You must be doing something right when you get overrun by customers!

Aah!  The holiday seasons are looming on the horizon..  And although the whole atmosphere may seem a bit grim and gloomy (lets face it; its not much fun to go to work while its still dark, only to come home again when the sun already set) there is fortunately also a positive side to it all.. The annual sales!

For those of you lucky enough to get several days off during the holiday season its the perfect time to focus your attention on all those nice things you were planning to do but never could find the time for. Like looking into your synth gear some more; spend hours experimenting on features you never really got into because you never had the time.

Peace and quiet in Synthland, or is it?

All peace and quiet ?  Un (?) fortunately not

December also marks the beginning of the annual synth sales. Many companies will try to pick up the “holiday spirit” by introducing some very nice discounts to their soft- and hardware products. Its how I got started with Live myself last year (now; granted, that was also influenced by their 10 year anniversary). But still; Ableton too is at it again with their Winter discount !  If you’re interested in Live or looking into expanding Live now might be a good time to consider; discounts up to 25% of the regular price on upgrades, full products and even Max for Live itself.

Speaking of Max for Live…  Cycling ’74 also aren’t sitting this one out; with the latest release of Max 5.1.6 they introduced ‘Vizzie’. A toolkit which makes it easier to create new patches build around Jitter. So to boost this new development a bit Cycling ’74 is now taking $100 off from every purchase or upgrade to a full Max/MSP/Jitter version.  Look here for more info on “Jitter mania season”

But the company which is really taking things to deep dark depths has got to be Native Instruments

Start a sale, level your website!

For those of you unfamiliar with Native Instruments (‘N.I.’) first a small and quick recap..  N.I. is the company which is best known for their Komplete series. Its a software bundle which consists of a large variety of soft synths, samplers, drum machines and lots and lots and lots of audio data (samples). To give you a good impression: the latest Komplete 7 ships with 90GB worth of samples. And it ships with many pieces of software too; a sampler: ‘Kontakt’, sound modules with ‘Kore’, a modular building environment as ‘Reaktor’, and so on.  And let there be no mistake about it: the quality of the software has always been outstanding.

SO…  When N.I. suddenly starts advertising that they take 50% of the price of several of their bundles (Komplete), instruments (Absynth, FM8, Kontakt, Kore, etc.) and effects (Deep freq, Rammfire, the Finger, the Mouth, etc.) then this is the kind of thing you can expect to happen:

NI's crashed website as seen in FireFox.

And no, this is not some kind of lame rant to show how “bad” N.I. is, this is merely showing you the impact which a sale like this can have. Fortunately for me I managed to grab my goodies long before I wasn’t allowed to access the site anymore (Internet Explorer 8 works just fine, as well as a Linux browser (Konqueror) which claims to be Explorer 6). Firefox 3 on the other hand…At the time of writing there is one day left; so should you ever had any interest in some of the N.I software (or hardware) products then now would be a good time to check if your wallet will allow it.

Giving in to Komplete…

No, I’m not going to grab the entire Komplete series. First of all its still kinda expensive for me (esp. when looking back at what I’ve invested in my hobby so far) but most of all it would be overkill for my environment. I don’t need 90GB worth of samples, I wouldn’t even know where to put them. And there are other considerations; whereas Reaktor absolutely has a good sound to it I’m simply more of a Max kind of guy. I like playing sampled instruments with Kore, but at the core I’m a Sampler guy..

Still, having said all that, I have finally given in and added the freely available Komplete 7 players to my gear. The why is simple; deja vu. Before I had fully adopted to Reason 4 I think I had it installed and removed and installed again at least a dozen times already. And these players were no different in the past few months, so well; “If you can’t beat ‘m…“.

The sound and its diversity is simply awesome. While the interface may take some time to get used to you’ll soon realize that this software isn’t “just” your regular good looking software synth…

No bad mouthing here, just an example: Start Reason, setup you midi keyboard, have some fun. Now start your main DAW (in my case Ableton Live) and then fire up Reason in a rewire session. Surprise, surprise: you’ll get an error that it cannot access certain midi hardware (this is on Windows btw).

Now do the same with the Reaktor player..  First start it stand alone; setup your midi keyboard and generate some sounds. NOW fire up your DAW, pull in Reaktor as a VST and notice; no errors…

“Cheap shot” I hear some people think; what kind of nitwit am I to compare VST’s to stand alone’s ?

No problem: go right ahead and remove the VST and fire up the stand alone instead.  Do you see any errors? I sure don’t!

Komplete 7 elements

As could be expected Native Instruments presents several versions for their software. What could come as a surprise though is that for approx. E99,- you can already experience a good dose of the stuff which Komplete has to offer; by simply picking up on their ‘Elements’ version.

You cannot compare this with Ableton Live in any way, but a rough ‘translation’ would be Live 8. Whereas ‘Komplete’ is the full deal this one gives you a lot of presets and options to tweak those presets.

Just like Live 8 gives you lots of presets in instrument racks, yet not the instruments which make the sounds. Although to my knowledge you’re also limited to the presets in the instrument and effect racks only as well. It is pretty good, but still somewhat limited.

But it is intriguing indeed if you consider that this stuff goes for the exact same price as Live Intro (talking regular prices by the way)…  Is Live Intro a download, this one ships on a CD with no extra charge!

Again; this is not a comparison because you simply cannot really compare these two like this. I’m merely trying to sketch a rough scenario to try and give you an idea as to what you’re dealing with here…  For example: pick up Live Intro as a sequencer and the Komplete elements for your sound material and you’re already well on your way on picking up the tools which can help you create some massive musical tracks. Sure, Live Intro may come w
ith some limitations on tracks, scenes and devices, but it would still allow you to make some heavy stuff indeed!

And my goodies?

Screenshot of the Absynth 5 package.Since the Elements version has no discount you got to try and profit somehow

I’m very fond of “specific” synths; its the reason why I consider Operator, Thor and Malstrom to be my absolute favorites.

Yet having experienced what N.I.’s stuff can do I eventually decided that Absynth 5 would be a very good addition to my current synth collection.

Being both a synth instrument as well as an effect plugin this is special!

You can take this basically anywhere you want, which was my main reason to pick it up. It basically combines many traits in the field: subtractive synthesis (obviously), FM synthesis, wave-table synthesis and granular sampling and regular sampling (‘morphing’).

All in all not your common “average” synth I’d say!

And there you have it..  I guess this post is somewhat of an introduction to the Native Instrument products; you can expect those to appear on anytime soon now.

And in case all you can think of after reading this post is “discount, discount, discounts!”  (assuming you actually made it this far) then I’d like to point your attention to Synthtopia’s excellent Holiday music gear deals article. There is more than discounts on Live & Max alone, but since those are my favorites that’s all you got in this blog   See Synthtopia for the rest.

Coming up next…  There is still a lot on my todo (like the Yamaha C24 Pocketrak review) but this week I’m going to try and give some tips and tricks which may help you to get the most out of matching up your current gear with any (possible) future expansion(s) you may have set your eyes on.

I’ll be trying to address the obvious issue: are you really expanding or simply grossing in ?

That’s for the next week, have a good weekend for now!



  1. COOL!

    THX for the tips here bro, I didn’t even know about this sale. Just in time too, gonna see if I can access the website.


  2. Wot! Did ur keyboard work in both reaktor so and live at the same time?

    no errors means it did yes?

  3. Well, because I had Reaktor loaded as a vst plugin I could indeed use my keyboard to control it.  But that’s because Live basically supports all that and controls whatever Reaktor needs to do.

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