Does the latest iteration of NI’s Komplete music production suite provide all the tools you need?
For a number of years, Native Instruments have bundled their industry‑standard Kontakt sample engine with collections from their extensive range of sample‑based instruments, virtual synths and effects into a package known as Komplete. Available in multiple versions, each offers an ever‑increasing range of NI’s software products at correspondingly increasing prices. There is also a compact (or should that be Kompakt?) subscription‑based option — Komplete Now — for those that want to dip their toe into the NI waters by means of a modest monthly fee.
NI have now released Komplete 14. It brings some new options across all Komplete versions and, significantly, also sees the release of Kontakt 7. So, if you are looking to solve your (virtual) sound source needs in one fell swoop, is Komplete 14 a contender? And, if so, which version is most likely to meet your personal needs and budget?
As well as Komplete Now, NI offer four versions of Komplete: Select (£179$199), Standard (£539$599), Ultimate (£1079$1199) and Collector’s Edition (£1619$1799). With download sizes of 34GB, 230GB, 680GB and 1TB, and sound preset numbers of 15,000, 43,000, 84,000 and 141,000 respectively, just how complete Komplete is as a one‑stop sonic source will obviously depend upon the depth of your pockets.
NI’s website provides a useful overview of what’s included within each version, and potential purchasers will find this particularly useful. However, some of the more fundamental version differences are worth highlighting here. For example, Select offers Kontakt 7 Player and the Kontakt Factory Selection rather than the full version of Kontakt 7 and the new Factory Library found in all the other editions. The move from Select to Standard adds a significant amount of Kontakt‑based content including some very good orchestral options (including within the new Factory Library), additional synth options (including Massive X), drum options (including the full version of Battery 4) and a significantly wider choice of effects (including the full version of Guitar Rig 6 Pro).
Moving up to Ultimate adds even more extra content. On the orchestral front this includes the excellent Action Strings 2 (which we reviewed in SOS March 2022), the various Symphony Essentials Kontakt libraries, the new Piano Colors, and relatively new Sequis instruments. There are also a number of sound‑design instruments ideal for media composers (eg. Straylight, Mysteria, Thrill, and Rise & Hit, all of which SOS have reviewed previously), a range of Kontakt instruments suitable for both song and score work (such as a number of the Session Guitar titles, Alicia’s Keys studio piano, Session Horns Pro, and various ‘world’ instrument libraries) and a considerably expanded palette of synth options (both for Kontakt and as stand‑alone plug‑ins).
Taking the final step up to the Collector’s Edition adds additional, high‑end orchestral libraries including the solo Stradivari Violin, Amati Viola, Stradivari Cello and Guarneri Violin. You also get Arkhis, the relatively new Lores, and the new Choir: Omnia instruments, all aimed primarily at media composers and described more fully below. It’s also worth noting that, as you move up through the various Komplete versions, you also get increasing numbers of NI’s genre‑based loop and sample‑based Expansion products, designed with Maschine in mind but with Battery kits and presets for the Massive and Monark synths included.
In addition, as part of the Komplete 14 package, NI have teamed up with both iZotope and Plugin Alliance, with increasing options as you move up through the Komplete range. These partner products bring plenty of added value.
For the purposes of this review, I had access to the full 141,000 sounds of the Collector’s Edition. In the absence of devoting a full issue of SOS to Komplete 14, I’ll focus here on some of the stand‑out highlights to give a sense of how NI have moved things forwards. Let’s explore...
For many media composers and music producers, Kontakt is a key ‘hub’ of their workflow alongside their DAW of choice. A whole point update is therefore going to be a big deal for both developers and users alike. For users (the likely majority within the SOS readership), two new features are worth highlighting; the new Factory Library and the significant revamp of the sound Browser.
From Komplete 14 Standard and upwards, Kontakt 7 ships with a new, expanded (40GB as opposed to 25GB) Factory Library. This covers a lot of musical ground and is presented in a set of sound categories. A new set of traditional orchestral sounds is included courtesy of samples taken from Orchestral Tools’ The Berlin Project. For someone looking to get a start with orchestral scoring, or needing a core palette to sketch ideas, this covers all the key bases and sounds very good on the ear.
The new Factory Library also includes a good selection of other acoustic instruments drawn from around the world, choir options with a range of articulations and vowel performances, and a very good selection of synth sounds covering pads, leads, basses and soundscapes. The ‘Beat’ section provides a collection of drum sounds and loops, while the ‘Band’ section covers electric and acoustic guitars and basses, acoustic drums, a whole series of keyboard‑based sounds such as...
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