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Review of Kore 2

The Sound Generator of Generators,
but can your computer handle it?


I purchased Kore 2 with some trepidation.  Kore 1 took a lot of time to get setup and it tended to be a CPU hog--so much, I tended not to use it as much as I used the plugins it contained.  That is, if I knew I wanted to run a Pro 53, I ran the Pro 53 in Logic and Not Kore.  When I did not know what sound I really wanted, then I ran Kore as a plugin so i could use the database to find and try stuff.  You can read the basics about Kore at the first article I wrote.

Native Instruments Kore 2 Plug-In Host and Controller
 KORE 2 stands for unique sound -- in no time. Transform your computer into a
Native Instruments NI Komplete Bundle (Macintosh and Windows)
KOMPLETE 5 is the high-end collection of 11 ground-breaking synthesizers, samplers, emulations, and a virtual guitar studio. Perfect for both studio and stage - this is the industry-standard bundle for serious musicians, producers and sound designers. KOMPLETE 5's instruments can be heard on platinum-selling records and in underground clubs alike, all over the world.

Kore 2 extends the love of sound to domains that are of the most evocative and beautiful I have ever heard.  Like with the original Kore, I can make fantastic sounds, combining the outputs of my rather large soft synth/sampler library.  In fact, its better than Kore 1 in terms of sound development.  Why?  2 things stand out to me:  1.  The Arpeggiator  2.  The Step Sequencer.  I was skeptical at first, but as I tried them I saw the benefit.  Using them at this level is much easier than going into the soft synth and doing it there.  Both of these can be built right into the patch and you can bet they make a difference, bringing your sounds to life.



Another great feature is the ability to save a Kore Performance as a Kore Sound, which you can then use in another Kore performance. Imagine, you make a beautiful 5 layer pad made up of 5 different soft synths.  That is one performance.  You save it as a Kore Sound, start a new performance and load that sound.  It sounds exactly the same.  But now you can add other Kore sounds, while keeping your synth pad separate for use in other performances.  Perhaps you add a bass and a drum kit.  Limit the regions on the keyboard map and you have a 3 way split keyboard.  Lets say you want to change the pad a little bit.  Just go in and make the change.  Kore 2 clearly shows you the hierarchy of sounds and lets you alter its elemental structure at anytime.  Unlike samples, which are baked into files as audio data, Kore performances are always malleable and able to be changed.

The graphic user interface of Kore 2 is much better than that of Kore 1.  The overall look has improved.  Under the hood, there have been some changes to the database.  You can now create your own attributes, which are keywords that help you find certain sounds.  For example, I have created an attribute called "tweakheadz" which I assign to every Kore sound I create.  Whenever I want to find all my sounds I just type tweakheadz into the search field and there is a list of all my patches.  I can take that even further by adding sub attributes under tweakheadz.   Hence I have tweakheadz/bass, tweakheadz/strings, etc.  With over 12,000 sounds in my Kore library, the new database functions definitely help!

I've recently called Kore 2 one of the "Four Horseman of Power Sound Generation".  What do I mean by that?  OK!  Lets say you need a great sound for a TV commercial spot.  The sound has to be hot, futuristic, modern sounding, slick, sexy, and moving, emotionally.  If I were to get that gig I would open up Kore 2 before doing anything else.  I'd be able to cook up a sound layers in Kore without too much difficulty, without ever opening my sequencer.  In Kore 2 you can use the step sequencer to kick out a drum pattern, use the arp to blip out a percussive synth, lay a lead over a bunch of thick pads if you want.  Play a simple bassline with the other hand and you have your sound, baked and ready for showtime!



As with Kore 1, you create a performance patch by dragging sounds from the database into the mixer section.


I use Kore 2 with Komplete 4 and all my other soft synths.  At first, Kore 2 did not see all the sounds from my original Kore installation, but after setting a few directories in the preferences they all showed up.  Kore 1 is not overwritten so you can still use it if you want.  Also, the controller/audio interface that came with the original Kore is 100% compatible, at least such is my experience.  Those thinking of upgrading from Kore 1 to 2 should not hesitate.  Its a much better piece of software. 

In a way, the sound engine of Kore and Kore 2 is quite evolutionary.  Go back 15 years ago when sampling was seen as the pathway to making the ultimate sounds.  Being able to layer several samples into huge multi-samples was the ticket to realism and convincing sound.  But for today, think of the samples being replaced by the synth engine of your choice, and if you want you can freely add sampler presets as well.  Your preset, instead of being built by a sample playback engine, has whatever types of synthesis engines you need.  By pressing a single key on your controller, you are activating several software machines that produce sound, along with a mixer and effects.  That is the joy and also the number one problem with Kore 2.

Problem? Without a doubt, CPU usage is the #1 problem on my system and using Kore 2 is going to make me upgrade to the fastest Mac available.  My G5, with 6 GB of memory, simply cannot do justice to my Kore2/Komplete4 combination.  As soon as I start adding more than a handful of Absynth 4, FM8 and Reaktor5 sounds, the once mighty G5 gets a CPU overload.  The patch I have loaded in the pic has a CPU usage of 27% at idle! Granted this is a thick patch, with two Absynths, two FM8s, a Spectral Delay and an Arpeggiator.  Don't even try to run Kore 2 on an older laptop, or even a 4 year old desktop computer like my G5.  Sure it will work, but when you press down a 3 note chord and hear terrible crackling,  its a cruel joke.  But if you are like many sound developers and need that edge, what else could possibly satisfy like Kore2?  A V-synth, VG99, and Reason4 could meet the same challenge, though from totally different avenues of departure.  Call it attitude.  Kore 2 has it.


Update: July 20, 2009

Just got the Kore 2.1 Update last night. Basically, they let you use the kore controller with other stuff now, like your host sequencer. It also really works well now. There was some improvement on CPU usage as well. If you have Kore2 go get that free update. Nice stuff.

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