Native Instruments KOMPLETE 5 Bundle

Happily, despite this image, NI is not adding Apple iTunes-inspired CoverFlow to KOMPLETE. But they are refreshing synths and effects, updating to the shiny, new Kontakt 3 sampler, Guitar Rig 3 guitar rack, and Massive synth, and cutting the price. Lost in the shuffle: vocoding and spectral delays.

Native Instruments remains the unchallenged heavyweight of instruments and effects. Apple’s Logic Studio 8 recently got a formidable upgrade and a big price drop (US$499), but its bundled instruments and effects, behind cosmetic improvements, are largely unchanged from previous versions. Cakewalk, Digidesign and others have also gotten in the ring, but no one can match up to the insanely massive collection of sound production and mangling in NI’s software. So, when NI offers an upgrade, we notice. I’ll be meeting up with NI next week at the AES show for a full preview of the new KOMPLETE kitchen-sink bundle and updated individual apps (plus KORE 2, due in November), but here’s a quick look.

  • New Sampler: KONTAKT 3 is the latest version of NI’s flagship sampler, and in terms of raw breadth and depth of features, Kontakt appears to remain at the top of the heap. New in this version: a 1000-instrument, 33 GB sample library, a new looping/slicing/syncing Wave Editor, new envelopes, new amp and cabinet emulations, better browsing, and more. I’m curious to see how the Performance View and the updated KORE stack up to OnStage in Logic 8 (or even what it’s like using both together).
  • New Guitar Effects: GUITAR RIG 3 adds new amp models, new matched cabinets, new effects (tape echo and ring mod!), and more. Guitar effects competition is brisk, but Guitar Rig’s edge to me has been its range of sound possibilities, straight out to the bizarre/experimental.
  • Addition of Massive: MASSIVE is NI’s latest soft synth, especially geared for “sonic impact” (read, great basses and leads), with drag-and-drop, semi-modular sound creation.
  • Lots of updates: Refreshed versions of previous synths include Absynth 4, Akoustik Piano, Battery 3, B4 II, Elektrik Piano, FM8, PRO-53, and Reaktor 5. With the exception of Reaktor, most of these have gotten feature improvements lately, and all have been updated for Vista and Intel Macs.

Native Instruments KONTAKT 3

The flagship of KOMPLETE is NI’s sampler, KONTAKT. Version 3 adds lots of new features, including a new Wave Editor.

Partial Bundles, Lower Pricing

One problem with Komplete is that it has so much in it that it really is overkill for many people. There are two fairly sensible partially-complete (INKOMPLETE?) bundles priced at US$449/EUR 399 worth considering. “CLASSICS” includes Akoustik Piano, B4 II, Elektrik Piano, and PRO-53, and seems ideal for a gigging keyboardist. “SYNTHS” hits the electronic lovers with Absynth 4, FM8, Massive, and PRO-53. Still, you lose the sampler, and even as a non-guitarist I’ve found Guitar Rig to be very useful for effects, so if you do have the cash, you should weigh your various options.

KOMPLETE 5 is cheaper now, too: US$1149 / EUR 999 for the whole bundle, and less if you qualify for upgrade pricing. As a software instrument advocate, I have to notice both in my own work and what I’d suggest to others, this makes for a pretty incredible deal. Add Komplete to a host like Logic Studio, SONAR, or Ableton Live, load onto a $1000 laptop, and you’ve got an all-in-one production powerhouse that still costs about the same as a high-end workstation keyboard, even after you add in some extra hardware. In terms of sonic range and flexibility, there isn’t really anything in hardware that compares to the sound set. (Yes, there are still reasons to choose hardware, some having to do with intentionally having less choice. But I’m just sayin’.)

Native Instruments GUITAR RIG 3

Mo amps: Guitar Rig 3.

No More Spektral Delay and Vokator

That covers the good news. Here’s the bad news: Spektral Delay and Vokator, two of the more unique effects in NI’s stable, have been end-of-lifed. This to me is really unfortunate, particularly in the case of Vokator. (One option that’s out there: ELS Vocoder, though it requires a dongle, which to me is a big deal-killer.)

Also, there’s no direct equivalent to either in the existing NI suite. Reaktor has some built-in effects and even vocoders, but they’re not quite the same. I’m hopeful this will convince NI to offer these tools free for download; right now, they’re just gone.

NI Vokator

Out to pasture: NI’s superb Vokator vocoder, with no replacement in sight.

Fortunately, NI did update both effects prior to discontinuing them. They’re both Intel Mac-native and Vista-ready, and they’re very stable and mature in their final versions. The problem will be just getting hold of them. I’ll let you know if NI decides to make them available — maybe some well-reasoned, thoughtful letters in support of this will help convince them.

While neither will get any further updates or sales, they do remain supported, and join Intakt and others in the forums:
Discontinued Products [Native Instruments]

Ship Dates

October 1 is the promised date for KOMPLETE 5 and associated updates (KONTAKT 3, GUITAR RIG 3), with KORE 2 following in October. We’ll have a look at all of it at AES, so stay tuned.

KOMPLETE 5 [Native Instruments]

  • Kyran

    I doubt NI will release these. Especially not before they can be sure that all their retailers have cleared their boxed stock.

    I also wonder which currency converter they use. I mean, at todays rate I'd pay 319 euros, if I bought it in dollar. That's 80 euros less than paying in euros! Pretty steep if you ask me.

    It is a very good bundle though. It's everything you need, ever …

    btw: try to get a hold of an old box of komplete 4, I think you'll get a free update to 5, and the discontinued products

  • http://www.radionowhere.net mb

    Kyran (or Peter) – are you sure about the free upgrade to 5? I did find an old box of v.4 near here, but would definitely like to know about the upgrade path before dropping the $. Thanks!

  • Matt

    Komplete 4 purchased after September 1st, 2007 entitles the buyer to a free upgrade to K5. The grace period is explained on the website under a "pricing and availibility" tab when you are in the Komplete 5 page. Awesome deal!

  • http://symbioticaudio.com W. Brent Latta

    Here's hoping for Spektral Delay and FFT incorporation into Reaktor 6!!! :) This upgrade is a real snoozer…

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, the Wave Editor in Kontakt 3 to me is really the big news here. The other tools all got their improvements in the last 12 months.

    But yeah, I'm very interested to see what happens in the next versions of Reaktor and Max. The moment we can preview them here, we will. And in a way, I'd much rather have access to things like vocoders, weird delays, and other FFT oddness inside a modular environment. Particularly in the case of Reaktor (and hopefully more so in the next Max), you've always got something you can try out of the box, but you can then change it as much or as little as you like.

  • inasilentway

    I like the new effects in GR2 but this for me is simply not worth upgrading. Now that they've made Komplete into an annual event, I'm going to wait until next year (or even the year after). And I'm glad I bought in at 4, I would hate to not have Spektral Delay!

  • mallyone

    I've been wondering where poor Intakt went, I loved that thing but when I could afford it, I couldn't find it anymore. I guess some more thorough searching would have turned up where it was buried :( . I'd love to see all three deceased products resurected for free ala rebirth and rubberduck but it just doesn't seem to fit with NI business model.

    pity :(

  • http://www.proemland.com proem

    While I like spectral delay, I absolutely LOATHE the so-called preset management.

    it needed to go.

    honestly im surprised it didnt make its way out along with intakt and kompakt

    vokator getting discontinued is a little heartbreaking…

    the automation on that thing alone was worth the entry price

    I'll upgrade to komplete5 when i have the $

    cuz I'm a sucker for NI upgrades

    and hell

    I paid for it once why not pay for it every year?

    like a subscription

    to a porn site

  • http://www.corporation.tk corporation

    I'm patiently awaiting the release of Traktor 3.3!

    I need Traktor Scratch DVS support with the full functionality of Traktor 3.

  • Adrian Anders

    I'm a bit disappointed in Kontakt 3…. I was hoping for some more sound-design options rather than library bloat. I tell you what, I don't bother with the clunky NI interface for the sounds that come in the box ;-) I really want more granular and spectral tools to mangle sounds with inside of kontakt. Only 2 "time machines"? How's about 5 (or more)! Give me as many ways to trick out sounds as FL Studio or Live's built-in samplers and I'll keep Kontakt at the very top of my instrument cue.

    The built-in editor is a pretty nice add. I hope this time around they alow for direct sampling via some sort of audio-in. Catch up to DirectWave, etc.

  • http://www.proemland.com proem

    i agree completely adrian.

    the library is only good as a jumping off point for me

    and doesn't get that much love

    with the exception of the symphonic instruments which ive been using heavily lately.

    spectral stuff i could care less about…

    but

    you can never have too much granular synthesis

    especially when you can chain envelopes/lfos the way you can in kontakt

  • Damon

    Kind of wish NI had promoted Vokator a bit more, so that it would not have found it's way to the back bottom bin of the NI catalog. I am just now discovering how useful a vocorder is in sound design, in my own Reason combinator experiments. Much more than just a voice goofy upper. Does great things for drums and base too. Crystal Methods' "Tweakend" is a fine example of this.

  • http://www.myspace.com/tricil tricil

    you can get some amazing rhythmic melodic textures with vokoding your synths with your drums.

  • http://www.electricstone.com/ Andrew Stone

    Yes it is too bad about these apps. You have to admit though the writing was on the wall. These apps hadn't received a facelift like the others in the Komplete kit. They did seem like the abandoned orphans in Komplete 4.

    Ironically, I am still trying to get properly into Vokator. If anyone has URLs to good instructions or tutorials please post up.

    And really there is no reason why peeps can't continue to use either one of these apps.

  • http://www.granularmatter.com minim

    It is a shame that they took them out of the bundle. I reach for Spektral Delay, Vokator, and Reaktor the most out of Komplete.

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