Native Instruments Komplete 12 Review [Part 3]
The final chapter in our Komplete 12 review…
I’m approaching the end of the initial journey with Komplete 12. Part 3 (this one) will deal briefly with the remaining instruments and effects and then look at the overall experience as a new user. I have been using NI Komplete 12 most evenings and some days for around 5 weeks and have yet to fully unearth all of its secrets. Also, as of June 27th Native Instruments unveiled their latest super Synth Massive X available to all Komplete 12 users. This synth alone could have multiple blog posts dedicated to it; such is its scope. Anyway, let’s get through the remaining aspects of Komplete and then have a look at the experience from a newbie’s perspective.
As you would expect from a soft instrument collection there should at least be one of each of a grand and an upright piano. Kontakt has two uprights and three grands, although we have previously mentioned that one of the uprights is the Una Corda and one of the grands is the Giant (A vertical grand).
The Maverick is a singular, one of kind Grand Piano. Made in 1905 for the then Prince of Prussia, The Maverick is a unique and tonally evolved piano. With over 2500 samples the Maverick is dynamically versatile and can be used as a classical heavyweight or a bright pop music machine. The options to adjust the tone and vibrance are similar in layout to both the Grandeur and the Gentleman.
THE GRANDEUR is the rich, hyper-detailed sound of one of the world’s most treasured concert grand pianos. Recorded by the highly acclaimed Galaxy Instruments, The Grandeur is a faithful and sonorous reproduction of a grand piano. The level of detail is again staggering with an almost endless level of tweakability. There are distinct harmonics within sustained notes, and this is all packed into 5gb of compressed space (13gb uncompressed) which is amazing when you consider that a high end standalone or VST grand piano is around the 50gb mark.
THE GENTLEMAN is a classic upright piano that delivers balanced tone and a wide dynamic range, sampled from a vintage upright. With 2300 individual samples the Gentleman is as faithful a representation as a soft upright piano can get. Taken from a genuine turn of the century upright you can hear the music hall tones captured immaculately. Whether you need a jazz sound or pop sound this brightly timbred upright is ideal.
SCARBEE CLAVINET/PIANET, VINTAGE ORGANS,SCARBEE A-200 & the SCARBEE MARK I are nine legendary keyboards – expertly sampled and brimming with the unique character and funky feel of the originals. including the Scarbee Mark 1 which is the sound of an iconic 70s electric piano – beautifully sampled and perfectly preserved in all its analogue brilliance. The Scarbee A-200, a classic and highly versatile electric piano sampled to perfection with its entire dynamic range and character intact. Also, a collection of Vintage Organs such as the sound the Hammond B-3, C-3, M-3, Farfisa Compact, and Vox Continental II in one sample-based instrument. The electric keyboard simulations are outstanding and give an array of tonal possibilities.
Guitar & Bass
Native Instruments Komplete 12 also has a number of guitar and bass samples including a fully sampled Rickenbacker bass. These are very versatile and useful for thrashing out ideas or for samples. There are two sets of Orchestral packages which are Session Strings 2, a faithfully recorded 11-piece ensemble. Session Strings 2 has a play assistant feature to help inspire creativity. There is also a session horns package for all your Brass section needs.
5 Drums and Percussion Instruments
DRUMLAB is a sonic laboratory for layering drums, combining pristine acoustic samples with a punchy electronic edge. Drumlab is a more versatile beast than it first appears, wearing a rather conventional coat as UI it appears to simply be a drum kit builder with some pre-set grooves under the hood. STUDIO DRUMMER is three premium drum kits, over 3,300 exclusive groove patterns and a detailed mix studio with high-end effects.
Native Instruments Komplete 12 also features 15 effects packages with fully featured studio effects and standalone effects processors. There are 10 expansions for various parts of the Komplete software. The main effect and what initially prompted me to use this software was for Guitar Rig 5.
GUITAR RIG 5 PRO is the ultimate all-in-one guitar and bass solution with 17 amps, 54 effects, and more. Easy to use, with breath-taking sound. Guitar Rig has been in the digital realm for some time. It is a versatile beast with many heads (and cabs) that can fulfil most if not all a studio guitarists needs. If you are purist, then you probably wouldn’t utilise the overdrive effects/amp models as they do lack the general punch pro guitarists/studio producers look for. However, the effects and clean sounds are superb. There are not only conventional effects a guitarist may expect to find such as modulation and time-based effects but there are studio mainstays such as LFO’s and splitters. You can stack effects, amps and cabs to create huge expansive sounds or small whacky ones. There is a built-in tuner and a recording facility so you can create backing tracks on the fly to help creativity. The sounds are arranged into genre, type and effect type. Guitar Rig 5 has a standalone interface for practising and a VST and works perfectly within DAWs.
Are you experienced?
At the Dawsons HQ there are a number of multi-instrumentalists, keyboard players, DJ’s and general tech-heads who each at least have a general understanding of how home studios work and utilising packages such as Komplete 12 to develop their musical ideas. I, on the other hand, am a simple guitarist with a very rudimentary knowledge of playing keyboards and the passing whiff of a clarinet many moons ago. So, I thought it best to develop my own musical language a little further while experimenting in a brave new (for me) world.
It’s been a struggle no doubt about it. If anything, I’ve been a little overwhelmed and succumbed to the classic pitfall of trying each and every sound until I found something, I like rather than having a solid idea in my head or on the guitar and trying to develop that. The Synthesisers alone are huge in scope and there are loads including the big four (now 5), FM8, Absynth, Massive, Reaktor 6 and now Massive X which NI is hoping will shape the future of electronic music over the next few years. One of the problems with crossing over from rock to electronic music is accepting sounds I normally would dismiss. A simple lead bass can sound too artificial to my ears but then when you play a Traktor loop behind it, the possibilities explode.
My first real successes came using Session Strings 2 and hybrid keys to create sweeping large scale cinematic landscapes. The various synths are laden with these kinds of pads and the discovery series has so many percussive instruments, simple authentic beats became a reality. At this point, I was still some way from creating anything approaching a modern EDM style sound.
So, apprehensively I started to play with Battery 4 and piano roll, and this changed everything, more complex rhythms with a much more modern vibe became possible and the sounds that I previously held as unauthentic became perfect and necessary. Crazy lead lines and noisy acid basses fit perfectly over the multitude of beats and samples. I started to build generic parts that had a little cohesion but was still some way from being ready for public consumption, I was just a little further along in the journey.
What I learnt was that if you are a home producer or professional producer there are an incredible amount of sonic possibilities within this software. If you are looking to create scores for films there is every conceivable kind of pad, synth or string available to you. If you are an experimentalist looking to jar and shake the musical souls of others there are sonic tapestries hidden in plain sight within the well-crafted interfaces. Finally, if you looking to create your own sounds and interfaces there is a host of sound crafting possibilities with a steep learning curve that is well worth the time to grasp. There is a global library of other people’s sounds you can access and upload your own creations once you become a member of this very thorough brand that is Native Instruments.
Komplete 12 isn’t finished, it gets regular updates and those who own a copy get access to new and unbelievable sounds. Komplete 12 is as thorough a piece of music software or any software I have encountered and is easily worth a whole lot more than its present price tag. Every night I go home and after sorting dinner or walking the dog I boot up the MIDI keyboard, turn the lights off letting the glow of the razor keyboard dimly light the small studio and see what comes next, Komplete 12 is not only the future of music but it could be the future of your music.