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Software Review: KOMPLETE 9 ULTIMATE from Native Instruments, Part 2

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KOMPLETE 9 ULTIMATE is a bundled package of instruments and effects for modern digital music creation, composition, production, and sound design. There are three versions of KOMPLETE 9: KOMPLETE 9 ULTIMATE, KOMPLETE 9, and KOMPLETE 9 ELEMENTS. Each one contains a variety of instruments and effects that provide value for your musical creation. I will look at the KOMPLETE 9 ULTIMATE bundle which contains the most products and I am breaking it down into three reviews.

KOMPLETE 9 ULTIMATE

KOMPLETE 9 ULTIMATE

In Part 1, I looked at all the things that either have not changed since the last release of ULTIMATE, or are new products that have been added to this release and that I have reviewed in the past. In this review I will look at two synths, SCANNER XT and MONARK, as well as BATTERY, a drum sampling tool that has been upgraded to version 4.

As its title exclaims, KOMPLETE 9 ULTIMATE is truly the ultimate collection of instruments and effects from Native Instruments. It comes with 65 full products containing 16,000 sounds that will take up 370 GB of hard drive space. In fact, it is so large that it is shipped to you on its own hard drive. It provides a complete creative suite that is suitable for just about any kind of audio production.

BATTERY 4

As it has been over six years since BATTERY 3 first appeared, BATTERY 4 is a very welcome release. Some people feared, with the 2009 release of MASCHINE, that BATTERY’s days were numbered. With the release of BATTERY 4, we now know that this is not the case. BATTERY 4 is a drum sampler that contains an intuitive workflow with a focus on creativity. It comes with a library tailor-made for electronic and hip-hop music.

To begin with, BATTERY 4’s interface has been completely redesigned with your workflow in mind. It contains a consolidated window that keeps everything right in front of you and at your fingertips. Everything is much more drag-and-drop, from the browser to your cells to applying your cells to effects, busses, groups, side-chains, and more.

KOMPLETE 9 ULTIMATE

BATTERY 4

On the left side is your browser, which makes it easy to load your cells. This is a new method of handling all your kits and samples that puts everything right at hand. The kits are now available through the browser which means that, although you still can load them from the top, you no longer have to. All of the kits are tagged with metadata so that you can isolate groupings by various categories such as drum type kits, percussion type kits, and so on. The same pertains to the samples and kit pieces.

BATTERY 4 now also uses a color scheme to keep track of where your stuff is. You can have your kick drums in red, snares in yellow, stabs in blue, and you have full control over setting and changing the colors as you see fit.

As I said, the BATTERY 4 library focuses on electronic and hip-hop production. It also adds 79 brand-new contemporary kits. All 143 kits load instantly giving you the ability create in any style from mainstream house and techno to glitch, world, and anything in between in record time. The flexible cell matrix can be expanded up to 128 cells and accepts all current sample formats including MPC kits – use your entire sound library in one, easy-to-use sampler.

KOMPLETE 9 ULTIMATE

BATTERY 4

When you load your samples, each waveform appears at the center of BATTERY 4’s new display. You can choose from seven sampling modes, including essential emulations of classic samplers and grooveboxes. The main page for each cell also lets you perform quick sample adjustments, apply compression and filters, and tweak volume and pitch to perfection.

Finally, BATTERY 4 delivers powerful on-board effects, plus intuitive routing options to make using them fluid and flexible. You can choose from SOLID EQ and SOLID BUS COMP from the SOLID MIX SERIES, TRANSIENT MASTER, plus tape saturation, LoFi, and a powerful convolution reverb. You are able to apply effects per cell, to groups of cells, or to the master outs – with up to four separate busses, the routing options give you tone-shaping control no matter what level you’re working on.

BATTERY 4’s update has been long overdue, but this version has delivered. The workflow has been so much improved that it makes this the go-to software-only drum plug-in. With the color coding, the new samples and kits and ease of use, BATTERY 4 is a no-brainer upgrade.

SCANNER XT

SCANNER XT is a new synthesizer from the same people who made REAKTOR. Its unique architecture mixes sampler and synthesis to provide a wide range of sounds from big and nasty to cerebral and soothing. It has the ability to provide an edge to your music unlike anything else. The resulting sounds are highly unpredictable, going from simple sine waves to walls of noise.

KOMPLETE 9 ULTIMATE

SCANNER XT

There are two views that offer different levels of interaction. The ‘A’ view features four macro controls that are mapped to multiple parameters. You can even provide subtle tweaks which can create dramatic changes. At the heart of the interface is the Preset Morpher which morphs between eight different snapshots for evolving sounds that are unworldly and extreme. This can be perfect for forward-thinking sound designers and producers of cutting-edge electronic music.

If you want to dig deeper into the architecture of SKANNER XT, the ’B’ view provides you more access to detailed parameters. You can use SKANNER XT with REAKTOR 5.6.2 (or above) and you can replace the included samples with your own where you will discover their sonic potential when they get skanned.

SKANNER XT is pretty easy to use. You choose the ‘A’ view or ‘B’ view. The ‘A’ view is pretty simple. It has five main sections: the sample display which shows the selected sample, the master slider which controls the master output level, the global low frequency oscillator (LFO), the preset morpher, and the macro controls.

KOMPLETE 9 ULTIMATE

SCANNER XT

The ‘B’ view is considerably more complex. It too is divided into five sections: the synth engine, which contains the controls for synthesis; polyphonic processing, which is where the signal from the sample reader is fed into a chain of three signal processing units; the effects section, which has two two-pole filters, a high-pass with a cutoff controlled by the LO CUT knob and a low-pass controlled by the HI CUT knob; modulators that let you set real-time musical control and modulation parameters; and macro controllers that have four modulation macro controls for source, variation, filter, and space.

With SKANNER XT it is very easy to get to the sounds you want by combining samples, and then through the oscillators you can create everything from heavy basses to light keys. This new version adds extra samples, more categories, and motion for a better creation experience. With the full version of REAKTOR (included with KOMPLETE), you can even add your own samples for unlimited creation.

MONARK

MONARK is a replication of a monophonic analog synthesizer from the 1970s that can be played using either the free REAKTOR player or version 5.8 or higher of the full player. This synthesizer embraces the dirt and impurities and even the limitations that come with analog circuits and acknowledges them as being crucial to the character of analog synthesizers. MONARK puts special focus on a single analog voice with maximum impact; a clear layout and smooth controls providing access to three oscillators; a warm and potent filter; a feedback path; and envelopes with lots of attitude.

KOMPLETE 9 ULTIMATE

MONARK

MONARK is a virtual synth with an analog heart. It was designed to be played one note at a time, and every aspect of the interaction among complex analog circuits and the behavior of the filter when overloaded was meticulously studied and recreated using cutting-edge DSP technology.

MONARK features snappy envelopes, making stabbing melodic lines and punchy electronic drum sounds easy to create. MONARK’s advanced architecture even reproduces the sound of wiring the headphone output into the VCF input, and analog oscillator and filter drift, delivering a sound that is lively, fat, and warm.

It has a simple layout that consists of three oscillators, a smooth filter, an amp section, and controls that manipulate fine tuning, modulation, and other effects. MONARK uses two view panels, ‘A’ and ‘B’. They each offer different levels of interaction: You’ll find the synthesizer controls in View ‘A’ of the instrument, while View ‘B’ provides access to fine-tuning parameters that allow you to tailor MONARK to your personal needs.

KOMPLETE 9 ULTIMATE

MONARK

View ‘A’ has four main sections: an oscillator section containing three oscillators that are the synth’s sound generators; a mixer section which is used to balance the volume level of each oscillator, the feedback, and the noise source; a filter and amp section that sets the filter type and adjusts the filter settings; and the control section which handles the global tuning, glide, and modulation. View ‘B’ has seven main sections that control the fine tuning, keyboard, pitch blend, modulation wheel, oscillators, filter, and oscillator leakage and drift amounts.

MONARK, much like the Minimoog that its sound was based on, creates a very realistic sound that has that retro ’70s feel to it. It is a very good emulation of the Minimoog that has paid attention to fine detail sounds and will give you another fine tool for you audio creations.

The jewel of this bunch to me is BATTERY 4. That is because I like anything that creates the backbone of a composition. The fact that it has been redesigned is a real plus and it works so well. SCANNER XT has been really improved with the new sounds, and the addition of MONARK is a bonus. When you add these three to all of the other products making up KOMPLETE ULTIMATE 9, it becomes easier to justify the purchase or the upgrade. If you really want to have the ultimate music production toolkit, then I very highly recommend KOMPLETE 9 ULTIMATE.

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About T. Michael Testi

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