Komplete Audio 6 is a 6-channel audio interface that has been reintroduced from Native Instruments. It gives you everything that you need to record, play and perform music in one compact and portable unit. It comes with four analog inputs and outputs, digital in and output, MIDI input and output, and is a low latency unit.
To record music in the modern recording world – where most everything is digital, you need an interface. An audio interface is a physical unit that allows you to connect your analog inputs into such as vocal microphones and electric guitars and basses. The unit can also act as your sound card when you connect it to your computer. It also gives you the ability to connect your monitors (speakers) and headphones as well.
As with anything else in the digital world the type and complexity of interface is all based on needs and cost. The KOMPLETE AUDIO 6 is geared for the home or small studio as well as for those who perform live. It can handle 16 and 24-bit resolution and from 44.1 to 96 kHz sampling rates. Check out the Native Instrument specifications page for full information.
KOMPLETE AUDIO 6 is 2″ x 6.3″ x 4.8″ in size and weighs in at 1.9 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. The look and feel of it is very elegant and is pleasing to watch as you are recording or playing back.
It has controls on three faces. The front face is segmented into four areas. Input 1 and input 2 contain combo XLR and ¼ ” jacks that you can plug in instruments and/or microphones. When using the XLR, there is a XLR lock which can be released by pressing the release tab. There is also a line/instrument toggle button where you can choose line for strong-signaled inputs such as a synthesizer or electric piano, or instrument for weak-signaled instruments like guitar or bass – this does not affect the XLR connected gear. There is also an input gain knob that controls the gain that is coming into the unit.
The monitor area helps you manage direct monitoring. There is an on switch that when it is activated, the unaffected input signal will be heard with zero latency. The on button also acts as a monitor selector switch. When it is held for one second, it cycles through the three modes – monitor signals to outputs 1/2, monitor signal to outputs 3/4 or monitor signal to both pairs. The selection is displayed on top of the unit. There is also a mono switch that toggles between mono and stereo as well as a volume control that adjusts the output level of the monitor signal.
The headphones section contains a ¼” TRS jack, There is a volume control that allows you to increase or decrease the output signal of the headphones and a toggle 1/2, 3/4 that gives you the ability to determine which output is being monitored by the headphones.
The rear panel is segmented in to six main areas. On the left side is the power section that contains the USB 2.0 connector that plugs into your computer. This is what powers the KOMPLETE AUDIO 6.
Above the USB connector is a phantom power button (48V). This supplies 48V to condenser microphones which need this DC voltage to power their active electrical circuitry. This really eliminates the need for any kind of direct boxes or other additional hardware when using a condenser microphone. One thing to keep in mind though is that using this with a ribbon microphone can cause serious damage so you want to make sure that it is safe to use phantom power.
Next is the MIDI section. There is a MIDI input and MIDI output sockets that can connect to MIDI Devices like MIDI controllers, hardware synths, or workstations. Also, these connections send and receive MIDI data to and from your computer and as such can be used by most any music software as well.
Next to that and on the top are input/outputs 5/6. These are RCA (phono) sockets that are used for digital input and output, and syncing to external digital clocks. In most situations DAT tape decks or synthesizers with digital inputs and outputs will utilize these sockets.
Below the RCA jacks are the main outputs 1/2. These are balanced outputs and are usually coupled to a mixer, mixing board, or active speakers using ¼” jacks but you can also use RCA cables that come with suitable ¼” jack adapters as well.
On the right side of the unit are the 3/4 outputs. These are all ¼” jack sockets. On the top are the input jacks that can be used with synths, tape decks, CD players, or any other devices or instruments that don’t require phantom powering.
On the bottom are the balanced output jacks that give you a wide range of options when setting up 4-channel applications such as surround sound. They also assigning certain instruments to certain outputs / output pairs or monitoring with a second pair of speakers possible. Now these outputs have no dedicated volume controls – the output is always at 0 dB, and so you will need to control the volume externally through your software or the gear that they are connected to.
The top of the unit is primarily a display of the status of the unit. There is one main volume control knob that provides a master volume for the main 1/2 outputs. On the left side there are the lights that monitor the input/output. The lights on the input go green when there is an incoming signal and red when there is too much signal. The outputs are green when there is an outgoing signal and dark otherwise. On the right side monitors the MIDI, monitor, headphones, and power.
Working with the KOMPLETE AUDIO 6 was an absolute dream. Installed the drivers and plugged it in and it was all good. I tested it out using the latest versions of Pro Tools 10 and SONAR X1 Expanded and had absolutely no problems. The DAWs both recognized the unit and interfaced seamlessly with it.
As I said before, the KOMPLETE AUDIO 6 unit itself is built rock solid and its design is top notch. I primarily worked with a vocal mic, MIDI keyboard, and electric guitars. The vocals were crystal clear with no noticeable latency noise at all. For recording I could monitor through my headphones and everything not only just worked, but it worked well.
With the guitar, I plugged into Guitar Rig 5 from the Native Instruments KOMPLETE 8 Ultimate and everything flowed seamlessly. I could switch setups and record with absolutely no complications. For the MIDI, I was able to use other parts of the KOMPLETE library such as KONTAKT 5 where I could load and add a piano or synth line easily.
Also included with KOMPLETE AUDIO 6 is KOMPLETE ELEMENTS which is a scaled down version of the KOMPLETE 7 system that comes with 3 GB – over 1000, production-ready sounds and effects that you can use immediately to begin creating music. You also get TRAKTOR LE 2 which is DJ software that provides two playback decks to spin tracks directly from your hard drive, with full iTunes integration and iPod compatibility.
You don’t have a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)? KOMPLETE AUDIO 6 also includes Cubase LE 6. This is a software package for composing, recording and mixing music – it runs on both Mac and PC. This LE version of Cubase 6 provides up to 48 audio tracks, up to 64 MIDI tracks and plenty of scope for recording and arranging songs. You also get a voucher for $30/25€ that you can use to purchase additional instruments or effects from the NI Online Shop.
If you are looking for an audio interface for recording in your studio or for when you are playing virtual instruments then KOMPLETE AUDIO 6 should be a first choice. This is especially the case if you are looking for pristine sound, extremely low latency, and streamline design, and thus I very highly recommend KOMPLETE AUDIO 6.