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Product Review – Guitar Rig 5 Kontrol From Native Instruments

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Guitar Rig 5 Kontrol is a pedal-board MIDI controller with a built in audio interface from Native Instruments. It contains nine metal foot switches as well as an expression pedal to provide control over your sound. The device gives you everything that you need to record, play, and perform music in one compact and portable unit. It comes complete with GUITAR RIG 5 software.

To record music in the modern recording world – where most everything is digital, you need an interface. In this case the RIG KONTROL is an audio interface that allows you to connect your electric guitars and basses into the unit and the signal is then passed into the GUITAR RIG 5 software from where you can plug into a variety of amps and sound effects. If you have a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), you can launch the GUITAR RIG 5 software plug-in from within and record your own music directly to your DAW.

GUITAR RIG 5 KONTROL is geared for the home, small studio, as well as for those who perform live. Since it has a built-in audio interface, you can use the RIG KONTROL for the playback of all of your audio applications as well just by setting it as your default audio interface. The control comes with 2 channels and it can handle 16 and 24-bit resolution as well as having sampling rates of 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, and 192 kHz. Check out the Native Instrument specifications page for full information.

GUITAR RIG 5 KONTROL

RIG KONTROL is 14″ x 9.3″ x 4″ in size and weighs in at 2.6 lbs. and has a very solid feel to it – in fact it feels like it could be kicked off a stage or dropped onto the floor and not sustain any measurable damage. It is just that well-built.

The RIG KONTROL helps to bridge the gap between your guitar and the software. The control unit is effectively a multi-effects pedal on steroids. It is rectangular in shape and angled down for ease of use. There are eight metal foot switches on the main part of the system – four on top and four on the bottom, as well as one under the pedal. And then there is the expression pedal itself.

GUITAR RIG 5 KONTROL

At the top is the display area that has one LED that shows the number of the currently activated preset, two others that display the audio input/output signals – complete with a red clipping indicator. One LED shows MIDI signals and one more for the switch under the pedal.

The metal switches can be assigned through the software to perform a variety of tasks such as stepping through presets, turning individual components on or off and each switch comes with an LED to indicate whether it is activated. The expression pedal can be used to control any continuous parameter of the software, such as volume or wah-wah. There is an additional freely assignable switch underneath the tip of the pedal.

On the back of the unit moving from left to right is the line/instrument switch which allows you to determine if the input plugged in is a line level signal – has its own strong output signal, or one that does not – such as a guitar or bass. Keep in mind that while you can plug in two items to the unit, both inputs must either be line or instrument. Next you have the two ¼” input channels and their respective gain controls. Then you have two ¼” output channels so that you can plug for output such as a set of monitors.

GUITAR RIG 5 KONTROL

To the right you have a high/low switch where the output amplification can be set to full or -14dB. Next is a jack for your headphones as well as a volume control. To the right of this you have two jacks that you can attach external additional effects pedals to. This is really handy if you already have pedals that you are accustom use to using. Next to that is a set of MIDI input and output jacks for receiving or sending to external devices. Finally there is the USB 2.0 port that is used to attach to your computer. This has a really nice little USB hook that you can wrap your cable around so if you kick your RIG KONTROL unit – after all it is a foot pedal, the cable will be less likely to be disconnected and you can keep playing.

In the box, along with the RIG KONTROL system and USB cable, you also get the complete version of GUITAR RIG 5. This is a phenomenal collection of amps, effects, cabinets, and microphones that will energize your guitar playing abilities. Imagine having the ability to – right off the shelf plug into any of 17 different guitar and bass amplifiers. These have been modeled off of original multi-channel designs and model-specific amplifier and they have the same tweaking options as their real-world counterparts so as to accurately convey the same character, charm and feel.

Add to that, there are 27 different matched cabinets that offer a harmonized speaker setup for every single amp. There are also up to 16 microphones which give you flexible mic positioning and four compelling rotary speaker simulations. Using the Control Room Pro you can arm each track of the 8-track mixer with your choice of cabinet, mic, and positioning on each track and juggle the levels to get the right sound.

GUITAR RIG 5 KONTROL

Also included are 54 creative sound-processing tools including effects such as distortion, overdrive, reverb, delay, modulation, and filters. There are also tools like multi-effects, splitters, modifiers, a loop machine, and two tape decks. For a more thorough look at this product check out my review of KOMPLETE 8 part III.

What makes this so special is that included is a set of over 130 different presets that you can use right away. These are based on various sounds from rock, jazz, blues, electronic, and more. You can just load these presets and take off with the sound. But you can also tweak the sounds to make them your own and save them as custom presets as well. Or you can just build your own sound from scratch. There really is no limit to what you can do.

GUITAR RIG 5 KONTROL

The GUITAR RIG 5 KONTROL is really an awesome unit to work with if you are a guitarist. It is well laid out and has a very natural feel to where everything is and how it all works together. I also really like how you can make the push button switch conform to what you want to do and what feels natural to your workflow.

As stated previously, I also really like the whole GUITAR RIG 5 software. It is just incredible to work with. I used it with both Pro Tools 10 and SONAR X1 Extended and had absolutely no problems. It makes playing guitar such an incredible joy because you can literally change setups in seconds and tune and tweak to your hearts delight. When using a DAW, you can record the rhythm track and work out your jams over and over again. I do not think there is anything that you cannot accomplish with this system.

If you are looking for an audio interface for recording in your studio or to play live with, then GUITAR RIG 5 KONTROL should be a first choice. This is especially the case if you are looking for pristine sound, extremely low latency, streamline design, and an outrageous set of amps, effects, and tools to work with your guitar then I very highly recommend GUITAR RIG 5 KONTROL.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.