March 14, 2013

Native Instruments Komplete 9: Is It Worth Upgrading?

Komplete 9

Forums, news feeds, social media networks, and email in boxes lit up Monday with the announcement from Native Instruments that their immensely popular Komplete software instrument suite will be getting an update from version 8 to the new version 9. This comes nearly two years after the Komplete 8 update which came out in the late summer of 2011. The official release of Komplete 9 is March 27th but we now know what instruments and effects will be included in the update which you can read in detail here.

The big question for most of us is: Should we bother upgrading? Are we going to be getting anything worthwhile out of this update? While reading these forums, blogs, and social media posts, I began to notice that there was a lot of disdain mixed with “yeah whatever” when it comes to this release, and rightfully so. Many of the instruments and effects that are to be included in the update have been available for months and in some cases years. This of course varies between the standard Komplete 9 update versus the Komplete 9 Ultimate in a rather large way. The two different versions also vary in price in a rather large way with the Komplete 9 upgrade retailing for $149.00 and the Komplete 9 Ultimate upgrade retailing for $399.00.

So what is the $250 difference between these two? Well for starters, Native Instruments have put all of the latest software goodies, released as single downloads for roughly in the$50 – $200 range, into a single update. This may come as a huge financial disappointment to some of us (myself included) who purchased these downloads individually only to find they are available for purchase as a bundle for a considerably lower cost. For those that haven’t purchased these individually, Native Instruments is offering some serious software at a great price.

The real news here is the inclusion of Battery 4, an update to their already popular drum sampler software, and the brand new Monark software which is touted as a monophonic analog synth instrument but is most likely a Moog sound emulator. Lets look at the features offered by each:



Monark runs in Reaktor and based on what Native is touting on their website, it looks like it will be able to be controlled with the Maschine hardware. The real power of Monark comes from its oscillators and filters. Native is pretty explicit about how you won’t be able to tell the difference between Monark and an actual analog synthesizer. While the prospect of that sounds exciting, I am pretty skeptical about that. Prove me wrong NI! What is pretty cool about Monark and the folks working at Native, is they care a lot about their software. The algorithms they use to code the virtual sounds can only go so far so often times the engineers must rely on their ears to fine tune everything. Where most software developers would stop at the exact math involved when coding software instruments, its nice to see such care going into Monark and their other software. This shouldn’t be news to most of us but its always great to be reassured when plopping down the cash for software.

The bottom line here is that you can emulate some classic synthesizer sounds as well as create some futuristic tones. The possibilities remain endless and this looks to be a go to software for anyone looking for a great analog synth modeling plug-in.

Battery 4

battery 4

Battery is the flagship drum sampler in the Komplete package. It’s best suited for the electronic music or hip-hop producer and has a great work flow to get your drum samples sounding just the way you want them. Most of you of course already know this, so what’s new exactly in Battery 4. Well for starters they have completely redesigned the work-flow to make things a lot more intuitive and less daunting when opening up a blank Battery session. Things like drag and drop drums and color coded cells help to keep all your arrangements organized and make work-flow quicker. They have also added something called Engine which allows you to add FX, EQ, tape saturation, one-knob compression, and a whole host of other tweaks to your drums. In addition the Library and Browser section has tags and search history to easily find the last sound you pulled up, or your go to sounds.

If you already own Battery and use it often, this upgrade should be a no-brainer. If you are like me and have been looking at Battery over your shoulder as you work out your grooves in Maschine or some other DAW, then the new work-flow in Battery might be the appeal you need to finally give it a whirl. I know I will.

Should I Upgrade?

This really depends on much you use the massive library of sounds, FX, and samples that Komplete has to offer. A lot of folks who work in sound design for movies, TV, and video games will more than likely upgrade because they now have access to some really cool software instruments and sound design materials like the Heavocity Evolve suites and the orchestral suites like Action Strings and Session Horns. Those needing to round out their creative and studio effects will definitely want to upgrade to gain access to Reverb Classics and Vintage Compressors which individually retail for $100 or more. Additionally if you are someone that likes to have a huge library of instruments to pull from to meet your music/scoring/sound design needs, then this upgrade should look very appealing.

If you are someone that already has Komplete and haven’t begun to crack the surface of all it has to offer, you may want to wait until you have a firm grasp on the sounds you use and the ones you don’t. If you think things like Massive and FM8 are all you’ll ever need, then the update may seem less important to you. Similarly if you are pulling software instruments from other sources whether that be in your DAW or from a third party developer like Arturia’s MiniMoog synthesizer for instance, then upgrading may be pretty low on the totem pole for you in terms of what you need for your projects.

Admittedly the update to Komplete most generally starts and stops with the active working professional. Specifically the professional that does cinematic type of audio work. The updates that are a little more universal like Monark and Battery 4, might be better off being purchased on their own without all the extra add ons from the full Komplete update. Personally I am a proud owner of the Heavocity packages, the vintage studio compression, and reverb suites and can’t use them enough. Either way an upgrade will give access to some cool instruments like The Giant and the Scarbee Rickenbacker Bass, as well as some fantastic synthesizers like Razor and Skanner XT, and of course many more with a single upgrade purchase.

In any event, Native have made it easy to download the entire update or go the route of downloading these all on their own. Let us know if you have any questions about a specific software included in the Komplete 9 upgrade.

Which software in the Komplete package do you use most often?