Native Instrument has released Komplete Select – a premium selection of 10 Komplete Instruments and Effects carefully chosen to give producers working in all genres a wide-ranging toolset for [Read More]
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Native Instrument has released Komplete Select – a premium selection of 10 Komplete Instruments and Effects carefully chosen to give producers working in all genres a wide-ranging toolset for [Read More]
The changes are subtle. And if you’re looking for some kind of splashy way of integrating Maschine with Traktor or transforming how you play plug-ins, this isn’t it. But some point updates to two flagship Native Instruments production tools are worth applauding. They make these tools not only more useful, but give them more longevity.
Maschine sounds better. Maschine and Komplete Kontrol play better together. And whereas hardware/software integration sometimes seems designed solely to lock you in to certain products, Komplete Kontrol now not only works with your host and other gear, but works even when it’s unplugged from your computer – as it should.
Both are free updates, and both also now include for free Komplete Select. For Maschine users, that’s a nice add-in — and actually, this is kind of what I run mainly on my cramped SSD on the go. You get a nice upright piano, the terrific Monark Minimoog-inspired emulation (which has an amazing filter model), Massive (no intro needed there), an electric piano, the beautiful Reaktor Prism synth, and more synths, keys, drawbar organs, West African rhythms (why not?) and a really good bus compressor.
More Drum Synth sounds. The Drum Synth was one of the best parts of Maschine 2, moving the machine beyond samples to real tunable, playable synthesis. There’s now a Cymbal module with “Crash” and “Ride” modes – yeah, you needed that. And “Hi-hat” accordingly gets a “Hybrid” mode. The Snare and Tom get new modes, too (dubbed “Breaker” and “High,” respectively).
Better-sounding reverbs, more effects, guitar cabs. If you liked the old Reverb effect, it’s still there, renamed “Legacy.” But there’s a new reverb to try out, with hall and room modes. There are new effects, too – a new distortion mode, more transparent limiter, and from Guitar Rig a new selection of cabinets and mics.
Easier to play, better integrated with Komplete Kontrol. The Arpeggiator has a hold function (on keyboards and pads). And for us keyboardists, there’s really a reason to use a keyboard with Maschine and not just the pads. Aside from the ability to work in both directions with Komplete instruments and metadata, and save settings from each, you can now use the keyboard’s touch strip modes (including the wacky bounce-y ones, fun for modulation). You can see octaves and key switches.
There are a bunch of other tiny details and enhancements that have clearly kept the engineers busy, but I’ll let you dig through the readme if you want to get to that level of detail.
In keyboardland, Komplete Kontrol 1.1 delivers a bunch of features we knew were coming but that finally move this from a “sit on the shelf” toy to “oh, okay, now I remember why I thought this was a good product idea in the first place” tool.
Yes, you can get MIDI notes from the Scale and Arp features out to your host.
Yes, you can also output those Scale and Arp to external hardware via the MIDI Out port. (And you were wondering why it was there.)
You can use the Light Guide to show a scale without remapping notes, if you want a visual aid to learning scales but don’t necessarily want the piano keys to stop acting like piano keys. (This works in Maschine with the keyboard, too.)
And finally, you can access touch strip settings from the hardware. Previously you had to dig into a menu and … yeah, let’s just say it was enough work to make the feature kind of useless. Now, the touch strips are fun and useful, and you can easily choose whatever you want the touch strip to do from either the Komplete Kontrol software or Maschine.
You can also tempo sync modulation on the touch strip. This is the sort of thing that previously required Lemur. Very cool.
And best of all, Komplete Kontrol works as a standalone MIDI controller when you’re not connected to a computer. You can create control pages with the Controller Editor and use that hardware
Oh, Hell, yeah. So, that moves my rating of this keyboard from “admire from afar” to “buy.” Because let’s be clear about this. It’s a practical thing. Most of us now own some kind of synths, especially since some are dirt cheap. And it’s a philosophical thing. If you drop your laptop on the floor, or just don’t want the temptation of booting up your machine and looking at some depressing email or Facebook instead of actually making music, the pretty, pricey music hardware you own should not – I repeat, not – turn into a useless brick. End of rant. It’s fixed.
Good stuff, and as I plan to take this gear on the road I’m really pleased. So, hey there, Komplete Kontrol S25, time to see if you fit easily into my suitcase.
Of course, Native Instruments has some competition nipping at its heels – particularly in the form of Akai’s own controller keyboard, the Advance. Now, interestingly, though, several of the issues I raised back in January have been addressed by NI. In fact, the things that most bothered me – the inability to use Komplete Kontrol in standalone mode or to work with plug-ins and hardware with the built-in arp and chords and scales – were just fixed with this very update. But that still leaves an interesting horse race, and I hope we’ll have a full review of the Akai soon.
What are you using? What do you want to know? Let us know.
Full details on that Maschine update found on the forums.
The post Maschine and Komplete Kontrol Updates Make Them Way More Useful appeared first on Create Digital Music.
I’ll be honest: my Komplete Kontrol keyboard has been sitting on a shelf. But I believe that’s about to change in a big way.
So how did it wind up on the shelf in the first place? Yes, this is one of the nicest-looking, nicest-feeling keyboards around. And yes, it works seamlessly with Native Instruments’ own instruments and effects – particularly in that it makes it easy to dial up presets and to map parameters to the encoders and display their values.
The problem is, most of us don’t live in a world where we only use Komplete. Because Komplete Kontrol software didn’t originally support plug-ins, and because you couldn’t capture MIDI events from features like the arpeggiator and chords, it didn’t fit into our workflow.
An updated version of Komplete Kontrol changes that experience – and in an event last night here in Frankfurt, the future of the keyboard looks like it will realize some of its original potential.
First, there are some subtle fixes coming in updates. Finally, the arpeggiator and chord mode on the keyboard transmit MIDI back to the host – so you can record those patterns and chords directly, or route them to other instruments. (Previously, these were invisible to your host.)
And now, you can use your own plug-ins inside Komplete Kontrol, for features like the keyboard’s color-coded splits.
There’s also new integration with Maschine. So, for instance, you can use the transport controls on the keyboard and not just the Maschine hardware. Unfortunately, you can’t use both the drum pads and the keyboard to control a single Maschine instance, though as before, you can load a couple of instances and route the controllers separately. (So, for example, you might play a bass line on the keyboard on one Maschine instance, while a Maschine Studio triggers drums on a second instance.)
The coolest feature in the update is for the touch strips. In the first release of Komplete Kontrol, you could already use physics on the touch strip. With the “friction” setting, drag and release your finger, and a parameter can “bounce” up and down. (I first saw this feature on the original Lemur hardware.) It’s basically creating your own LFO with a gesture. Now, though, you can also optionally tempo-sync that – so it can sound rhythmic, not random.
You’ll get most of this in a 1.1 update to the software in May. There’s improved preset management in the software, too, and more integrated control from the hardware, promise NI. I haven’t yet been able to evaluate what this means, but the claim is that onscreen you’ll be able to save your presets more easily, and offscreen you’ll be able to do more looking only at the hardware.
In the summer, VST support will follow. That will allow you to load VST plug-ins directly into Komplete Kontrol. From there, those VSTs will work in any host – Pro Tools, Audio Unit hosts, and so on. (That means Komplete Kontrol is also effectively a wrapper. Got VSTs that don’t run in Logic? Now they will.)
No AU support yet; that’d obviously be welcome, though I’m hard pressed to think of a plug-in I use that doesn’t have both formats.
The other major issue with Komplete Kontrol was that it wasn’t terribly useful if you didn’t own Komplete in the first place – because it lacked bundled software. Now, you’ll get some software bundled free, in what’s called Komplete Select. You get Massive, the new piano The Gentleman, the Monark (which I think is hands-down the best-sounding Minimoog emulation apart from an actual Minimoog), and the acoustic/electric Drumlab. Massive alone should keep you plenty busy, so that’s welcome. And now there’s much-needed upgrade path pricing, too.
Buried in the press release is the (unsurprising) revelation that more S-Series keyboards are coming. Hammer action seems a likely candidate to me, especially as NI are already using Fatar keybeds.
What’s Next: Native Kontrol from Plug-ins
But these are essentially expected, if welcome, updates. The bigger plan from NI seems to be making the hardware a platform for third-party development. Under the somewhat grandiose headline for the night “Creating Standards,” the basic idea is that plug-in makers will be able to include specific support for integrating with the hardware.
NI says they’ve got various partners on board – Arturia was notably present in the presentation. (That’s something of a surprise, too, and shows just how well collaboration can work – Arturia makes their own KeyLab line of controllers, but will still evidently support NI.)
“Native Kontrol Standard” (NKS) will allow developers to customize support for the colored LEDs above the keys, parameters, unique behaviors for those touch strips, and so on. And, of course, it’ll let plug-in developers add tagging so their presets show up alongside NI’s.
This isn’t accomplished via MIDI, so you’ll need to be a plug-in maker with access to NI’s developer tools to exploit those parameter controls. Those developers are granted access to what is essentially a simple API for the Komplete Kontrol host software (and, by extension, both the Browser and the hardware functions on the keyboard). This isn’t some new control protocol, and it isn’t a new plug-in format; it’s some kind of thin layer of description that plug-in developers add when they bundle their software for release.
As before, this isn’t a keyboard for people who want something that stands alone with other hardware. Komplete Kontrol is only useful when connected to a computer. Nor does Native Kontrol open up the ability to create your own behaviors or mappings – at least not yet. But I do think this direction makes sense for what NI says they’re trying to do with this product. And it’s great to see that integration work with a range of tools (though we’ll have to see how quickly those developers ship). It also looks like it’ll be more plug-and-play than Akai’s approach of making all their mappings themselves – and Akai hasn’t shipped yet, so all bets are off until that happens.
Don’t write off the keyboard as a MIDI controller, either. You could already create color-coded splits and read CCs and values clearly off the display – a trick few other keyboards can pull off.
All in all, this seems a good direction. I don’t know if “standard” is the right word here; whether this keyboard is right for you depends on your needs and working style. But NI’s S-Series is now a very effective tool for keyboardists wanting software integration. I’ll report back when that 1.1 update arrives – and, yes, it seems time to compare some of the other keyboard offerings on the market in terms of what delivers for you.
The post Komplete Kontrol Now Plays Nice with Plug-ins, Hosts, And More is Coming appeared first on Create Digital Music.
Smart keyboard controllers that integrate with software have been something various makers have tried frequently over the years, with various degrees of success.
Propellerhead helped lead the way with Automap in Reason, which could cleverly link on-screen controls to devices. But by the time this was translated to multiple pieces of software, the resulting “automatic” features could be harder to use on than off. I tried at various points Novation’s ReMOTE, M-Audio’s Axiom Pro, and Cakewalk’s A-PRO keyboards, and found them all to be perfectly nice hardware – once I gave up and turned the automatic stuff off and just mapped MIDI the old fashioned way. I know I’m not alone on this, as I’ve heard frequently from readers in comments.
Recently, though, keyboards with a more modest scope have resurrected the idea in compelling ways. Nektar’s Panorama keyboard and siblings is nicely designed and works well with certain software – especially Reason. (It’s also a no-brainer if you’re one of the handful of people using Bitwig.)
And then there’s Native Instruments’ Komplete Kontrol. At first glance, it looked nearly perfect. Tight integration with NI’s software means automatic hands-on control with no additional configuration. The design is attractive. The keybed is top-notch (it’s a simple synth action, but the best one available, the Fatar). I’ve been using the 25-key model, and it’s a lot of fun – doubly so when you use it alongside Maschine.
But then come the caveats. Komplete Kontrol is useless the moment it’s disconnected from your computer: there’s no standalone operation, which for a MIDI keyboard seems fairly unforgivable. The arpeggiator and chord feature work only with NI’s software, not with other plug-ins. You sacrifice pitch and mod wheels for ribbon controls, but actually taking advantage of their flexibility is tough, since you can’t easily swap settings without diving into the software. And all this is more expensive than rivals (for instance, from Korg) which lack the same limitations. Unless you own and spend most of your time in Komplete, it’s hard to get excited about a keyboard that costs more, but does less. (That is, there’s no question it’s a godsend for heavy-duty Komplete users, but some of us have other software and hardware we want to use, too.)
And that’s why Akai Advance looks interesting. The keyboard, scheduled for delivery in spring, at least promises to do more with its whiz-bang premium features.
Some of this definitely takes more than a few pages from NI’s playbook. You get light-up color pads (like Maschine), a big color display (like Maschine Studio), a software host that manages presets and control parameters and integrates with the keyboard (like Komplete Kontrol), and “smart” knobs with automatic assignments and text feedback as to what you’re controlling (like Komplete Kontrol and Kore and Automap and all the rest). You even get an NI-style launch video, and a user interface on the computer screen and hardware that visually looks like recent NI products.
But I followed up with Akai to better understand what we can expect this spring, and the Advance line also promises to do some things that other rivals don’t.
Some promising signs from the magic 8-ball (aided by some actual information researched from Akai since this announcement appeared).
1. You get a full color screen. Right now, keyboard users are limited to simple text displays. Advance one-ups that with a bigger display closer to what we’ve enjoyed recently for Traktor and Maschine.
2. It has a good keybed. Lately, it’s been unclear what the Akai brand means to InMusic as far as feel and build – products like the entry-level APCs cut some corners to reach bottom-basement prices. Not so with Advance: InMusic reports Advance will use the quite-nice keybed from the MPK249 / MAX25. No bonus points here versus NI, but at least a reasonably even match (depending on your taste).
3. It has conventional pitch and mod wheels, and pads. These rubberized wheels also felt great on the MAX. And pads, while not useful to everyone, certainly appeal to some of you.
4. The software is included. Unlike the Komplete Kontrol, which inexplicably tells you to go buy Komplete if you want more than bare-bones MIDI functionality, Akai is giving away some great software (alongside the included host, which they call VIP.) Vacuum Pro, Loom, Hybrid 3, Xpand!2, Velvet and Transfuser by AIR Music Tech, plus Eighty Eight Ensemble by SONiVOX are all in the box. A couple of those AIR plug-ins are some of the best available, so this is no basic freebie.
6. – but you can also use your own software, too. Again, unlike Komplete Kontrol’s NI-or-the-highway approach, you get support for third-party software. An InMusic rep tells CDM, “We will deliver be pre-mappings for most plugins on shipping. The customer can customize up to 4 banks of controls (64 total) however they like. This can be done from the computer, or from the keyboard. Users can combine controlling of VST plugin parameters and midi CC’s all from the same preset.” (That last one I find especially appealing, as it was a major drawback of previous automatic mapping solutions.)
7. And it works with your DAW, too. You aren’t limited to playing soft synths, either. Akai prominently features an Ableton logo in their product page, and promises rich DAW support. Again, Akai: “There are also presets for most popular DAWs. A button switch will toggle Advance between DAW presets and integration with VIP. In Ableton’s case, the 8 knobs are mapped to device control.”
8. – but it doesn’t turn into a brick if your computer isn’t switched on. Yes, Advance works as a standalone controller – as it should. To anyone working with hardware synths, this is a must, because you don’t always have your keyboard tethered exclusively to your computer. So those MIDI DIN ports work even without a computer connected – unlike NI’s Komplete Kontrol. You only need an (optional, but standard-issue) power adapter.
9. It’s not ugly. Akai’s MAX series was I think the best keyboard controller in recent years, and it still merits your attention. It has innovative programmable touch strips that do cool things like control your DAW or act as a step sequencer – even standalone. It has CV built in. Unfortunately, it’s also glossy fire engine red, which will offend some sensibilities. The Akai Advance looks more tasteful, at least in early product photos.
Reply hazy try again
Now, the unknowns – and they’re important to note.
1. Some of this is only on paper. “Spring” isn’t here yet, so we have to guess at how they handle execution.
2. We don’t know how much software will be supported, or how the software will work. This, too, remains to be seen – and it’s been in the execution details where other efforts have failed.
3. We don’t know how the pads will feel. “MPC pads” according to AKAI currently seems to mean “square and made of rubber.” So that’s something to actually review and test.
4. You won’t be able to make use of those cool colored pads – at least right away. I had fantasies of programming step sequencers via MIDI using those pads. But you’ll have to wait: Akai tells us “color editing via midi is something that will hopefully come in a later update, but will not be supported when shipping.” I’m also curious to see how they use the display when you’re in standalone mode.
5. It’s NI’s move. Native Instruments has already shipped Komplete Kontrol. Standalone operation is presumably out of the question, since the hardware relies on a software host for MIDI capabilities. But NI could improve integration with its own software and third-party software. So, we’ll see what they do, and how it stacks up.
6. Maybe a “dumb” keyboard is just fine. You can get a number of perfectly reasonable keyboards with knobs and pads and assign MIDI knobs – for a fraction of the price. Sure, you might not get a color screen or fancy features. But… you might not need those things. So, we’ll see if Akai succeeds where other keyboards have (for some, at least) faltered.
Still, all that said, I’m glad to see AKAI enter this market. It shows they’re still committed to making mid-range, serious MIDI controllers to follow up the MAX, not just entry-level keyboards branded Alesis, Akai, and M-Audio. And there’s a chance to provide some of what Komplete Kontrol does, but without being locked in to one brand’s. And the pricing is aggressive: US$ 399.99 for 25 keys, $ 499.99 for 49, and $ 599.99 for 61 keys, with loads of software.
Of course, none of that means anything until they ship this and prove that the hardware design and software functionality are on target. But it’ll be one to watch in 2015.
The post How Akai Advance Could Best NI’s Komplete Kontrol in Smart Keyboards appeared first on Create Digital Music.
Read more about Native Instruments Komplete 10 Ultimate at MusicRadar.com
Native Instruments’ Komplete moves to version 10, incorporating new instruments in a range of categories…
There’s an awful lot to like about Native Instruments’ product range. If you’re a synth fan, you’ll be aware of Massive and the extraordinary impact it has had on Dance music in the past few years. You’ll probably admire Absynth 5 and the FM8 too, whilst Reaktor’s own libraries of instruments now extend to high-profile titles including Razor and Monark.
“If you’re not yet a Komplete user but have been yearning for one of the bundles, there has never been a better time to buy”
If you’re a media composer, you’ll no doubt have had your head turned by Kontakt’s exceptional array of piano, strings, brass, drums and percussion libraries, to say nothing of the fact that Kontakt is established as the weapon of choice for third-party sample library developers.
And for guitarists and mix engineers, Guitar Rig 5 and the extended range of individual and bundled effects processors offer plenty of cherries to place atop your perfectly crafted sonic cakes.
Individually, these titles are powerful enough but, bundled together, they offer an unparalleled suite of production tools in the form of Komplete.
This is available in two new incarnations: the cheaper yet still generously appointed Komplete 10, or the more expensive ‘all you can eat’ buffet that is Komplete 10 Ultimate. The latter is on test here.
In total, Komplete 10 Ultimate bundles 75 of Native Instruments’ separate product titles, which add up to over 440GB of data. Installation, as per Komplete 9, is from a Read Only hard drive, from which content is transferred to your hard drive(s) of choice, replacing the need for 100-odd DVDs.
The install took about four hours on our test computer but Komplete is authorised from a single code rather than individual ones for each library title, so, once installed, you’re soon up and running.
As is traditional, Komplete Ultimate 10 collects up and includes some titles which have been released as separate entities in the past few months, as well as offering some brand new ones.
Three of the latter come in the form of new Reaktor Player synths, Round, Kontour and Polyplex. We’d exhaust our entire word allocation simply listing what’s included, so for a full list, check out the Native Instruments Komplete site.
Of particular note for media composers, Kontakt has been expanded in a range of sonic areas. On the film-composing front, Action Strikes, Rise and Hit and the Kinetic Metal libraries are included, the latter of which offers an engine to bend and evolve sound in thrilling ways.
The Studio nature of Kontakt is boosted further by the inclusion of Session Horns Pro, the Cuba library and the hybrid DrumLab instrument, which lets you balance drum sources between acoustic and electronic base layers.
Three new piano titles – The Grandeur, The Gentleman and The Maverick – further expand upon the options offered by Kontakt’s already impressive ivory-tickling options too.
“What’s clear is that Komplete continues to go from strength to strength”
Also new is the Komplete Kontrol software which – as well as acting as the bridge between the Komplete software and NI’s new Komplete Kontrol S-series keyboards – provides a launchpad for browsing all of Komplete’s content from a single plug-in.
This is invaluable as, until now, you’ve had to learn the assorted personalities of Komplete’s instrument collection before being able to take a ‘best guess’ at where to find sounds which might suit your productions.
Now, you can choose from target ‘keywords’ and Komplete will list suitable sounds from across its titles.
Krunching the numbers
So, what’s clear is that Komplete continues to go from strength to strength, bundling new libraries with those present in Komplete 9 and, more valuably still, creating new instruments for Reaktor which will prove hugely popular.
If you’re not yet a Komplete user but have been yearning for one of the bundles, there has never been a better time to buy. The extraordinary discount offered when comparing the prices of individual NI titles with those included in the bundle is beyond compare.
However, if you’re updating from Komplete 9, you might pause and look at the £339 upgrade price, which seems a little steep. For this, you gain Rounds, Kontour and Polyplex, several new Kontakt libraries, effects like Molekular and SuperCharger and more besides.
If all of those titles appeal to you, £339 is still a good price compared to the individual costs of each product but, in keeping with the total package price, we’re a little surprised the upgrade isn’t £50-£100 cheaper.
Of course, if you’re upgrading from a previous version of Komplete, the word ‘bargain’ can again be used more liberally.
What’s not in doubt is that Komplete Ultimate remains a class leader. If you’re a producer or composer whose work spans a range of musical genres, Komplete 10 continues to offer itself as the ultimate sonic toolkit.
Read more about Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S Series at MusicRadar.com
When NI announced Komplete Kontrol, an innovative way to browse and edit the sounds resident in its world famous plugins, we gave a little wince.
We always quite liked NI’s Kore and gave it the benefit of the doubt on the strict understanding that a) It often ‘got in the way’ when you wanted to do proper tweaks b) It never really made good on its promises. So it’s admirable that NI has remained attached to this ‘one software to rule them all’ ideal because – at its ‘kore’ – it’s a good idea.
Instead of searching through each plugin for a specific sound you can browse all your ‘bass’ tones at once. What does it matter if the sound comes from Absynth or Massive anyway? And if you do want to specify a specific synth you can. Easily. Rather than walk away from the ‘koncept’ NI is back with another stab. And this time it’s got it right.
“All Komplete’s sounds are accurately categorised and everything makes so much more sense than NI’s R.I.P. Kore system”
This time their ‘super synth’ is a game of three parts and each makes a lot of sense. Firstly there’s Komplete, NI’s popular super-suite of software that in version 10 feels more unified and consistent than ever. Next is Komplete Kontrol, a free bit of software for Komplete 9 or 10 owners that sits in front of the individual plugins and gives a simple unified interface. And finally there’s the Kontrol S keyboards, a new set of controllers specifically designed to work with Komplete Kontrol and which come in 25, 49 or 61 key forms.
Okay, so let’s talk Komplete Kontrol first. Komplete Kontrol finds the plugs and presets installed by Komplete and allows you to browse all of its sounds, edit important elements with a trimmed down version of the full plug’s interface and generally do all the stuff that matters from one simple-looking plugin.
You can search for ‘pad sounds’ (for example) via search criteria and pull up a list of options regardless of the plug that makes them. It’s a standalone or plugin (appearing in your NI folder in your DAW’s drop-down) and it works great.
It’s simple, easy to understand and pretty fast, given that tapping through sounds requires your computer to load up each plug and sound to let you hear it. Locking the search to a particular plugin speeds things up further but rather rubbishes the ‘one plug searches all’ concept.
All Komplete’s sounds are accurately categorised and everything makes so much more sense than NI’s R.I.P. Kore system. There’s no spurious ‘sound morphing’ features, unwanted effects and mixer sections or buttons you don’t understand (or use).
And the software feels clean and nimble enough for you to confidently have it between you and your NI plugs without any fear that it’s slowing down your computer or dumbing down your synths. It might be that you never open the full plug again and we can see a Komplete 11 (12? …13?) where this single interface truly becomes the front-end of Komplete’s gamut of power.
So it’s slightly confusing as to why Komplete Kontrol is being made available for free. It would make more sense to include it only with the Kontrol S as the keyboard is next to useless without it and – at those prices – needs all the help it can get.
We can see lots of Komplete users cheekily enjoying Komplete Kontrol with no intention of ever buying a Kontrol S and giving NI any more money. Still, it’s their call.
S for style
“The keybed is made by Fatar so the feel is precise, light and definitely ‘synthesizer’ but sturdy with a smoothly weighted touch”
Attach a Kontrol S keyboard to Komplete Kontrol and things simply get a lot more tactile. The Kontrol S is styled identically to NI’s Maschine Studio and the pair will immediately strike a chord with anyone who cares about their studio’s ergonomics.
Seriously, if you own one you will lust after the other. The plastic is matte and soft to the touch and the metal surfaces are brushed and (literally) cool. Knobs are identical to the smooth dials on the Maschine Studio and the whole thing is solid enough to feel premium but light enough to sling around.
Browsing sounds, setting search criteria and tweaking parameters can all be done from the keyboard’s controls and it’s easy to start thinking about Kontrol S as the most powerful synth you own rather than an ‘empty’ box.
The keybed is made by Fatar so the feel is precise, light and definitely ‘synthesizer’ but sturdy with a smoothly weighted touch allowing fast playing and accurate dynamics. After five minutes we loved it.
Kontrol S’s eight built-in screens give vital information as to what each knob is about to do before you turn it and where that parameter is set. Eight parameters for every sound automatically appear on the keyboard and page left and right buttons take the knobs deeper into more obscure functions. The concept is similar to Novation’s ground-breaking SL keyboards which used tiny screens (albeit at lesser quality) to do the same thing.
Kontrol S’s Light Guide – a system of coloured LEDs above the keys that aims to show you ‘what a key will do’ before you hit it – is a real unique selling point. The exact use for the lights system changes depending on what you’re doing but broadly speaking it shows the position of sounds across the keybed and/or notes and scales selected in the keyboard’s unique chord and arpeggiator modes. And in a studio’s half light it just looks cool, with the length of the keys more often than not bathed in a cool blue.
And finally there’s Kontrol S’s unique mod and pitch ‘wheels’, replaced by two touchstrips with LEDs showing levels. At their simplest these are faders allowing you to drag a finger up to the desired height but their use as a touch surface allows a player to tap at different points and toggle between extreme settings instantly in a way that a wheel could never accomplish.
Alternatively (via various modes in the Kontrol software) a player could set an effect modulating up and down with inertia based on how fast you pushed the strip, touchscreen style. Just the job for wobbling the LFO on your basslines or going modulation and bend crazy while still having your hands free to play.
The Komplete package?
Caution to the wind and wallet rinsed and you’ve got a very new and sleek way of putting sounds in your DAW. For this review (more by circumstance than intention) we installed Komplete 10, Maschine and Komplete Kontrol on a new fast Mac with Logic. The result – tens of thousands of sounds we can select and manipulate in a consistent way that we really like and understand – has really made us wonder if we should even bother installing anything else.
Komplete plus Komplete Kontrol (for free) makes a lot of sense but we do wonder quite how popular Kontrol S will prove. Simply requiring Komplete on board (in order to unlock nine tenths of the stuff it can do) makes it rather niche. And that price tag, hiked by its great screens and one-of-a-kind Light Guide, just makes it more niche – £429 for the 25 key version and an incredible £599 for the 61 key? Ouch…
But like all cool, expensive stuff, you can of course simply choose to live without it. A Bentley is just a car after all. But we think that once you’ve test driven Komplete with Komplete Kontrol and Kontrol S in the driving seat you might well part-ex your banger.
Just because there’s a nice marketing angle doesn’t mean that it has to be the story for you. And that’s been true of NI’s big, splashy product launches. Sure, there’s the epic-looking Traktor Kontrol S8 hardware launched this week – but you tell us you might be just as pleased with a compact controller or an update to the iPad app. And Maschine Studio does wonderful things with its big screens – but the MK2 still has great pads, costs less, and fits in a backpack.
And then there’s Komplete 10. Yes, NI is keen to talk about its light-up series of keyboards, which integrate with the software. But whether you want them or not, what you shouldn’t miss is the superb new Reaktor instruments that come with the bundle.
Rounds is one of the best synths I’ve used recently, full stop. It takes the new analog modeling techniques NI honed elsewhere and launches into new digital domains of effects, modulation, and FM sound generation. No surprise: it comes from Stephan Schmitt, the NI founder who also gave us Reaktor itself. Polyplex is simple but good fun as a drum machine (even if it makes me long even more for a better sample loading facility in Reaktor). And Contour is yet another deep synth.
Matt Cellitti walks through the trio of new Reaktor instruments in a series of tutorial videos, so it’s a great way to get started. Let’s watch.
The post Learn to Use Komplete 10′s Real Gems – Those Great New Reaktor Instruments appeared first on Create Digital Music.