Save 50% on XXL Audio’s Hip Hop Bundle: 4 packs for £19.95 GBP

Prime Loops XXL Hip Hop Bundle

Prime Loops has launched a sale on the XXL Hip Hop Bundle, a collection of 4 Hip Hop sample packs by XXL Audio. Prime Loops Exclusive: 1.4GB selection of best-selling Hip-Hop samples & Maschine kits from XXL Audio. All bundled up at a 50% discount! The bundle includes: Refined Hip Hop: 5 laid-back Hip Hop […]

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NI now has killer, budget audio interfaces and compact keys

The answer to questions like “I just need a simple audio interface,” and “I want a compact keyboard that doesn’t suck,” and “oh, yeah, wait, does this connect to my Eurorack?” along with “did I mention I’ve got almost no money?” – just got some new answers.

Native Instruments launched the new audio interfaces and the latest addition to their keyboard line as part of some grand, abstract PR idea called “for the music in you,” and said a bunch of things about starting points and ecosystems.

To cut to the chase – these are inexpensive, very mobile devices with a ton of bundled software extras that make sense for anyone on a budget, beginner or otherwise. And whereas most inexpensive stuff looks really cheap, they look pretty nice. (That holds up in person – I got a hands-on in Berlin just before NAMM.)

KOMPLETE AUDIO 1, AUDIO 2

There are two audio interfaces – KOMPLETE AUDIO 1 and KOMPLETE AUDIO 2. These take one of the best features of NI’s past audio interfaces – they put a big volume knob right on top so you can quickly adjust your level, and they’ve got meters so you can see what that level is. But crucially, they promise better audio quality.

There are two models here, but let me break it down for you: you don’t want the AUDIO 1, you want the AUDIO 2. Why?

The AUDIO 1 was clearly made with the idea that singers just want one mic input (so there’s only a single XLR in), and for some reason also with RCA jacks on the back (because consumers, I suppose).

But if you spend just a little more on the AUDIO 2, you get a lot more usefulness.

First, two inputs – both XLR/jack combo, for mics and instruments, with mic preamps and phantom power so you can use any microphone. My guess is at some point everyone wants to record two inputs rather than one. (Think line inputs, stereo instruments, a mic and an instrument… you get the point.)

And you get jack outputs instead of RCA.

And while this won’t matter to everyone, the AUDIO 2 I’m told also has DC coupling, so you can use your computer and your Eurorack or other modular gear. That means you can pull off tricks like combining modular software and hardware, with tools like Ableton Live, Softube Modular, VCV Rack, Bitwig Studio, and oh yeah, Reaktor.

So, quietly, NI just created the most affordable way of connecting a computer and a modular.

If you are a beginner, you get a bunch of software to play around with. Ableton Live 10 Lite is actually a reasonable version of Live to try – only 8 tracks, but all of the core functionality of the software and many instruments and effects. There’s also MASCHINE Essentials, MONARK, REPLIKA, PHASIS, SOLID BUS COMP, and KOMPLETE START, which represents plenty of music making time.

The price is really the big point: US$109 / 99 EUR and $139 / 129 EUR. Coming in March.

https://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/komplete/audio-interfaces/komplete-audio-1-audio-2/

A micro keyboard

If you want some sort of mobile input, there are now some wild multi-touch expressive controllers out there, like ROLI’s Seaboard Block and the Sensel Morph.

But what if you don’t want some new-fangled touch insanity? What if you just want a piano keyboard?

And you want it to be inexpensive, and fit in a backpack so you can take it with you or fit it on cramped desks?

Good news: you’ve got loads of options.

Bad news: they’re all kind of horrible. They’re ugly, and they feel cheap. And they have extras you may not need (like drum pads, mapped to the same channel as the keyboard, begging the question why you wouldn’t just play the keys).

So I welcome the introduction of Native Instruments’ KOMPLETE KONTROL M32. This is one that I figured I needed myself the moment I saw it. (Normally, my reaction on keyboard product launches is more on the lines of – “God, please don’t make me write about another generic keyboard controller.”)

The feel is solid – a bit like some of the mini-key keyboards from Roland/Edirol a few years back. They don’t have the travel of full-sized keys, allowing this low profile, but seemed reasonably velocity sensitive.

Plus there are transport buttons and encoders, and two very usable touch strips. In software like Ableton Live and Apple Logic, these map to the usual transport features, and the encoders are assignable. In Native Instruments’ software, of course, you get the usual deep integration with parameters, browsing, and production.

The M32 will be a particularly strong companion to Maschine on the go, finally with a small footprint – something simply not possible with a 4×4 pad layout, much as I love it.

Speaking of Maschine – this is the full Maschine software. There’s a smaller sound bank, but even that is still 1.5GB. So when they say “Maschine Essentials,” they’re practically giving Maschine away. The other extras I mentioned above are slick, too – Reaktor Prism alone you could lose weeks or months in. Monark is a gorgeous Minimoog emulation with realistic filters and some sound design twists not on the original.

And it’s just US$129 (119 EUR). So it looks twice as expensive, but is actually cheaper than a lot of other options out there.

NI are trying to tell a lot of stories at once – something about Sounds.com, something about DJs, something about producers… and they’re following us all over social media and Google with constant ads.

But here’s the bottom line: this is only compact keyboard at any price that feels good or looks good, it’s still only just over a hundred bucks, and the “beginners” bundle is likely to please advanced users for months.

Coming in March.

https://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/komplete/keyboards/komplete-kontrol-m32/

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Save 40% on Producertech’s Maschine courses this week only!

Producertech Maschine Sale

Producertech has launched a Maschine Week Sale, offering a 40% discount on 15 tutorial courses on the Maschine product family by Native Instruments. Master your Maschine production and workflow with Producertech’s vast selection of online courses ready to be streamed within your Plugin Boutique user account. The following titles are included in the sale: Chill […]

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NI intros Komplete Audio interfaces, 32-key portable keyboard, Traktor DJ 2 & more

New NI hardware 2019

Following its biggest ever release in September 2018, Native Instruments has announced four new easy-to-use, affordable, and powerful products. Included are two new Komplete audio interfaces, the most portable Komplete Kontrol keyboard to date, a new free tier of the Komplete production suite, and a new generation of the Traktor DJ app. These new products […]

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Native Instruments offers blissed-out, downtempo beats with Opaline Drift

Native Instruments Opaline Drift

Native Instruments has announced the release of its latest Expansion series pack in collaboration with ModeAudio. Opaline Drift features a collection of blissed-out, downtempo beats that draws on downtempo indie-electronica and beyond. OPALINE DRIFT echoes the blissful reverie of indie-electronica, shoegaze, and contemporary electronic styles. With shimmering guitars, wistful synths, and warmly-textured drums, OPALINE DRIFT […]

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The Loop Loft launches Charles Ruggiero Jazz Drums Volume 1

The Loop Loft Charles Ruggiero Jazz Drums Vol 1

The Loop Loft has announced a new collection of “real” Jazz drums that swing with Charles Ruggiero Jazz Drums Volume 1, a sample pack featuring 7 complete drum sessions. Legitimate jazz drums are notoriously the most difficult type of percussion to get “right” in modern production. With a wide range of dynamics, syncopated comping between […]

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5Pin Media MIDI Focus: Tech House Beats sample pack by Dan Larsson

5Pin Media MIDI Focus Tech House Beats

5Pin Media’s latest MIDI Focus series pack Tech House Beats comes with a new collection of Tech kits by Renown beatsmith Dan Larsson. Tech House Beats features 15 custom kits skillfully honed from 240 one-shot samples and 60 MIDI Grooves – perfect for customising, playing at the bpm of your choice, breaking down or using […]

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Native Instruments’ Aquarius Earth captures the sound of late-90s soul

NI Aquarius Earth

Native Instruments releases Aquarius Earth, a new Expansions series pack that captures the sound of the late-90s soul movement. The pack includes 57 Battery kits and 50 Maschine kits featuring live bass, synth, and drum samples, captured using classic outboard gear, with modern production polish. Aquarius Earth captures the sound of the late ‘90s and […]

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Native Instruments offers TRK-01 PLAY free kick & bass plugins, $25 e-voucher & Holiday Giveaway launched

NI TRAK PLAY free

Native Instruments has some new offers for the Holiday Season. First of all you can download the free TRK-01 PLAY, a bundle of two kick and bass instrument plugins that use engines from the innovative TRK-01 bass synth. TRK-01 KICK is a blendable dual-layer kick drum engine, with synth-based and sampled kicks, plus multiple modulation […]

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Native Instruments releases District Xeo Expansion Pack by IRRUPT

NI District XEO Expansion

Native Instruments has launched its latest Expansion Disctrict Xeo, a futuristic dystopian electro collection of sounds by the Berlin-based sound design and production studio IRRUPT. Traffic weaves from above. Skyscrapers clad with neon-lit signs fill the horizon. The music emerging from the city is cold and robotic, yet emotive – reflecting its futuristic urban gloom. […]

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