Komplete Ultimate (or equivalent) owners experiences with workstations ...

Want to talk about music hardware or software that doesn't include Reason?
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Post 06 Oct 2021

So I've got Komplete Ultimate (with Maschine) and was looking to get an s61 mk2. I can get it for about £500 barely used ...

... but I'm also seeing things like moxf6 and fa-06 for the same price and modx for £150-250 more.

Anyone got experiences to share as I'm expecting a fair amount of redundancy in terms of quality but a hell of a lot of convenience when it comes to things like loading times and stuff ?

Maybe it's worth getting both or saving up for a larger workstation. I'm really just thinking of the convenience factor here as you can get much more in software (and it's not to replace the software either).

But given I've already got Maschine for the hardware style browsing, workflow and controls, I think my primary motivation for considering the workstations is just that for the same price I'm willing to spend on a controller, I could instead get a complete workstation solution to use with the software or standalone when just jamming.



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Post 19 Oct 2021

Thought I'd share my findings.
  1. Is S61 redundant if you have Maschine?
  2. What are the pros and cons of a keyboard workstation compared to Komplete (and optionally Ultimate) and an S series controller?
    1. And how do workstation sounds compare to Komplete anyway?
  3. S61 vs S88
1. Is S61 mk2 redundant if I have Maschine mk3? (emphasis mine):
tl;dr - the light guide still adds tremendous value, and you may find having the keyboard can help with the workflow as it allows you to control what need to from the keyboard without having to awkwardly stretch to access the Maschine.

The mk2 S-series and mk3 Maschine controllers added two colour LCD screens. They make the device a great deal more usable without as much interaction with a PC.

But if you have the Maschine, the only major feature an S-series keyboard can add is the light guide that can identify different zones in Kontakt patches (and may be integrated with other NI products).

However, I thought it was worth including this comment from the NI forums.

b-righteous (NI forums) wrote: As already stated, the main feature that it adds is the lightguide. It also adds a way to automate parameters directly into Maschine from a keyboard using autowrite complete with the touch autowrite feature.

Probably the most important advantage is just from the perspective of using a keyboard in general with Maschine. Your keyboard controller is a separate piece of equipment that you have to spin around away from your Studio hardware to play. While you are at the keyboard you are away from some basic functions that make you have reach back to the Studio to operate. The KK do away with that to some extent by allowing you to stay focused on your Keyboard while you play. You have access to Maschine's transports so you can drop into record without reaching back and loosing your idea. If you want to tweak a parameter it is right there in front of you with labels instead of relying on generic midi maps or again reaching back to the other unit. The focused sound in Maschine stays synced with the keyboard with the parameters and you can navigate to different sounds or groups from the KK.

The browser is inferior to the Studio but if you have the Studio off to the side on a stand, the on screen browser can be helpful if the keyboard is right in front of your monitor. What you can do is leave the browser closed in the software for more screen realestate and use the Studio to browse mainly. When you are at the keys you get a large popup screen to browse with while you are there.

All the KK features are redundant aside from the lightguide. However, from a workflow perspective it does add some value by allowing you to access some things from the keyboard that you would normally have to reach back to the [Maschine] for. It's up to you if this aspect is worth the extra $ but that is the main reason to get it aside from the nice keybed.
2. What are the pros and cons of a keyboard workstation compared to Komplete (and optionally Ultimate) and an S series controller?
tl;dr - Apart from the additional controls (which I could easily make up for with a MIDI controller) I'm not seeing enough value in a workstation.

The three main players in this game are:
  1. Korg Kronos (or the budget range Nautilus)
    1. I've found it underwhelming tbh. Its sounds are much more expressive than the Triton and it does have great quality sounds with a lot of variation at different velocities. But there's no complex scripting like you'd find in a Kontakt or MODX acoustic instrument.
    2. The synth sounds are solid. The rhythm and arpeggiator tech is great for real-time playing and exploration.
  2. Yamaha Montage (or the budget range MODX)
    1. Insane amount of controls, macro controls through their knobs, and their big-knob that offers you a single dial to adjust the a patch.
    2. Acoustic sounds are more in line with what you'd find in a Kontakt library, but they're quite as advanced.
    3. Also features some impressive tech to seamlessly switch between patches without the previous sound suddenly cutting out (it just fades in the new one).
    4. Its synth capabilities are phenomenal.
  3. Roland Fantom (or the budget range FA-08)
    1. Another hard hitter with up to date acoustic instruments and a massive library of sounds.
    2. Gives you access to Zen core, which means you can use all the classic synths and samplers from Roland, plus gain access to their weekly Zenology patches.
After trying them out, I'd have to say the biggest benefits for me are:
  1. Near instant patch loading.
  2. Rich range of controls.
  3. Works standalone
  4. Synths and effects won't be fighting for your PC's CPU cycles (but don't forget it is its own computer and has CPU limits too).
Apart from the controls and workflow (touchscreen with much more buttons, knobs, faders and switches), I'm seeing very little value in getting a workstation synth right now.

3. S61 vs S88

The S61 has a Fatar key bed while the S88 has a hammer action key bed and is much heavier. The S88 was appealing to me because, until November 2019, I'd been using M-Audio's semi-weighted 88-key MIDI controller, and it's nice to be able to access key-switching without losing a huge portion of your keyboard. At the same time, you could get a smaller keyboard for this, which you might find even more convenient as it might allow you playing positions you just cannot get from a single key bed.

My conclusion
I'll go for the S61 for now and consider the S88 some other time. A workstation keyboard could still come in handy for exploring, having an alternative means of thrashing out ideas, and carrying out to gigs.

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Post 19 Oct 2021

avasopht wrote:
19 Oct 2021
Thought I'd share my findings.
Missed the original post, but I agree for the most part with your findings. I have a MODX and honestly I'm not heavily inspired to use it in production. There's some great sounds on it and it's fairly powerful in sound design but I feel that I have a better version of everything it does on my computer. I've included it in my setup anyway recently so I may experiment with a patch or 2 eventually. For sure though is it's my go to for gigging now. I got tired of using a laptop for gigs. I find it very inconvenient despite being more powerful. It's actually why I bought the MODX in the first place. being able to just plug a keyboard in and it be ready for the show is sorely underrated.

As a choice between the two however, for just pure sounds and sample quality, Komplete is an easy win over any hardware workstation.

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