Hands-On w/ Native Instruments Kontrol S-Series Keyboard MIDI Controller

The latest from Native Instruments is huge news. Komplete 10 is coming as well as a line of MIDI keyboard controllers called the S-Series designed to be tightly implemented with the Komplete suite of software instruments. Check out our Sound Design course featuring Native Instruments Komplete with classes starting 9/23 in NYC, 10/4 in LA.

Kontrol S-Series

Kontrol S-Series MIDI Keyboard Controllers

Teased last week with an intriguing YouTube video last week, Native Instruments has revealed their new MIDI hardware The new Kontrol S-Series MIDI keyboard controllers from Native look to be incorporating some new features to the packed MIDI keyboard market. The Kontrol S-Series features tight implementation with Komplete, a light-up keybed and smart playing functions.

The Komplete Browser function allows you to search by sound and browse through komplete instruments as functions on the keyboard himself. The Native Map function maps Komplete parameters around the various knobs and sliders on the unit. The Light Guide is the lights above the keys that provide visual feedback while playing and guides for various functions. Smart Play includes melody key correction and a chord mode.

The S25 is available for $499, the S49 is available for $599, and the S61 is available for $699. The complete line of keyboards launches October 1st, 2014.

Native Instruments Kontrol Q&A with Product Specialist Matt Cellitti

What do you find the most useful feature of the new Kontrol keyboards?

I really love the Chord Sets. I understand music theory and can play different chords, but I’m not always inspired by my own chord changes/arrangements because keyboard is not my primary instrument (I’m a guitarist). With the Chord Sets, I play a few notes and I am immediately inspired by the chords generated – the desire to write is instantaneous. I have used other chord generation apps for iOS and Mac and found them clumsy in comparison to the Komplete Kontrol S-Series. Using the tools in your DAW like Ableton’s Chord Device or Logic Pro’s Chord Trigger are great, but you have to use the mouse and program the effects too much for my liking.

Can you tell us a bit about the Light Guide function?

The Light Guide is pretty self-explanatory and definitely useful. It actually helps to set the mood when writing in the dark and just looks great. When switching through the different scales the lights will show you the proper notes of the scale, which I find to be a beneficial learning aid. Maybe one day you sit down to produce and nothing good comes out, at the very least you can practice your scales with the helpful lighting system. Another benefit of the Light Guide is to see complex key articulations within Kontakt from the controller. When I Octave down to trigger C-1, it is super helpful to see the keys light up in red immediately and know that I am in the right key range.

Key_lights_NI_Kontrol_s

What similarities do you see between Maschine and the new keyboards? Can you use any of the features with Maschine?

Maschine’s control mapping function for Komplete instruments/effects is one of the major reasons why so many people use Maschine in the first place. Now, non-Maschine users will experience this within their DAWs while using the Komplete Kontrol S-Series keyboards. I have used a combination of Push and AudioModder VST Bridge to try and get the same Maschine workflow within Ableton, but it’s just not quite there. Push obviously works brilliantly with Ableton presets and devices, but Komplete Kontrol has solved this NI integration problem. Whenever a company makes both the hardware and software, integration will typically the tightest and best experience.

Pro tip for Maschine users: some of these features will be integrated in the upcoming Maschine 2.2 release scheduled for November! (Editor’s note: You can read more about the Maschine update on NI’s website.)

What custom mapping options are available? Similar to other Native Instruments hardware?

The touch strips are flexible. You can make the “modwheel” bounce back and forth by using a physics engine to create really cool, hands-off modulation control. Set your “Friction” to zero and crank the “Gravity” all the way to create an endless loop of cutoff modulation for example.

Kontrol_options

The S-Series Keyboards are also fully editable in the Controller Editor application. Here you can set up custom controls and Key Ranges in whatever color you like which can be very helpful in a live performance situation. (see below pic)

Keyboard_640

 

Do you see these keyboards as Native’s response to Push in a way with the Scale and Chord modes?

I use Push and that instrument really changed the game when it came out. I will say that it feels inherently different to play locked scales on pads as opposed to a keyboard. I have found myself preferring the keyboard on the Kontrol S61 because the Fatar keybed feels amazing and I just prefer using a keyboard for melodies and chords. Honestly it is nice to have so many options depending on how I feel like writing that day. We are at no shortage of amazing gear to choose from!

Cellitti


Sound Design Program

Become fluent in the language of sound design and synthesis with this comprehensive program. This six-level Sound Design program uses Native Instruments’ Komplete as a platform for learning synthesis and sampling techniques. Starting with an introduction to the properties of sound, this comprehensive series of courses covers the major techniques used for contemporary sound design.

What’s Included:
Sound Design Level 1: Introduction to Komplete
Sound Design Level 2: Synthesis with Massive, FM8 and Absynth
Sound Design Level 3: Sampling with Kontakt and Battery
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Sound Design Level 5: Reaktor Ensembles and Production Techniques
Sound Design Level 6: Reaktor Programming and Instrument Building

Become fluent in the language of sound design and synthesis with this comprehensive program. This six-level Sound Design program uses Native Instruments’ Komplete as a platform for learning synthesis and sampling techniques. Starting with an introduction to the properties of sound, this comprehensive series of courses covers the major techniques used for contemporary sound design.

You will learn to create your own sounds with a variety of techniques and add a personal sonic signature to your tracks. We introduce you to the latest synthesis and sampling technologies and show you how to use the world’s largest and most diverse sound library. In the advanced levels, you will acquire total control over all aspects of the Komplete instruments while practicing genre-based sound design.

Click here for detailed information on this program, including start dates and payment plans.

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