Komplete Kontrol – Getting Up & Running – From An Accessibility Perspective
naturally one of the most asked questions new users want to know, is ‘how to get started with Komplete Kontrol.
This guide is intended as a quick start with accessibility in mind. Please realise that this will not be a substitute for reading Native Instruments own documentation, nor will it be able to cover all computer systems, platforms and unique equipment and setup variations, but hopefully it might cut through some of the jargon enough to give you confidence in the task of installation.
Everybody wants to get the installation over and done with as quickly as possible, and begin browsing, playing, editing and making music with their system. There are however a few steps to go through in order to achieve this, and a little extra time getting things right at this early stage will doubtless save a lot of headaches later on, both in terms of troubleshooting things if they do not work correctly or having to relocate sample libraries because you perhaps quickly ran out of disk space in the disk location where you installed the sample library content.
Before you begin installation, it is well worth spending a little time to assess your computer system, and deciding where the best place to install the products will be.
Komplete Kontrol has default locations pre-defined, and in general these are perfectly acceptable.
Things like the location you want your VST plug-ins to go (remember Komplete Kontrol is 64bit only now), the path where your downloads will temporarily reside prior to being unarchived and installed, where you want the actual applications to be installed and finally where you want those all important yet disk hungry sample libraries to go.
Unless you have any really good reasons, all of the default locations should be fine (see notes on download folder later in the article), however the main one you will want to consider is the ultimate destination of your sample libraries.
Ideally in order to maximise loading time, a solid state drive should be used, these are dropping in price all the time and are well worth the investment for performance reasons alone, however if your budget will not stretch to one that meets the size requirements of the version of Komplete you have, then at least a 7200rpm mechanical drive should be employed to avoid frustrating load times and sample instrument performance.
If your computer is reasonably new, then hopefully your main operating system drive will already be an SSD, as along with computer ram, this is probably the best speed and performance investment you can possibly make, so having one for your sample libraries as well as your main operating system drive will give you the benefit of both worlds.
When it comes to choosing a hard disk location for your Komplete Kontrol/Kontakt libraries try to think big, Komplete Kontrol has a habit of becoming an addictive pastime at whatever level you intend to use it. We are constantly bombarded by special offers and tempting promotions and these additional sample libraries can rapidly swallow up hard drive space, so where possible try to use a drive in excess of your immediate installation needs.
The gateway to installing Komplete Kontrol is Native Access, unfortunately despite Komplete Kontrol being generally accessible to us for creative use, Native Access can sometimes be a little tricky to navigate as it can appear quite daunting and frustrating to use.
The good news is that significant improvements were made during 2019, and both MAC and Windows versions are now mostly accessible.
Some users manage to navigate the application successfully with less issues than others, so When it comes to a first time installation of Komplete Kontrol I would recommend having sighted assistance if at all possible, simply for peace of mind that your products are downloading and all of your preferred product destinations have been chosen correctly, for Windows users I find that Narrator yields the best results.
The preferences tab, signified by a cogwheel icon is where you will be able to make these important path options, and once done, you can save and exit this tab safe in the knowledge that future content, downloads and updates will end up in the right place.
You should find a tab called ‘add new’, this allows you to paste in a new product code, and this is true of either new individual licensed NKS products, or a complete multi software suite such as Komplete Start, Komplete 12 select, Komplete 12, Komplete 12 Ultimate or Komplete 12 Ultimate Collectors Edition.
When you first launched the Native Access application you will have been prompted to enter your email address and password for your Native Instruments account, once logged in Native Access will connect and check the status of your products, showing anything that is not installed or needs updating.
In the case of a brand new install, pasting your Komplete product code into the add new edit field, and hitting enter should then list all of your newly available content.
You can then choose ‘install all’, and depending on the suite you have, this can take a considerable amount of time. This of course will vary depending on internet connection speed, you may have a hard drive version of Komplete which will speed things up as only product updates and additional content will require downloading. however, if you have opted for the download edition, almost certainly in for example the case of Komplete 12 Ultimate, it will probably be best left overnight to finish installing everything, and the old adage of ‘a watched pot never boils’ is certainly pertinent here!
Komplete Kontrol Applications And Associated Content
Wheninstalling your Komplete software for the first time, you may wish to prioritise the order in which you perform the download and installation in terms of content, particularly if you need to consider the amound of disk space versus overall content size.
With this in mind, It’s worth noting that some applications are instruments in their own right, and others work as a means of deliverance, so it’s important to know what you will definitely need installed in order for things to work.
For example Absynth, FM8, Massive, Massive X when installed and loaded will all have their associated presets and banks installed, of course it is possible to add third party presets (which will generally appear on the user side of the Komplete Kontrol browser), but the point is that they are largely self contained.
The lines become blurred slightly only because to the newcomer it may not be immediately obvious that Kontakt, Reaktor and to a lesser degree Battery are what I would deem as container applications, by this I mean that on their own they are essentially voicelesss until they load and play a library or sub bank associated with them.
Kontakt is probably the best example of this, being a sample player it is the vehicle responsible for delivering a large part of the Komplete software suite of sounds.
Abbey Road, Action Strikes, Action Strings, Damage, Drum Lab, Evolve R2, Hybrid Keys, Kinetic Metal,Middle East, Scarbee series, Session Guitarist, Studio Drummer, Symphony series and West Africa are all a range of example sample libraries plucked from among the alphabetical list that will all require the installation of Kontakt to work. Depending on the version of Komplete software you own, this will either be the full version of Kontakt 5 or Kontakt 6 (required for later libraries) or the freely available Kontakt player which will allow anyone to use an officially licensed NKS library.
Reaktor does work in it’s own right, however their are also libraries or banks that will appear in your list of products that essentially use Reaktor as their means of delivery. Blocks Space, Blocks Prime, Flesh, Form, Kontour, Monarch, Polyplex, Prism, Razor, Spark and TrK01, Kick and Bass will all require Reaktor or Reaktor player to be installed, again with a full or player version.
Battery, does have it’s own set of factory sounds, however many of the Native Instruments expansion packs which were originally marketed as Maschine add on packs, do also contain additional kits for use in Battery which get added to your bank category when installed. These expansions also often feature presets for Reaktor, Massive and other reaktor derivatives. ,
The Download Folder…
One consideration to bear in mind, is that Komplete can require a considerable amount of free disk space available to successfully download, and extract large sample libraries. If your default download folder is on your operating system drive, and this drive is small such as 128, 256 or possibly 500Gb in size there can be installation problems, especially if you selected the ‘install all’ option. If you do only have a small drive, then it might be worth only installing a few products at a time, this can be frustrating and obviously means the install process has to be monitored more closely, but it should avoid the disappointment of installation failures.
The other option would be to choose an alternate download folder location, with larger available disk space, perhaps on an alternate or external drive, and this selection would be made prior to commencement of the download process in the Native Access preferences tab mentioned earlier, after you have created the said ‘download folder in your location of choice.
Once the installation has finished, there should be no entries in the ‘not installed’ products tab, and also no ‘updates’ in the ‘updates tab. At this stage you can close Native Access and prepare to launch the main Komplete Kontrol application.
Notes On Third Party NKS Sample Libraries…
We have spoken thus far about Native Instruments own products and sample libraries which are associated with and included within the various Komplete software suites.
Other developers also produce NKS compatible libraries and plugins which may require licensing through Native Access.
More recently some Native Instrument partners products can be authorised and licensed through Native Access just as if they were NI products themselves, which makes things much simpler.
Others however will still require downloading from the associated vendor often using their own installers, which can vary greatly in terms of accessibility.
The final authorisation in the case of official NKS licensed products, will still be via Native Access.
You will need to paste in the new serial via the ‘add new’ tab, the library will then be authorised and appear in the ‘not installed’ tab, the final step will be to click on the install button, and then browse to the root folder containing the new library and then choosing install.
After a Komplete Kontrol standalone rescan your new library should be present and ready to use on the factory side of your Komplete Kontrol browser.
There are also plenty of NKS software products that are not sample based (i.e they do not use Kontakt as their engine), examples of which are software instrument plug-ins from U-HE such as Diva, Repro 1 & Repro 5, Rob Papen Instruments, Applied Acoustic Systems to name a few, as well as FX based NKS ware from Waves and Eventide.
In general these employ their own installers, and do not require registration through Native Access and use their own license and encryption methods such as Ilok, all will still require rescanning in Komplete Kontrol standalone in order for them to be included in your browser.
Launching Komplete Kontrol…
The Komplete Kontrol standalone application, should have an icon on your computer desktop, and this can now be launched.
When Komplete Kontrol runs for the first time it needs to do several important things. It will scan your system using the product location paths as defined earlier in Native Access.
It will scan and add the actual Native Instruments programs such as Absynth, Battery, FM8, Kontakt, Massive etc (dependant upon the suite version you own), it will look at the location of your sample libraries both factory and user content (the user content will probably be empty at this point), it will gather a list of all your samples from pre-determined locations (Komplete Kontrol now features a sample playback and editor module since version 2.1 was released in February 2019 and the very latest 2.1.3 now has an audio module for tempo syncing of loops).
Finally it will then construct a Komplete Kontrol database which holds all the information pertaining to your products, fx, presets and samples etc, which forms the entire framework for using the browser.
Again depending on the Komplete software suite version you have, this can initially be a lengthy process, for Komplete Kontrol 12 Ultimate Collectors Edition, then in excess of over half an hour should be allowed, the time can also vary with the computer and processing power available.
When Komplete Kontrol is launched for the first time, and occasionally after an update, you may come across a dialog box popping up informing you of a available firmware update for your connected model of Komplete Kontrol keyboard.
Generally this dialog and procedure is accessible via a combination of OCR and basic screen reader techniques. Essentially it will update your keyboards inbuilt firmware and inform you again through a dialog when this task is completed.
New users may also encounter a message inviting them to a Komplete Kontrol tutorial, this is pretty much inaccessible and as such it’s best to dismiss the invitation using the methods described in the previous paragraph.
The End Game…
Hopefully you now have Komplete Kontrol installed, most users use KK within their DAW of choice, afterall Komplete Kontrol is mostly about ideas and creation so it makes sense to be somewhere where you can record the results as and when they happen.
To this end, although Komplete Kontrol can certainly be used as a standalone application most do not choose to do so. Configuration if interested is generally straightforward in MAC land due to it’s core audio and auto detection, however not so much in Windows due to the inaccessible audio/midi settings screens for which sighted help will certainly be necessary.
Turning on speech accessibility has been covered elsewhere, but it will be the top left and top right buttons on MK1 and MK2 keyboard models, A-Series and M-32 will be top left and the row underneath far right ‘ideas’ button.
Load up Komplete Kontrol as you would any other software instrument from your DAW, press the browse button on your keyboard and enjoy a new world of musical instrument accessiblity browsing, playing, editing and creation!
You may find the following video from Andre Louis helpful in further understanding the relationship between Native Instruments programs and products:
Due to the fluid nature of software development, information and facts mentioned within this article will inevitably change and/or become outdated from time to time. Furthermore the information provided is based on my own personal gathered knowledge and experience of using Komplete Kontrol since the inception of it’s accessibility features in 2016.
to this end there may be elements for which others may have a differing view, opinion or experience. I will endeavour to amend and add information from time to time in an effort to keep the article relevant and informative as a whole.
No responsibility falls upon the author as a result of actions or damage to computer systems or software as a result of any information or misinformation included in this article.. Furthermore the author accepts no responsibility for subsequent purchase decisions made as a result of this article,or Any inaccuracies found within this review. All opinions or product functions stated are based soley on information perceived as a blind user whilst using the product or gathered from official factual sources on the web or product manual.
About the Author
Chris Ankin has worked previously as a freelance review contributor with articles published in Sound On Sound, Home & Studio Recording and ST Format Magazines.