Today sees the announcement of Native Instruments’ latest line of upgrades and new products. We were invited along to their London headquarters to take a sneak peek ahead of the launch and we have to say there’s a fairly staggering amount of new bits and pieces to get stuck into. Frankly, it’s too much to cover completely in just one blog post, so what follows is a round-up of some of the products and features we were most impressed with. We have a long-standing relationship with NI which we’re really proud of, and you can learn courses based specifically on their products with us like the Maschine courses in London and in LA.
Komplete Kontrol A-Series & S-Series MK2
The S88 MK2
One of the main things the team expressed they were trying to achieve in the next couple of years is to increase the accessibility of their products and of music production as a whole. They are committed to doing so both in terms of price – allowing people with smaller budgets to get started, as well as literal accessibility for those with physical impairments. The new Komplete Kontrol S-88 MK2 is the flagbearer for the latter and gives auditory feedback when touching keys so visually impaired artists can easily navigate through NI’s own instruments, samples and VSTs as well as third-party products that implement NKS (Native Kontrol Standard). There’s a whole host of other new features too including improved screens, a light strip and much deeper Maschine integration.
Covering the other aspect of accessibility is the new Komplete Kontrol A-Series, which does away with some of the flashier features of the S-Series to allow for a very affordable alternative. The keyboards (coming in 25, 49 and 61 key sizes) are priced from £119 to £199 and still come with enough software bundled for you to make a track right from the off as well as the capability to steer clear of the mouse as much as possible.
Traktor Kontrol MK3
Point Blank expert instructor Dave Clark gets his hands on the Traktor Kontrol S4 MK3
Two new Traktor controllers were announced today as well. The S2 MK3 in line with the A-Series of Komplete Kontrol keyboards as an affordable entry-point and the S4 MK3 as a more comprehensive and club-ready all-in-one. NI took a risk with the S8 model which did away with jogwheels. As it turns out, DJs are not ready to let them go, so instead, they have tried a new approach. On both the S2 and the S4 they are much bigger in size than previously and are what NI is calling ‘Haptic Drive’. Essentially they are direct drive wheels which you can tactically control as you would a turntable platter. The sensitivity of the pitch-bend or spin-back features is more customisable than ever before and with a ‘dip’ feel as you run them over a cue point the wheels are a lot of fun to use. There is even the possibility to map the feel of the more or less transient parts of a track, like on a piece of vinyl, which essentially makes these controllers as close to a pair of turntables as has so been achieved.
Maschine Mikro MK3
The compact Maschine Mikro MK3
Our favourite product of the lot was probably the Maschine Mikro MK3, which takes as many of the best features of last year’s outstanding Maschine MK3 and transposes them onto a truly portable and impressively well-built miniature version. There is a small screen for in-hardware navigation but really it is designed for use with a laptop. The beauty though is the intuitive functionality and satisfying feel of the more expensive units for less the £200.
Upgrades to Kontakt and Komplete 12 are looking exciting, with improved Maschine integration and almost all third-party developers now compatible with NI interfaces, but undoubtedly the most exciting software news is that of an update Massive X, one of the best selling digital synths of all time. Very little has been revealed yet but it will be available from February next year and in all likelihood will bring the software in-line with big competitors like Serum and (we have a feeling) will probably up the game in some unforeseen ways.
So, big things are happening over at NI, and we can’t wait to get our hands on some of these new products for longer than a morning. Bearing in mind the focus here of getting people into production, we would like to point you in the direction of our introductory courses in production in both London and LA. If you’re after something more comprehensive, look no further than our flagship BA (Hons) degree in Music Production and Sound Engineering. Any questions please get in c(K)ontact.
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