This online bonus material supplements the review of Native Instruments Komplete 4 in the August 2007 issue of EM.
The Heart Grows Fonder
Absynth is about as far from emulation as you can get — a quick look and listen will tell you that this is no ordinary synth. Version 4 adds a bevy of welcome new features.
The first thing seasoned Absynth users will notice is that the old Main page has been split into Browser and Perform pages. Like FM8, Absynth 4 has a browser similar to Kore''s for selecting and annotating presets by attribute. The Perform page is tabbed and provides access to all external modulation routings. It starts with 16 macro sliders for simultaneous control of multiple Absynth parameters, and you can pair sliders to form x-y controllers. Modulation routings for the macro controls are set up on the Assignments tab. Absynth''s familiar note-modulation and microtuning setups have their own tabs.
Absynth 4 patches have three audio channels, each with an oscillator and two effects. The channels are mixed and sent to a master effects section at the bottom.
Absynth 4 adds four envelope followers to its bag of tricks. You can assign each of these to follow the output level of any signal-path module either pre- or postenvelope. By assigning an oscillator module to Audio In, you can use the envelope followers to track external audio signals. Envelope follower targets are set up in the same way as MIDI controller assignments.
In a subtler change on the Patch page, all modules except the oscillators and the final multi-effect have sprouted Type menus. Rather than having a fixed function, each of those modules can now become a filter, modulator, or waveshaper. You can, for example, put a waveshaper before a filter or use two filters in series in a single channel.
You get a new oscillator mode, Sync Granular, and a new waveform type, Morph Waves. Sync Granular is similar to Granular, but it granulizes and resynthesizes waveforms rather than samples. The results sound very much like physical modeling. A Morph Wave is a pair of waveforms; you use Absynth''s Waveform Editor to set up how morphing occurs between the two waveforms. You then use the Transition numerical, which you can MIDI map, to effect the morph.
An innovative Master ADSR envelope scheme rounds out the new features. You assign each of four master controls (MIDI controllable, of course) to individual breakpoints of any of Absynth''s envelopes and then use the controls to change those breakpoints'' times and levels. Assign the controls to the obvious breakpoints of an amplitude or filter envelope, and they perform the usual ADSR functions. Things get much more interesting when you use them on envelopes controlling other parameters, such as pitch.
A Sample in Time
Battery 3 is a significant upgrade of Native Instruments'' flagship drum sampler. The cell matrix is now customizable and supports up to 128 cells, each of which can hold 128 samples for layering, crossfading, and Velocity switching. You can import loop-based formats such as REX, Acid, and Apple Loops as full loops or individual slices. A basic wave editor, a master effects section, and an improved kit browser round out the new features. (You''ll find a full review of Battery 1.0 in the February 2002 issue of EM.)
Battery 3 hosts up to 128 cells with as many as 128 samples in each. The Setup section (bottom) controls various aspects of cell triggering.
Battery 3''s cell matrix occupies the top half of the interface, and tabs to access cell and global processes occupy the bottom half. The Setup tab controls various aspects of cell triggering, including MIDI control of cell activation — you can set up MIDI Note On or Control Change messages to control whether or not cells play when their trigger note is received. For example, you could set up the Expression pedal or Mod Wheel to select among alternate loops triggered by the same note. Cell-specific Articulation, Echo, and Humanize controls round out the Setup tab.
The effects on the Effects and Master tabs apply to individual cells and the master output, respectively. For individual effects, you get lo-fi, saturation, EQ, compression, panning, and send levels for the Master reverb and delay effects. In addition to delay and reverb, you get overall EQ, compression, and limiting in the Master section. The reverb section sports a CPU-efficient digital reverb as well as a convolution reverb complete with a selection of standard and special-effects convolution samples.
Battery 3 comes with a 12 GB library of kits covering all styles and genres. The kit browser is file-tree-style, and the kits have been conveniently organized by type (Acoustic, Electronic, Synthetic, and so on). Kits from previous versions of Battery are included in the library and broken out to separate folders in the file tree. Beyond that, there is a Cell library containing the individual samples from all the kits, which makes mixing and matching among different kits a breeze.