Here is part one of a special two part series looking at some of the new products released by Native Instruments in 2018. We will be looking at the new A series of keyboard controllers as well as some of the awesome new synthesiser additions to Komplete 12. Be sure to check out part 2 coming up very soon where we look at the new Kontrol S 88 MKII keyboard as well as some of the cool new content included with Komplete 12 Ultimate and the new Komplete 12 Ultimate Collector’s Edition.
In this video we are using the 49 note model, however there is also a 25 note model and a 61 note model available, all with identical features. While the more expensive Kontrol S Series of keyboards include the full Komplete 12 Select bundle, the Kontrol A series include a smaller selection including The Gentleman piano, Scarbee Mark 1 electric pianos, as well as Monark and Reaktor Prism. You can also upgrade from this bundle to the full Komplete Select bundle from NI’s website. for about $150.
Native Instruments Kontrol S MKII series of keyboard controllers were launched at the end of 2017. Although they function as generic controllers for use with any MIDI controllable software, they really shine when used with Native Instruments plugins, or NKS ready third party plugins such as the Arturia V-Collection or the Korg Gadget Collection. NKS plugins all have tagged presets so you can easily find the sound you’re after, and all the parameters are automatically mapped to the Kontrol S keyboard controllers so you can immediately start tweaking and playing.
With the new Kontrol A series of keyboards, you can expect this same level of control over NKS plugins, but at a much cheaper price. Of course to get the price down there are a couple of omissions compared to the more expensive Kontrol S series but not as many as you may think. Most obviously, the two big colour screens are replaced with a small OLED display which turns out to be really useful. The knobs across the front of the keyboard are all touch sensitive, so you just need to touch one and the assigned parameter and current value are displayed on the screen. This means you don’t need a display above every controller to know what they’re assigned to.
When browsing instruments or presets, only one selection is displayed at a time meaning you will need to glance at your computer to see what’s coming up in the list.
The other main difference is the keybed. The light guide is gone and the keybed is a lower cost assembly with no aftertouch. Honestly, if nobody had told us it was a different keybed we wouldn’t have guessed as the keys feel really good, so this was a really pleasant surprise and one of our favourite things about the new A series controllers.
One of the big new additions to Komplete 12 Standard is Kontakt 6. The long awaited update to the world’s most popular software sampler. Many of the updates here are done under the hood and are really geared towards creators as to future proof the platform. For example, a new wavetable synth engine has been added. Being sample based, wavetables are a perfectly suited addition to Kontakt and there are 3 new instruments known as the Kontakt Play series that are included and beautifully demonstrate the new synth engine.
We have Analog Dreams which is a fantastic sounding collection of retro synths based around two sample layers which you can easily blend between. It’s easy to choose which sample it loaded in each layer and 8 parameters are instantly mapped to the 8 knobs on the Kontrol series keyboards.
There is also Ethereal Earth, which is based on the same dual layer architecture but instead focuses on ambient evolving soundscapes, with a different set of parameters depending on the currently selected patch.
Also brand new in Komplete 12 is TRK 01 which is a REAKTOR based synthesiser, which is part kick drum synth and part bass synth. In the top left of the GUI is the kick drum synthesiser which can be either sample based, synth based, rumble based or noise and you can import your own samples as well. The bass synthesiser can be either a classic synth, a simple synth, a west coast synth, FM or a more modern aggressive setting synth. At the bottom there sequencer which can be up to 16 steps per page and up to 4 pages.