Native Instruments Komplete 14 review: A mighty collection of musical tools for the modern producer
NI’s vast stable of instruments and sounds is brought together in one place and at a serious discount. Musicians of all stripes, rejoice.
⊕ Major workflow enhancements to Kontakt 7
⊕ Inclusion of new tools from iZotope and Brainworks expands creative possibilities
⊕ Cinematic instruments in Ultimate bundle are perfect for scoring
⊕ Value of bundles vs. individual purchases is impressive
⊖ Bigger bundles need a lot of hard drive space
Native Instruments’ software lineup is among the largest and most diverse on the market. It’s been almost two decades since the Berlin-based developer released its first Komplete bundle, bringing together instruments and expansion packs at a significant discount over their collective individual prices. Since then, its software stable has continued to grow and we now arrive at Komplete 14, available in several suites based on the number of products you get.
NI recently united with music software brands Brainworx, iZotope and Plugin Alliance to form the Soundwide group. Happily, this means that Komplete 14 includes a selection of plug-ins from those companies in addition to Native Instruments’ own. The result is a dizzying number of products in total, with over 60 new additions in this version alone. It would be impossible to succinctly cover them all (a full breakdown is available here). Instead, we’re looking at the major new additions and an appraisal of the multiple packages and their potential target users – in short, which one should you consider?
The Komplete 14 Select edition is the most affordable and comes with 19 instruments including the Player editions of Kontakt and Reaktor as well as some core sound packs totalling over 15,000 sounds and a size of 34GB. The step up to the Standard edition is a significant leap from £179 up to £539 but dramatically increases your haul, with 87 instruments and 230GB of content. It’s arguably the best deal for producers whose needs don’t stretch to the exhaustive list of instruments available in the largest bundles, but who still want a comprehensive set of sounds and effects.
The Standard bundle includes full versions of Reaktor 6, the new Kontakt 7, and flagship products such as Massive X with all of its expansions, Battery 4 and Polyplex. Plus, there’s the full complement of the Play Series instruments, most of Kontakt’s pianos and a solid set of other instruments, but lacking the Classical and Cinematic series of the larger bundles. You also get Ozone 10 Standard, iZotope’s class-leading AI-powered mastering suite and a generous selection of effects plug-ins.
Kontakt is the most widely-used sampler instrument around today and the platform on which a great many of NI’s instruments are built, many by third-party developers. Version 7 brings some important updates, starting with a refreshed factory library that includes acoustic and electronic instruments as well as a large selection from the Orchestral Tools sound set. It’s a seriously practical core toolset that covers many of your essential composing and scoring needs.
The new library instruments also support HiDPI display, a higher resolution that looks gorgeous on modern Apple Retina and equivalent screens. Kontakt lets developers build unique and sophisticated interfaces for their instruments and this will no doubt encourage further progress on that front. NI has made the new technology available for developers to update or revamp their existing instruments though this will take some time and sensibly, they have chosen not to radically alter the rest of Kontakt’s interface at present. Instead, this will happen gradually over time so as not to disrupt the many people who currently rely on the instrument day-to-day.
Another major update to Kontakt is the new browser, which also supports HiDPI. Managing libraries and patches in Kontakt has never been especially slick but the new browser changes that radically, providing a single screen where libraries are displayed graphically and categories and tags appear at the top, allowing you to filter by attribute. A single text search field also lets you search across libraries with lightning speed which when combined with the new browsing system makes finding sounds smoother than ever. In the round, Kontakt 7 feels faster and more refined than its predecessor, more like an integrated experience than a bunch of libraries being accessed through an application.
All three of the larger bundles come with Ozone 10 Standard, a mastering suite plug-in with all the core tools you need to punch up your final mixes ready for distribution and streaming. In addition to the dynamics and EQ tools you’d expect, it features an AI-powered Master Assistant that can analyse your sound and suggest a starting point by dialling in its own settings and also the ability to match reference tracks and genre targets across tone, dynamics and width. The idea is that you want your track to sound like one of your favourite artists and these tools can help you get closer to that. Ozone puts a friendly face on the mastering process while also allowing you granular control over the shaping of your final master. Being able to master your own tracks is pretty much essential these days, and the inclusion of Ozone 10 here is a definite bonus, adding even more value to the bundles. You can find our full review of Ozone 10 here.
While the Standard edition of Komplete 14 provides an excellent and wide-ranging set of instruments, sounds and effects covering everything from lush vintage synths through ‘real’ instruments, drum kits and modern sound design tools, the Ultimate edition is aimed more at sound designers and composers specifically.
Stepping things up to 84,000 sounds, 140 instruments, 65 expansions and over 680GB of content, Komplete 14 Ultimate adds the near-complete collection of cinematic instruments and many of the classical ones too. This includes score-in-a-box wonders like Ashlight, Damage and Action Strikes among many others, lush, evocative and perfect for modern scoring tasks. The Collector’s Edition bundle contains the full versions of everything, notably adding more orchestral instruments and the new Choir: Omnia, a remarkably powerful and incredible-sounding choral suite made up of 40 individual singers. The bundle costs £1,619 but to a composer considering the cost of several weeks’ studio time to record an orchestra, that looks like a bargain.
If you’re coming in as a new user, these bundles are an excellent way to get a vast and well-integrated set of instruments, sounds and plug-ins at a very significant discount. Upgrade pricing from recent versions is pretty attractive too considering the improvements to Kontakt, the new expansions and the addition of Ozone 10. While the Ultimate edition is a composer’s dream, producers with more of a focus on rock, pop and electronic genres will find the Standard edition more than fulfils most any creative need they might have. Considering the sheer breadth and musicality of the tools on offer, we recommend Komplete 14 to producers working in almost any field.
- 19 – 148 instruments, 34GB – 1TB content depending on bundle
- Kontakt 7 with HiDPI and new browser
- All major plug-in formats and standalone for some instruments
- All content downloadable via Native Access app
- Massive X, Reaktor 6, FM8, Battery 4, Polyplex instruments
- Play series, Cinematic, acoustic and classical sound sets
- Ozone 10 Standard mastering suite
- Multiple effects from Brainworkx, NI and Plugin Alliance
- Up to 103 expansions depending on bundle
- Kontakt and Reaktor Player editions with Select bundle
- Komplete 14 Select: £179 / EUR 199 / USD 199 | Komplete 14 Standard: £539 / EUR 599 / USD 599 | Komplete 14 Ultimate: £1,079 / EUR 1,199 / USD 1,199 | Komplete 14 Collector’s: £1,619 / EUR 1,799 / USD 1,799 | Upgrade pricing also available
- Contact Native Instruments
- Buy: Gear4music, Andertons
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