Over the past decade or so, Native Instruments have fallen into a bit of a routine when it comes to updating the various strands of their product line. Typically, each year would bring a major update to either the Maschine ecosystem, Komplete software range or Traktor DJ line, alternating which stream took its turn to receive an overhaul. This year, however, the Berlin brand are breaking that habit with a single massive unveiling that brings news of major additions across their entire range. Dubbed ‘For The Music In You’, NI’s latest announcement brings us updated software, fresh DJ and production hardware, and even a whole new range of entry-level controllers.
1 MASSIVE NEWS FOR KOMPLETE
Potentially the most noteworthy announcements – at least for longtime NI fans – come from the Komplete software range. Here, as part of the forthcoming version 12 bundle, NI have unveiled long-awaited updates to both Massive and Kontakt. The former comes in the form of Massive X, a whole new plugin synth that has been created by the team behind the original more than 10 years ago. As with Massive v1, Massive X combines wavetable oscillators with subtractive synth elements and powerful modulation for complex sonic results. There’s not much more in the way of public information about the synth at the time of writing. The UI is still mostly under wraps, although we have seen it and can confirm it has a more modular design than its predecessor, allowng synth elements to be changed and rearranged a little like Reaktor Blocks, albeit stopping slightly short of fully modular routing.
Kontakt 6, meanwhile, builds on the design of the longstanding sampler with some subtle refinements without breaking the existing workflow. From a user perspective, the most interesting aspect of version 6 is the new dual-layer design which will be used for all new official Kontakt instruments. This gives users two main timbral elements to each sound, with simple controls for blending and modulating the balance of these. The new design is shown o by a trio of new sample instruments, Analog Dreams, Ethereal Earth and Hybrid Keys (pictured above). Version 6 also brings three new reverbs, including a module based on NI’s excellent Replika plugin. There’s also an intriguing new wavetable engine.
For instrument builders, meanwhile, NI have also announced a new standalone app called Creator Tools, which is designed to ease creation of Kontakt instruments via its included Debugger and Instrument Editor elements. The other interesting development on the Komplete front is the news that a variety of Expansion packs will now be included. These sample and preset bundles – previously known as Maschine Expansions but recently expanded – bring an assortment of genre-themed sounds to the included synths and instruments. As usual, Komplete will arrive in different sized bundles, available 1 October. Massive X, however, won’t arrive until February, when it will be made available for free to Komplete 12 owners or at a discounted crossgrade price for owners of version 1.
2 MIKRO MOVES
We were thoroughly impressed with the Mk3 update to NI’s core Maschine controller when it arrived last year, and now NI are bringing some of that magic to its smaller sibling, Maschine Mikro. This new version of Mikro gets an updated look, matching the sleek matt black Mk3. The diminutive controller gains some of its counterparts' coolest features too. Most notable is the touchstrip which, again, can be used to control performance effects, record automation and trigger sounds. An overhauled layout and screen aim to streamline the workflow too, for fast and fluid beatmaking. Probably the most appealing thing however, is its price – at $249, it offers a very affordable entry into the Maschine realm, and comes with a solid crop of samples, instruments and effects.
3 TRAKTOR REMIXED
On the DJ side, NI’s mixing application Traktor Pro gets updated to version 3, bringing new versions of the S2 and S4 controllers. The software itself is more of a refinement than a significant overhaul. It now has a flatter and more modern interface design that feels a little cleaner than previous versions. Under the hood it benefits from Elastique 3 timestretching, and NI promises improved sound and stability.
The controllers, meanwhile, have both been redesigned to suit the new look of the software. Both controllers gain updated pads along with a new Mixer FX section for quickly manipulating the software. The S2 has enlarged jog wheels which NI claim offer improved sensitivity. Of most interest, though, are the new ‘Haptic Drive’ jog wheels added to the S4 (pictured). These are high-torque motorised platters which offer a high level of tactile responsiveness for beat matching, adjusting beat grids and scrolling through tracks. It’s di cult to explain exactly what these are like in use, but suffice to say we’ve had our hands on them and the technology seems really impressive. Traktor Pro 3 is set to drop mid-October, with the S2 and S4 following in the weeks after. The S2 is due to be priced $299, while the S4 will be priced at $899.
4 KEY TO SUCCESS
Finally, NI’s array of controller keyboards are getting significantly expanded. The existing S-Series gets a new addition, the S88, which takes all of last year’s version 2 updates – including quality screens and touch-sensitive controllers – and places them in a full-sized 88-keyboard with fully weighted, hammer-action Fatar keybed.
NI will also release a whole new entry-level range of keyboards – the A Series. Coming in 25, 49 and 61-key varieties, these new controllers have semi-weighted keybeds and simplified NKS-friendly controls similar to those on the Maschine Mikro. These start at $149 for the A25, up to $199 for the A49 and $249 for the A61. All three come with the Maschine Essentials software bundle, including the likes of Monark and Reaktor Prism. The A-Series arrives 23 October.