NI KOMPLETE KONTROL S49 & ULTIMATE 10 Review

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Overview

NI has released their three new MIDI Keyboard controllers that work perfect harmony with the catalog of the musical instruments in the brand new Komplete 10 software packages. The NI Komplete Kontrol S-Series keyboards come in 25-key S25, 49-key S49, and 61-key S61 variants which are all identical in features but differ in size to accommodate the number of keys. Watch our video review of the S49 Komplete Keyboard & Software.

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Review Video & Demo

Unboxing Video

Setup & First Impressions

These new Kontrol S keyboards come perfectly mapped for the new Komplete 10 software and you can even find different bundles with combinations of keyboards and software to suit your individual needs. The Komplete Kontrol S keyboards come in 25-key S25, 49-key S49, and 61-key S61 variants which are all identical in features but differ in size to accommodate the number of keys. The S keyboards make it much easier for users to control and play the instruments and sounds within Komplete 10. The Komplete Kontrol S49 that we are reviewing today sits right in the middle of the range in terms of size and price.

The Build Quality of the Komplete S49 keyboard is great. It's a mixture of a high-quality plastic housing through most of the keyboard with a brushed metal top surface for even more quality and durability. The Semi-Weighted Fatar Keys feel really nice and have a good springy feel to them. They are also velocity sensitive. Above the keys is the Light Guide which clearly shows unique color indicators to reveal key performance indicators such as Cords, notes, scales, and even instrument type. To the left of the keys, there are two touch strips that have replaced the MOD and Pitch wheels which work extremely well during a performance. They can be set up to work in many different ways to suit the needs of the performer. They are also way more robust than having wheels since they can do things like permanently cycle through their range during playback.

Above the keys and all the way to the left is the Navigation section complete with a Navigation dial to go through the instruments in Complete and up and down Preset arrows to cycle through instruments on the fly. There's also other buttons to cycle through the different pages and functions within the Komplete software suite. This is very useful as you don't really have to ever use the computer's keyboard for anything. To the Left of the navigation section is the touch sensitive knobs that have small LED screens underneath them to show different parameters within the instrument. As soon as these knobs are touched, the value is shown underneath them. These knobs really make the Komplete Keyboard feel and work like an analog instrument where the user can alter and change the sound properties to the desired position.

All the way to the left of the Kontrol S49 is the Perform section where users can do some really cool functions with the Scale and ARP (Arpeggiator) for their playback. The Scale button allows users to play cords with single keys or map the entire keyboard to musical scales of choice. The ARP allows people to create melodies extremely easily and they can be adjusted by changing the swing and timing on the fly. Under the Scale and ARP buttons are the buttons for Transport controls including Loop, RWD, FWD, Play, Record, and Stop.

These new Komplete Keyboards can work with Komplete 9, but the newer Komplete 10 Software is recommended for use on the new keyboards. The new Komplete 10 software comes in a standard edition with 39 products, 12,000 sounds, and over 130GB of instruments and effects while the Ultimate edition which comes with 75 products, 17,000 sounds, and over 440GB of instruments and effects. The Komplete Ultimate library, which we used for our review, comes with its own 500GB hard drive that stores the sounds and software for convenient installation and usage. It took quite a while to install all of the features and software onto the computer, but it was definitely worth it as we have so many sounds and instruments to play with that it's almost a daunting task just going through them all.

The S-series has the LED Light Guide above the keys which work as key indicators to let users know many different parameters at a glance. Users will also get LED feedback above the keys to identify cords, currently playing keys, and other user defined indicators. The S25 is $499, wihle the S49 is $599, and the S61 is $699. The Komplete Ultimate software is $999 while the regular Komplete Software is $499.

***Watch the full video review above for a full feature breakdown of the Komplete Kontrol S49 & Komplete Ultimate Software***

Conclusion / Recommended For

In Conclusion, The NI Komplete Kontrol S49 keyboard is the PERFECT companion for any keyboard performer or producer who wants to use the amazing sound library found in the Komplete software suites. The Komplete Kontrol S series keyboards integrate so well with the Komplete Software making browsing and playback of the many sounds easier than ever before. The Komplete Kontrol S series keyboards also have a great overall build quality and piano key feel. Nothing feels cheap or like it will crack or break anytime soon. The multi-colored backlit Light Guide system over the keys is an excellent indicator of scale, chords, instruments in use, and correct notes to play. The touch-sensitive knobs above the keys use the Native Map technology that allows users to easily modify and change the different parameters of the sound on the fly.

On the downside, the Komplete Kontrol S Series keyboards along with the Komplete software is a pretty pricey package with Komplete Ultimate coming in at $1000 and the S49 keyboard clocking in at $600. You will get a really complete package in terms of sounds and playback, nevertheless, it's still costs a decent amount. The other minor gripe I have with the Komplete Keyboards is that they don't have an internal soundcard, so one will be needed for playback. Other than this, the Komplete Kontrol S series keyboards and Komplete Software packages are a hard combination to beat. This package is perfect for anyone who wants a huge library of sounds to make beats or perform with and a keyboard that works perfectly within the ecosystem.

Pros

  • Perfect Control for Komplete Ultimate Instruments
  • Instrument Browse Controls Are Very Easy To Use
  • Great Overall Build Quality & Feel
  • Intuitive Light Guide System
  • Tough-Sensitive Knobs for Changing Sound Parameters

Cons

  • Price
  • No Soundcard

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