This blog post is intended to serve as a jumping off point to anyone absolutely brand new to the world of Komplete Kontrol who wants to get up to speed quickly with what it is, how it works, especially with Logic, and some of the pros and cons of the eco-system. If you are already familiar with the basics, or after reading this, I strongly encourage checking out my chat with Andre Louis where we pick up from here and get more in depth. There are even recommendations on free and paid libraries.
Using any of the Native instruments products is not accessible without using it as part of Komplete Kontrol and with one of the Native
Instruments Komplete Kontrol keyboards.
As far as the Komplete Kontrol software goes, it’s available in 5
different levels. Komplete Start (free, however useless to blind users without
buying a Komplete Kontrol keyboard), Komplete Select, Komplete,
Konplete Ultimate and Komplete Ultimate collectors Edition. Komplete ultimate Collectors Edition really only adds more
expansion packs which are really just glorified presets for different
genres of music, and mostly all the modern styles of electronic and
As for hardware you have two classes of Keyboards. The more
economically priced options range from the least expensive and
smallest M32, to the A 25, the A49, and the A61. The numbers refer to
the numbers of keys, and yes, the 32 key keyboard is smaller than the 25
key keyboard and less expensive as well.
You also have the S series keyboards which are available in the
S49MKII, S61MKII and S88MKII, once again numbers dictate number of
keys. The S88MKII is the only one with piano style hammer action keys.
The A series keyboards, which includes the M32, doesn’t include any
software if bought on it’s own, but allows you to use Komplete Start
and any other Komplete bundle accessibly. The S series keyboards, when
bought on their own include Komplete Select. Both the A series and S
series are available in bundles with Komplete, Komplete Ultimate, and
Komplete Ultimate Collectors edition, and in the case of the A series
Komplete Select. However, There is no savings buying the bundle vs
buying the Komplete software package later after buying the keyboard.
Other than the key bed being nicer on the S series over the A series,
Both keyboards give you equal access to the Komplete Kontrol eco
system. The S series however does give you a few different ways to
navigate your Libraries, while there is a more limited way to
sort/navigate through your library with the A series. To see how the S series vs the A/M series keyboards work and to learn more about their physical differences, check out this tutorial
The only other advantage the S series has, is if you want to use the Maschine software, the S series keyboards will work with it in a limited capacity compared to the Maschine Hardware. Speaking of Maschine, it’s simple, the Maschine MKIII is the one to get, and see this Maschine Accessibility getting started guide from Native Instruments.
Any MIDI controller that will work
with Logic, will let you play Komplete Kontrol libraries. They just
won’t be able to Kontrol/Navigate them accessibly. A lot of people who
already have a MIDI controller that they like will buy an M32 and
which ever version of the Komplete software package suits their needs,
then use the M32 to load and select sounds, adjust settings etc, and
then when it comes to the actual playing they will play on the other
MIDI controller. This allows one to get into the Komplete Kontrol eco
system at minimum hardware expense from an accessible manner. If you
don’t want to go back and forth between two different keyboards
though, then you will want to choose an appropriate Komplete Kontrol
keyboard that meets your needs/budget.
So we talked about the Komplete Kontrol hardware which are the A
series and S series keyboards. Now lets talk about the Komplete
Kontrol software. As I stated above, the Komplete Kontrol software are
available in 5 bundles ranging from free to 4 figures by the time you
get to Komplete Ultimate Collectors Edition if buying it outright. The
Komplete Kontrol software itself however is just a host. The Komplete
Kontrol software is what you would load on a software instrument track (aka a MIDI track) in
Logic for example. The Komplete Kontrol software is what talks to the
keyboard and allows you to Kontrol parameters of things. Once you have
Komplete Kontrol loaded as an instrument on the track in Logic, you
will have to then choose an instrument. This is what was meant when I
said Komplete Kontrol is just a host. Komplete Kontrol itself has no
sounds of it’s own. It however will play host to the instruments
whose sounds you want to use so that you can not only play the sounds,
but then also Kontrol its parameters from the keyboard. However,
selecting and loading an instrument into Komplete Kontrol software can
be done from a Komplete Kontrol Keyboard.
So the workflow would be something like this, you create a blank
software instrument track in Logic, load up Komplete Kontrol to that
track. Then you can press the browse button on the keyboard and browse
through all the Native Instruments and or 3rd party Software instruments you have installed to select the one you would like to use. Once selected, if it’s an NKS
Compliant instrument, you can go through presets for that instrument
and adjust parameters of the instrument from the Komplete Kontrol
keyboard. At any point after making a selection, you can play keys on the keyboard to hear the
sound, and when you are ready to start recording you can start and
stop recording from the Komplete Kontrol keyboard as well.
NKS stands for
Native Kontrol Standard. This is the preset file format that maps the
controls on the Komplete Kontrol physical keyboard to the parameters
in the loaded instrument inside the Komplete Kontrol Software.
Everything included in the Komplete software bundles is NKS compliant.
However in some instruments and libraries every parameter is mapped,
and in some only a few are mapped. So just because an instrument is
NKS compliant or has an NKS file for it, whether provided by the
manufacturer or a 3rd party, doesn’t mean you will be able to access
all parameters as a guarantee.
Kontakt is a sampler similar to EXS24 (or Sampler as it’s now known in
Logic), and is included in Komplete, Komplete ultimate and Collectors
Edition. In order to use Kontakt accessibly, you have to load it into
Komplete Kontrol, and if the Kontakt library you want to use is also
NKS Compliant, then you can browse presets and and adjust parameters
for it. However if the library isn’t NKS compliant there may not be a
whole lot you can do short of doing all the NKS mapping yourself which
isn’t accessible, but there are people who if they have the libraries
as well may be willing to do it on a volunteer or paid basis. It will
most likely be based on how involved it is to map out. As I mentioned previously, there are third parties, like the freelance sound labs website where someone does this and then sells the NKS files., as blind users are not the only ones who may want to control a synth without taking their hands off the keyboard that they are
If all you care about is a particular type of instrument or Sounds, and you can find a Kontakt library that is NKS compliant
for those types of sounds, Then buying a A or S series keyboard, a
copy of Kontakt and that library may be all you need, but depending on
cost, a Komplete bundle may look more attractive.
Even if the manufacturer doesn’t advertise it to be NKS
compliant, it maybe worth checking a website like the aforementioned freelance sound labs
to see if they have an NKS file for it for sale.
Hope this helps get you started on your Komplete Kontrol journey. For more Komplete Kontrol accessibility specific info, check out KK Access, and of course the chat with Andre Louis. Got any questions, contact me, and if you found this helpful then please consider a donation or becoming a member to get bonus tutorials,and a chance to ask me your question in a live Q&A.