Schema – Dark! From Native Instruments

Schema – Dark! From Native Instruments



KK-Access Review



One of the recent releases from Native Instruments is Schema Dark, a library that offers up a blendable mix of dark cinematic loop based content, in both tonal & atonal flavours.



The well polished library which has been billed as a Cinematic Pulse Engine, is all housed in a four layered Kontakt interface, and lends itself to a more dystopian and edgy side of cinematic and dark wave music creation.



Despite having a relatively small data footprint, a healthy number of snapshot presets are included, which are all derived from the single master NKI preset file, and in turn the 1,732 source sample pool.



Tech Specs



Schema runs in either the full version of Kontakt 7 or the free Kontakt player, and is compatible with Komplete kontrol & Maschine software.



The installation requires 1.87GB of storage space for the NCW format sample content.

There is 1 single master NKI file, and a further 343 NKSN snapshot files.



Download & Installation



Being a Native Instruments own product, this is a seamless process, from initial purchase on the website to automatic installation via Native Access following your purchase confirmation, there’s no need to even paste in a serial number, as the entire transaction is linked to your NI account.



Komplete Kontrol Plug-In NKS Parameter Mapping



Page One – Performance



Knob 1 – Filter
Knob 2 – Tails
Knob 3 – Gates
Knob 4 – Tunings
Knob 5 – FX 1 Return
Knob 6 – FX 2 Return
Knob 7 – Unallocated
Knob 8 – Global Volume



Page Two – Layer 1 Editor



Knob 1 – Tempo: Half Time, Normal, Double Time
Knob 2 – Rest
Knob 3 – Play Direction: Forward, Backward, Ping Pong
Knob 4 – Sample Direction: Normal, Reverse
Knob 5 – Send FX 1
Knob 6 – Send FX 2
Knob 7 – Length: 1 to 16
Knob 8 – Unallocated



Page Three to Five – Layer Editors 2 to 4 (As Above)



Page Six – Layers On/Off



Knob 1 – Layer 1 On/Off
Knob 2 – Unallocated
Knob 3 – Layer 2 On/Off
Knob 4 – Unallocated
Knob 5 – Layer 3 On/Off
Knob 6 – Unallocated
Knob 7 – Layer 4 On/Off
Knob 8 – Unallocated



Page Seven – Mixer



Knob 1 – Layer 1 Pan
Knob 2 – Layer 1 Volume
Knob 3 – Layer 2 Pan
Knob 4 – Layer 2 Volume
Knob 5 – Layer 3 Pan
Knob 6 – Layer 3 Volume
Knob 7 – Layer 4 Pan
Knob 8 – Layer 4 Volume



Page Eight – FX



Knob 1 – Reverb On/Off
Knob 2 – Reverb Size
Knob 3 – Reverb Time
Knob 4 – Reverb Pre-Delay
Knob 5 – Delay On/Off
Knob 6 – Delay Feedback
Knob 7 – Delay Rate: 1 Quarter to 1 thirty second
Knob 8 – Delay Pitch + 12 or minus 12 notes






Schema Dar has a reasonable level of accessibility in common with other four layer loop based libraries in this genre.

All of the prerequisites like layer mixing and pan are present, along with other useful options such as loop playback speed, direction and sample reverse modes.



As we often experience, there is no way to select our own choice of sample source for each layer, but thankfully there are a good number of factory presets provided.



One desirable feature which has sadly been omitted, is the roll a dice option, this would have at least offered some compensation for the lack of ability to load samples into individual layers, there are some unallocated NKS knobs on the Layer On/Off page which would have been an ideal home for these controls, without the necessity to add a further NKS page.



cross referencing the NKS mappings against the parameters available in Kontakt on it’s own did not reveal any hidden Easter eggs in accessibility, so there is at least parity between them.



Dreaming & Scheming



The idea behind the operation of Schema is that each of the four sound layers can host a sample loop, which is divided up into 16 slices. Each segment of which can be fine tuned in all manner of ways.



Individual slices can be turned on or off, reversed, tuned, filtered or even have their position swapped around within the loop.



Unfortunately for us this is not entirely possible through NKS control, as this level of detailed editing is not accessible via the current mapping template, meaning we are somewhat limited to the amount of finite detail of the tweaks we can achieve with the controls provided.



Schema FX



Although there are a number of effect types available, when Schema is used within Komplete Kontrol we have no other option other than to use those already pre-assigned to each given preset.



There are in all,a total of six effect types , including Algorithmic Reverb , Convolution Reverb, Psyche Delay , Chorus, Phaser & Flanger.



We do however, still retain the ability to turn off the FX either individually or entirely, as well as adjust the amount of send for each, on a per layer basis.



We can of course always opt to add our own additional FX through further Komplete Kontrol slots, although this of course would work across the whole of the instruments global sound output.






Schema Dark does include the use of keyswitches, and these have been assigned to turn on and off layers and patterns, which might be useful in a performance situation.



If would have been very useful for us if these, or indeed additional keyswitches could have been made available in order to randomise the layers and patterns, or even better, switch between the currently loaded loop within a selected layer.



The modulation wheel has been configured to gradually switch between the layers, so when in the down position, the minimum number will play, and when pushed up all available layers will play.



In The Schema Of Things



Despite these limitations, Schema Dark could still be a useful tool when creating music that reflects the overall genre.



There are plenty of great sounding foundation loops which can serve as a bedrock to a more expansive composition, and having the option to adjust speed, pitch and direction of each loop in isolation from the others, mean that it is possible to significantly alter a preset from it’s original default, conversely you may well be happy to use them as they are, with little other user intervention.



Although the loops do derive from the concept of slices, Schema does not map the slices as separate parts across the keyboard, instead the whole loop is assigned to play in it’s entirety pitched across 2 octaves, which in use is far more practical from a compositional point of view.



We are able to alter the number of slices that playback within a looped sequence, this means that you can for example trim the 16 slices down to 4, 8, or any number between 1 & 16, and they will then repeat themselves within the bar, so 4 slices will repeat 4 times within a 16 slice standard bar, whereas 8 slices will play twice.



I was unable to accessibly find a way to insert my own rests within a loop, so the loop will constantly repeat, rather than simply play 8 slices, followed by 8 silent slices, so this feature for us at least seems to have been confined to the visual user interface.



There is however some reprieve, in as much as it is possible to turn on or off any predefined rests within the factory presets, so we can at least make a truncated loop play for an entire bar if required to do so.



Given that these controls are available on a per layer basis, some interesting polyrhythmic type patterns can be conjured up if you have the time and are willing to experiment.



The Sound Of Schema Dark



Given the small installation size of Schema, Native Instruments have managed to cram a decent degree of sound quality into the library.

Rather than housing lots of large data hungry samples, because the presets are pattern based, they are constructed using short yet still high quality sample material.



As always, I would recommend thoroughly checking out the various walkthroughs on the web, as well as those linked at the review footer, to gain a better insight into the kind of sounds you can expect from the product.






Schema Dark is not without it’s limitations when it comes to overall accessibility, however I feel in fairness this is comparable to other such products on the market, and the decent number of supplied factory presets help to address some of the balance between the value for money and accessibility shortfalls.



With Schema being suffixed by the use of the word Dark, it perhaps suggests that there may be a Schema Light at some point, but this is pure conjecture on my part.



In the meantime though, for those seeking some shadowy pulsing undertones to their work, Schema Dark may be a possible consideration.



Schema – Dark is available from the Native Instruments website for £129.00



Schema – Dark Product Page:



Schema – Dark Walkthrough:



Schema – Dark user Manual:–dark


c) Chris Ankin



20th March2023








The author can not accept any responsibility for subsequent purchase decisions made as a result of this review,or Any inaccuracies found therein. All opinions and product functions stated are based solely on information perceived as a blind user whilst using the product and/or gathered from official factual sources such as the developer, web or supplied product manual.



About the Author



Based in Buckinghamshire, England, Chris Ankin has worked as a freelance review writer and contributor with articles published in Sound On Sound, Home & Studio Recording and ST Format Magazines.



He has also successfully worked extensively in and around music, recording, film Soundtrack scoring, Game & media composition, the creative arts, Charitable trusts,publishing, music streaming and property investments since 1982 whilst continuously and deliberately managing to evade any mainstream recognition under his own name by the use of various pseudonyms.



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