Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 by ebison
I avoided the Kontrol line because I thought the rainbow lights were a distracting, silly gimmick. I was wrong. The KK 88 has quickly it has become a useful part of my production setup. It is a welcome improvement to my workflow for many reasons, including the following:
- Build quality is solid.
- Keybed / action is acceptable for my purposes. For more and I go for a real instrument.
- It is helping me draw more use / value out of Komplete.
- The lights are helpful when managing complex key switches and next gen NI sample instruments.
- The interaction between the hardware and software feels very musical, and the Komplete content is well mapped.
- Compelling features in standalone midi mode.
- Integrates well with tablet / laptop related workflows.
Specific Use case Examples:
Unlocking New Potential:
I have always been impressed by Monark and reached for it when I don't have time to track with an anlog hardware synth. Usually I quickly dial in a sound on screen and leave it. KK 88 has made Monark feel like a real instrument, giving new possibility to something I thought I knew.
Workflow / Tweaking:
The hardware interface parameters are very quick to navigate. I am finding myself tweaking parameters that I typically wouldn't bother with. This makes for a richer experience and final result.
A little Extra Space:
The keyboard has some nice flat surfaces that are ideal for synth modules, controllers, peripherals etc. Mine currently has the Waldorf Pulse 2 and the Steinberg CC121 sitting on it.
- My concern is that NI will abandon this hardware + concept in the future like they did with Kore. However, I was never sold on Kore, and in a way this feels like a much more successful implementation of similar ideas with a more cohesive, compelling group of use cases.
- The key guide lights can be a little bright, but they can be easily turned off.
- There is no option for a built in music stand.
This isn't a cheap product. It feels expensive and is expensive. As somebody who makes music every day it pays to work with a musical, expressive device that I enjoy. It feels like a better deal when considered in the context of many years working with Komplete.
Personally I have little use for some of the pitch guide devices that are there to help non pianists navigate the keyboard. Only allowing specific scales, automatic chord progressions and such. Those features are optional and might even be extremely useful.
My long term plan has been to maintain Komplete for in the box work and collect hardware synths to supplement. Since I'm already committed to Komplete, the KK88 really pulls its own weight.
If you are a komplete user who might not be drawing the maximum possible functionality from your expensive AF NI content, this keyboard could be your ticket.