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You’ve seen the leaks; now here’s the official announcement.

Native Instruments is releasing an update to its Komplete suite of production tools (including Massive, Kontakt, Absynth, Reaktor, and others). And while the software update is largely composed of some (nice) new instruments, the banner news here is hardware.

As NI has done with its DJ line (Traktor Kontrol) and Maschine groove workstation, the company is unveiling integrated hardware that makes for a hybrid hardware/software solution. The Komplete Kontrol instruments come in 25, 49-, and 61-key variations, coupled with touch strips for pitch and mod, 8 encoders paired with interactive displays for parameter control, sound browsing, and arpeggiator and scale-mapping functions.

While you can’t quite take your eyes off the display with the same ease as you can Maschine Studio or Traktor, you do get interactive access to your Komplete library, and Reaktor instruments, too.

I’ve been testing the Komplete Kontrol S25, so I’ll leave impressions for a separate story. (A full review will come closer to the October 1 release date; the software isn’t entirely finished yet.)

Update – it’s ready. Our hands-on with the S25 keyboard.

But as far as the announcement, let’s stick to the facts – after the obligatory, heart-pounding promo video.

Seriously, I wish you were here. Every time I touch a MIDI keyboard, it’s totally this exciting. It’s like watching NASCAR cars explode inside a galaxy going supernova with an Icelandic death metal band – and that band is buck naked.

Komplete 10 / Komplete 10 Ultimate

As previously leaked, you get six new instruments.

There are three new Reaktor-based instruments, regardless of which bundle you choose. They don’t require the new keyboards, but if you do spring for the new gear, they map to the color-coded light guides on the keyboard and encoders.

Rounds. Imagine a sequencer combined with sound design.

Kontour. This is the latest synth from Stephan Schmitt, founder of NI and originator of both Reaktor and, before it, Generator. Stephan’s name alone should get your attention, and this synth is something special from what little I’ve heard out of it. You can span from more organic sounds to distorted stuff, with loads of clever modulation.

Polyplex. This is the sampler/drum sampler Reaktor users have been waiting for. Because you can randomize samples per slots globally or locally, it’s brilliant for mixing up drum kits and percussive patterns. And it’s full of effects.

Each of these tools is really interesting, and worth following up separately – stay tuned later this month.

There are also three new pianos, part of what NI now calls The Definitive Piano Collection:

The Gentleman. A sampled 1908 upright.

The Granduer. A sampled grand – yes, this is the ubiquitous Steinway Model D, even though NI can’t say that.

The Maverick. Probably the most interesting of the bunch – a 1905 grand made for the Prince of Prussia.

The pianos got a lot of flak on the forums, but as at least one CDM reader pointed out, they’re overdue. NI has made some beautiful sampled piano libraries recently, but the ones in Komplete haven’t kept pace with the accelerating quality of sampled pianos on the market. This should help modernize the piano offerings, and given how often they’re used, that’s significant.

Komplete may not be everything NI makes, but it’s big. Komplete 10 is 39 instruments and effects; the Ultimate version is all 75 products in the Komplete lineup at the moment, with over 440 GB of content.

Pricing: $499 / 499, or $999 / 999 € for Ultimate.

Don’t sweat yet if you recently bought Komplete; NI says it’ll have its upgrade/update/crossgrade info and the like shortly.

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NI_Kontour_Screenshot

NI_Rounds_Screenshot

Kontrol Keyboards

The biggest news with Komplete 10 is what happens when you add the Komplete Kontrol S-Series keyboards.

See our separate hands-on, but the basic idea is really applying to Komplete what Maschine and Traktor Kontrol brought to groove production and DJing, respectively.

The keyboards:

  • 25-, 49-, and 61- key models.
  • Fatar synth keybeds – sorry, no hammer-action model here yet, though that seems likely some time in the future.
  • Komplete Browser controls let you look up sounds, similar to those on Maschine. (No display, though – for that, you’ll be looking at your computer screen.)
  • Parameters map to eight touch-sensitive encoders, with displays showing parameter name and amount.
  • “Light Guide” color LEDs above the keys reveal switches, zones, and other preset information. (Don’t worry, you can also turn this off.)
  • Chord mode, with ready-to-play progressions.
  • Built-in arpeggiator with interactive controls mapped to the display.
  • Scale mapping, which maps to white notes of the keyboard – for specialized scales, fun with arpeggios, or avoiding wrong notes.
  • Touch strips for modulation, pitch bend.
  • Physics modeling for touch strips, so you can have Lemur-style animations as well as the normal functions.
  • MIDI in and out jacks.
  • USB operation. (Note: it requires power; not USB powered.)
  • Two pedal input jacks.

The intention of the Komplete Kontrol hardware is to work with associated software. That’s the only thing bundled with the keyboard, so you need either Komplete 9 or Komplete 10 to make use of this functionality. (Komplete 9 works, though, so you could conceivably buy the keyboard but skip the software upgrade.)

I’ll explain how the software works separately, in my hands-on.

What you don’t get is any bundled instruments with Komplete Kontrol; you need to own the Komplete software to really make use of it.

You can also use the Kontrol S-Series keyboards as MIDI controllers, with custom MIDI templates, as you can Maschine. Colored lights still let you indicate splits in your MIDI templates, too. But the arpeggiator, scale, and chord modes – for now – work only with the NI software. The transport controls are mapped to Mackie Control for control of your host.

Pricing:
S25: $499 / 499 €.
S49: $599 / 599 €.
S61: $699 / 699 €.

Both Komplete 10 and the new keyboards are due October 1.

www.the-komplete-instrument.com

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  • http://vrpr.org/ Henry

    I like the touch strips. Liked them on Tempest and P12/Pro2 – as long as they would also be assignable to other destinations than pitch and mod?

    I like the dedicated mini-screens for each knob. Are they similar to what DSI uses in Tempest/P12, i.e. OLED or is it just some text and numbers on them?

    I like the keyboard lighting, as long as it can be used as intuitively as the pad lighting on Maschine. Otherwise, I’d fear it’d just be yet another fancy gimmick.

    Are the keyboards not even delivered with a Komplete Elements or the like to get you started/hooked? That would be a big bummer, since they are not really cheap as such…

    I’m always all in for a clean and tidy interface, but there is really a lot of space unused on the larger keyboards. I understand that a 25-keys model can’t have all the knobs, faders and pads that a 49- or 61-keys model can have. But that’s a lot of space wasted for plain black coloured surfaces… Ok, you could put your Tetra or Nord Drum there…

    What I never got about the Komplete package was this totally overwhelming, massive amount of instruments, effects and presets. Seriously, browsing all 39 instruments’ patches even with the nice tagging and search features in NI’s browser is mind-boggling. Well, at least for me.

    • Yermom

      You are right. It’s almost as if they would’ve had a product that did all that a long time ago… and that might still exists in the hands of many disgruntled fans of such a hardware and software solution. Many such fans who might’ve spent COUNTLESS HOURS importing third party patches, tagging, favoriting, rating those patches… just to watch that product go from flagship to bastard child.

      Buyer beware. NI abandons products. If that product is your library system, and you do this after the Kore lip service and discontinuation, you deserve what you get.

  • griotspeak

    I wonder how much more this can offer than something like a Novation SL. The lights indicating (I assume) splits is interesting and I am sure that there are some things that NI has access to that Novation didn’t. I really wish we could get support like this for third party controllers without needing extra software layers while playing.

  • Ja

    Prices are quite unfair when camparing dollars to ehros and assuming that NI is a German company.

  • Yermom

    Gee… that’s great NI. Does this mean Kore and Kore 2 will be in any way compatible with the features you’re offering on this controller? NO!?! Shocker!

  • http://vaenia.com Thierry

    i’m not a keyboardist nor a pianist, I write all my keys & chords on Ableton Push. That being said, having a dedicated controller for Komplete without going through Maschine sounds great.. I just wish there was a non key version… i already have a 49 key midi keyboard which i don’t use.

  • http://soundcloud.com/yanisko James Yanisko

    Polyplex looks like a twisted tools S-Layer rip, so much so that I wonder if it was developed by them (and us Reaktor users have had that functionality you said we’ve been waiting for already, for at least a couple of years)

    • Matt Jackson

      It was developed by them and their name is on the GUI

    • http://soundcloud.com/yanisko James Yanisko

      Oh, I see their logo. . . Hard to see on my phone :)

      My point still stands, not a new concept, only newly in Komplete.

  • Tony Scharf

    No comment on the software yet, but the hardware looks….meh.

    • http://vrpr.org/ Henry

      I actually agree. It’s as unappealing as the Analog Keys. For my taste.

  • http://soundcloud.com/yanisko James Yanisko

    Also, based on those images – the placement of the controls in the center means I can’t use it in my current desk setup. I have my setup where my computer keyboard lives to the right of my keyboard controllers controls (on top of the keyboard), and this set up would mean it couldn’t just replace my current keyboard. Oh well.

  • Rrj

    You seemed to be quite annoyed at the leak saying that people should not judge a product based on rumors and the real thing is actually much better than the leaks. But It seems like there’s nothing much here compared to the rumors other than the minor details on the keyboard. You gave me so much false hope. Haha.

  • http://soundcloud.com/yanisko James Yanisko

    Those prices are also pretty steep……

  • anerandros

    I bought K9U last November, I guess I’ll pass this one and wait for K11U upgrade from K9U + Kontrol 49 MKII. Anyway NI it’s still my favourite bitch. If I could travel in time: I would go back to not buy so many softwares (yes, I don’t crack at all) and forward to see if there’s any NI DAW in the future…

  • Mr_Umbuntu

    What a sea of shit, the fuck is wrong with people today

  • synapticflow

    The ever so useful touch strips instead of true tactile controls eh? I guess whatever helps you make it over priced right?

    It is some attractive gear though. Best wishes NI.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      There are two advantages that I see to the touch strips.

      1. Patches can change behavior. For instance, a pitch wheel doesn’t always have to center. That’s even before you get into the ‘physics’ stuff.

      2. Physical wheels are prone to breakage in transport, and sometimes reliability problems.

      This doesn’t mean everyone will prefer them to wheels, but that’s the argument I’d imagine.

    • Tony Scharf

      1. agreed. The nice thing with touch strips is you can jump to values instantly without having to sweep.

      2. Never had this happen in 20 years of playing

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      2. Really? Actually, I think I’m mainly thinking of the Novation Remote wheels, which were crap. ;)

      What I have had fail a lot is keys on substandard keybeds on crap keyboards. I do really trust the Fatar mechanism; it’s one of the few that seems to be any good.

  • http://www.aritchie.com r.domain

    Oh awesome!!! More hardware which they’ll discontinue and stop supporting in a few years. I might grab a keyboard and chuck it on the pile.

  • Lewis F.

    Any word on whether the the hard drive that Komplete 10 Ultimate comes loaded on is useable for anything other than delivery this time?

  • Looker

    Hi Peter. I would like to know how the Komplete Kontrol software behaves in Ableton Live. Do all the controls (that show up on the keyboards) also show up in the plugin parameter section of the Device in Live? Also I would like to know whether it is possible to control the interface with Push or another MIDI controller. Is it possible to map Push like a controller for Komplete Kontrol?