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.

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It seems everyone is getting in on modular gear these days, thanks to the Eurorack format. But many of these modules are variations on a theme – new models of old classic modules, existing synthesis components and filters that have just been reborn as a module.

monome white whale, shipping this month, is something different. Connect a monome grid controller to a modular, and suddenly that array of light-up buttons becomes a probabilistic sequencer. It’s live performance oriented in a way too few modules are. The results are surprising and lovely. The solution isn’t cheap – you need a monome in addition to the modular rig and sequencer module, and the setup is optimized for the larger, spendier monome models. But it does produce a standalone setup that’s a joy to behold.

white whale – possibilities from tehn on Vimeo.

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cyrusrex + Baseck – #DBC611G-1D from Muff Wiggler on Vimeo.

Pulsing, rattling, buzzing, quivering, the music of LA-based artist Cyrus Rex is a sumptuous feast of sound. Here’s a musician who connects massive arrays of gear, like some post-apocalyptic robot dream, and then makes it sound like it – rapid-fire machine reveries set in motion amidst nests of cables.

Little wonder this video at top, with Cyrusrex and Baseck, comes from MuffWiggler. It is full of gear:

Cyrusrex + Baseck – Modular Synth, DSI Tempest, DevilFish TB303, Strymon BigSky, casio #DBC611G-1D

But don’t stop there. Cyrus Rex’s music is an IDM orgy of synthesizers, each sound precise and exquisite amidst the raging terror of noise. Continue reading »

Guessing that 'new' flag will not be a feature. This image has been making the rounds.

Guessing that ‘new’ flag will not be a feature. This image has been making the rounds.

Keeping new musical instrument announcements under wraps prior to embargo dates is proving, again, to be more or less impossible. Native Instruments’ Komplete updates, teased in a video on Friday, have now been prematurely revealed via one print magazine hitting newsstands (Beat, in Germany), and multiple leaks by dealers (some even crawled by Google, according to a CDM reader). Forum members at GearSlutz have been dutifully reproducing everything, leaving few secrets. From there, the cat’s out of the bag; I’m seeing this spreading through German-language outlets and expect others will pick this up soon. Oddly, forum members and commenters have also proceeded to review the announcement in some detail, apparently on the merits of a serious of text bullet points and screen shots alone.

I think that’s a little ridiculous. You need to hear instruments to judge them; you need to actually use hardware and software to judge its quality. Implementation is everything.

This isn’t the whole story – not yet. The leaks don’t yet reveal any details of how that works, only the basic physical form of the keyboards, as well as what instruments have been added in Komplete 10′s software.

So, I’m posting it here in the hopes that more inquisitive CDM readers will ask us some questions. What would you want to see tested; what would you want to know? Let’s see some questions rather than premature reviews, and we can find some answers. (My experience is, readers here ask terrific questions.)

But for starters, here’s the information shared on GearSlutz and in a story on (German-language site) The big story, as the teaser video suggested, is keyboards designed for controlling instruments in Komplete. Many of the hardware features you’ve already seen in the “teaser” video (which actually showed quite a lot): Continue reading »


Native Instruments today releases a teaser video which it says is “A glimpse of the future” of Komplete, the production suite that includes Reaktor, Kontakt, and various synths and the like.

That video clearly shows some kind of hardware. Now, the degree to which I can speculate about an unreleased product is inversely proportional to the amount I know about such a product.

So, with that in mind, let me objectively describe what you see in the video in ways that are truly obviously discernible, for those of you who can’t be bothered to squint at the video yourself. I’d say we see:

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Pd: Ugly. Hugely useful. Free.

The open-source, free graphical patching environment can do everything from simple MIDI tasks to building synths and effects to advanced multimedia. And because it’s free software, it’s also been adapted to run places other tools can’t – it’s been used in commercial iOS apps with millions of downloads (via libpd), and will run happily on a Raspberry Pi or even a hacked e-reader or ancient iPod.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s also getting a healthy stream of updates. And while those usually don’t merit specific mention, 0.46 is very cool. (It’s the “vanilla” version, so perfectly suited to work with libpd for iOS, Android, and game development, among other things.)

New in this release:

  • Native OSC (Open Sound Control) support. oscformat, oscparse objects now does OSC over UDP. (TCP, USB, etc. still require the slip encoder/decoder by mrpeach.)
  • Built-in support for Jack (inter-app audio, etc.) on OS X.
  • No more manually setting up devices: “Audio and MIDI devices saved by name so that when they get switched around Pd has a better chance of restoring settings correctly.”
  • New string support: ,
  • Netsend/netreceive bi-directional TCP support. (Overdue – thanks!)

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Eurorack fever continues to spread. The ease of making musical electronics fit the standard, pioneered by Germany’s Dieter Doepfer, and the growing appetite from a small but passionate audience, seems to make producing new modules irresistible. The entire design equation is different: a single task or handful of tasks can become a product.

Dave Smith Instruments is the latest entry. And the product is the perfect choice for DSI. It’s a module built around on the Curtis filter, the signature filter found on everything from the 1980s Prophets (back when Dave’s company was Sequential Circuits) to the latest Mopho and Prophet 12 – as well as instruments like the Oberheim Xpander and Rhodes Chroma.

Putting the Curtis filter in a module gives you a range of features:

  • Switchable 2/4-pole, resonant low-pass filter
  • -12 dB, -24 dB switchable filter slopes
  • Dedicated voltage-controlled amplifier (VCA)
  • Audio input jack, filtered audio output jack (well, of course, though you can choose signal from either before or after the VCA)
  • Control voltage inputs for frequency, resonance, and amplitude
  • Self-oscillation in 24 dB mode

Street (MAP) US$179.

And yes, it’s actually as far as I know the first time in quite some that Dave Smith, known as the father of MIDI, had his name on something without MIDI built in. But that’s not in and of itself news; a module is by definition different from a standalone synthesizer. Continue reading »