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Software Review: KOMPLETE 8 – Part I From Native Instruments

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KOMPLETE 8 is a bundled package of instruments and effects for modern digital music creation, composition, production, and sound design. There are three different versions of KOMPLETE 8 – KOMPLETE 8 ULTIMATE, KOMPLETE 8, and KOMPLETE ELEMENTS. Each one contains a variety of instruments and effects that provide value for your musical creation. Because there is so much contained within the package, his review will look at KOMPLETE 8 and will be broken down into 3 parts.

In this review I will look at the KONTAKT 5 as well as the piano and keyboards that come with KOMPLETE 8. KONTAKT 5 is a soft-sampler that is known for its audio engine, flexible architecture and the 43 GB worth of sounds that it brings along. It comes with new effects, filters, sampling modes, and more.

KONTAKT 5

KONTAKT has been around for almost a decade and is an industry standard when it comes to software samplers. At a base level, this program allows you to play back and process audio samples, but it also does much more than just that. It gives you the ability to create complex sample-based virtual instruments, process their audio signals, build sophisticated performance setups with extensive modulation routings, and gain access to a large number of third-party sample libraries.

KOMPLETE 8

KONTAKT can be run either stand-alone or as a plug-in – a virtual instrument inside your sequencer or digital audio workstation (DAW). This later method gives you the ability run multiple instances side-by-side. As a plug-in, it comes as VST, Audio Units (AU), and RTAS formats.

KONTAKT has been updated to version 5 and while the interface has not changed, it does contain some large-scale enhancements including:

• SOLID G-EQ which is an authentic re-interpretation of a classic studio effect— a uniquely clean and musical 4-band EQ switchable to shelf on the low and high bands, plus two full parametric mid-bands.

• SOLID BUS COMP which is also available as a fully-fledged product in its own right, this virtual reproduction of a legendary compressor adds presence and drive without blurring the detail.

• TRANSIENT MASTER is a musical and versatile tool for re-shaping any kind of percussive sound. Make a sound hit harder, or shorten the resonance tail of a sound that rings too long. Bring instruments to the front of the mix or smooth out spikiness.

• TAPE SATURATOR which simulates the natural, harmonic compression of analog tape and adds warmth to your sound. Pushed a little harder, it delivers a smooth, organic overdrive.

• 37 NEW FILTERS that can enhance your creative sound design. These were developed by the creative mastermind of MASSIVE and the range covers the whole spectrum from classic state variable low-pass filters to avant-garde formant filters, and nine of the new additions employ groundbreaking adaptive resonance technology.

• VINTAGE SAMPLING MODES that come straight from the MPC school of beatmaking. These re-create the unique sound and feel of the MPC60 and the SP1200, and are very authentic. The algorithms used come from MASCHINE.

• ADVANCED TIMESTRETCHING with the new Time Machine Pro algorithm, providing super-high-quality time-stretching — particularly suited to melodic and tonal material. Use Time Machine Pro for complete audio fidelity and imperceptible tempo-changes with all harmonic content intact.

• 16 CHANNEL BUS SYSTEM introduces comprehensive routing options with integrated insert and send effects. This is a powerful tool for creating detailed effects chains within an instrument. For example, when building a drum kit, you might want to use completely different effects on the kick, toms and snare, while still sending the whole kit to a stereo master channel.

• MIDI FILE SUPPORT which is useful for creating instruments that can play patterns, loops and grooves as opposed to single notes. This is used in STUDIO DRUMMER’s groove library, which provides over 3,500 exclusive beats and fills as production-ready MIDI patterns.

With the last two items more geared toward instrument makers, the real benefit of the upgrade to KONTAKT 5 is a combination the all the new filters and effects and especially the time-stretching ability of the Time Machine Pro that gives you the ability to take a sample and slow it down or speed it up without losing any of its tonality.

KOMPLETE 8

Pianos and Keys

KOMPLETE 8 comes with a good sized sampling of virtual keyboard instruments. These instruments are sampled from the various artists and equipment using very demanding conditions and techniques to exacting standards. The following is included with KOMPLETE 8.

• VINTAGE ORGANS brings the classic organ sounds of the past to your productions and performances today. Five legendary vintage organs have been sampled. These preserve their authentic character in perfect detail. These include the sounds of the Hammond B-3, C-3 and M-3 models, the Vox Continental II and the Farfisa Compact, recorded in high quality from the original instruments exclusively by Native Instruments.

• SCARBEE CLAVINET/PIANET contains two funky setups. The first is a Hohner Clavinet. This distinctive electrophonic keyboard has been used extensively on numerous classic funk, soul, reggae, disco and rock tracks since the late 60s. Its ‘twangy’ nature is highly reminiscent of an electric guitar, and works particularly well when played in a sharp and percussive style. The second is a Hohner Model N Pianet – a classic electro-mechanical piano which used an array of metal reeds plucked by foam pads impregnated with adhesive to produce its sound. The result is a vibraphone-like tone with a very percussive envelope and a narrow dynamic response due to its “sticky hammers” – somewhere between the reedy bite of the A200 and the purer bell tone of the Mark I.

• SCARBEE MARK I is the legendary electric piano of the 1970s has been sampled its purest analog sound. It ranges from warm and mellow to bright and ‘barking’ and can also produce chiming bell-like tones. It is the perfect choice for jazz, funk, fusion and R&B.

• SCARBEE A-200 another classic electric piano that ranges from soft and sweet to a more biting, overdriven sound when played harder. The distinctive sound of the original A-200 was much loved by pop and rock bands in the 1960s and 70s and has recently found favor with a whole new wave of pop, indie and jazz and electronic artists.

• NEW YORK CONCERT GRAND is a high definition reproduction of the Big Apple’s most popular contemporary concert grand. This recording captures a special three-year-old piano in excellent condition, maintained by top specialists. Indistinguishable from the original in expression and authenticity, this KONTAKT instrument belongs to an elite club of outstanding re-creations.

KOMPLETE 8

• VIENNA CONCERT GRAND reproduces in the finest detail the sound of the legendary Viennese piano. This recording featuring high-quality recording of ten velocity layers per key this KONTAKT instrument produces a sound indistinguishable from the original for expression and authenticity.

• BERLIN CONCERT GRAND is derived from Native Instruments’ legendary AKOUSTIK PIANO software, its structural transparency, balanced register, and poetic and original style are the definitive characteristics of this concert piano.

• UPRIGHT PIANO is ideal for productions that derive their charm from little eccentricities and imperfections. This instrument is perfect for use in a broad range of styles including blues, jazz, country, pop and rock.

It is amazing on the quality of reproduction that Native Instruments has brought to this collection of keyboards. In the Vintage Organs, the VOX Continental II is incredible. It has that Doors sound from the 60’s so nailed down. Both of the Grand Pianos are incredible and I just loved the sound of the upright as well.

So far, the content that I have played with just for this review makes it worth the entire package. When you consider that KONTAKT 5 is $399 alone, the bargain is in all of the other stuff that comes with KOMPLETE 8 that really makes this a must have system if you are serious about creating music and so I very highly recommend this product.

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About T. Michael Testi

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