Today’s producers are always hungry for more sounds, but could Native Instruments have come up with the ultimate toolkit? Hollin Jones gets busy with Komplete 9…
There are few companies that can rival Native Instruments for the sheer breadth and depth of products they offer to the computer-based producer. Several years ago the Berlin-based developer began to offer all its instruments and effects as part of a single bundle known as Komplete. Now we’re up to Komplete 9, a vast collection of sample and synth-based instruments and effects processors that aims to provide you with everything you need to produce music. There are two versions : Komplete 9 and Komplete 9 Ultimate. The Ultimate version gives you all the sample-based instruments running in Kontakt, where the regular version omits some of these. A detailed comparison is available on NI’s website.
The Ultimate version ships on a dedicated USB hard drive due to the sheer volume of stuff to install. The apps themselves use 10GB of space and a full content install needs 250GB. You can of course specify an external drive on which to store this content during the installation process, and if you’re on a laptop or other non-tower machine this is usually a good idea. You can pick and choose what you install too and since the original installers are stored on the NI drive, you can perform additional installs later. All major formats are supported and you’ll need at least 2GB of RAM, or significantly more to work with heavy sample-based Kontakt libraries without experiencing slowdowns. There are standalone versions of the major apps, too. Authorisation is peformed using the Service Centre app and as usual with NI this is all fairly easy to do.
Content wise there’s the latest version of all of NI’s flagship instruments including Kontakt, Reaktor and Guitar Rig Pro. As well as being excellent instruments in their own right these also host various other collections, especially Kontakt which is a powerful sampling and hosting environment, and Reaktor for building your own instruments and effects. There’s an impressive array of synths carried over from 8, some with tweaks and updates since then. Absynth 5 is an incredible sound design tool, Massive is particularly beloved of dubstep and other electronic producers and Razor is an astonishingly modern sounding tool for making electronic sounds. You also get Retro Machines 2 and the venerable FM8 amongst others. New and running inside Reaktor is Monark, a monophonic monster designed for bass, leads and sequences. With a clear but simple layout and incredibly fat sound it’s great for everything from heavy electro to indie rock. It sounds more retro than NI’s usual futuristic models, and is available separately from Komplete for 99 Euro if you prefer to get it that way. Also new is Skanner XT, delivering huge basses and swirling pads.
The Ultimate bundle gives you an enormous number of sample-based instruments and in addition to the existing Evolve Mutations, Session Strings Pro and Evolve models, you now get the other instuments that NI has released since version 8. Action Strings is a clever tool for film scoring, incorporating pre-recorded cinematic musical figures and allowing you to edit articulations and combine sequences to create Hollywood-style scores that don’t sound like they have been made on a computer. Damage is kind of like a soundtrack in a box, with heavy, up to the minute pulsating beats, rhythms and textures easily editable to create dynamic and exciting movie scores. Session Horns samples a four piece horn section and can be played freely or using over 170 flexible pre-recorded phrases. Like the other sample-based instruments it’s available separately and will play in the free Kontakt 5 Player, if you don’t have the full version.
In addition to a wealth of bass and drum instruments covering everything from the 60s through the 80s to world percussion, funk and even metal bass guitars, there’s still an impressive collection of pianos such as a range of concert grands, Alicia’s Keys and the Scarbee electric pianos that offer stunning clarity and flexibility, with the ability to place instruments inside virtual spaces and tweak them in great detail. You also now get Abbey Road Vintage Drums, the Scarbee Rickenbacker Bass and the excellent Giant upright piano, which can be used as an authentic sounding real instrument or morphed to make strange sound effects.
NI has been moving more and more into pro studio effects since the last version of Komplete and this is reflected in version 9. So as well as the excellent VC and Solid Mix series of dyanmics plug-ins you also now get the RC series of gorgeous reverb units, Vari Comp compressor, Enhanced and Passive EQs and a combined filter, distortion and modulator unit. These are in addition to an already great selection of processors including the Traktor effects, Reflektor reverb and more, meaning that Komplete 9 is fast becoming an all-encompassing mixing toolbox as well.
In With The New
NI makes the Maschine beatbox software but before that there was Battery, its well-established drum machine. Much loved, it was nonetheless getting a little long in the tooth and has now been updated to an entirely new version, Battery 4. Although the look has been radically overhauled, it will still be familiar to existing users. Its library has been re-focused for electronic and hip hop music and there’s a new tag-based browser as well as the ability to route effects using drag and drop. The cell matrix is still present and can now be expanded up to 128 cells with colour coding and MIDI learn to make managing and building your own kits easier. You can even load MPC kits and there’s a Time Stretching Pro algorithm to help you morph and bend your samples, as well as humanization options to keep beats sounding real.
Komplete 9 is an astonishing toolkit by anyone’s standards, genuinely covering almost any musical task you could think of. For anyone who works across genres it’s a no brainer, and even if you don’t, the saving represented by buying the bundle as opposed to the individual products must give you serious pause for thought. At this point, NI is on top of its game in terms of UI design and stability such that these are all great, solid and well designed products capable of performing at the highest level. At around half the price, the regular bundle gives you the flagship products and some of the sample-based instruments and studo effects, and can of course be upgraded later. The Ultimate collection is exhaustive in its scope, providing an amazing selection of sounds and tools. At the price, anyone working in music or those looking for a one-stop way to stock up on sounds would struggle to find a better deal.
+ Truly astonishing range of instruments and effects
+ A one stop shop for sounds
+ Streamlined installation process
+ Mature and stable apps
+ Excellent UI design
+ Battery 4 feels fresh and snappy
+ Amazing sampled pianos, drums and basses
+ Cutting edge synths
+ Some excellent modelled classics
+ Great new cinematic scoring tools
+ Bundles represent excellent value vs individual purchases
A powerhouse collection of sounds and effects that will provide everything you need to create and mix music in all manner of styles. Even better for bundling the latest cinematic instruments.
Manufacturer: Native Instruments
Komplete 9 499 Euro
Update from Komplete 2-8 149 Euro
Upgrade to Ultimate 499 Euro
Komplete 9 Ultimate 999 Euro
Upgrade from Komplete 2-8 649 Euro
Update from Komplete 8 Ultimate 399 Euro
Distributor: Native Instruments