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Native Instruments Komplete 14

The Standard edition (and up) provides plenty of options for guitar sounds.The Standard edition (and up) provides plenty of options for guitar sounds.

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?

Edition Audition

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).

Native Instruments Komplete 14Moving 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.

The top‑end Collector’s edition offers some excellent new orchestral additions.The top‑end Collector’s edition offers some excellent new orchestral additions.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...

Making Kontakt

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 pianos and classic organs, and more pop‑orientated brass. The Factory Library is rounded off by a suitably quirky collection of ‘Vintage’ instruments in which the sound sources span a very broad spectrum, but the underlying theme is some lo‑fi vibes thanks to suitable addition of (mostly gentle) tape saturation or distortion.

Kontakt 7’s redesigned Browser provides a much slicker way to find and audition sounds.Kontakt 7’s redesigned Browser provides a much slicker way to find and audition sounds.

The Browser redesign provides a much slicker (and fully resizeable) environment within which to find the library or specific sound that you need for your project. A tag‑based system lets you quickly narrow down your search while the panel on the right shows all the current presets that match your search criteria. Rather wonderfully, single‑clicking on any of the listed presets provides an audio audition of the sound (these audition presets are installed via Native Access and will also recognise any third‑party libraries you have installed), while double‑clicking on a preset automatically loads it. Also very usefully, the Browser can now be ‘pinned’ open (button located top right) so you can load a preset, start playing and, if it’s not quite what you are looking for, quickly pick an alternative. You can also favourite any sound within the list of presets. For dedicated Kontakt users, these Browser enhancements will bring considerable workflow benefits.

Piano Colors

Komplete 14 also brings new instruments, and top of my personal list would be Piano Colors. This was released as a standalone Kontakt product about 12 months ago (priced at £179$199) but is now included in both the Ultimate and Collector’s Edition of Komplete. While the underlying sample base (all 28GB of it) leans heavily on the piano, the engine, and the sound design it enables, deliver a huge range of truly inspiring sounds. It combines two piano‑based sound layers, a Noise layer and the intriguing Particles layer (which can introduce all sorts of other sonic elements). You also get a powerful arpeggiator and a suite of effects and modulation options for each layer. The UI is a bit of a work of art and, while things can get pretty deep once you start to explore the options available for each sound layer, tweaking one of the many presets, or designing your own sounds from scratch, remains a very accessible process.

And it’s certainly worth it; Piano Colors sounds magnificent and media composers will absolutely love the hybrid nature of the sound. It can be beautiful, mysterious, mystical, whimsical, and downright dissonant and scary. It can do melodic lines, chords, pads, evolving sound textures, rhythmic patterns and lots more. While it’s great for film scores, you could also find a place for these sounds in all sorts of pop production contexts.


Also appearing in the Ultimate and Collector’s Edition versions is Ashlight, a granular synth that specialises in atmospheres, rhythmic textures and various key‑based sounds. This sits alongside — and shares a UI/engine with — the existing Pharlight (vocal‑based sounds) and Starlight (soundscapes, pads, drones). Put these together with the likes of Thrill, Mysteria and Rise & Hit (all also included within these two upper tiers of Komplete) and you have another impressive arsenal of sounds that could easily form the basis of a complete film score.

I particularly enjoyed Ashlight’s various rhythmic presets, and many of these deliver the sorts of drum‑ or percussion‑free rhythmic elements that modern scores are based upon. There are preset categories aimed at more peaceful or meditative moods, but Ashlight’s real strength is its darker, more sinister sounds. For modern drama, horror, sci‑fi or crime, Ashlight is full of wonderful underscore possibilities.


Sequis — also originally released as a stand‑alone Kontakt library about a year ago (£179$199) — has now also been added to Ultimate and the Collector’s Edition. Developed in collaboration with Orchestral Tools, it’s based upon a sample library of mainly orchestral and organic instruments, but its unique element is the four‑layer sequencing engine that allows you to add all sorts of rhythmic and repeating patterns to your compositions. The orchestral sound sources make themselves heard, but they can be performed, processed and modulated to generate results that would not be defined as coming from a traditional orchestra.

Two distinct performance modes are provided for triggering the four layers of sounds. Layer triggering can be controlled via the mod wheel, allowing you to gradually make the overall sound more complex by blending in additional layers. Alternatively, layers can be triggered based upon the number of MIDI notes played, where each additional note generates sound from a different layer. This latter mode is a little more complex in use but provides interesting ways to use the layers within a specific preset. There are some truly beautiful sounds available and, whether for pop or score, it’s undoubtedly an inspiring instrument to work with.


For some of the highlight new additions, you have to go right up to the Collector’s Edition. This includes Lores. Available as a stand‑alone Kontakt library for £179$199, it is built on detailed sampling (70+GB!) of 16 organic instruments spanning some 300+ articulations. Those instruments include the likes of clarinet, two different saxophones, flute, medieval pipes, cello, violin, hurdy gurdy and vocals, so the underlying sonics are definitely organic in nature. However, you can blend three sound sources within a single Lores preset, and the engine includes the Expression control that provides the ability to smoothly blend between articulations as you play.

The various microphone/ambience options can be adjusted via the very stylish ‘cloud’ graphics within the main screen of the UI, and the engine includes a multitude of sound‑design tools and provides lots of options for sound modulation. The huge selection of presets ably demonstrates these features. Lores offers some breathtakingly beautiful sounds and, again, it’s ideal for music‑to‑picture work, where it would make a perfect complement to sounds from conventional orchestral libraries.

Choir: Omnia

Choir: Omnia delivers stunningly good choir sounds via a slick and flexible UI.Choir: Omnia delivers stunningly good choir sounds via a slick and flexible UI.The Collector’s Edition also gets Choir: Omnia, NI’s brand‑new sample library created in collaboration with Strezov Sampling. It is based around a choir of 40 singers and comes in at 70GB (and £359$399 if purchased outside Komplete). The stylish UI is shared by four individual Kontakt nki instruments, one each for soprano, alto, tenor and bass sections. This does mean you have to write your choir performances in a more traditional fashion using multiple instances of the library, but it also ensures maximum realism.

The detailed sampling allows for very dynamic performances, from soft, hushed sounds right up to full‑throated demonic epic‑ness. There are two main performance modes offered. In Keys mode, you get conventional keyswitching for both vowel/syllable sounds and performance articulation (sustain, marcato, staccato and staccatissimo, and each syllable can also have a specific default articulation specified), with dynamics controlled by the mod wheel. The substantial range of presets includes different combinations of syllable sounds that, when combined, can form a simple phrase. The keyswitch mapping adjusts to reflect this for each preset.

In Sequence mode, those same phrases are organised into a mini‑sequencer to form the full phrase, with the ability to set the note length, and the articulation used, for each syllable. When triggered by a MIDI note (or notes), each step of the phrase is performed in sequence, with the last syllable being sustained for as long as the note or notes are held. The engine provides a very simple workflow when building your own word‑like sounds/sequences.

Sonically, Choir: Omnia is undeniably good. As you might expect, four instances of a deeply sampled choir does place a noticeable demand on your host system, but it’s certainly impressive stuff when you get your virtual choir fully fired up.

Best Of The Rest

Playbox; quirky pop and lo‑fi sounds with a clever chord triggering engine.Playbox; quirky pop and lo‑fi sounds with a clever chord triggering engine.While the above additions might represent the most obvious ‘new for v14’ headlines, there are plenty of other additions from NI’s range that have now found their way into one or more of Komplete’s editions. For example, I particularly enjoyed experimenting with Playbox (Standard and above). This is a quirky, sample‑based Kontakt instrument that allows you to generate cool‑sounding chord sequences with a minimum of effort. It is great for pop or lo‑fi contexts.

Standard (and up) also includes some excellent guitar/bass options. First, you get a number of the Session Guitarist titles including the excellent (and new) Electric Mint (which includes a new chord ‘Progression’ feature and MIDI export) and Prime Bass. You also get the latest iteration of NI’s very capable Guitar Rig 6 Pro, which provides a comprehensive guitar amp, cab and effects modelling package.

And, while Standard (and above) also offers a number of very usable drum instruments such as 40s Very Own Drums and Butch Vig Drums, I got particularly caught by the Empire Breaks instrument with it’s various hip‑hop drum sounds and patterns and easy options for dialling in a grungy lo‑fi vibe to the beats.

Plugin Alliance/iZotope Hookup

From Standard upwards, NI’s collaboration with both iZotope and Plugin Alliance brings some very attractive additions to the Komplete package. Ozone 10 Standard might not have all the bells and whistles of the Advanced version, but it is still a very capable tool for both mixing and mastering duties and includes the option for AI‑assisted processing chains to be suggested based upon ‘listening’ to your target audio.

Depending upon which Komplete 14 version you opt for, the partner products from iZotope and Plugin Alliance can add considerable value to the overall package.Depending upon which Komplete 14 version you opt for, the partner products from iZotope and Plugin Alliance can add considerable value to the overall package.

As you go up the Komplete food‑chain, a growing list from PA’s plug‑in catalogue is included. In Komplete Standard, perhaps the highlights are Lo‑Fi‑AF, which provides plenty of options to make any audio source suitably grungy; and bx_Oberhausen, which provides a juicy‑sounding analogue synth inspired by Oberheim’s classic SEM.

Ultimate adds the very polished bx_Console N (a Neve console emulation) and bx_Limiter True Peak, while the Collector’s Edition also adds the bx_Console Focusrite SC and the totally brilliant Knifonium synth, an emulation of Knif Audio’s uber‑expensive hardware synth. This emulated version is both mind‑bogglingly bonkers to program and somewhat demanding in terms of host resources, but it’s worth it because the sound can be massive.

Personal Shopper

There is no doubt that NI have added some very worthwhile additions to Komplete 14. If you are considering taking the plunge (for the first time or by upgrading), the obvious question, therefore, is where might you find your personal sweet spot within the Komplete 14 line‑up? For those who have been building a virtual instrument collection for some time, areas of overlap between Komplete and your existing sound sources will obviously make any purchase decision more complex. However, for potential new users, it is worth noting that NI do offer a simple and competitive pathway between versions; if you start with Select, you can easily move up to Standard (or beyond) as your needs grow.

If starting from scratch, in terms of which version provides the best bang‑for‑buck, it’s difficult not to suggest Standard. Yes, it’s still a significant outlay, but it delivers a substantial amount of material, supplying all the core sound content you might need for a very wide range of musical styles, plus enough of those creative extras that modern pop or film/TV scoring often requires. It’s a true workhorse version.

This is desert island territory; abandon me with my computer, DAW of choice, and either Ultimate or Collector’s Edition (oh, and some solar panels), and I probably still wouldn’t have run out of sounds or inspiration even if it took 10 years to get rescued.

However, it’s also true that many of the real big‑hitting headline additions to v14 are to be found in Ultimate and the Collector’s Edition. By the time you reach these versions, pricewise, you are likely in the ‘working professional’ bracket. However, what you get is an amazing amount of high‑quality instruments and effects. This is desert island territory; abandon me with my computer, DAW of choice, and either Ultimate or Collector’s Edition (oh, and some solar panels), and I probably still wouldn’t have run out of sounds or inspiration even if it took 10 years to get rescued. Don’t get me wrong; I currently have access to lots of non‑NI sample libraries and virtual instruments that I absolutely love, but either of these versions might easily supply all the sounds you will ever need. All the Komplete versions have plenty to offer but, from Ultimate and beyond, Komplete 14 is truly epic.


  • Useful array of prices to suit different potential users.
  • Kontakt 7’s new Browser is a workflow game-changer.
  • Standard offers great value as a point of entry.
  • Ultimate and Collector’s Edition are both epic.


  • No, it’s not cheap.


NI’s various Komplete 14 bundles add useful new features and content at all levels. Standard makes for a great workhorse bundle, while either Ultimate or Collector’s Edition could easily offer all the sounds you will ever need.


Komplete Select £179, Standard £539, Ultimate £1079, Collector’s Edition £1619. Prices include VAT.

Komplete Select $199, Standard $599, Ultimate $1199, Collector’s Edition £1619.