Komplete, Native Instruments' flagship music production bundle, has a little bit of everything. That's always been part of its appeal. It's pricey, but you get monster synths, a top-notch drum sampler, a virtual guitar rig and Kontakt — which is also a sampler, but calling it one seems incredibly reductive. Native Instruments is still one of the biggest names in the music software world, but it's an increasingly crowded and competitive market. And much of it is moving towards a subscription model (even Native Instruments). So this year the company is adding some new software in hopes that customers will come back for at least one more big-ticket purchase.
Komplete 14 is the first version to be released since Native Instruments (NI) joined Soundwide, a collection of brands including Izotope and Plugin Alliance, among others. As such, one of the biggest additions to the Komplete library (at least in the $599 Standard version and higher) is Izotope's Ozone 10 Standard. This mastering plug in has legions of fans thanks to its powerful feature set and simple interface. But for many, the biggest selling point is it's AI-powered mastering assistance. Many amateur musicians (myself included) rely on Ozone to master their tracks. You simply play the loudest bit of your song, click a button, and the plugin will suggest a starting point for mastering including compression and EQ. You can then accept the settings, tweak them to your liking or toss them and start from scratch.
The new partnership also allowed Native Instruments to beef up the bundle with a handful of smaller items from Plugin Alliance and Brainworx like bx_Oberhausen, bx_Crispytuner and LO-FI-AF. None of these instruments or effects individually are likely to convince you one way or another that Komplete's more expensive versions are worth the outlay. But I don't know anyone who is going to complain about having too many plugins.
The only issue is it might not be immediately clear to many users how to get access to those. They're not in the Native Access manager. Instead you'll have to go to your products and serials list on the NI site to get the "Plugin Alliance Bundle for Komplete 14" code. Then you'll head on over to Plugin Alliance and redeem it the code and download a separate plugin manager. Hopefully at some point the two platforms will be integrated to remove the addition steps.
The big centerpiece of Komplete, as always, is Kontakt. The new version — seven — isn't a giant departure for this industry stalwart. The browser has been updated for better compatibility with HiDPI displays and improved search and filtering tools. The factory library has also been overhauled to take advantage of the graphical overhaul and for better sound. The process of building your own Kontakt instruments has also been simplified with improved creator tools.
Kontakt 7 may not be a significant change from version six, but if you spring for the more expensive versions, like the $1,199 Komplete Ultimate or $1,799 Komplete Collector's Edition, you do get some unique and powerful expansions like Lores, Ashlight, Kinetic Toys and, one of my personal favorites, Piano Colors. The latter combines samples of a grand piano, various synths and textures, along with effects and modulation tools to create complex sounds that walk the line between organic and synthetic.
The one piece of bad news here is that Kontakt 7, while it is technically included in Komplete 14, isn't available yet and wont ship until some point in October. Komplete 14 is available now starting at $199 for the basic Komplete Selects package, and going all the way up to $1,799 for Komplete Collector's Edition.