Kontakt Player Demo Mode – Explained


One of the most frequently asked questions we get is a deceivingly simple one: “Why is my Kontakt library working in demo mode if it’s free?”

Indeed, using the free Kontakt Player by Native Instruments can cause some confusion, especially if you pair it with free libraries. Sometimes you will see a “demo mode” message even though both the Kontakt Library and Kontakt Player itself are free. So, why is Kontakt running in demo mode?

Allow me to explain.

Kontakt Vs Kontakt Player

Kontakt is the flagship sampler plugin by Native Instruments. It comes in two versions: KONTAKT 6 PLAYER (free) and KONTAKT 6 (€399). If you downloaded Kontakt for free from the Native Instruments website or as a part of the free Komplete Start bundle, then you are using the free Kontakt Player plugin.

See also: Free Kontakt Player Libraries

If you bought Kontakt from Native Instruments (or a different vendor), you are most certainly using the full version of Kontakt. If you bought Kontakt but you still see the “demo timeout” message when you load a Kontakt library, this means that you haven’t activated your Kontakt installation properly, and it’s operating as Kontakt Player.

Kontakt Player Demo Timeout

So, again, if you see the “demo mode” message in Kontakt, this means that you are using the free Kontakt Player plugin. The majority of free third-party Kontakt libraries will work in “demo mode” in Kontakt Player. The “demo mode” means that you can only use the library for fifteen minutes. After that, there will be no sound on the output, and you won’t be able to access the editing features.

Kontakt Player demo mode in full glory - notice the big red DEMO notification.

Kontakt Player demo mode in full glory – notice the big red DEMO notification.

What’s important to understand here is that the Kontakt library you downloaded is free. It will work just fine in the full version of Native Instruments Kontakt. However, the free Kontakt Player plugin can only load these free third-party libraries in demo mode.

BUT… well, there is a but.

Some (only a handful, really) free Kontakt sound libraries can indeed work without interruption in Kontakt Player. One such example is the Kontakt Factory Selection library that is provided by Native Instruments and included in the Komplete Start bundle.

As for third-party libraries, one recent example is The Free Orchestra by ProjectSAM. There’s also the Jay Maas Signature Series Drums Lite Edition by Room Sound. Both are free and both will work in Kontakt Player.

So why do these particular third-party sound libraries work in Kontakt Player?

It is because the company that created the free Kontakt library paid a licensing fee to Native Instruments. The license enables third-party libraries to work in Kontakt Player. The license comes at a cost, though, and for many indie sound designers who make free Kontakt instruments, it doesn’t really make sense to pay the licensing fee.

Kontakt Demo TL;DR

Question: Why do I see the DEMO notification in Kontakt?

Answer: The DEMO button is there because you’re using the free Kontakt Player plugin and not the full version of Kontakt. All Kontakt libraries will work just fine in the full version of Kontakt. The vast majority of free third-party Kontakt libraries will only work in demo mode in the free Kontakt Player plugin. You will need to upgrade to the full version of Kontakt to use the free Kontakt libraries without limitations.

I hope the Kontakt demo mode makes more sense now. If you still have any questions about Kontakt or Kontakt Player, feel free to ask in the comments section below.

More info: KONTAKT 6 (€399) / KONTAKT 6 PLAYER (free)

FULL DISCLOSURE: This article contains affiliate/partner links.

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About Author

Tomislav is a music producer and sound designer from Belgrade, Serbia. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief at Bedroom Producers Blog.


    • Tomislav Zlatic


      Thanks for the suggestions, very cool! I’ll write an article with all Kontakt Player freebies in one place. Could be useful to new users.

      • Also, there are a few free libraries like “Arcane” that will get you the crossgrade option to the full version of NI Kontakt for 249,- instead of 399 EUR. For anyone who´s interested, just tested it yesterday, it works…

        • Tomislav Zlatic


          Yes, that’s a great option, especially combined with Native Instruments’ 50% OFF sales that happen from time to time. I will write about all of this in an article that will be published later today.

  1. Phil Gibbons


    I wonder if the freebie sounds played from within Konkakt Player’s “demo mode” are able to be used in commercial production, or if the license of Kontakt Player itself would prohibit this.

    • Tomislav Zlatic


      That’s an interesting question. For third-party libraries, I think it actually depends on the vendor. In this case, Native Instruments are providing the software, but the vendors are providing the actual sound content. It’s always best to double-check with the company that is providing the software/soundware to be sure.

    • WIth all due respect and not meaning to be rude, I can assure that is the least relevant question one could possibly come up with. There is simply no one who cares.

      Composers who work on deadlines and have projects that use 120 different VST-instruments and sample libraries/instruments don’t have time to peruse through each license agreement for individual quirks or mishaps in them. Sample library developers and NI who barely have time and resources to answer user inquiries don’t care what someone does.

      As for samples and sampler interfaces, I’ll present another scenario: sometimes developers supply a user interface with their samples that doesn’t work – at all – but do any license agreements include a protection clause for the customer, that says the customer can make their own interface or download an earlier one that works, seeing as they paid for the right to use the samples? None that I’ve heard of, in fact many might prohibit that by forbidding reverse-engineering. If you refuse to get a replacement interface to play the samples you paid for because of what is or isn’t in the license agreement, I can tell you, you’re not going to get far in your music career, nor life in general.

      It’s up to each and everyone of us to act professionally and ethnically and draw the lines, because license agreements aren’t made by gods who can account for every single scenario users in their endless creativity come up with outside of making music.

      If someone rather struggles with the 30-minute time limit of Kontakt Player rather than getting full Kontakt, all I can say is, that is either admirable cheapskatedness or moral determination. The last thing I would be wondering about is what the license agreement for the sample player says.

  2. Thanks for this!

    I had progressively understood these things, but I would have loved to have found this article years ago. ;)

  3. So, TECHNICALLY ALL libraries are compatible with Kontakt Player but libraries marked “does not require full version” work without a time limit.

    Am I correct?

    • Tomislav Zlatic


      Yes. Kontakt Player can load ALL Kontakt libraries. However, only those marked with “Does not require full version” will work without a time limit. I am currently working on an article that will feature all free Kontakt Player libraries. It will be published later today.

  4. Sandor Varjasi


    Thank you for your post!

    I am an owner of NI’s Komplete 11 Ultimate which contains Kontakt 5 ((activated via Native Access) and I am running into this DEMO issue every time I want to add a free library which doesn’t come with a serial. I cannot add the library via Native Acces, because there is no serial provided by the manufacturer, though I got an invoice that proves I’m a legal owner of the library. I don’t know if there is a solution for this, but I’d highly appreciate your thoughts about this. Thank you in advance and have a nice day!

    • Tomislav Zlatic


      Since you own Komplete 11 Ultimate, my advice would be to contact Native Instruments support directly. As for my thoughts – basically, all libraries should work fine if you’ve activated the full version of Kontakt 5 correctly. Keep in mind that some Kontakt freebies are libraries (you’ll see a NICNT file in the folder) and some are simply distributed as patches (the folder will contain NKI files those are individual Kontakt patches). Those NKI patches should simply work in Kontakt without having to activate them in Native Access. They won’t show up as a library, either. It’s just a single instrument patch that you can use. I hope that helps.

    • I believe you can load non-serial number libraries through the quick load feature in Kontakt 5 without going through Native Access. At least you can do it in Kontakt 6.

  5. Thank you for this. I’m currently working in Kontakt Player demo mode and my instrument timed out. Does anyone know how to reset the patch or restart Kontakt so I can use the instrument again? I see that playing something and bouncing it down in .wav before the timer runs out has been successful. I’d like to buy Kontakt full but I’m running on Mac OSX 10.9.8 and Kontakt 6 is not compatible.

  6. I have many full version bought products from Native Instruments but are in demo mode. So if I buy the full version of Kontakt they will also work normally?

  7. Hi, I’m trying to understand:
    1) If I use a free plugin on kontakt player, that’s intended to be used on the full kontakt – after 15 minuets it will stop working permanantly, or can I close the program, restart it again, and the free plugin will work qgain for 15 minuets?
    2) I’m using Embertone Walker lite, which is paid and works at the kontakt player, but it says “Demo” – do you know why?

  8. I have already installed my Kontakt player suddenly its working in demo mode and many other third party free Instruments which should be working with Kontakt player are not appearing in Kontakt player, what could be the problem and how to solve it

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