Kontakt 7 is causing high CPU usage on Mac Studio M1 Max

Intersolar Member Posts: 6 Member
edited May 2023 in Kontakt

I bought Kontakt 7 ( although I have the collectors edition 13) to finally be able to work with Kontakt again under Mac OS Ventura. 

Unfortunately this is an (almost) impossible task on my computer, because with a single Kontakt instance ( and an instrument like. e.g. Pharlight ) 20% - 30% CPU usage is reached

and it goes up to overload when more notes ar played. It is not even possible to load multiple instruments because then I immediately have a CPU overload.

Either Kontakt 7 was not programmed correctly or...I have no idea!?

Has anyone had similar experiences?

Before the general tips and inquiries are asked:


Mac Studio M1 Max/ 32GB/ 1TB internal SSD.


Mac OS Ventura 13.1 

-> Why Ventura? The nice dealer (who is also an official Apple Repair Partner) replaced the Logic Board for me and although I asked him to play back Monterey in any case, he did the update to Ventura. 


Ableton 11 (current version)

Audio interface:

RME UCX with current drivers

N.I. Access:

Current version (dark)

Hard disks for Kontakt:

External SSD only for Kontakt libraries 

I really need help because since I switched to Mac Studio 5 months ago I have only problems and I can't make music anymore.

Additionally, a call to the people here with similar setup, please get in touch with me.

Thanks in advance



  • Intersolar
    Intersolar Member Posts: 6 Member
    edited February 2023

    Another example that shows that it's not possible to work with Kontakt 7

    1 Note of a Multi from Telethon Audio, which runs with chord progressions and so on under iMac late 2012, causes over 70 % CPU under my Mac Studio. I really need help

  • EvilDragon
    EvilDragon Moderator Posts: 1,023 mod
    edited March 2023

    Certain libraries are just CPU eaters due to the way they have been created and which specific features of Kontakt they are using and in what way, and how many. This is not Kontakt's fault. It really depends on a lot of factors: which sample playback mode is being used, how many effects are being loaded and which ones are they (some of the newer effects like Replika delay or Bass Invader amp are really CPU hungry). In case of Straylight/Pharlight/Ashlight, it's also the granular engine and scripted modulation engine that require a decent chunk of the CPU. It is well known that these instruments from -light series do need quite a lot of CPU to do their thing.

    Check Kontakt's multicore setting in Options->Engine. If it's disabled, try setting it to max cores that you have and see how it goes.

    By the way, your screenshots are too tiny, nothing is readable at all. Somehow.

  • drkpttrn
    drkpttrn Member Posts: 1 Newcomer

    Following here to get support on loading the light trilogy on M1..I can't make it work yet.

  • Monochrome
    Monochrome Member Posts: 1,157 Expert

    @drkpttrn Consider creating a separate thread for your issue in the following section below:

  • Saski
    Saski Member Posts: 11 Member

    Yeah not sure that's acceptable. Libraries that used to run well on my mid 2012 Mac Pro are now crippled in my new computer.

    TORLEY Member Posts: 88 Helper
    edited June 2023

    I'm following this with interest as I'm also on a Mac Studio (M1 Ultra) and some similar hardware to @Intersolar (go RME!) but haven't yet had unusual crackle issues.

    If others can provide more examples of patches in libraries (preferably NI ones others are likely to own like Pharlight) and even MIDI files, I'll try it on my system too to see if I get overloads. Especially if it's with a single patch.

    I am seeing that if I try Pharlight - The Alchemist while playing dozens of voices at once or doing a glissando, then I do get system overload. But that seems excessive so I'm hoping to repro it with something that's maybe just a few voices, even a chord.

    Also in my case, I'm currently NOT using Kontakt multitimbrally, since that distributes multicore load better, from what I understand.

    I too see Ableton CPU usage shoot up to 30%-ish when playing a few chords. But if I duplicate the instance multiple times (and manage to not crash), it looks like it holds at 40%-50% with 16 instances and isn't otherwise being unruly.

    I'd expect all M1s to perform similarly in single-threaded.

    I would expect these patches to not be an issue on an M1, especially if they worked fine on an older Intel.

  • EvilDragon
    EvilDragon Moderator Posts: 1,023 mod

    One more thing: with these new Mac CPUs, buffer size is really important. If you're running at 512 samples, this will push the processing onto efficiency cores, making things way slower than they should be. Try 128 samples and you should see the performance cores cracking things down way way faster!

  • Paul B
    Paul B Member Posts: 71 Advisor
    edited June 2023

    Ableton said the same thing about buffer sizes. I tested Pharlight after reading this thread, and there were a couple of things I noticed:

    • Kontakt 6 and 7 behave the same with the same patch. I don't notice any difference in performance. I haven't tested against my old Intel Mac but it was so underpowered compared to the M2 Pro I don't know that any valid comparison can be made. I ran that on max buffer for everything and it sometimes still had channel overloads with instruments based on Reaktor Blocks and Pharlight.
    • Going down below 512 increases CPU load shown in Live, and how Live behaves. By the time I get down to 128 or 64, that channel is overloaded and the instrument is glitching. I had the same behaviour with Vocal Colors. Ableton even say 'In some case with certain CPU intensive processes, lowering the buffer size will not reduce CPU load. In that case it might be better to higher the buffer size.' So the advice boils down to an unhelpful 'lowering it might help, increasing it might help, we don't know.'

    My experience has been that if I am working with anything CPU intensive in Live, I need to be on minimum 256 buffer. Some instruments like Pharlight and Vocal Colors only function well at 512 and above. One Vocal Colors preset had me going to 1024 before it stopped glitching.

    Where things get weird is I checked CPU use in Activity Monitor (which has a window where you can see all cores) and Live's per channel CPU for the channel which overloads on low buffers. CPU use, efficiency vs performance, is not much different between 128 and 1024 samples. Both show large amounts of unused capacity. And about the same use of efficiency vs performance (slightly higher efficiency on one setting, not enough to mean much). Yet at 128 the channel is overloading while no core is overloaded. And at 1024 the channel still shows 50%+ usage, yet no core is even close to 50%.

    This leads me to believe that audio software is operating inconsistently, and Ableton in particular has some serious issues to work out on M1/M2 processors – in this case it is maxing out a channel before a single processor core is even at 50%. I'd love to understand how performance vs. efficiency core decisions are made when running a process. I assume, on no evidence but seems a safe bet, this is not under control of the audio software, but is selected by MacOS based on what it thinks should be used.

    It would be nice if a process could say 'use performance cores for everything until they're almost at capacity, only then offloading some lower CPU operations to the efficiency cores' or the switch from efficiency to performance could be more predictable. Perhaps this will happen over time.

    I've yet to see evidence that using buffer sizes over 256 pushes processing onto the efficiency cores – Live consistently shows lower per channel use on higher buffer sizes and MacOs monitor shows very little difference – slightly more efficiency core usage, but performance cores still in use. I'm not saying it's not true under some circumstances. I'm saying the evidence of my own measurements has not supported it and I've not seen evidence posted online, only the claim that it happens. My current practice is: when using anything which is very high CPU like Pharlight or Vocal Colors, buffer at 1024. Otherwise 256 or lower. This has worked so far.

    ----- Images showing Live and Mac performance measurements -----

    In these images, the leftmost 4 cores are efficiency, the other 8 are performance. The Live channel is playing a one note at a time melody, no chords, on a Vocal Colors preset.

    Mac and Ableton monitoring at 128 buffer:

    Mac and Ableton monitoring at 1024 buffer:

    I am disappointed with how poorly Live performs on the M2 Pro in certain situations. On the other hand, I had a Live Set using the Toybox Tangle Synth which on my previous core i5 4-core Intel Mac could only play one instance, single note melody not chords, at a time. Loading a second channel with another Tangle Synth glitched the whole set unless I froze one of them. That same set plays, all 4 Tangle Synth instances unfrozen, without problem, at lower buffer size, on the M2 Pro. So I kept duplicating the Tangle Synth until I had something like 12 - 16 of them and it still played without glitches! MacOS showed a lot more CPU use than the above images: all cores were up to around 75-80%. Yet Live kept playing fine and showed relatively low load per channel (total load was high, as would be expected). So whatever's up with certain demanding instruments and this inconsistency in how Live performs with them (channel maxed out, glitching) and what MacOS shows is happening (very low use), overall this machine is lightyears ahead in audio performance.

    It is possible the problem is in Kontakt, or these specific Kontakt instruments. Or it's in Live. Difficult to say. I've had one other plugin obviously misbehave, overloading on the M2 Pro when it used almost no CPU on my Intel Mac, but that was in one set and I can't replicate it in any other.

  • Kubrak
    Kubrak Member Posts: 2,811 Expert

    So the advice boils down to an unhelpful 'lowering it might help, increasing it might help, we don't know.'

    The problem is big.little, I guess. Similar problems with latest Intels. Big.little is not the most convenient thing for time critical tasks like sound generation/processing.... Unless it is well adressed in applications. And developers for PC/Mac probably do not have much experience with obstacles it brings....

    And beside that task sheduler in OS...

    Try to switch off efficiency cores, if it is possible. Maybe it helps... At least some people on Intel it did help.

    Beside that M1/M2 Ultra might problems in intercommunication between cores on one chip and another. My guess is that it was even worse on M1/M2 Extreme, that did not do it to finished product....

  • Paul B
    Paul B Member Posts: 71 Advisor

    I haven't found anything which allows disabling efficiency cores on MacOS. It may be possible, but if so the mechanism is currently either unknown or not widely known. What would be ideal for me is a way to set certain applications to never use them, but let the OS use them, since most OS tasks – at least those still running while making music – won't need performance cores.

    This StackExchange post has something to say about whether and to what extent the software developer can affect which cores are used: https://apple.stackexchange.com/a/426930.

    The M2 Pro has only one chip, with 12 cores, so we can rule out possible intercommunication problems between chips.

    Adding to my last post, I forgot to look at Kontakt's CPU meter. It is doing even wilder things than the Live channel meter. It hops between around 15% and 25% much of the time, with semi-regular swings to 100%. It also goes red a lot, presumably indicating an overload, but it does this at both 100% and 25%. The behaviour is much too erratic to capture in a screenshot. But it is interesting that the meter provided by Kontakt provides a third diverging view of CPU use. So we have three views that each disagree on the exact load at a given time, except in that two of them are saying there are overloads, with the OS saying there is no problem, more than enough CPU headroom while the software says different and glitches.

    I realise that Activity Monitor does not provide continuous real time CPU, it has an update frequency. I had it set to 2s but retested now with 1s and saw no differences. Is it possible the spikes occur between updates? Sure. Consistently? When watching for an extended time? Unlikely. The spikes are not evenly spaced such that they could always be hidden from the Activity Monitor view. And Live's meter is consistently high – never dropping more than 1 bar from full – while Kontakt's goes red at a high rate.

    It's a mystery, and one that needs people who know the internals of the software in use, much more than I do about how these chips work, and have access to the code of the applications so that they can analyse what's happening – i.e., NI and Ableton – to figure out.

  • Forest
    Forest Member Posts: 1 Newcomer

    I'm having the same issue.. works fine on intel based Mac but not on the new Mac M1 computer. Other 3rd party plugins work, not Native Instruments..

    I installed the latest updates today and still. no resolve.

    I use Kontact 7, Exhale, Signal and Rev.. They work fine until I try to change a parameter while playing live.

  • iskeptici
    iskeptici Member Posts: 1 Newcomer

    I just updated to Kontakt 7 so I could add Fables to my collection (the demo was amazing) but it's useless with the CPU load, it overloads even when Kontakt is the only plugin loaded and I'm playing just a single note! I have a 2019 Intel based Mac Pro and have never had any issues on it to date for any Kontakt instrument or any other plugin for that matter, until loading Kontakt 7.

  • KennethLavrsen
    KennethLavrsen Member Posts: 1 Newcomer

    I am sitting here with a 20 core Mac Studio with 64 GB RAM. I play a simple project with few instruments. Logic Pro is set to maximum use of CPU, maximum buffer. The entire kitchen sink

    Adding a Kontakt 7 instrument and boom after few seconds the CPU of one or two cores goes to 100% and Logic stops. It is right now impossible to work with Kontakt. Nothing is possible. No work around.

    Worst thing - it worked yesterday. What did I do? I upgraded my Native Instruments software incl Kontakt 7.

    This is a bug injected recently. And the worst with all this cloud ****** is that you cannot just run the installer of a previous version. Right now I have a Native Instruments product which is the condition for 10000s of dollars 3rd party instruments broken. And what do I see? The problem KNOWN and nothing done about it

  • raediaspora
    raediaspora Member Posts: 4 Member
  • Kymeia
    Kymeia NKS User Library Mod Posts: 3,888 mod
    edited November 2023

    Also the bug is fixed in the next release which will be any day

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