NI Kontrol S MK3 with polyAT are here, a standalone Kontakt sampler keyboard in the future?

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The new NI Kontrol S MK3 keyboards with poly aftertouch are official. Could be the next step a standalone Kontakt sampler keyboard? 

It’s been official since 5 PM (CEST) yesterday: the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S MK2 keyboards have a successor. They are called Kontrol S Mk3 and have, among other things, polyphonic aftertouch and a larger display. A complete roundup of the new features can be found here.

With better integration, bigger screen, and polyAT, considerations, and wishes arise again regarding whether this concept can be pushed further. Let’s say to the standalone level. The MK3 update is solid for many, but it doesn’t throw them out of the sofa. The wow effect is missing.

NI Kontrol standalone

Important: This is not a leak or information from Native Instrument’s inner circles. I want to discuss the possibility of a Komplete standalone with a logical feature set—so wild speculations.

NI Kontrol Standalone?

Native Instruments did this standalone step a few years ago with the Maschine+. Even if the specs are a bit weak, to be honest, Massive, FM8, and other VI + effects now run smoothly on a standalone device.

Given this context, it’s logical for me to delve into the potential for a standalone Komplete/Kontrol keyboard. Particularly noteworthy are Native Instruments’ enhancements to the Kontrol keyboard, including adding polyAT, a larger display, and a fresh design. Features that also fit a standalone version.

Native Instruments Kontrol S Series MK3 NKS

Standalone Kontakt?

What should a standalone Komplete/Kontrol be able to do? Offer the entire NI catalog in a keyboard or be just a standalone Kontakt sampler for the studio and live. For me, the latter makes more sense. Keyboard samplers are rare these days, and only a few offer a lot of high-quality sample content.

Sequential Prophet X, a very underrated sampler synth, never became a hit. The MPC Keys has the potential but focuses more on a DAW and beat production machine aspects. Native could fill this gap with a standalone Kontakt sampler.

The advantage they have over other manufacturers is clear. They have the Kontakt ecosystem with a mature but expandable engine and many high-quality sample-based instruments. No one else has such a portfolio of ready-finished add-ons. In addition, Kontakt has an impressive community and third-party developer scene, constantly providing new, fascinating, and inspiring content for every budget.

And a standalone Kontakt sampler would be an endless cow to milk for Native Instruments and third-party developers. They could constantly provide users with new, fresh content. Imagine a concept: buy a Kontakt library and use it in the plugin and hardware. It would be awesome.

Native Instruments Kontakt standalone

An important thing to consider in this is whether this potential standalone product can sample audio or is it enough to play Kontakt instruments with the option to tweak them. Including heavy-scripted libraries and third-party/custom releases.

Personally, it would be enough if I could play and tweak the trillions of available free or commercial Kontakt libraries. I would be busy with that for the rest of my life. The opportunity to sample is undoubtedly fantastic, but it always carries risks, especially in implementing multi-sampling. I prefer fewer features and a focus on the main functionality, making it more immediate and easier to use.

But I wouldn’t say anything about a built-in Massive, FM8… in the same way they have implemented them already in Maschine+. They would make a nice addition to the Kontakt sampler.


Native wouldn’t have to change much in terms of hardware. The big difference would be on the inside. Like in the Maschine+, a computer/DSP must be running that hosts the Kontakt engine. With enough power for many years and plenty of memory. Given the space many large libraries require, a 2-4TB SSD would be desirable in a standalone version.

Nonetheless, this undertaking demands a substantial amount of development time. It is not as straightforward as some might envision, merely installing a computer with ample memory. Both elements must be meticulously fine-tuned and synchronized to ensure flawless performance.

Plus, they need to make Kontakt more modern and efficient. The last versions were more about cosmetics than major engine upgrades. All this would cost a lot of time and resources. But they could take their existing ecosystem to the next level and open it up to more music producers.

These are all speculations. We are currently looking at the Kontrol S MK3, which are pure MIDI controllers for software in the computer. I’m sure a standalone version with a solid feature set would spark more interest in the community.

How do you see that? Do we need a standalone version of Kontakt or Komplete? Please let me know.

More information about the new NI Kontrol S MK3: Native Instruments 

Audio & MIDI News


  1. The way I see it, there are 2 USB C ports on MK3.
    Can’t see any reason why with firmware update one of them could function as data transfer for external SSD’s 😉

    • but then you still don’t have a built-in computer ;). I would always prefer internal SSD because of disk streaming and speed.

      • According to NI video, they’re built in CPU.
        As for streaming, USB C data transfer speeds are more than capable to handle it. Obviously built in SSD would be more elegant solution but also much more expensive

  2. KOMPLETE KONTROL S MK3 is designed to be the masterkeyboard, which stands on the table in front of a film score composer’s and/or video content creator’s computer, I think. Audio to video is mainly work in the box, NI will probably see no reason to go outside on another risky +adventure trip. The separation of KOMPLETE KONTROL and MASCHINE implies, that MASCHINE+ is not a successful product and possibly has lost the race against Akai grooveboxes already.

  3. The fulfilling or your wishes for a standalone Kómplete- or Kontakt-Keyboard seem to be not so far away. It looks like the Kontrol S MK3 is a great remote for the NI eco-system and 3rd party products which support NKS integration.

    So take a Intel NUC like device, configure to your needs (32/64GB RAM, 2TB M.2 SSD, a 2nd slot is available for expansion), install OS, NI software and Libs, autostart everything to make it operatie headless, connect the Kontrol S and a 8 or more channel DAc and you should be good to. The Intel NUC should fit easily on the free area on the right of the 61-Key version.

    Have fun!

    In a few years you can exchange the NUC for a device with higher performance. Maybe this approach is more sustainable than integrated and therefore limited hardware.

    • Can only Dream at this time or buy inferior Akai 😉
      Judging by NI 6 year cycle for Kontrol Keyboards updates, we wan’t be seining anything new until 2030 🤣

  4. Hallo Tom ich lese immer gerne Deine Artikel hier. Machst einen sehr guten Job. Ich hatte eigentlich auch eine Standalone Version erwartet! Vielleicht komme ich wieder mal zum Signal Zirkus wenns den noch gibt. lg Markus

  5. Look at all that wasted negative space, how can this be a production workstation with no faders? Also no pads, if you want pads NI ofc sell them separately as Maschine. Then if you already have Komplete there is no discount for current Komplete owners, you’ll get your duplicate licenses which maybe you can sell yourself? Cherry on top: this is $750 for the 49 keys version. What an underwhelming effort really, would very much rather buy Push 3. Native Instruments, you dropped the ball.

  6. if I’m not mistaken the Nonlinear C synth uses the Kontakt principle or something similar. In future? Macchine keys 😉

    • The Nonlinear C15 uses in the beginning a Reaktor core but they develop it further so it’s an independent engine now without the Reaktor backend 🙂

  7. Remember the Maschine+. I dont…. I don’t think NI does either. I wouldn’t suggest moving towards anything standalone just yet, at least not NI. Not only was the Maschine+ underdeveloped, but the GUI/interface of the internal synths was just garbage. Try to program a Massive patch in the Maschine+. Kinda killed the whole standalone thing and turned that box into a preset machine/sampler. I had fun with it for like a month until i realized I couldnt go deep at all and sold it around when they added Clips and before they added the polysynth that just looks bad on the device. They aern’t trying to make good products, they are trying to make money and these products are low hanging fruits.

    • I enjoy the Maschine+ workflow and the system operation runs since the last updates. The internal synths like Massive, Monark, FM8 sounds great and it’s good to have them in hardware. Maschine is unpowered in terms of the CPU but performs nicely with 16+ tracks. Hadn’t so far a system overload. The built-in drum synths are solid and consume almost nothing on CPU.

  8. GREAT article. For live I use the Mashene plus into an A49 and I have sampled all the keys and synths using autosampler (then added delays and reverb on the M+). Live I can play pianos, mellotron, solina as well as trigger samples on stage, and sing while playing the bass guitar. It’s a killer combo that works great for live. Will be getting the S49 mk 3 when it’s released IF I found out the M+ works OK with the S49 mk3.

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