Komplete 13, What I Will Miss In The New Bundle From Native Instruments

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Komplete by NI is a huge plugin & sound bundle, which has now been updated to 13 which is not perfect in some places. Here you can find out why

The Native Instruments Komplete 13 bundle was introduced on Tuesday with a big social media boom. Where it was Kontakt 6 two years ago, the highlight of K13 is the redesigned and upgraded Guitar Rig 6 Pro. Guitarists will be delighted with this announcement: “finally a product for rock/metal”. No wonder, the developers made us wait 15 years for a version 6. We, the synth friends will understand the anticipation for the upcoming Guitar Rig 6 Pro. We were no different during the Reaktor 6 announcement.

In addition to this, Komplete 13 adds numerous already published effect plugins (RAUM, Crush Pack…), new Kontakt 6 libraries (Cremona Quartet, Arkhis…), a new polysynth for Reaktor 6, and many sound expansions. Every two years I look forward to the moment when Native Instruments will present a new Komplete Bundle/products. It’s like a popcorn moment for plugins. However, I have to be so honest with my community that I am missing a lot in the new Komplete 13 version.

Komplete 13 miss

Guitar Rig 6 Pro

GR6Pro is the highlight of this Komplete bundle but I’m still a bit divided. As an ex-guitarist, I’m still excited to see how this market develops. This also includes the constant growing software solutions for guitarists. We have Neural DSP, IK Multimedia with Amplitube, Positive Grid with BIAS, Blue Cat Audio Axiom but also Native Instruments Guitar Rig Pro. What I noticed about the GR6Pro information is that the feature set is not very much innovative. It’s more of an evolution than a revolution.

With the new ICM (Intelligent Circuit Modeling), NI promises to have developed a new tech with which the behavior of hardware devices can be reproduced more accurately using machine learning. That all sounds very exciting, especially the words that they will be working with the community on future add-ons. However, I find it a shame that this innovative technology remains hidden from the end customer. How exciting it would be if NI offers a guitar amp designer tool kit with which users can design their own amps using emulated components from amps, impulse responses, etc. The idea is not new, it can be found for a long time in the BIAS plugin from Positive Grid. I would trust the NI developers that they could top the level without any problems.

Guitar Rig 6 Pro Bass Invader

Let’s stay with the highlight of K13. In addition to new amps, Native Instruments promises numerous new effects. Here, too, I have to say that it is more about refreshing than innovation. New effects are nice and open the door to new sound design possibilities.  The announced effects are unfortunately very much designed for bread and butter. I miss the experimental thought and effects that go beyond classic reverbs or delays. Many manufacturers often offer the same effects. This is where NI could have stood out with unique processors that are less common such as from Glitch Machines, Inear Display, etc.

I’ll go even further. Guitar Rig 6 Pro also got big competition with the Reason Rack Plugin, which can also be used as an FX processor. A big advantage of this is its modular engine where you can freely combine effects, add VST plugins in the same rack, or expand it with new Rack Extensions from the Reason Studios. Not to forget put all effects in movements with complex modulation chains what is also possible in Guitar Rig Pro. More important for me, I miss the uniqueness of Guitar Rig 6 Pro. What makes it special what others can’t, what makes it stand out, etc. Or is it just another guitar effect rack processor. Let’s see how it will be. I love GR5Pro in combination with synths but since Reason has been available as a rack plugin, I’ve been using it more because it has more exciting ideas.

Absynth 5

Absynth 6, Where Are You?

When Native Instruments shared the Komplete 13 trailer, I was waiting for the moment: Introducing Absynth 6, the next generation … Happy too early, nothing came. NI continues to sell its new flagship K13 with Absynth version 5, which was officially launched in 2009. A time when Stephan Schmitt was still at NI. Absynth 5 is still an innovative Synthesizer with super exciting features and a plugin that is used by many music producers in 2020. Deep evolving pads, sci-fi effects, the unique Absynth 5 sound has accompanied us for 11 years, but also the GUI.

Also in 2020 users have to use a GUI, which is difficult to use on modern computers because it is not scalable. Even if we don’t get Absynth 6 with K13, I would have been extremely happy if the developers had given the synthesizer a new, modern touch. Really nobody would have a problem with that. I haven’t used it for a long time because the interface isn’t fun anymore. Please make Absynth 5 a highlight again or surprise us with an AB6 in 2021.

KOMPLETE 13 Is The Go-To Production Suite Without VST 3 Support

Steinberg recently announced VST 3.7, a major update for its VST SDK, which also opens the way for Macs with ARM processors. Current plugins are offered in VST 2.4, AU, AAX, and VST3. However, Native Instruments doesn’t offer any VST 3 support for its plugins, not even for their new flagship Synthesizer Massive X or sampler Kontakt 6. They advertise Komplete 13 as a go-to production suite, but with the lack of VST3 support, a shadow hangs over it.

You have to ask yourself here: why do small manufacturers with a big portfolio of plugins manage to offer VST3 versions of their products, and a large company none. Why is that? One thing is certain: VST3 won’t be coming to the launch of K13, even in the near future. Martin confirmed this in the NI forum: “It’s not planned in the near future. What is planned soon is the VST3 support in Maschine and Komplete Kontrol (later for the latter).  Hey, there is hope on the VST 3 front but let’s see how long it takes.

Service Center 2

Service Center Alternative?

With Native Access, NI offers a smart and simple software solution to register their products. However, customers from the first minute look literally inside the tube. Support for the older registration system (service center) was discontinued in March and legendary products such as Pro-54 are left to die quietly. This caused trouble in the community, and Native has withdrawn and promised a future solution for this. Since the breaking news, there has been no news about it, even with the new Komplete 13. Hope there will be a solution soon.

The WOW Moment

Remember the releases of the earlier Komplete bundles: FM8, Absynth, Reaktor, or some experimental, glitchy products in collaboration with Tim Exile. All these had a wow moment. Unfortunately, I miss this in K13. This is mainly due to the fact that the plugin market has grown significantly and has become saturated in recent years. In order to assert themselves here, manufacturers have to present innovative ideas, play with the risk, and try to bring something that nobody has. Nope, not the 100th sample library of an orchestra, preset libraries, or effects such as reverbs, delays.

Sure, every musician is happy about new sounds, but you’ve come to a point where you almost lose track of what you actually have in your bundle. How many orchestra, choirs… libraries do you really need. With each new Komplete bundle, the GBs of sounds grow, but it seems like a repetition to me. Is more content better or worse, that is the question. It’s time that NI risk something with plugins. Molecular for example, is a brilliant multi-effects processor that shows exactly what I mean, be different. Very unique and stunning for sound design tasks. I think everyone has enough sample libraries for Kontakt, from NI or from other manufacturers. Libraries like the new Mysteria or Pharlight are admittedly nice and refreshing material for Kontakt. Please more wow moments NI!

Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to Komplete 13. Yes, there is little inside that is really mind-blowing but it’s a good continuation of their famous music production bundle. If the future bundles are a little more childlike (riskier/innovative),  equipped with future-proven plugin technology, and with an Absynth comeback, NI can hope for a bright future with its Komplete Bundle. Please no repetition, please innovation.

More information here (partner link): Native Instruments

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  1. I thought this was interesting, not so much as a criticism of of Komplete 13, but as a comment on the lack of innovation coming out of Native Instruments over the last two years. Counting up all the products that you get in this bundle, I found that 89% of them were developed with a partner, led by e-instruments (4), Galaxy Instruments (3), and Drumasonic (2). I did not include the expansions for Massive, Massive X, and Maschine, because all of them were obviously created with partners and were not really intended to be NI-only. I did include the Play Series, since these seemed more substantial than preset or sample packs.

    The only products developed solely in-house were Guitar Rig and Raum. I wasn’t sure whether to include this, because it was a holiday freebie last year, but I wanted to be fair and give NI some credit for coming out with creative effects. However, I did not include the new blocks developed for Reaktor, despite there being some really high quality items, because they aren’t for sale separately from Reaktor.

    So, my conclusion is that internal development at NI is almost completely focused on their “platform” products – Kontakt, Reaktor, and Guitar Rig. The Komplete bundle has become more of a marketing exercise – a way for boutique developers to get their products in front of a wider audience.

    I wouldn’t expect much in the way of updates for Absynth, etc., because they no longer have the resources to do it. Massive X may have been the last hurrah for their synth developers; the only other synth to be released as Super 8, which is based on Reaktor. Their attempt to garner third-party support for Reaktor is a dramatic failure, with only ToyBox and Michael Hetrick in the fold at present.

    My concern, and this may be part of the reason for the recent management shakeup, is that third-party support for the “platform” strategy has been weak, and having sacrificed internal development for marketing, NI is becoming more dependent on third-parties. In that sense, they are not really in control of their own future, and have to fix this licensing issue to be successful.

    Maybe a subscription model will help; none of the major Kontakt developers have one, as far as I’m aware, and NI could help with that, similar to what Splice has done. Again, however, they would have to convince major developers to sign on, and they have strugged with that over the last two years.

  2. I can’t really blame them. Unless your plugin needs the functionality available in a VST3 for your plugin, it’s not worth the bother — doesn’t really buy you anything.

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