Is Komplete Kontrol the only way to get the full experience in the S88 MK2?

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ProfessorChaos
ProfessorChaos Member Posts: 140 Advisor

I just got this keyboard, and generally I really like it, but it seems that to get the full experience on the two screens, and all the knobs mapped, you need Komplete Kontrol, because even launching Kontakt 7 you don't really get any of that, it just works as a plain MIDI keyboard.

Did I miss something? I mean, it seems weird to me that if you load Kontakt 7 by itself it doesn't give you the enhanced experience, but if you load a Kontakt 7 instrument inside Komplete Kontrol, it does. I mean, when you load any Kontakt instrument, it loads Kontakt as well, which you can see if you go into the edit mode:

So how come the same instrument gets the enhanced experience if ran under KK and not under K7? Maybe I missed a setting somewhere?

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  • JesterMgee
    JesterMgee Member Posts: 2,741 Expert
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    Because KK has all the "smarts" to take what is in a VST plugin and map it out onto the keyboard

    Kontakt is a large and complex plugin with a load of parameters, which need to be first mapped, then labelled clearly for the KK screens then set to the desired positions for the page they should display on. That is all done in NKS files which are used by KK to then setup the instrument. So basically, KK is the integration layer between a VST plugin and your hardware, be it Kontakt or any other NKS instrument.

  • ProfessorChaos
    ProfessorChaos Member Posts: 140 Advisor
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    I was afraid you were going to say that, because Komplete Kontrol sucks so much on so many levels. Tiny blurry font as is the case with pretty much everything Native Instruments, a sadly hilarious filter system for presets that shows 3.5 presets at a time and doesn't let you enlarge the window, unless you load a plugin that has a large GUI.

    But even then, that system is absurd because you can't get anything from filtering presets from every instrument that you have, so that may be thousands of presets with nothing but the name to identify them.

    The only way to use it is to click on "All Instruments" at the top and then start scrolling the tiny thumbnails, many of which are a lame icon of an electrical plug.

    At least in Kontakt 7 you have either a new GUI that has small but readable text, larger thumbnails and can be enlarged to take up more screen space so you can scroll through all your instruments very easily.

    And even the old Kontakt GUI with the instruments on the left with the long horizontal thumbnails is way better than abomination of a GUI they came up with in Komplete Kontrol.

    It's amazing to me how a company that produced so many great instruments of every type, and has an engine that is being used by them as well as lots of third party companies can create a GUI so bad, when it takes so little to make it better. No programming language will force you to lock the window dimensions, or to have those tiny thumbnails.

    It's even more absurd that they have this amazing keyboard, the S88 MK2, which has great keys, lights and all this great stuff to help you create music, and it's with tax close to $1,300, and they tell you, well, you gotta use this piece of ****** program to take advantage of it. Why?

    And seriously, I can't believe that everybody in Germany is still on 1080p monitors that make their interfaces tolerable. I've been working a lot with NI instruments for the past week or so since I bought Komplete 14 CE, and it's been headache after headache. Not metaphorically, but literally, the NI GUIs strain my eyes so much that I get headaches, even using a 32" Samsung monitor that is not the cheapest.

    BTW, I was joking about Germans still being on 1080p monitors, it's an advanced country, so I seriously doubt that's the case. So why can't NI put someone to work a bit at a time, to modernize their GUI?

  • Kubrak
    Kubrak Member Posts: 2,858 Expert
    edited February 2023
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    There should not be plug thumbnails.... Something during instalation went wrong. You may fix it somehow without reinstalling everything. There is description how to in NI Knowledge Base.

    https://support.native-instruments.com/hc/en-us/articles/360018591137-Thumbnail-Picture-Icons-are-Missing-in-the-Komplete-Kontrol-Maschine-2-Browser

    Saying that, it should not happen... But it does.... :-(

    I hope NI will focus on GUI. In the meantime, you may use Maschine 2, instead Komplete Kontrol. It has longer preset list....

    IMHO, search in presets is quite OK. At least in Maschine 2. There could be randomization of preset order (on request) and it would be nice if the name of plugin for given preset would be shown... But otherwise, no more complaints....

  • JesterMgee
    JesterMgee Member Posts: 2,741 Expert
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    But even then, that system is absurd because you can't get anything from filtering presets from every instrument that you have, so that may be thousands of presets with nothing but the name to identify them.

    Well, you also have tags, sound previews and of course filtering by instrument.

    When things go wrong we (humans) seem to pull out the "everything is ******" card, however we have things easier than it's ever been to find a sound and get going. Improvements could be made sure, but not too many other solutions do everything better and you can throw a thanks to Apple for their M1 release as that seems to have tied up a lot of time and resources and probably will for the next 6+ months at least.

  • ProfessorChaos
    ProfessorChaos Member Posts: 140 Advisor
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    Thanks, actually I fixed the plug thumbs after I started this thread. But the article in the knowledge base about how to fix it is useless, I followed those steps and changed nothing.

    What worked was a solution in another thread that I forgot to bookmark, but where a user posted a folder in his Google Drive that has all the NI thumbs. Unfortunately that still leaves me with some plug thumbs for non NI products.

  • Kubrak
    Kubrak Member Posts: 2,858 Expert
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    I have followed that article and it did work for me on Win.

  • ProfessorChaos
    ProfessorChaos Member Posts: 140 Advisor
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    I don't think I'm pulling the "Everything is ****** card" because KK sucks. I'm pulling the KK sucks card because it's poorly designed card. Everything is tiny unless you either set your resolution to 1080p while working with it, or if you have a Mac, zoom into it while working with it. I don't have to do any of those things while working with any other software, music or otherwise.

    I agree that we have it better than ever, and this is a great moment in music history, in part thanks to companies like NI, but they seem hard headed in keeping the same old GUI with mind boggling restrictions that help no one, while all the other music software companies have excellent GUIs that are scalable.

    And the filtering system, well, to each its own, I just find it ridiculous that you can filter presets, without having a clue of what instruments those presets belong to, because previewing the sound might give you an idea of which it is, but it might be a totally different one than you thought.

    As for the M1 comment, well, you probably need to invest in an M1 Mac to see how you can do things faster than ever, without a giant PC with fans blowing that don't let you think.

  • ProfessorChaos
    ProfessorChaos Member Posts: 140 Advisor
    edited February 2023
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    I don't think I'm pulling the "Everything is s**t card" because KK sucks. I'm pulling the KK sucks card because it's poorly designed. Everything is tiny unless you either set your resolution to 1080p while working with it, or if you have a Mac, zoom into it while working with it. I don't have to do any of those things while working with any other software, music or otherwise.

    I agree that we have it better than ever, and this is a great moment in music history, in part thanks to companies like NI, but they seem hard headed in keeping the same old GUI with mind boggling restrictions that help no one, while all the other music software companies have excellent GUIs that are scalable.

    And the filtering system, well, to each its own, I just find it ridiculous that you can filter presets, without having a clue of what instruments those presets belong to, because previewing the sound might give you an idea of which it is, but it might be a totally different one than you thought.

    As for the M1 comment, well, you probably need to invest in an M1 Mac to see how you can do things faster than ever, without a giant PC with fans blowing that don't let you think straight.

    I mean, if you were to see what an M1 and M2 Mac can do compared to older Macs or current PCs, you would realize that the time invested in bringing software up to date so it can work fine on Apple Silicon is time well spent.

    I'm not a Mac zealot, I have been using Macs and PCs for 25 years, in fact I built several PCs, and the last one I built for myself is from 2012 and works flawlessly to this day. And I have my gripes with Apple as a company, but the reality is that their new machines are amazing. In fact, around 2021, when my 2015 iMac was getting too slow compared to the new stuff, I didn't want to spend $3,000 in another Mac that wouldn't be so up to date in specs, despite the beautiful OS. I was getting ready to build me another really fast PC for about $2,000, and then I started seeing the benchmarks and demos of the new M1 Macbook Pros, and when the Mac Studio came out, I was sold. I spent a lot more than $2,000, but I don't regret it.

  • JesterMgee
    JesterMgee Member Posts: 2,741 Expert
    edited March 2023
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    No need to go off on the "Apple is so much better than PC I should know..." tangent. I simply stated that is a big (and real) reason why a lot of things have had to go on hold. Windows 11 is also in there as needing support, but Windows is usually a very simple thing because it is designed with compatibility in mind where Apple makes their own rules and devs have to fall in line.

    There are loads of links in the chain that have to be updated from Native Access, Maschine, Drivers, Plugins and developers don't always know exactly how to make things all work so testing is needed.

    I still use an 2019 Intel mac because I use PC mostly due to numerous reasons, the fact it is way easier to automate and manipulate things on Windows and also, Games (which mac does not do at all). No issues with fan noise here since it is water cooled, maybe a bit of increased fan noise when I play games but, well, can't compare that with macs.

    Point was, we all know there are changes needed to KK, it's been discussed and even acknowledged as being in the works BUT the Apple Silicon train has thrown all that off the track for the moment. As a wise man taught me years ago, "a good craftsman will learn to use what he has at his disposal, not blame what he cannot do on what he does not have".

  • ProfessorChaos
    ProfessorChaos Member Posts: 140 Advisor
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    All I'm saying is, not everything Apple puts out there is as good as they hype (the Airpods Pro for example are mediocre and grossly overpriced earbuds), but the transition to Apple Silicon, even if it takes time for developers to adjust to, is well worth the time investment.

  • JesterMgee
    JesterMgee Member Posts: 2,741 Expert
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    Laptops/PC's/Apple/Microsoft, these are all just tools for a job, one chooses (hopefully) the one that works best for them. I use both for different things, I even have an iphone and wear an Apple Watch because they work for the purposes I have a need for (home automation among other things). Just as I use PCs for all my grunt work because for me, they work better and in my use cases, are more "stable", reliable and trustworthy without the stress of an OS update breaking things.

    But yeah, as you point out, Apple Silicon is a thing that is now becoming more widespread and hence why the NI dev team has placed most of their time upgrading the hundreds of products for AS (as well as every OS update that also comes out and breaks things too) and why some of the nice things some of us have been asking for the last 6 years (resizable GUI, better filtering, ability to display the instrument presets belong to etc...) have been again pushed back to maybe the second half of this year or next year. it is a big part of why there is a lack of development, that and much of the current update for KK was for VST3 support which is still being sorted as there are still issues to work through.

    In the meantime just have to make do with what we can and at the end of the day, KK has still made the process of finding a sound and getting ideas to paper 10x faster and more enjoyable than anything in the last 20 years I have tried.

  • Peter Harris
    Peter Harris Member Posts: 470 Pro
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    "a good craftsman will learn to use what he has at his disposal, not blame what he cannot do on what he does not have".

    Yes Jester, that sentiment is one which is so often lost in these discussions. Thanks for the reminder!

  • ProfessorChaos
    ProfessorChaos Member Posts: 140 Advisor
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    "As a wise man taught me years ago, "a good craftsman will learn to use what he has at his disposal, not blame what he cannot do on what he does not have"."

    Sure, that applies sometimes. But many times the good craftsman realizes a tool he uses a lot could be better, and he asks the maker of the tool to make it better in specific ways to make his own work easier and faster.

    KK seems to be a product designed with barely anything that makes sense. You can't find a sound by filtering with those terms, not knowing what the long list of presets are, or from what instrument, until you load it to find out. Maybe in a few cases you can, but still, to me KK is one of the worst, most impractical GUIs I've ever seen in Mac and PC.

    They could've done all this in Kontakt 7, which at least has a new lipstick on a pig GUI that allows you to enlarge the window, and within some constraint, the thumbs too. And those thumbs are easy to see, and the product name too.

    But this is what we get in KK, at best tiny thumbs that can't be resized, in 3 columns by 5 rows.


    And some of them can't even be loaded because of a VST plugin error, which I'm told it's in part because of the developers of those plugins, but you still can load them in KK by loading the plugin itself instead of clicking on the preset.

    But long lists of presets don't do anything for me unless I already know what instrument they belong to. This is what a well thought out preset and instrument filter system looks like:

    You have each product followed by each instrument followed by articulations and their subsets. You always know which instrument you're going to play.

    In KK the only way to do that, is to click on All Instruments and scroll down the tiny thumbs.

    I was never crazy about the Kontakt legacy GUI, but I'll take that one any day to this mess. At least with Kontakt you scroll down and you see each product easily.

    Almost everything NI does in terms of GUIs seems to have the intention of giving people headaches from being so hard to read. And some companies try to get around that by enlarging their GUI under Kontakt, like Project Sam, but some others like e Instruments make it worse than it has to be with ridiculous ideas like using small beige text on a dark brown background.


  • JesterMgee
    JesterMgee Member Posts: 2,741 Expert
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    Ah, see this is where different people see things completely different. I personally hate that Opus browser, it just doesn't look intuitive (to me). Similar to how the Akai Advance did things, I hated the column based approach and absolutely loved how KK does things with the tags, I just wish there was a way to exclude results from a search or select multiple instruments as a filter. All possible since it is all a simple db.

    Anyway, could argue semantics all day and what we each feel personally is best for everyone but to reflect to the start of the topic, unlikely we will see these changes (that will eventually come) any time in the next 6-12 months realistically.

  • ProfessorChaos
    ProfessorChaos Member Posts: 140 Advisor
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    OK, so it's OK to have different workflows as far as filtering and all that. The problem is also that KK sucks because it's buggy. The one thing I have encountered very often since I started using it so I can have integration with the expensive keyboard I bought is some form of this:

    And it's not just Opus. It can be Symphobia, and any other plugin. Could it be a glitch in Logic? Sure, Logic is known to be buggy. But this doesn't happen with any other plugin in Logic. And I didn't take a screenshot of this, but, a few minutes earlier I couldn't even see that portion of the Opus GUI. If I clicked on the KK buttons, that little toolbar it has, I could see the KK tools, but the area where Opus was supposed to be was just a square that was like 10x10 pixels enlarged to like 100x100.

    Sometimes you press one of those toolbar buttons and it fixes itself, sometimes it doesn't.

    Oh, and now the code that handles the integration with the S88 decided to get stuck in one track, and unlike all the other times when I would select a track and I would see the plugin show on the S88's two screens, now it stays in that one track:

    So even if in Logic I click and select different tracks, all with KK as the plugin, the integration stays with that track where I had Symphobia 2.

    If I want to get the integration back in another track, I have to open KK in that track and click on the little 88 with the little piano icon. Which I'm positive I never had to before, I would select a track, and I would see it change in the two screens.

    So filter methods aside, that may work for some people (although I still think it's really thick headed of them not to allow you to resize the window so you can see more results), but the thing here is that it seems rather buggy, so that makes it harder than what it has to be.

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