For me the standout of the upgrade is the
Akoustik Piano. It's a lovely collection, and the interface has just
the right controls to get these pianos to work well in a mix. They
sound gorgeous by themselves. You can make them sound wide and dynamic if
you want. Playing the Akoustik Pianos on my Fantom S-88 is a wonderful
experience as they exceed the stock Fantom S pianos easily. There
are 3 Grand Pianos, the Steinway D, Bechstein D 280 and Bosendorfer Imperial,
and an Upright, the Steingraeber 130. I liked the Upright piano the
least, but it is kind of quirky, like an old dusty attic piano at grandma's
house. I'm going to use this collection regularly as they now make
the grade as the best pianos on my system.
The next best, (again, speaking only for
myself) is the FM8. It is now much more useful and interesting,
thanks to the addition of the arpeggiator, much better preset control
with the "Kore-style" browser built in, and interesting morphing and real-time
control. The FM8 now has effects, which gives more sonic possibilities.
Some of the sounds are sublime and beautiful. I have already used
it quite a bit and I predict I will use it heavily. The interface
is now white and gray, rather than DX style green. In fact, when using the
FM7 one actually felt like they were programming a Yamaha synth. That is
gone now, but the functionality remains. You can import all your FM7
sounds into FM8 and they sound exactly the same. There is no denying, however,
that the new interface is much faster to navigate, easier to understand,
and that the sound is of a higher caliber. Updated
Close behind in the realm of great
value is Battery 3, which is a mind blower. NI chose some great
samples, all carefully assembled into some large kits. I am impressed.
If you have not heard the demos of Battery 3, you should go listen to them
at NI's site. 100 drum kits, 23,000 samples. 12 GB library. Just take
about 20 minutes, sit back and listen to all the kits in the demo.
I feel this is a groundbreaker in terms of sound. Battery 3
is Native's programming at its best. Brilliant! The basic kits
have a natural sound unmatched by most sample collections.
Here's a link to my revised
review of Battery which
now also talks about Battery 3
Kontakt 2 I've reviewed this
a while ago so I won't say much more here, other than that it is, in my
opinion, the best soft sampler you can get. Definitely not the easiest
software to learn but once you have, it can take your projects using samples
into different dimensions. Kontakt 2 comes with a huge library.
An excellent orchestra, included. It will also import a huge number of alien
sample formats. Here's a link to my previous
Link to review
Reaktor 5 is next, which has one
feature I really like--its stable on my system. Some of the new ensembles
are fantastic. There is one sound generator called Skrewell, which is one
of the most fun FX synths I have ever used. RandomStepShifter als gets high
marks for glitching up drum samples in unusual ways. Ditto for Vectory.
Plus you get all the Reaktor classics, like the Junatik (remarkably similar
to the Juno 106), Carbon, Green Matrix, GoBox, Spring Tank...
Reaktor is really a bundle of software
instruments and effects by itself. These are called Reaktor Ensembles.
There are analog synths, digital synths, sample players; mini sequencers;
groove boxes; sample transformers; sound generators, and a variety of effects.
Reaktor 5 keeps the edge on sonic exploration. To get more of an idea
of what Reaktor is, see my older review of
Absynth 4 just saw its first update,
which makes it much more stable. It has a wide range of sounds.
Some of the Absynth sounds are quite evocative many will cut hard through
any mix. When I need an unusual sound, I can go digging through Absynth's
database and I often come out with something cooler than I went looking
for. You can read more about Absynth in my older review of
The Elektrik Piano is sample-based,
unlike other EP instruments by other software makers who use software modeling.
Yet the sound is all there, warm and toasty, compared to the brittle-like
texture to many EPs on the market. The Pianos are quite usable.
I just have so many EPs on my system I am not so excited. These do
stand out for their "warmth", a buzzword term I don't like to use, but when
you hear it, I think you'll have to agree. It's warm!
The B4 II. I haven't explored
this much yet, other than going through the presets. As it was with
the original, its hard to find B3 emulations that compare. The sound
is warm and intimate, yet can hold its own in harder electronica club music,
and of course, rock and some some uh, funky, nasty blues. The presets
are simply dripping with character.
Guitar Rig 2. An awesome software
interface. Just in case you are wondering, you don't need Native's
Guitar Rig hardware to use this software. Just insert GR2 as a plugin
on an audio track and watch the huge "reason-like" rack of effects processors
open up on your screen. I counted 52 rack devices that can be chained in
various ways to help you define your guitar tone. Again I am left
with the word, "big". In fact, I think it is the largest of all my
plugins. It takes up nearly half the screen on my 23" monitor.
You can read my
on Guitar Rig 2 in my article on getting a great guitar tone
Guitar Rig 3
Nothing to say yet
The Pro 53 is unchanged form Komplete
2. But for those who don't have it, it's an excellent software model
of the Prophet 5 synth by Sequential Circuits. It would have been
nice to get a Kore browser for this one, as there are many presets in this
synth and it is hard to find the ones you want. But for those that
don't know the Pro53, its one of the better sounding analog emulations that
has a small CPU hit.
The thing that stands out the most, for
me, for the whole Komplete 4 package, is how inventive the
sounds are. There is great stuff here. NI's programmers are
defining the cutting edge for electronica. You get plenty of high quality
sounds for any composition plus a huge assortment of vastly experimental
sounds that may help you define a niche for your music. There is stuff here
that simply has not been heard before.
Kore and Komplete 4
Thanks to the Kore-like browser in many
of the instruments, sounds are easier to find than ever. By Kore-like,
I mean that the browser for many instruments works exactly the way Kore's
database works. You look for a sound by choosing some keywords of
what you want the sound to be like. It might just be a timbral attribute
like "Thin", the add the type of instrument, like "plucked string".
Just from those two you'll get a list of instruments that fit that description.
The idea behind Kore is to merge all these
individual databases into one monster-sized master database. Does it succeed?
As of Kore 1.1, I can say "Yes!" with confidence.
This was not the case with Kore 1.03, which could not "see" Komplete 4 level
Kore sounds. Now it can and the world is right. While its still
not a 100% perfect world, I am happy to say that Komplete 4 and Kore are
ready for prime time.
But even without Kore, Komplete 4 is a
huge, fantastic package. If you are coming from Komplete 2, its a no brainer.
If you are not, I know of no faster way to get a software studio up to speed
with a variety of good sounding instruments.
Kore 2 and Komplete 5
Definitely better. You still have to be very careful on CPU
compromised systems. I have a Mac Pro now, and finally, I can make
sounds which much more freedom. But still, even with a monster
computer you can still overload Kore2, its really not hard to do.
Just keep stacking sounds and eventually you hit the wall.
Probably the buggiest thing is not Kore, but the componenets one loads
into it. Sure, go ahead and try to load up 5 or 6 hack job free
VSTis. Don't call me to fix it.
Native instruments Komplete Forum
Review of Kore
Tweak's Articles on Software
Software Synths and Samplers INDEX
Understanding the Virtual Studio
What is a Software Sampler?
What is a Soft Synth?
What are Software Processors?
My Favorite Vintage Soft Synhts
Battery by Native Instruments
Korg Legacy MS20
Garritan Personal Orchestra
FM7 and FM8
NI's Komplete Bundle
Are Hardware Samplers Obsolete?
Logic's EXS24 Sampler
Kore 2 Review
Waves Gold and Platinum
Software Plugins Price List