koreplayer Native Instruments has released their free KORE player software and the first packs of sounds for the KORE platform today. It’s part of their play to get soundware addicts onto KORE, their all-encompassing instruments and effects package. First, here’s a review of what KORE actually is, as it’s expanded from even what it was when first announced at the beginning of 2007. KORE is…

  • KORE software, a tool that can act either as a plug-in or a host for plug-ins, which provides sound browsing, internal effects, and performance controls for combining sounds and effects in semi-modular fashion – ships as KORE 2
  • A hardware controller, integrated with the software for high, resolution hands-on control and the ability to audition and switch sounds and performance presets without looking at your computer – also ships with KORE 2
  • A sound platform, in which NI presets for existing instruments and effects are categorized and controlled in standardized ways — which doesn’t require KORE 2
  • A set of functionalities built into NI’s instrument and effects line that make it easier to browse presets (theirs or your own) in a standard way — again, doesn’t require KORE 2 (though integrates with the hardware if you’ve got it)

So, what’s it all mean? Well, in short, you can get a handful of sounds for free, some good sounds for cheap — but, as often happens, the exciting stuff is at the deep end of the pool when you pay up for the full KORE and get a semi-modular performance environment for instruments and effects, integrated with control hardware. And since we like diving in the deep end around here, you know upfront where our bias is. That said, here’s a quick look at some of the bargain buys to be had, which could complement another tool nicely.

The Freebie: KORE Player

KORE Player, of course, can’t do what KORE 2 does, or you wouldn’t buy the full product. But if you check the comparison, you’ll see KORE Player leaves out support for third-party plug-ins, the sophisticated mapping and routing features, internal effects, and performance presets. It’s just a sound player and browser. You do get sound variations for each sound and morphing features, plus automation and recall in any audio host, so it is more sophisticated than what we’ve tended to see in this category. But it is what it is: a soundware browsing and playback tool.

Freebie lovers, though, should appreciate that you get a slick package with 300 MB of sounds (50 presets) to play with for no cost at all, so I won’t complain. I just will say, don’t assume this really gives you a sense of what KORE is, because it strips out the really interesting bits.

KORE Player

The Add-ons: KORE Soundpacks

soundpacks

The other half of the announcement today is sound packs. As with KORE Player, what this announcement means depends entirely on who you are:

You just want some sounds to play with. For US$59-79, the soundpacks give you that: new sounds taken from NI’s best instruments and effects, with synthetic drums, a Hammond C3, the Massive and Absynth synths, the Reaktor engine, sampled sax & brass, and sampled “pop” drums. And, because these play in KORE Player, you can choose different variations and morph between them. You can’t control the sounds with KORE hardware, but you can assign MIDI control (and I expect you can find something with eight knobs.) It’s a good deal — and if you want some Reaktor weirdness, for instance, it’s a terrific way to inject that into your sets without falling down the rabbit hole of trying to learn Reaktor.

You’re a power user / NI die-hard. Yes, the whole point of the Soundpacks is that you don’t need to own Reaktor or Massive or Kontakt or whatever was used to create the sounds. But if you do have those tools, you can jump in and edit the actual presets. There are a couple of oddities — the Best of Reaktor collection has instruments you’ve already seen in Reaktor, albeit with some new sound variations. I could complain about that, but at this point, I’d rather wait and get a new version of Reaktor.

The main thing is, those of you do own KORE 2, you get a free choice of soundpack to go with it (and I can see from the forums that some of the KORE 2 early adopters have been waiting impatiently for that). I’d say if you own Reaktor already, skip the Best of Reaktor and go for the Massive Expansion or something; I think that’s what I’ll be doing.

KORE Soundpacks

So, Would I Buy Them?

Well, okay, I’m not really the target audience for the Soundpacks. But I will say this: while I think even in KORE 2 there’s still some untapped potential for KORE to reach, the real story here remains the KORE flagship. The soundpacks look like a good buy for the budget-minded, and finally give people some of the NI sounds without requiring a massive investment of cash. (You can literally get some good stuff for $60-120, instead of hundreds and hundreds of dollars.) But, don’t try to argue that with me. To me, it’s diving into KORE + Kontakt that really starts to get interesting. It’s not for everyone, and it’s got some increasingly-tougher competition for your “powerful instruments + effects rig live” dollar (which is a good thing). But it is right up CDM’s alley, so we’ll have more of a look at what it all means soon.

  • http://fallsastar.com foosnark

    A couple years ago when my budget was tighter, I wanted FM7 but bought FM7 Express — a few dozen sounds from FM7 with a few minimal knobs to tweak. While I liked many of the sounds, I found myself hardly using it. I think I'd have gotten much more out of the real thing.

    Last week I bought FM8 and have no regrets.

    To me, a lot of these "budget" super-trimmed-down versions of more awesome products really are like paying 25% of the price for only 10% of the value.

    Better to qualify for academic pricing, and get 100% of the value for 50% of the price. Or even buy used. Most people willing to sell their copies of NI software are only doing it because they upgraded to Komplete.

  • Richard Lawler

    OK. I'm a little confused. What would you be getting in "Best of Reaktor" that you wouldn't get if you already have Reaktor and Kore 2?

    I had to install the optional "KoreSounds for products of Komplete 4 and 5" (aka "Kore 2 Sounds Installer") to get KoreSounds-presets for all the Reaktor factory ensembles. NI says this of "Best of Reaktor" "Although present in the REAKTOR 5 library, due to the unique sound variations these KoreSounds provide new content for REAKTOR 5 and KOMPLETE 5 users." What do they mean by that?

    Best of Reaktor includes:

    Gaugear, Limelite, Metaphysical Function, Newscool, Photone, SpaceDrone, SubHarmonic, Titan and Travelizer.

    Of those Limelite, Metaphysical Function, Photone, and Titan were not included in Reaktor 5 although some were apparently available previously.

    Is there a way to get those ensembles for Reaktor 5 without buying "Best of Reaktor"? And even if you bought "Best of Reaktor" I'm not clear that you would actually get the Ensembles.

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

    Richard, I think they are included in Reaktor 5… in the "classic" ensembles. They might be on the forums if any of them is not in Reaktor's install. But yeah, aside from new presets for those, there doesn't seem to be an advantage to getting this…

  • Richard Lawler

    To answer my own question: from the NI user forum I found that the ensembles missing from Reaktor 5 were previously included with NI's "Electronic Instruments" packs vol 1 (Titan) and 2 (Limelite, Metaphysical Function, Photone). Some may have been available on the User Forum. And if you install the "Best of Reaktor v1" Kore SoundPack it does install the ensembles for use in standalone Reaktor.

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

    Well, here's my next feeling — I would absolutely LOVE to have the ability to produce patches for KORE player that you could distribute. Think about it: the Mac has SonicBirth, which is free. The PC has SoundMaker and SynthEdit, and SoundMaker will now be bundled with FL Studio. Pd is open source and lets you create standalone VSTs, etc. Max lets you create standalone VSTs (via Pluggo) and executable files for Mac and Windows. Ableton and C74 promised some kind of collaboration, though we haven't seen it yet.

    Reaktor is different from all these other tools, and has arguably the best community backing it up (at least when it comes to building instruments, soundmakers, and effects of a certain slant). But that community can't build tools for the rest of the world. Now, here's Kore Player, an easy way to do that. And encouraging more Kore Player downloads could encourage sales of Kore, Kore Soundpacks, and (for editing) Reaktor. Wouldn't it be great if the Reaktor community could build their sound sets in the same way NI has?

    I imagine I'm not alone in this, right?

  • http://seismo.blogspot.com/ seismo

    indeed, having a way to freely distribute (for free or for profit) reaktor ism/ens's would be great. reaktor users have been clamoring for an "export to VST" function for a while…

    it seems that this could only boost sales for both kore and reaktor.

  • ccc

    What I'm really missing is a new interface in Reaktor, no new presets or patches. Look what MAX it's doing with next update. I'm missing a new, more intuitive interface, where you can experiment easily. When is due Reaktor 6??????

  • David

    remeber that beef with waves? thats EXACTLY what i was talking about! great stuff!! thanks a lot, free stuff is always cool. Would i buy stuff? Maybe? I don't know yet, but getting 500MB+ free stuff sure beats downloading some cracked shit…

    when i buy it, itd be for the controller for sure!

  • patrick

    ok, i'm curious, is NI incapable of providing detailed specs on their instruments/products before purchase? I was trying to find out specs for the interface/controller that comes with Kore 2, but all i get is advertising fluff on their webpage. I'd really like to be able to actually read the manual before i decide to spend the money. anyone have either a pdf copy or a link to site that has the detailed specs?

    on another note, seems strange to me that NI would suggest such "pro-quality" and yet when i look at the 360 pics of kore to controller, it doesn't seem to have a digital audio output (spdif or toslink)? it just seems a shame to have such supposedly great sounds and then use a trs connector to output them…or are those inputs on the back right of the device?

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

    @patrick: those specs were there; I think NI has reorganized their website a bit and made it confusing. I can certainly give you more detailed specs, and it's overdue for a review here on CDM.

    There isn't a digital audio output, though, because there's no audio on the Kore hardware at all as of the Kore 2 upgrade. Apparently this had a negative impact on the reliability of control data sent via the same USB2 stream to and from the computer. That said, some people are using the audio onboard on the Kore 1 controller happily, and there's nothing stopping you from using whichever interface you want. The software no longer requires the hardware, as well, so you could use something else for control if you don't always want to lug the Kore controller.

  • Richard Lawler

    Yes, Kore 1 hardware with audio I/O works fine with Kore 2 software. It's not the lowest latency I/O I've ever seen. I've heard Kore 2 hardware has a nicer feel.

    Peter: Another vote here for Reaktor exportable VSTs or KoreSounds. The tricky part from NI's perspective is that anyone could take any of the factory ensembles and give them away free. I don't see how they wouldn't be giving away the store unless it drove Reaktor/Kore sales to a whole new level.

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

    Yeah, I definitely can see why NI would be concerned about that.

    I wonder how they make these sounds work with Kore Player, given they're also basic presets. I.e., if there's a way for users to have some facility by which you can share your patches, but not the presets…

  • patrick

    oh, well, that does change things abit. i mistakenly got the impression that i had to use their interface/controller. to be honest, i like the software as its described, but i dont care for pre-done controller setups, and i can just keep using my firebox for the audio signal!

    thanks for the info :)

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

    I will say, the controller is nice to have around. It's minimal *enough* that it easily complements something else … like a keyboard, for instance. And it's small/light enough that it's not hard to carry along. But yes, you would continue to use your own audio interface, which may be better, anyway.

  • E. Robert Frank

    I use Kore. I sort of like it. I'd probably like it more if I owned Komplete. I would say that unless you own Komplete you aren't really getting everything Kore has to offer. So the real price of entry is about $1500. To use the Kore2MIDI patch they've posted in the forums for Kore you have to own Reaktor. Great! I get to buy something else to make a $500 piece of software work the way it should have in the first place.

    Why there is not a user library for KoreSounds to be shared on NI's site is beyond me. I am sure the user community would take it upon themselves to create KoreSounds for NI and non-NI products if there was a central place for them to be shared. That might get people a little more excited about Kore if the librarian function could be populated by other users' KoreSounds. Wait… the supplied engines only work on user-made presets if you own the products. Why should I be excited about the supplied engines again?

    It's hard to not be a little cynical about all of this when basic functionality that has been requested by the user base has been ignored. Should I have to buy something else in order to be able to Rewire something into Kore or export MIDI so the Performance Mode is actually useful?

    I do like what Kore does well. The display in the controller unit is excellent and really does make performance without looking at a computer screen possible. The fine detail of the controls is also great. If all of your synths are VSTs and you use primarily NI stuff you'll love it. If you use any sound generator you'd need to Rewire like Reason forget it.

    I looked forward to the coming 2.0.2 update which was released today. What does it have? It breaks support for editing the supplied Kontakt presets if you only own version 2 (by putting the Kontakt 3 engine in its place). Oh, and it also adds support for the new Kore Soundpacks. And some unlisted bug fixes. Excuse me if I don't jump for joy.

    I suppose I'll hold out hope for version 2.1.

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

    Just to clarify:

    You can use user KoreSounds; you just need the associated product with which they were created. But, as far as your own sound designs, you of course need that product to be able to edit the sound anyway. I agree to the extent that it's annoying you can't take advantage of the sizable NI community without the *specific* product in question, even if you own the full KORE 2.

    Not sure what you mean about Performance Mode. But the idea from the beginning as I understood it was that most people would use KORE within another host.

    I think you mean the fact that, by default, the KORE hardware doesn't support MIDI? There are some great Reaktor patches out there for KORE, but they were created by users.

    So it seems to me the real challenge for NI — and NI isn't alone in this, by the way — is how to make the most use of their best users, to make that as easily and affordably accessible to everyone else.

  • E. Robert Frank

    One of the main selling points for me was using Kore as a live host to run all my synthesizers in without having run an extra sequencer which I don't really need. Sort of like having a Receptor. That's what I mean by the performance mode.

    When you can't control anything besides VST instruments that limits your performance possibilities if you want to stick with Kore and not be stuck staring at a laptop screen.

    The idea from the beginning was not to use Kore as a plug-in within a host. It was so you could run plugins within it and not have to use a sequencer. That's what all of the ad copy touted for Kore 1. Of course, it did not really work very well. Version 2 works better but didn't add anything really new other than the fact that it works better than it did.

    It really seems unnecessary to put all your plugins inside Kore, which is a plugin inside a host, then run extra tracks to rewire your Reason, etc, then have another controller to control the parameters for those synths since your Kore controller doesn't work with those. It just makes things unnecessarily complicated for me. Not to mention the performance hit you take.

    When I run Kore alone with VST instruments inside of it I can pretty much rely on it to stay rock solid throughout a set. That to me is the most attractive reason to get it. Otherwise I may as well just use Ableton Racks and a different MIDI controller.

    As far as sharing user presets, I'm not suggesting I should be able to use them if I don't own the products… though it does seem silly to tout the "included engines" if you can't really use them except to manipulate the bloated preset sounds that come with it.

    However, if someone owns the Korg Legacy Collection (as I do) for instance and wants to share KoreSounds they have made with it then those should be more easily share those sounds. And I don't think it is up to Korg to do this because they don't benefit from it. Native Instruments does by selling Kore and the hardware.

    I suppose that benefit is not as great as getting people to buy NI synths though, or skimpy SoundPacks. $79 for TWO Pop Drum kits? Are they serious?!

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

    Wait, I believe you can share KoreSounds for the Korg Legacy Collection (or anything else), provided that other person has the Korg Legacy Collection (naturally). Am I missing something here? The only thing you can't do is share sounds made for the Kore engines minus those tools.

    I see what you mean about the controller setup; the fact that people want to do this suggests that adding MIDI output from the controller might be something they want to add.

    So, the other complaint was the lack of a sequencer? I can certainly see that. In fact, in general, software seems to miss the fact that a lot of us need music playback along with our performance setups — particularly as one-man bands (or just reduced personnel) becomes more popular. Even Ableton Live could do more in this department. But, just to make sure I understand, that's what you're missing?

  • Rozling

    @ E. Robert Frank: I could be wrong on this, but I have a feeling the reason they don't have Kore user library on the NI site is that they don't want users to share sounds. The reason for this is to protect stuff like pay-for preset packs – if someone already has a VST and someone posts .ksds of such a bank, afaik it amounts to a breach of copyright? I'm not fully clear on it though.

    Also, I'm not sure I share the opinion that you need to own Komplete to get the most out of Kore. I own Komplete 5: I was more annoyed about how good the quality of Kore 2's included presets/samples are than the fact that NI are now 'giving away' a free version of Kore !! What I mean is, I would imagine you can get going with the included presets pretty much straightaway – they have been well mapped and the morph variations where they're in place are well programmed.

    The disadvantage to having Komplete is that there are something like 7,500 presets in the package and the extent of sounds is so vast that it really takes a massive effort to cut out the fat and set things up the way you want them. If you don't like how Vokator's control pages are mapped and you want them to come up your way, consistently, you'd better have a lot of time and patience… not to mention knowing exactly the mappings you want so you don't have to make one tiny tweak to several hundred presets *individually*

    As regards the sequencer thing it's something I'm struggling to figure out with Kore 2 at the moment. On my ageing laptop, using it within a host (Live) adds *just* enough latency to take some enjoyment out of playing instruments realtime. So personally, and with my present setup, the handiest way seems to be recording audio tracks from Kore to an external machine, which I kind of like the idea of from a 'traditional tape recording' perspective.

    But that is limited by audio outs and the availability of an external machine. I have yet to find out what the latency will be like on a Macbook Pro, which I will eventually upgrade to anyway – I find latency to be a personal thing though, so I won't know until I hook the whole thing up.

    In the meantime it seems rewire support would rock for my scenario. That, or I would strongly consider spending the money on a Receptor, if it was fully integrated with Kore & you could freely move .ksds/.kpes from computer Receptor.

    This all might seem like I'm not happy with Kore – actually I have a love/hate in that what you can do with it is stunning, as long as you are ready to live with the limitations/wait for upgrades. I was a fairly early adopter of Kore 1 and have been through every iteration of the software (think I might skip 2.0.2 though – I like my editable Kontakt thanks very much…).

    Hang on though, I thought we were talking abot Kore Player :D

  • Rozling

    I forgot to expand just a little on the (dis)advantage of having Komplete: I believe that without Komplete you'll get a tightly-integrated setup way more easily and quickly.

    It's basically the problem with such a vast instrument – if like me you like things setup *your* way, and find a high level of redundancy distracting when making music, when faced with a massive pre-packed library you need to make a conscious decision as to what level of personalisation/consistency/control you want, and actually invest some real time into beating it into submission.

    I won't be dumping Komplete, so in a way I almost envy people who have a limited amount of freeware VSTs coupled with the included sounds. I genuinely think that's a pretty sweet way to get quite tight control of your sounds.

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

    There's a third option here, of course, which is Kore + one favorite instrument you like to program in. Kore + Reaktor is ridiculously deep enough — and Kore makes a really lovely environment for managing your Reaktor creations. Or there's Massive, FM8, Absynth 3 — all really deep synths. Just one of them could easily keep you busy.

  • brett w

    That's exactly how I use Kore 2. Mostly as a Reaktor environment. I really like the Morphing square as an interesting way to get unpredictable sounds. Also, the grain shifter is excellent. The Kontroller is nice. It makes many things within Kore hands free, or at least mouse free. I don't think i enjoy anything less than clicking at little boxes with a mouse. I'd rather touch a piece of hardware in any event.

    That said, most of the things they really sell Kore on, I don't use. I don't usually use NI's presets, though they are interesting to see how they set things up. A fun thing i like to do, is load Reaktor factory koresounds and replace the internal presets with my own and see where that takes me.

    I don't use it as a plugin. At least i haven't yet. I usually just record my little sound jam. I'm more interested in its performance aspects and creating interesting evolving sounds on the fly. I find it a cool sound environment that's good at happy accidents.

  • http://myspace.com/k1ru k1Ru

    i got really good deal on the KORE (first one). i purchased it during a grace period where they would let you download KORE 2 software for free :D . as a standalone unit, it works excellent for arrangements of vst's and such (for my musical arrangements, anyway).

    only beef i got with the whole rig is the intensive CPU load it demands.

    i run a pIV processor…and i get cracks and pops. KORE 2 was even more demanding..i appreciate a company that pushes to be on the high end, but i think in doing so they might have left the users and potential buyers behind…:S

  • http://knittingmydoom.com Dave

    Although the Kore player is free, it still requires activation which requires the NI Service Center software installed.

    Does anyone know if Service Center is only needed one time so I can uninstall it after activation? Or must it be active perpetually and does it spam me with ads and upgrade offers?

  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Dave, I've got Service Center installed on all my machines (Mac, XP, Vista) and never had an issue with it. It isn't a resident program; it just sits on your hard drive. So unless you desperately need that 12M of disk space or whatever, there shouldn't be a need to uninstall it. It's useful to keep around as you can use it to download updates. It will not spam you with upgrade offers and ads. Intrusive calls to spend money on fancy new music toys only happy here on CDM. ;)

  • Svensyntetics

    What a lame download from Native Instruments. 6 (SIX !!!) Hours !!!!

  • E. Robert Frank

    @Rozling – Very true about Komplete probably being too much… you spend more time going through sounds than actually making music.

    I think I get so irritated with Kore because it ALMOST does what I want it to do. The controller is rather nice (despite the irritating rubber feet that slid off leaving a gluey gooey mess the first time I used it). The display works well in a dark stage performance situation. You can assign and label the knobs whatever you wish. It is indeed much more precise than MIDI.

    This probably makes it seem ridiculous that I would like to be able to use it for MIDI. It's not really me you see… it is my external sound modules who are being difficult about it. If I could assign controls to MIDI CCs and be able to control EVERYTHING with it then I would have no issues recommending it. When I tell people how much it costs and that they can't use the controller to control external hardware or Max/MSP their enthusiasm seems to quickly fade.

    I'm sure it is a great playground for Reaktor stuff and I'm sure I'll be picking that plug up some day. I just don't want to have to pick it up to be able to use Kore to manipulate an external synth.

    @Peter, I think in my minor rage to see that the Kore update seemed to be more focused on being compatible with selling KoreSound packs than actually improving functionality I failed to articulate myself very well. I don't really have many complaints about it save the lack of MIDI and Rewire in the standalone version of Kore.

    I also know that others can share presets and such… it just seems silly that there isn't already a forum on NI's site for these to be shared when they have forums for everything else. It's not really a dealbreaker for me… I just know that "someone has surely done this already" crossed my mind when I was categorizing some of the KLC presets for Kore's browser.

  • Pingback: Around the web - March 8, 2008 : business|bytes|genes|molecules

  • Dave B

    Without any intent on purchasing the additional packs, I downloaded this looking at it as some free sounds from NI, and as that I was really really impressed. Some of the sounds that come in the default pack are incredible. I could probably make an entire (albeit fairly simple) song using just sounds in that default pack. I definitely will use some of them when playing live for solo leads and the like.

  • http://www.sound-track.ca thehipcola

    Apparently NI is working on setting up the ability to share Kore Sounds and presets for Massive….

    http://www.nativeinstruments.de/forum_us/showthread.php?t=62898

  • nexenta

    Hello,

    Can someone help me with a question.. I want to buy kore 2 but i don't have enough money to buy the soft and hardware at once. So i decided to buy kore 2 hardware (the controller) and in 2-3 months to buy the software for it. Can i test the hardware controller somehow till i buy the software? Do this work as a stand alone controller or has some integrated software which is available only if i buy the software for it. thank you very much!

  • rik

    i buy guitar rig session which include kore player and kore pop drums..i already install it and run it but i could'nt hear a sound i chek already the audio settings still can hear a thing..everything is working good in my guitar rig session except for this kore..do i need something more to make it work??pls help..thanks a lot!!

  • 3C

    I've read a lot of the comments. I just got Kore and it is good for the way I use it. A lot of hits were made using these sounds as is. I also have rapture for when I want a lot of control over the sounds. Both formats have a place. Its still about the music. Free is always good.

  • EODAYS

    I have been useing Kore 2 and Komplete5..I loved the learning curve, it was logical and easy [for the most part..One major Flaw in almost all NI stuff is this.. Hardware setup interface..what a Biznatch! it took me hours to set up a cunsumer grade card [audigy4 pro]

    And the lack of any option to export stepped sounds or realtime music from withing Kore2..gimme a break..no ability to record? or export as a Flac or MP3 or wav..???? so Ineed to run yet more software to just record in real time ..OR go buy over priced hardware or another comp just to be able to actually use the programs I already own.. so.. so I got CuBase and run Kore etc from within that prog.. but this in turn makes it useless to run Kore2 at all..because CuBase can use the VSTs I set up in the satnd alone ..say Massive or Guitarrig etc..redundent non-logical.. next time I go and drop nearly 2 grand I'll buy protools…or something that works..lol like 250$ Cubase :P

  • EODAYS

    pardon the typos, Keyboard battery is nearly dead :(