Best way to load KONTACT into Cubase

Hey guys so I want to load KONTAKT into cubase i know theres 2 ways using;

  • VST racks
  • Add Instrument Track…

basically my question is which way is best and which settings optimise CPU usage (Macbook pro). i tried the vst racks method and the midi gets kinda messy, is it worth doing?


Track instruments are best for single instances of a CPU heavy library or plugin. Each separate instance of Kontakt will get its own thread (in other words they’ll usually use separate CPU cores), meaning CPU load is more evenly distributed.

Rack instruments are better for large collections of light instruments. All of the instruments loaded into this single instance of Kontakt will use the same thread (in other words the same CPU core), which is fine if the instruments don’t use much CPU.

Make sure to disable “Multiprocessor support (VST - Plugin)” in Kontakt and make sure Multi Processing is enabled in Cubase. This should get rid of most possible audio glitches.

Unless you are close to maxing out your CPU capacity, don’t worry about which uses more CPU. Use whatever makes your workflow easier.

Using 50% of your CPU capacity is not intrinsically better than using 60% - in either case the unused 40-50% are wasted cycles anyway. However the difference between 85% & 95% will make a difference. But if you are in that situation it is a perfect excuse to go PC shopping. :smiley:

Personally I almost always use Instrument Tracks because I find them easier to work with. Even if they cost me a 20% hit on CPU (which they don’t), that’s a reasonable cost for the benefit I get from ease of use.

CPU cycles are not like money where if you don’t use it you can save it for later. It doesn’t matter if you use a cycle or don’t use it, they are both gone the moment after they are available.

Never mind

There are some misinformation in the answers you got here.

The one with “use the way that suits your workflow best” I agree on and also “there is not much difference between a 50 and a 60 percent CPU load”.

However: Is does not matter much if you load Kontakt as a rack instrument or as an Instrument track. They use the same kind of CPU design. I use the rack system, but I think that is only because I’ve been around before the VST instrument track was possible in Cubase. Old habits die hard. The only thing worth remembering is:

If you load several instances of instruments inside one Kontakt track (like building multies) they will all assign to the SAME core. To spread on different cores only use one instance (instrument) per Kontakt track.

Not specially for Kontakt but anyway:
CPU and memory work together: Have Kontakt play back only the samles you use (see manual). A piano loads several samples for 88 keys. If you only use a few keys you don’t need the other samples loaded up.

Some instruments can be set as “direct from disc”.

Also a CPU saver is to use FX tracks for some FX rather than loading them into each track. Typically reverb and delay.

Another CPU saver is to freeze tracks you don’t currently work on and when a track is finished, turn them to audio. Keep the MIDI files in the project (if later editing should be needed) and make a note on what instrument and what settings, but delete the instrument (like synth) itself. You can always load it back later for editing.

Do not add anything to your output bus before final stage mixing.

Use cheap less CPU hungry pluggs/instruments when doing composing and change them to better sounding more CPU hungry during mix. It only takes a little training to have your mind compensate for the difference as long as you are doing the composing.

If this does not help you may need to upgrade the computer.

I find the rack instruments can be messy after adding many… Track instruments are neater after adding many. As for Kontakt, it will consume more CPU resources than Steinberg’s VST.

For example: 50-75 instances of kontakt vs 150-200 Steinberg instruments like halion sonic in Cubase Pro 8.5.
I use 8 maximum for real guitar and others. But for my go to sounds are steinberg’s…

This is not true!
Rack or track will be the same load on the CPU. What matter is if you enter different kind of pluggs into the two.

You are also comparing apples and pears. An oscillator instrument will always put lesser strain on memory and CPU than sampled instruments (given a certain amount of loaded samples).

You are not telling which instrument you load in Kontakt to compare with Halion. The difference between Halion Sonic and Kontakt itself is HUGE. The possibilities of Kontakt is much greater then that of the relatively small Sonic.

It all comes down to what you want to do and what kind of instrument you need to use. You cannot replace the huge world of Kontakt with the small Sonic. You can however use Sonic for composing and scetching, and there are of course some usefull sounds as well. Through the years I have used thousands of Kontakt rack tracks and Halion (the big Halion)less than five times.

Instrument Tracks have been introduced to get an easier way of inserting mono timbrial Instruments compared to rack instruments. However since the Instrument Track 2.0 was introduced back in C7.5 there is not so much difference anymore. The only difference is that the midi Track on the instrument track is hardwired to the Instrument track and has no midi sends nor can be used for anything else. But since you can also add more miditracks to it this doesn’t matter. I doubt there will be a difference in CPU consumption when using the same instrument with the same sound patch in either of them.
Its just a workflow decision. When using a single instance of Kontakt with many patches loaded in it just activate multiprocessing inside Kontakt. When using its own instance for each Instrument deactivate multiprocessing inside Kontakt and let the DAW handle the multiprocessing. The same goes for all Halion Instruments.

That’s what I said. There’s no CPU usage difference between rack and track instruments, but one was primarily intended to be used with multitimbral sources while the other is primarily for monotimbral (or something with few instruments and outputs loaded). I was mainly explaining how loading multiple instruments in a single instance of a plugin differs from having multiple instances with one or just a few instruments. I should have mentioned that using instrument tracks makes using tons of separate instances of a plugin much less messy.

I was simply comparing NI Kontakt vs Steinberg’s VSTi. Which most users find CPU intensive in Cubase.

We had a long discussion about it:

Yes, but as mentioned you are comparing apples and pears. If you need apples there is no comfort in knowing pears consume less CPU power, you need to focus on the apples and how this fruit can consume least possible CPU power.
There are of course also bananas that consume even less CPU than Steinbergs VSTi, but is that relevant at all?

Sounds very… fruity :wink:

What I do to keep CPU usage down to a minimum is use one rack instance of Kontakt and configure extra outputs within. Now you can load multiple instruments in this instance of Kontakt (up to 64 if needed) and have them routed to separate assignable outputs in Cubase. Take a look here on how to set this up.

Also, don’t use all CPU cores in the Kontakt VST. While it’s fine for standalone use it might choke Cubase in VST operation. If you have 8 cores available just use 5 or 6 at the most. Just test it with your system to see how it performs with less.

But like with every VST, be it Cubase or third party, system load depends mainly on the instrument itself. Symphobia or Requiem Pro will put a lot more strain on your CPU and HD than for instance a factory content flute or clarinet. That’s the nature of instruments loading and dealing with large chunks of data (a GB or more!) compared to the ones that only load 32 MB. Hope this helps.

But the first part here is incorrect and in fact the other way around. If you want low CPU load you only load one instrument per Kontakt instance. This will ensure spreading the different Kontakt track to different cores.

No it’s not! Have you tried it?? Loading multiple instances in stead of one with multiple instruments saves resources. At least in my workflow I can see a fair amount of difference. If you think your way is better then by all means carry on using that. But don’t say I’m wrong!

Are you not saying two different things in the two answers? In the first it seems that you have a lower CPU load if you use ONE kontakt instance and then put several instruments into that ONE instance, but in the second answer your are saying:

“Loading multiple instances in stead of one with multiple instruments saves resources”.

Is that not the opposite of the first or am I getting it all wrong here?

I do agree on the last statement and yes I have tried it and I thought it was common knowledge as I have heard and read it several times. Could be however that MAC and PC behaves differently though.

Yes you are correct. I meant of course ‘loading the instruments in one instance of Kontakt’ instead of putting every instrument in its own instance of Kontakt saves resources.

It probably depends on how you use it? I prefer to do most common processing (like reverb and delay) on FX channels in Cubase. Think about it? Instead of having 25 instances of Kontakt all with their own processing engine? You can instead use one instance with 25 added stereo channels and just route the unprocessed streams through a few common FX channels in Cubase. Also when it comes to multitasking I have more confidence in the Kontakt engine because I think it’s much more advanced than Cubase 8’s engine at the moment. So imo Kontakt is more efficient in handling 25 instruments than Cubase is at dealing with 25 instances of Kontakt. At least this is my perception since the introduction of Cubase 8 (imo 7 was more efficient). But again, this is the result on my system and it also depends on how you use it. It’s not exact science.

The danger of common knowledge on topics like this is that it’s sometimes based on old conclusions established at a time when computers and OS’s where less advanced and most people where still running Kontakt 4 and Cubase 6 or so. Things may have changed a lot during that time. So always try to keep an open mind and don’t rely on common knowledge too much. Make sure you base your conclusions on your own experience and not on ‘what goes around’.

Please take a look at the Kontakt 5 manual page 47. ‘Multiprocessor Support’. You can clearly read that one VST instance of Kontakt is capable of using multiple cores and not like you stated that it is only capable of using one.

If you want to flame people on facts you’d better make absolutely sure you get them straight yourself!

Listen man, I’m not your enemy and I don’t claim to have all the answers. I’m just sharing options here that will hopefully help people think outside of the box and maybe view things from a different angle than the standard manuals provide. If it doesn’t work in your particular situation just accept that but don’t immediately assume that people are wrong because it doesn’t comply with your perception of the truth.

I really do agree on other things you wrote and I can see you’re knowledgeable in what you do, but you should try to lose the attitude of flaming people with so called facts. Even if you are 100% correct, there’s no cause to communicate like that with people here. Please save that for your Twitter account!

Here are some clippings from other forums:
You want your DAW to have multicore processing enabled and NOT Kontakt. This is something that multiple composers I know have done for a while on both Mac and PC platforms and it works.

(You can do it the other way round, have the DAW do single processing and Kontakt multicore, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The point is, don’t do both. You will find hundreds of forum posts about this online).

Another trick to get better performance from Kontakt inside a DAW is to not load tons of instruments in one instance of Kontakt. It’s better to have multiple instances of Kontakt, then 1 big instance having 16 (or more) instruments in it.

Here’s the process for you to make sure you’re doing the multiprocessing thing correctly.

I don’t have Presonus One, but you should check your multiprocessing is enabled. Probably in an Options or Preferences and then a submenu under ‘Audio’ or ‘Engine’ or something like that.

Then you go into Kontakt (load it up in your DAW ) – and then go to Options / Engine, and change Multiprocessor support to ‘Off’. Here is a picture illustrating this.

Don’t touch anything else anywhere after that when it comes to multiprocessing!

These are just a couple “quick finds” and I guess they contradict your findings. Use whatever you want. And I am not attacking you as a person, but according to my experience and what I can find on many sites, it is better to load only one instrument per Kontakt instance. Guess people will have to find out for themselves.


Some quick thoughts - disabling multi-core support in Kontakt has been the way to go for YEARS, so I support Rumdrum!

I also believe there is no processor difference between rack and instrument tracks. There IS a difference between using 1 Kontakt instance per instrument (the FORMER instrument track paradigm) and multi-timbral instances of Kontakt (the FORMER rack instrument paradigm), which is why there may still be some lingering perceptions that instrument tracks are less efficient. But now that instrument tracks can function in multi-timbral mode, performance is more of a matter of how many Kontakt instances you have.


You basically have 3 options - rack instrument, instrument track, or VSL Ensemble Pro. Performance depends on whether you run Mac or PC. Cubase is much more efficient on PC than Mac, unfortunately.

If you run a Mac, the most efficient use of resources is VSL Ensemble Pro. You’ll get more Kontakts loaded in this way and tax your system less. Disadvantage is that you’ll have very complicated routing and a total pain in the ass to automate FX and such due to midi and audio being split on separate tracks. If you’re not using VSL, rack/or instrument tracks in multi timbral mode will get you almost as much horsepower as VSL. Instrument tracks with one instance of Kontakt per track will get you the least amount of performance (mine tops out around 60 instances).

If you run a modern PC, I’ve heard Cubase can have 100s of Kontakt instances, so it seems using VSL is not a requirement.

Couple more things - Kontakt can “overload” indepently of Cubase, which is what might happen if you have, say, 16 instruments on 16 channels in one instance of Kontakt (i.e, using it multi-timbrally.) But I find this preferable to overloading Cubase via tons of individual instrument tracks, because in that case Cubase becomes sluggish and unstable on top of the pops and clicks.

Anyway, the above performance issues are why I had to switch to Logic for a TV show I’m on. We got sick of using VSL Ensemble Pro (the automation complexities are just too hard to live with) and we could not get our template loaded into Cubase as instrument tracks. Logic has a more efficient engine however, and we WERE able to get the entire template loaded into it. The difference, btw, is night and day - I’m talking 5% CPU usage in Logic vs 70% in Cubase. We suspect this is because Logic has the power to “deactivate” plugins dynamically that are not being used. Cubase doesn’t seem to be able to do this, at least on Macs.