a computerised voice) to inform you that it is finding another path. You may say what does this have to do with audio? Well for me, it has to do with routing MIDI channels in Kontakt and learning how we can maximise efficiency from our computers when using multiple samplers. When I first started using Kontakt, I would have multiple instances of Kontakt running on multiple instrument tracks. This way of using Kontakt works, but is horribly taxing on the CPU and there is a much more efficient way to route our samplers. Just like the GPS calculating the best route to take on the road, which saves us costly fuel and wear and tear on our vehicles, we can give the commands to route our samplers to use one instance of Kontakt, saving us computing power.

I have found that there are a number of videos online that take us through this process, the only problem is that many of them are confusing and not really the correct way of working. The one video that I found to be intuitive and logical is Chrissy Tignor Fisher’s Youtube clip, where she demystified the often convoluted routing process when using Pro Tools and Kontakt. Chrissy is the Assistant Professor of Contemporary Writing and Production at the Berklee College of Music, Boston. I will explain the process in this blog but for now, I highly recommend watching Chrissy’s explanation below.

Setting Up Pro Tools

  • Create the number of MIDI-tracks that you would like to use.
  • Create a stereo instrument track and insert Kontakt on it.
  • Create the same amount of stereo-audio tracks as the MIDI-tracks you are using.
Setting up the session
Setting up the session
  • Name the tracks so it doesn’t get confusing later on.
  • Output the MIDI tracks sequentially

    Making sure the MIDI channel lines up with Kontakt
    Making sure the MIDI channel lines up with Kontakt
Output of Cello's
Input of Cello’s

Notice in the above images that the input of the software instrument (session strings pro) and the cello MIDI track’s output are routed to the same channel(ch.1). In my set up you will see that bass MIDI is next and its output is routed to ch.2, so set the input of the corresponding software instrument to be the same.

Same inputs for the MIDI track and software instrument.
Routing the MIDI track and software instrument.

Do this for all of your software instruments, remembering that the inputs need to match the selected MIDI track’s outputs. As Chrissy points out, the output of our software instruments are all coming through the instrument track. This means that with the current setup, we don’t have control over the individual sounds and isn’t optimal. To rectify this, the stereo audio tracks we had created earlier will now be assigned to input the signals coming from the instrument track.

Match the output of the software instrument to the input of the audio channel
Match the output of the software instrument to the input of the audio channel


To simplify the signal path, it can be explained like this;

  1. MIDI signals from the MIDI tracks are input into Kontakt.
  2. Kontakt triggers the incoming MIDI signals with the software instruments.
  3. The software instruments are output to the audio tracks.
  4. The input of the audio tracks are the same as the output of the corresponding software instrument.
  5. The original MIDI has passed through Kontakt and is now in the audio domain.

We have now used one instance of Kontakt to trigger multiple software instruments and in turn, converted them to .wav’s, which can now be processed like any other piece of digital audio.

Putting It Into Practice

Theres no point in doing this exercise without seeing the benefit of this methodology, so I have composed a piece and used the routing that we have discussed in this blog. Funnily enough, the piece you are about to hear taxed my poor little Mac-Mini to the point of having to work in multiple sessions, so you can imagine that without using this resource-conscious method, my computer would have probably went into melt-down!

To create the demonstration I first composed the bulk of the orchestral instruments.

MIDI sequences of the orchestral instruments.
MIDI sequences of the orchestral instruments.
Pro Tools edit window
Pro Tools edit-window

As you can see above, I recorded the MIDI-triggered software instruments onto the audio tracks. The next step was to introduce the modern instruments. Originally I had three audio tracks using Guitar Rig5 and another instrument track using Superior Drummer 2.0 in the session you see above, this made my computer struggle so I had to export the waves of software instruments and the Guitar Rig and Superior Drummer tracks as a new session.

Take Two!
Take Two!

I was happy with the result and bounced the new session down. After listening back to the finished track a few times, I thought it could use some orchestral percussion, so I made another session because the percussion samplers take up a good deal of the CPU and the session I had open was already being taxed by Superior drummer and Guitar Rig.

The final countdown
The final countdown

As you can see from the picture above, the finishing touches were added to the already bounced 96kHz-24Bit .wav, using Chrissy’s method of routing.

I would like to thank Chrissy Tignor Fisher for being so open with this really helpful technique and as you can see, it works! Thanks for reading! 🙂



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