AF’s Weblog

January 3, 2012

Native Instruments Komplete 8 & Komplete 8 Ultimate review Unpublish

Native Instruments has been offering a selection of its software products grouped under the brand “Komplete” for several years now. The selection is updated every year with the latest versions of several products plus some additional tools. And it offers a rather unbeatable value for money ($499).

Native Instruments Komplete 8 et Komplete 8 Ultimate

Considering that products like Kontakt or Reaktor are sold for $399 each, it would be a huge mistake to ignore Komplete and the 26 other tools it includes for only $100 bucks more. You would be missing synths like Massive, FM8 and Absynth, effects like Reflektor, The Finger and Transient Master, drums like Studio Drummer and Abbey Road 60’s, as well as Guitar Rig Pro and some acoustic and electric pianos. The full product list is available here. Add to this a $25 voucher and you get an extremely appealing product.

People who already own a previous version of Komplete (v2 or higher) can upgrade for $199, which might be especially attractive for those thinking about buying Studio Drummer ($149). People who own Maschine, Kontakt, Reaktor, Kore or Guitar Rig Kontrol can crossgrade for $369.

The Ultimate Pack

Native Instruments Komplete 8 et Komplete 8 Ultimate

Komplete 8 marks the arrival of a new version sold for $999, which includes nothing more than all 50 Native Instruments software tools available right now. If you’re not sure which version of Komplete 8 is right for you, take a look at the comparison chart on this page. The most interesting products included in the Ultimate version (and missing in the normal version) are Session Strings Pro (it’s a pity that Komplete 8 doesn’t include a “non-pro” version!), the VC 2A, 76 and 160 effects, Abbey Road 70’s and 80’s drums, Modern Drums, Scarbee bass, Funk Guitarist, Alicia Keys piano, and George Duke Soul. That’s a lot, all the more considering that some of these tools are very interesting (look up their reviews on AudioFanzine). It’s up to you to decide if you need them or not…

List of the programs included in Komplete 8 and Komplete 8 Ultimate already reviewed on AudioFanzine:

To read the full detailed review see:  Komplete 8 & Komplete 8 Ultimate Review

December 26, 2011

Native Instruments Kontakt 5 Review

Among the host of new products introduced by Natives Instruments in September, we found a new Kontakt version. Here is a quick overview of its new features.

Over the years, Kontakt became a topper on the software samplers market. But after the launch of MOTU’s MachFive 3 and Steinberg’s HALion 4, Native Instruments had to react by updating its baby. What’s new in version 5? Let’s dive in…

Your Effect On Me

Native Instruments Kontakt 5

The German manufacturer often uses internally (or even externally) developed technologies to enhance some of its products. Thus, we have found some of its brand new effects in NI’s virtual drums Studio Drummer (G-EQ, Solid Bus Comp), or the convolution reverb Reflektor in Guitar Rig Pro 5, etc. Kontakt 5 is no exception and hosts four new already existing effects: Solid G-EQ, Solid Bus CompTransient Master and Tape Saturator. We won’t dedicate more time and space to these effects that we have already described on AudioFanzine. However, we are happy to find them in Kontakt because they extend its audio-processing capabilities. Considering the price of the single effects, it’s a nice gift from Native Instruments!

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Kontakt hits the nail on the head by offering features taken from other NI products: effects from NI’s Solid Mix series, filters designed by the creator of Massive, “MPC vintage” modes from Maschine, and a new time-stretching algorithm signed by zPlane. Add to this more comprehensive routing facilities (inserts, Aux sends) plus an integrated MIDI-file player and you get the reference tool among virtual samplers. Given the price, version 4 owners who don’t have the Solid Mix effects should upgrade without hesitation. If you thought about buying Retro Machines mk2, consider buying Kontakt 5… If you don’t have a Kontakt license yet, we recommend you to take a serious look at Komplete 8: for about $100 more, you get a very comprehensive collection of Native Instruments software tools.

Advantages: 
  • Solid effects
  • 37 new filters from the creator of Massive
  • New time-stretching algorithm signed by zPlane
  • More comprehensive routing options
  • Integrated MIDI-file player
  • Retro Machines mk2 for free
Drawbacks:
  • No as many new features as we expected
  • The quality of some instruments is not top
  • Too much for beginners?
  • Kontakt’s single price compared to Komplete’s price

To read the full detailed review see:  Native Instruments Kontakt 5 Review

December 19, 2011

Native Instruments Guitar Rig Pro 5 Review

Within a few years, Guitar Rig has become a reference in the world of guitar amps and effects simulation. The fourth version, which saw the light of day about two years ago, already brought major sound quality improvements with itself thanks to the new –however limited— Control Room feature… Can the German manufacturer surprise us with this fifth version? Read on…

Guitar Rig Pro is one of the pioneers in the history of guitar amp simulation and thus it is now a pretty mature product. This fifth version doesn’t introduce major improvements but rather fills some gaps in the features list. As usual, this new version includes new amps and effects, an improved Control Room (which first integrated convolution technology into Guitar Rig, see the Guitar Rig 4 Pro review), and some new features that will be useful to certain users…

Let’s start with the two new amps: Van 51 and Hot Solo+.

Two Amps for a Wall of Sound

Native Instruments Guitar Rig Pro 5

One thing must be clear: if you don’t like distortion, the two new simulations aren’t for you. The first one is an emulation of the famous Peavey 5150, the amp of Mr. Van Halen, famous for his high-gain sound, palm muting and tapping, and his drop-D tuning. This amp, appropriately named “Van 51,” has two channels. The rhythm channel features two switches: Bright and Crunch, while both channels share a 3-band EQ, a Post Gain control (master volume), a Resonance control (low frequencies), a Presence control (high mids) and a Hi-Gain switch. Even if the amp wasn’t conceived with clean sounds in mind, we tried it out with a 335 and a Telecaster, and the results are quite ok even if not jaw-dropping. With an ESP or an Ibanez in the lead channel, the amp was much more convincing. The tone is accurate but not too artificial. Moreover, both guitars sounded different, meaning that the software stays faithful to the instrument, which is often not the case with amp simulations. The addition of this amp is good news because Guitar Rig was quite convincing with clean and crunch sounds, but distortion was not at the same level.

With our Les Paul the difference between the two channels is pretty evident. The Rhythm channel sounds very heavy, but the sound is nice! With a Telecaster you can hear the twang of the instrument, which is a good point. In short, the Van 51 isn’t limited to heavy metal guitars with high-output pickups. This is a nice surprise that enriches the software’s already comprehensive amp collection.

Native Instruments Guitar Rig Pro 5

The second amp is the Hot Solo+. Based on the Soldano SLO (Super Lead Overdrive) 100, which is not an amp for dance balls but is considered the ultimate amp by many guitar players. This high-quality boutique amp is eagerly waiting for your high-speed solos! It provides two channels (Normal and Overdrive) with independent gain settings, 3-band EQ, Master, Presence (high mids) and Depth (low frequencies) controls. The good news is that the Hot Solo+ is available with two very different speaker cabinets. We recommend you to combine both cabinets for your guitar recordings because they complement each other very well, allowing you to fatten your sound. We recorded the same takes with the same settings but changing the cabinet so that you can hear the differences. With the 335 and the Telecaster in clean mode, the amp gives better results than the Van 51. The sound is deeper and definitely useful, even if we might prefer some other amps available in Guitar Rig Pro. With the Telecaster and the Les Paul in crunch mode the sound difference between the speaker cabinets is obvious. You’ll notice that the second one is more hollow. In high-gain mode, the Hot Solo+ is very convincing regardless of the guitar (Les Paul, Ibanez RG or ESP).

Check out the sound samples and make your own opinion…

Conclusion

The new Guitar Rig version has more than one trick under its sleeve and is a great tool for users who like to tweak their sound and to make the most of their gear. Containers, side chain and effects like Resochord and Filterbank allow you to get very creative. But Native Instruments didn’t forget standard users: you get a more versatile Control Room Pro and many more speaker cabinets. The two new amps are high-gain specialists, but they sound very good and complement the amp collection precisely where it was lacking the most. If anything, we regret that there are not too many new amps and, as always, bass players will feel neglected with only one amp! The update price is quite affordable considering the new features. And if you are still hesitating about changing to Native Instruments, this new version adds some new arguments to the debate.

Advantages: 
  • More versatile Control Room
  • 23 new speaker cabinets
  • The two new amp models sound good
  • 6 new effects
  • The container is very practical
  • Guitar Rig Pro is still a reference on the market
Drawbacks:
  • Only two additional amps
  • Still only one bass amp
  • Some new effects won’t be of interest for every user

To read the full detailed article with sound samples see:  Guitar Rig Pro 5 Review

November 1, 2011

Native Instruments Transient Master Review

The Studio Effects Series by Native Instruments just got expanded with the Transient Master plug-in, which ought to be faithful to its inspiration made by SPL — the perfect occasion to try it out (in its software version).

Although the principles of controlling dynamics are easy to understand, dynamics processing is a field where the experience of the user is as important as the processor itself. Choosing compressors and similar tools for a setup or a mix can be a real pain because of the number of questions or problems that may arise.

When German manufacturer SPL launched the Transient Designer rack processor, many sound engineers in the music and movie industries (as well as many musicians) immediately saw it as the perfect solution to two very frequent problems: the attack (due to too soft or harsh transients) and the (too long or too short) sustain of a signal, especially for field recordings where you can’t control natural reverberations.

To achieve that, SPL and its senior engineer M. Tilgner (who would later leave the company to start elysia and develop other famous compression tools) envisioned a new analog technology based on VCAs and envelope generators, called Differential Envelope Technology, by cleverly and efficiently playing with addition or subtraction of both generators in order to boost or cut the attack and sustain. But we won’t dive deeper into details (you can find very clear explanations on the manufacturer’s website) because the most important thing is the result and the incredible simplicity of the user interface: two controls, Attack and Sustain.

Before launching its own plug-in range, SPL collaborated with Universal Audio to create a UAD-1 and UAD-2 version with an additional volume control. Many software manufacturers also presented their version of SPL’s classic tool, for instance Voxengo’s Transmodder, Waves’ Transmod, Sonnox’ Transmoder, DigitalFishPhones’ Dominion (free plug-in for PC and Mac OS9), and SSL’s Drumstrip (non-exhaustive list).

It’s now the turn for Native Instruments to present its own version, the Transient Master.

Introducing Transient Master

Test system

MacPro Xeon 3,2 GHz

OS 10.6.8

Logic Pro 9.1.5

Guitar Rig 5 Pro 5.0.2

Transient Master

UAD-SPL Transient Designer

As usual with Native Instruments, just download the Mac or PC version after buying it (see NI’s website), install and authorize via the Service Center with your serial number. After the installation, it was impossible to find the folder (usually added to Native Instruments’ directory) to read the (rather short) user’s manual. But you can download it from the product page on the manufacturer’s website.

You can use the plug-in within Guitar Rig Pro 5 or the free Guitar Rig 5 Player (the free version includes an amp and several effects), and you will find it in the Dynamics category. Drag and drop into the empty rack and it is immediately ready to use. However, before using it, check if the Noise Gate is active and if the stereo mode in the guitar amp / effect host is active (click the R button next to the input level indicator).

The user interface is extremely simple, like the original, but with an additional Gain control inherited from the UA version and two additional Smooth and Limit buttons. Limit avoids clipping caused by level boosts of one of the two processed signal components. Smooth is more original: the processing has a smoother curve specially designed for distortion guitar.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Maybe you think that using a compressor, an expander and a noise gate properly could replace the Transient Designer and its software emulations. This is not entirely wrong but this would be very difficult to do and the resulting quality wouldn’t be always worth the time invested doing it, especially regarding the complexity of following the envelope of the input signal. The plug-ins, as well as the original hardware processor, require that you turn only two controls…

Both plug-in versions —UA’s original version approved by SPL and NI’s Transient master— do a good job at what they are supposed to. And both have their drawbacks: UA’s plug-in with extreme sustain settings on some stereo files, and NI’s plug-in because of this noise-gate effect that is sometimes too present.

Perhaps your choice will depend on whether you already own an UAD-2 (or 1)… Guitar Rig 5 Player and its free components are certainly a plus, even if sometimes it would be more convenient to use the plug-in without Guitar Rig, just by inserting the plug-in into a channel strip, for example (because Guitar Rig’s GUI takes a lot of place on the screen). However, we appreciate the consistency of NI’s Studio Effects series, and we look forward to try out the Solid Mix series inspired by a famous British brand.

Advantages:

  • Sound
  • Integration in a coherent environment
  • Rather subtle Smooth function
  • Integrated limiter
  • Reasonable price
  • Free Guitar Rig 5 Player

Drawbacks:

  • Pretty obvious “noise-gate effect”
  • Too subtle Smooth function?
  • Watch out for the damages the limiter can cause

To read the full detailed article see:  NI Transient Master Review

October 4, 2011

IK Multimedia T-RackS Black 76 & T-RackS White 2A and Native Instruments VC 76 & VC 2A Review

The (almost) simultaneous launch of the 1176 and LA2A software versions by IK Multimedia and Native Instruments is a good opportunity to make a quick comparison. Let’s go!

Some hardware products —instruments, signal and effect processors— have a kind of Holy Grail status. Among studio processors —and regardless of their denomination: limiting amplifiers, leveling amplifiers or just compressors— the Teletronix LA-2A and Urei/Universal Audio 1176 LN, as well as the legendary Fairchild 660 & 670, which are extremely rare to find (we saw a unit sold for $42,000 on ebay…), are highly regarded pieces of gear you’ll still find in big studios either as original or reissue versions. Many recording studios also use more or less faithful replicas of the originals designed by manufacturers ranging from Studio Electronics to Purple Action that (mostly) have a great sound quality. It’s simple: these legendary tools can be heard on almost every album ever produced since they were first introduced.

As expected, the software world also has its own interpretation of these legends. Since the early attempts by Bomb Factory to the latest products by IK Multimedia and Native Instruments in collaboration with Softube, and including the existing Universal Audio, URS and Waves products, the market is packed with software simulations.

We do not intend to review all software versions (they are too many) nor to compare them with vintage or modern hardware products. We just want to compare two manufacturers and use the same plugins for Universal Audio’s platform UAD-1/2 as a reference, without neglecting the performance of the original processors and some hardware replicas. Note that Native Instruments’ Vintage Compressors bundle also includes the famous dbx 160 compressor, which we won’t take into account for this review.

Introducing the Plug-ins

Test system

MacPro Xeon 3.2 GHz

OS 10.6.7

Logic 9.1.4

IK Multimedia T-RackS3 Black 76 and White 2A v.3.5.1

Native Instrument Vintage Compressors VC 76 and VC 2A

UAD-2 UAD 1176 LN and UAD LA-2A v.5.9.1

Native Instruments decided to collaborate with Softube, a manufacturer that has launched quite exceptional plugins — I can’t seem to get enough of — like the Acoustic Feedback and the Tubetech CL 1B. I haven’t had the opportunity to try out their reverbs and amp simulations yet, but other user’s feedback is very promising. So let’s start with the Urei 1176 LN and Teletronix LA-2A emulations (VC 76 & VC 2A) conceived for Guitar Rig 4, like the other Studio Effects of the manufacturer. The good news is that the Guitar Rig 4 player is free. The bad news is that you can’t use the plugins unless you have the manufacturer’s guitar multi-effect. Available for Mac (Intel only) and PC in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, the bundle —including the host (GR4 or GR4 Player) plus the plugins— supports AU, VST and RTAS formats and includes a standalone version. As always, activation is done via the Service Center.

As their name already implies, IK Multimedia’s T-RackS Black 76 and T-RackS White 2A were conceived to work within T-Racks 3, but also as individual 32-bit or 64-bit plugins to be used directly in any DAW that supports AU, VST or RTAS. As usual, to activate them you’ll have to use the Authorization Manager.

As for Universal Audio’s UAD 1176LN and UAD LA2A plugins, they are only available for the DSP cards developed by the manufacturer, from the UAD-1 to the UAD-2 Quad. Our card uses OS 5.9.1. The plugins are Mac and PC compatible, they support 32-bit and 64-bit operation (only the card drivers actually work in 64 bits, the plugins still operate at 32 bits and require a bridge), and work with AU, VST and RTAS.

Did you ask for the 1176…?

All software manufacturers took their inspiration from the LN version of the FET 1176 compressor. LN (for Low Noise) means that the product includes a modification made by Mr Plunkett, engineer at Urei, who wanted to reduce the noise. You can recognize it by the famous black front instead of the traditional burst aluminum front with blue stripes around the VU-meter. These versions, referred to as C, D and E, are the most venerated. From a technical and audio standpoint, FET compressors contributed the principle of adjustable ratio, as well as much shorter attack and release times compared to competitors using Vari-Mu or optical designs.

IK Multimedia designed its plugin based on an E model. Neither Native Instruments nor Softube give any information on this matter. However, Softube’s experience developing the FET Compressor was certainly an advantage for Native Instruments. UA doesn’t give any information about the model either. Anyway, all three have a very similar sound character, just like signal processors that use only analog components (don’t forget that every unit sounds slightly different than the other, even if it’s the exact same version).

As for the features, except for the major innovation in the form of a stereo version (we’re talking about the 1176, not the Urei 1178 stereo version), UA stays faithful to the original. Thus, you get all the original features users like so much for their ease of use: a pair of big controls for input and output adjustment, two smaller Attack and Release knobs, four Ratio buttons (4:1, 8:1, 12:1, and 20:1) including an All-Buttons mode, and four VU-meter buttons (Off, +4, +8, and GR). However, you don’t have the possibility to set the Attack control to Off, which would switch the compressor to ratio 1:1, meaning you could process the signal without compression in order to get only the device’s sound character. All three manufacturers reproduced the (confusing, at least in the beginning) operation of the controls: the fastest attack time is not hard left (1) but hard right (7). The same applies to the release. Attack times range from 20 to 800 microseconds (yes, micro!), while release times range from 50 to 1,100 milliseconds.

Native Instruments and IK Multimedia added some modifications. IK Multimedia added four snapshots, taken from T-RackS’s architecture, plus L/R and M/S buttons allowing the user to choose between one of the two operating modes (well done!). Three additional buttons (L, R and =, where L and R become M and S in M/S mode) allow the user to process the two channels of a signal separately or together. IK Multimedia’s version also displays the setting values, but they don’t quite match reality, at least for Attack and Release, which is a pity. What’s the use of adding values if they have no meaning… The All-Buttons mode is accessible via a dedicated knob. Ratio 1:1 is available clicking the Off button under the Attack control. You also have Bypass and Reset buttons.

In Native Instruments’ version, a Ratio slider replaces all four original buttons but offers all usual values (4:1 to 20:1 plus All-Buttons mode). The 1:1 ratio replaces the bypass button under the Attack control. The VU-meter management also changed: you can display the input level, output level and gain reduction. The plugin comes with a preset menu accessible via the advanced settings. The side-chain input (great for techno/electro fans) comes with a slider that allows the user to adjust the amount of direct signal so that parallel compression is possible by adjusting the output level (which has no effect on compression itself). Unlike Softube’s FET Compressor, note that you get no continuous Ratio setting.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

So, what should you choose, Native Instruments or IK Multimedia (UA doesn’t count because it was only used as a reference)? It’s a difficult question because both options provide advantages and good sound results. Will these plugins replace real 1176LN and LA-2A hardware processors? No. Does their performance match the original hardware versions? Yes, except for some applications (All-Button mode, transients management in given situations, settings and/or VU-meter calibration). Is it possible to do a good job with them? Yes. Software manufacturers benefit from the ever-increasing computer performance and offer more authentic emulations every time. Take for example the 24/7, which was considered a really good plugin when it was launched…

And these tools are affordable, which is not the case of the hardware gear they are based on. Each IK Multimedia module is sold for €89.99 and can be used in T-Racks. The Native Instruments bundle (including the three compressors) is sold for €199, while single plugins go for €99; and Guitar Rig Player 4, which is required for their use, is free. Moreover, both manufacturers offer fully-usable demo versions, which is an excellent way for you to expand on this comparison.

To read the full detailed article see: Vintage Compressors Review

July 8, 2011

Native Instruments Traktor Pro 2 Review

Filed under: DJ, Software — Tags: , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 10:11 am

Having reviewed the Traktor Kontrol S4 at the end of 2010, I got an email from Native Instruments in early April offering me a free upgrade for Traktor Pro 2. The differences between both S4 and PRO 2 versions are not so big as you’ll see in this review, however there is an important gap between the previous Traktor version and the upcoming Traktor 2.

Installation

Native Instruments Traktor Pro 2

Like every Native Instruments software, you’ll have to authorize the product via the service center: a small interface that allows you to enter your activation key, follow the recommended updates and download the documentation and drivers relative to your NI products. You will have no problems during the installation. I have three Traktor versions installed in my computer to compare them for the review: Traktor PRO 1.2.7, Traktor PRO S4 1.0.1 and the brand new Traktor PRO 2.

 

The first thing I did was check if my Numark Omni Control worked properly using the Setup Wizard in Traktor 2. As expected, the controller as well as its internal sound card were recognized and all controls worked properly. As a reminder, you’ll find all supported controllershere.  In fact, you’ll notice that among all 42 control surface listed in Traktor, only two of them are not officially supported by Traktor 2: Allen & Heath XONE 3D and VESTAX VCM 100. I don’t have any of these controllers, so I couldn’t do a test, but my guess is that they do work…

The Traktor Range

A quick overview of the Traktor 2 range (see all features here).

Traktor DUO: the version just below Traktor PRO with only two decks, two FX processors, six effects, no loop recorder…

Traktor PRO: this version has four decks, four FX processors, 30 effects. It lacks nothing except for a timecode control for vinyls.

Traktor SCRATCH (either in DUO or PRO version): adds two major features, timecode control for vinyls and a native audio interface (Audio 6 with DUO and Audio 10 with PRO).

Tracktor LE: Traktor’s light version. You get no loop recorder and no sample decks, and you get only three effects. This version is only available bundled with other products. Here is a list of all products that include Traktor LE.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Expectations for Traktor 2 were high, but this is no revolution. The main improvements in this new version are the samplers and the loop recorder. These features alone are worth the upgrade price. All new effects sound excellent, even if they won’t change the world. The waveform display looks very nice but is certainly not essential for most of us. However, Traktor is still very effective if you want to get perfect mixes. Furthermore, everyone will appreciate its reliability and stability. Nevertheless, Native Instruments could have been a bit more ambitious, for example in developing more sophisticated crossfaders like some competitors have (e.g. Avid’s Torq 2.0).

Advantages:

  • Samplers and loop recorder
  • New waveform display
  • Some additional effects
  • Still very reliable
  • Upgrade price

Drawbacks:

  • No sophisticated crossfader

To read the full detailed article see:  Native Instruments Traktor Pro 2 Review

May 5, 2010

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol X1 Review

Native Instruments has been announcing the launch of Traktor Kontrol X1 for several months now and it was even possible to pre-order it on the NI website, if you wanted to be one of the lucky first owners. Was the waiting worth it? Does the Kontrol X1 fulfill our expectations? We’ll see… but let’s unpack it first!

Unpacking

Traktor Kontrol X1The packaging is good quality and all parts are well protected. The box contains a USB cable, a 37-page “Getting Started” document in English, German, French, Spanish, and Chinese, an installation CD including Traktor LE, the drivers, the full user’s manual as well as alternate mappings for the different Traktor versions (Duo, Pro, Scratch, etc.), and the Traktor X1 unit with an overlay to rename the buttons manually if needed. On the CD, you’ll also find the Kore 2 Player software (available for free on Native Instruments’ website) as well as the Controller Editor software that allows you to customize the assignment of each button for MIDI applications.

Traktor LE v1.2.4 was already installed on my computer (the X1 driver is already included in the software ever since version 1.2.3 came out), so I just needed to connect the Kontrol X1 and it was immediately recognized without the need for any further installation (however do notice that if you have an old computer you will not be able to use the controller given that it requires a USB 2.0 port!). The Kontrol X1 is USB powered so you only need to do that one connection! I had already experienced problems with other hardware controllers for Traktor, but this one is really plug ‘n’ play. It’s a joy not to have to spend hours before the controls light up.

How Does it Look?

Traktor Kontrol X1When you switch it on it looks like Knight Rider’s KITT… The dark design is sober but well-achieved, all buttons and knobs feel sturdy, pleasant and they seem to be good quality. The Kontrol X1’s layout is symmetrical and almost all controls are mirrored so that you can control both decks (A and B) independently. The only buttons that aren’t doubled on the X1 are Shift and Hotcue.

The unit is light (1.5 lb.) and slim (4.7″x2″x11.6″). If you play live with a full DJ set, you’ll have to buy the optional Kontrol X1 Bag so you can raise the Kontrol X1 to the same height as a mixer or turntable. The Kontrol X1 includes four anti-slip pads.

All buttons have two different backlit levels: dimmed when inactive and bright when active. This feature is very convenient to find a specific function in dark environments. Both brightness intensities can be adjusted in Traktor. The knobs are not backlit but you can find them pretty easily thanks to the buttons around them.

Each button has different colors to distinguish the different functions:

  • Effects = orange
  • Browsing and loading = orange (it would have been nicer if it was a different color)
  • Loops = blue
  • Transport = blue (a different color would have been nice)
  • MIDI = green
  • Shift and Hotcue = white

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

The Traktor Kontrol X1 is a well-manufactured and excellent-quality product that seduced us. It is extremely easy to install: real plug ‘n’ play. The backlit buttons look great and are very practical in dark environments. So, yes, the Kontrol X1 looks really hot! But it is almost impossible to use it as a mixer with a notebook, which is a pity because it would be a real plus for this slim and light controller which fits my carrying bag perfectly along with my notebook. It only lacks two controls for Native Instruments to be able to target DJs using compact systems.

Advantages:

  • Plug ‘n’ play
  • USB powered
  • Great design and finish
  • Lightweight and compact without compromising operation
  • “On” button in the filter section

Drawbacks:

  • No track volume control! Requires an additional mixer!
  • Price ($199)
  • Additional products required to make full use of the Kontrol X1: Traktor Pro ($199) and Kontrol X1 Bag
  • Unfortunate names on some buttons with Traktor LE

To read the full detailed article please see:      Traktor Kontrol X1 Review

February 24, 2010

Guitar Rig 4 Bends Over Backwards 4 U

Native Instruments’ virtual guitar and bass amp comes back for the fourth time with more amp simulations and effects than ever before and a very promising control room section… New functions in an overview.

The first Guitar Rig was introduced five years ago and immediately became famous among virtual amps thanks to its intuitive interface and its numerous, high-quality simulations. Each new version brought software improvements with it, including new functions and simulations, as well as hardware developments incorporating footboards and audio interfaces conceived for guitar players. So what’s new in this fourth generation?

Well Thought-Out User Interface

Guitar Rig 4 ProFrom the very first version, Guitar Rig distinguished itself from the rest by its nice and intuitive user interface – which isn’t something you can say about other Native Instruments products. A very good point considering the number of functions it offers. The interface is divided into two areas: on the left, the browser allows you to load presets or to visit the virtual store, which offers a comprehensive list of add-ons – from amps to effects, tools and MDF (modifiers). You can actually create your own rig very easily by simply dragging the components from left to right. You can then modify the order of the modules in a few clicks. This is nothing new, but why fix anything if it ain’t broke?

The presets and the search engine are what’s new: Guitar Rig 4 Pro comes with over 250 presets, each of them including several tags like in Kontakt 4. This gives you the possibility to browse according to the guitar amp (for example, to find all presets based on the AC Box amp) or according to the music style (classic rock, metal, pop, blues, funk and soul, country, jazz, alternative rock, and rock ‘n’ surf). You can also browse presets according to songs with evocative names like “Kurt in Bloom”, “Pete won’t explain” or “Prince in the Rain”. Finally, you can also search presets according to effect types: Special FX, animated, colored, distorted, drums, or reverbs and delays. Some of the effects are conceived for drums or keyboards, making Guitar Rig 4 interesting not only for guitar players.

Each preset has several tags, up to five stars and personal notes, so that you can find the preset you are looking for with the search engine; and you can create your own tags to classify them. For people who use Guitar Rig live, it is now possible to create set lists based on your own presets. Nice!

The icing on the cake is that you can find user presets at Native Instruments’ website. The quality is questionable, but you’ll certainly find useful sounds.

Now, let’s take a look at the new amp models…

Conclusion

At first sight, Guitar Rig 4 Pro seems to offer very few new features, but that’s only on the outside… The Control Room module and the new speaker and mic simulations definitely improve the overall sound, expand the possibilities and justify the price of the update. The new amps complement the already comprehensive amp library and the new effects make up for the austerity of the previous effects library. The full version of Guitar Rig 4 Pro sells for $199 which isn’t much for a very comprehensive and great-sounding software. Native Instruments has been washing away the imperfections of its guitar amp simulator to make it a top product in its segment.

Advantages:

  • Control Room module
  • Sound quality of the new speaker simulations
  • Three new amp models
  • Two new delays and two new reverbs
  • Master FX section
  • True stereo mode
  • 250 high-quality presets
  • Well thought-out user interface

Drawbacks:

  • All three new amps are Marshall amps
  • Higher CPU consumption
  • Mic position can’t be changed in the Control Room module
  • We are still waiting for version 4.0.8…

To read the full detailed review see: Guitar Rig 4

February 9, 2009

NAMM 2009: Video Demo Native Instruments Audio 4 DJ

Filed under: DJ, namm 2009 — Tags: , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 8:40 am

Short presentation of the tiny Audio 4 DJ audio interface for DJ from Native instruments, by Mohamed Espinosa.

To watch all NAMM 2009 video demos visit us on Audiofanzine NAMM 2009.

January 21, 2009

NAMM 2009: Video Demo Native Instruments Maschine

Exclusive presentation of the new Native Instruments Maschine groove production interface and software.

To watch all NAMM 2009 video demos visit us on Audiofanzine NAMM 2009.

Blog at WordPress.com.