[Guide] Getting started with Komplete

ShelLuser Member Posts: 239 Pro
edited April 7 in Komplete General

Hi gang,


I've been considering a guide like this for quite some time now yet so far every time "something" got in my way: real life issues or things either changed or posed a bit of a problem for me. Like where I am now: I'm still using Komplete 13 (UC) and quite happy with it. So... would a guide like mine really still be usable now that 14 is out and current?

Well, here you go. I decided that, yes, it would. Because the essence of Komplete never really changed all that much I think and it's that specific part that's the key here. So yeah, let's go here...

Also: I'll be using Ableton Live in my examples. I considered adding both FL Studio and Reaper based examples as well, but I fear that this guide would become way too long then. Not to mention that the main difference between those DAW's is the way they handle their VST instruments and effects, so it's not really someting directly related to Komplete.


Getting Komplete is easy: go to the Komplete product section on the website, make sure you're logged in and make your purchase. Even if you grab the free Komplete Start it would still be considered a "purchase". Basically you'd be adding the product to your account, which is why you need to make sure that you're logged in.

After that start your journey by downloading Native Access. This is your "portal" into Komplete (and the rest of Native Instruments related software as well):

Log into the same account which you used on the Native Instruments website and make sure your products show up. Before you start installing stuff please make sure you realize where everything will end up in. Go to File => Settings (or press ctrl + ,) and then check out the "File Management" tab:

You see... if you're using any customized locations for your VST plugins, or if you want to install the bulk of your assets on another drive (maybe an external one?) then you need to customize your settings first:

  • Download location => Should speak for itself I think?
  • Application location => This is where the software itself gets installed to. It's easy to overlook but Komplete isn't only about plugins, you can also use many instruments individually; so outside of any DAW.
  • Content location => This is where all the "bulk" will end up in. Installing Kontakt instruments? Then expect all your samples to end up in here. Make sure that you have enough free storage space to handle all this! *
  • VST location => Should also speak for itself: where you want your VST plugins to get installed to. Make sure that this meets the settings of your DAW! Not every DAW behaves in the same way. Live for example can use either the "default" or one specific custom folder, no more. FL Studio and Reaper on the other hand have no issues with using multiple VST locations.

And in case you're wondering: my home studio is fully centered around Ableton Live, I do everything there. So I decided to group all my audio assets into one 'dedicated' Ableton folder. VST's, Komplete data, my sample collection, Reason refill packs, etc.

* So just to give you an example of how much space Komplete UC could gobble up:

Bear in mind that I didn't install everything there is to Komplete. For example, owning both the Symphony as well as the Symphony Essentials series I decided that in order to save space I might as well concentrate on the full collection only.

Another area are pianos. While I really enjoy the clean and varies sounds of the Kontakt piano instruments I simply don't use those often enough to warrant the installation of multiple of those instruments.

But yeah, bottom line: make sure you got enough free space!

So... hit the "install" button and then grab something to drink because this may take a while.

Pro tip: Komplete isn't "one big package", and you can see as much when you check out the different Native Access categories. So... if you're on a slow Internet connection then you could consider to split up your installation. Why not start with a selection of instruments? Maybe add some effects as well and then give it a try.

Whatever you do make sure that you install "Komplete Kontrol" at the very least. Trust me: it's going to make your life a lot easier.

What is Komplete all about anyway?

If you look at all the Native Access sections then I think it's easy to get overwhelmed. And don't blame NA2 for this, the same applied to its predecessor. Komplete really lives up to its name, simple as that.

Fortunately we can break things down into some easier to grasp categories. You see, Komplete consists of three main "engines" which power most of its assets:


Kontakt is the sampler 'engine' within Komplete. Here you will find everything that is based on - or involved with - samples. And as you can hopefully imagine, "samples" can mean just about everything. You will find perucssive sounds in here, just as easy as you'll get guitar or piano sounds.


Reaktor then is Komplete's "build it yourself sound device", as I like to call it πŸ˜‰. It's an environment which allows you to build your own instruments and effects and it can make this process as easy or as complex as you'd like. And don't worry: there are also plenty of pre-made devices available that are available for you to use. Both out of the box, but also free for download!

Guitar Rig

When people hear the name "Guitar Rig" they immediately think about guitars, obviously. But please don't let the name fool you into thinking that GR is only usable for guitar players: nothing could be further besides the truth! GR is best described as an audio effects rack where you can use any kind of effect you'd like, and also in any kind of order you prefer.


Next to the three engines above there are also several "external" plugins, both instruments and effects alike. Plugins like Massive (X), Raum, FM8, Battery...

Before we begin!

After you finally finished installing Komplete you may be tempted to quickly fire up your DAW and start checking things out. Nothing really wrong with that perse but... it might help to prepare.

See, Komplete uses its own library in order to easily find any kind of sounds or effects you have available to use. And this library is used by most of Komplete's main engines. Ergo: if you fire up, say, Kontakt for the first time it'll begin to build up this library. And that can take a while.

Although this should easily work no matter what Kontakt "version" you use (either the program or the VST plugin) it's my experience that you'll get better results by starting stand-alone.

However, as I mentioned above there are three main engines. So.. do we have to wait three times here? Fortunately not necessarily.

Komplete Kontrol

Officially 'Komplete Kontrol' is both a program and plugin which is meant to be used with the Komplete Kontrol MIDI keyboards. However... this also means that it can access the entirety of Komplete (and a little more), all from within one environment.

So my advice is to start by firing this up, even if you don't own a Komplete Kontrol keyboard yourself, and then let it build its library. You'll notice that it's doing so by the round indicator which I highlighted in my screenshot above.


It will actually do a little more than just build up that library as well. See, Native Instruments has developed their own control scheme called NKS; the Native Kontrol Standard. However, this standard isn't just limited to Komplete itself, any VST plugin out there can opt into using this standard if they want, which will make their VST(s) compatible with any kind of "NI hardware":

See what I mean? The controls I highlighted will also be accessible using control knobs which you will find on any of Native Instruments MIDI controllers.

(thanks for the suggestion @Gee_Flat , it's definitely a lot better this way!)

But now we're getting a bit offtopic because these vendors have nothing to do with Komplete, I merely wanted to show you an example of "NKS compatibility". Even so: if you're looking for "a sound within Komplete" then using Komplete Kontrol may be just what you need.

Let's end this chapter here and in my next post we'll dive head first into the wild world of Komplete.


  • Gee_Flat
    Gee_Flat Member Posts: 906 Guru

    Maybe your 'Diva' example would be better if you showed some of the plugin mapping, rather than the plugin chain in Komplete Kontrol.

    I don't know if KK is in a user's account by default if they only buy Kontakt, Reaktor or a standalone instrument such as, Diva, but it would make sense to have it instantly available, rather than having to download 'Start'

  • ShelLuser
    ShelLuser Member Posts: 239 Pro

    Warning: Just to make sure no one gets confused here I'd like to repeat that I'm still using Komplete 13 (UC), but also use plenty of other 3rd party "NKS compatible" instruments and effects. So some of my example screenshots may feature things that are not necessarily part of your version of Komplete.

    Don't worrry: I will make sure to avoid any kind of confusion, but please keep this in mind.

    Diving into Komplete

    Remember me mentioning earlier how many of Komplete's instruments and effects could be used both stand alone and as a plugin within a DAW of your choice? Well, here you go. Komplete Kontrol within Ableton Live.

    Honestly: this is a very good way to start because even if you don't own a Komplete Kontrol keyboard yourself this VST will still provide with with a complete overview of everything that is available within your Komplete setup.

    But now I'm getting a little ahead of myself...

    VST collection

    As you can see on the left side of my screenshot I've highlighted the VST section in the so called "Live browser"; here you see all my VST2 plugins. And as you can clearly see Komplete really forms the "center" of my VST collection. Both Komplete and Vocaloid to be exact, but let's stay ontopic.

    In the first chapter of this guide I mentioned that Komplete basically consists of 3 main "engines". So lets start to look a bit deeper into these engines first.


    Even though my Kontakt browser may look different than yours the essence doesn't change: Komplete will provide you with a ton of awesome Kontakt instruments, I've already showcased one of my personal favorites above. Analog Dreams, Ethereal Earth and Glaze.. there's a good reason these are shown on top of my collection. And don't get me started on the Spotlight Collection...

    The thing is though: Kontakt also has its own native Factory Library, shown above, and with all those amazing extra instruments it's easy to completely overlook this part. Seriously: don't! There are some really solid sounds to be found in there.

    Now, sure, I can easily agree that some of the "Asian sounds" within the factory library hardly weigh up against the powerhouse that's East Asia. Fair enough. But that doesn't make those sounds useless!

    For example... when I need something to "back up" my leads I don't need massive HQ type sounds that will also gobble up a high amount of resources. Why bother? Heck, if you need more (like enhancing things a little) there's always plenty of sound effects to choose from. Either those provided by your DAW itself, or one of Komplete's effects.


    This is most definitely not a very impressive Reaktor device. I once build a nice tone generator but I can't find it anywhere anymore. Leaving me to quickly "ensemble" something horrid as the above πŸ™ƒ

    That's better 😎

    So as you can see... Reaktor is an environment which allows you to build anything you'd like. Both instruments and effects alike and while it may have a bit of a learning curve.. it's not that hard to get your fingers behind; or so I think.

    If you're looking for something a bit out of the ordinary then Reaktor is the environment to look into.

    Guitar Rig

    Yah, despite the fact that Guitar Rig 6 is already part of Komplete 13 I still prefer using GR5. Nothing negative on my end, it's just what I'm most used to: I've been using GR5 for a long time already, years before I picked up on Komplete.

    But as I mentioned before: it doesn't change the essence of my story... GR is a massive collection of effects which you can place in a rack (shown on the right side) and in any order you'd like. And because GR provides effects such as reverbs, equalizers and filters it's also a very useful environment if you simply want to experiment with building up effect racks.


    And in addition to all of that Komplete also provides you with a massive collection of external instruments and effects. Instruments like the above showcased FM8, but also things like Massive, Massive X and of course Battery.

    Ozone 10

    Komplete, no matter what version you'll pick, is all about sound. It provides you with a massive collection of sounds and effects to help you to either complement your DAW or... to use these stand alone. From synth sounds to sampled. From dynamic leads to heavily distorted guitars (= personal favorite) and of course... pads.

    In my opinion Native Instruments as a whole is all about awesome sounds, always has been.

    And then we have iZotope, both companies are part of Soundwide which is how iZotope's flagship product, Ozone, found its way into Komplete.

    If Native Instruments is all about sound, then iZotope is all about enhancing your sound quality.

    Mastering or processing?

    Officially speaking Ozone is a so called mastering suite. It can help you to enhance your score to a more professional standard and to make sure that all the important nuances can be heard. Mastering is a rather complex process where you make sure that your score will sound "complete" (no pun intended). For example by making sure that your percussion doesn't get in the way of your bass, or by enhancing some of your high-frequencies to prevent them from getting lost.

    However, there's much more to Ozone than that.

    Several of its effects can also be used individually, so not necessarily to apply a bit of mastering but merely to help you expand or enhance your overal sound. You can see an example above: notice the Vectorscope in the lower right corner of my screenshot above? That shows you the "area" or "depth" in which your sound is present.

    Do keep in mind though that some of Ozone's effects can be more taxing on your system than other "casual" effects. There's a reason for that: all of iZotope's VST plugins are part of the iZotope "suite", meaning that they can even reference each other:

    So here I have Live's Wavetable instrument on track 2, followed by Ozone's equalizer and imager effects. I also have Analog Dreams on track 3 and placed iZotope's Relay behind it. Both tracks respond to me playing my Push.

    Finally I put "Tonal Balance Control" on my master track and clicked on the available sources, shown above. Notice how I can reference all the other iZotope plugins?

    Seriously: Ozone has the potential to take your score into places you may not even realize that they exist.

    So... where to start?

    Well, as mentioned above I think "Komplete Kontrol" is a good place to begin. It can make it a lot easier on you to explore all the different sounds that are available within Komplete. Maybe also good to know: because Ozone 10 is fully "NKS compatible" you'll have no problems to add those effects to your chain as well.

    However... I definitely suggest that you also explore beyond "Kontrol" as well. Either fire up Kontakt, or load it in your DAW and just go about all the instruments you have at your disposal; and please don't dismiss the factory library too easily? Same applies to Reaktor, Guitar Rig and of course all the other awesome plugins as well. I mean, even though it was originally a Holliday Season freebie I still have Raum in pretty high esteem.

    Now, the following items are not part of Komplete itself (!) but I couldn't help myself to mention these anyway...

    Komplete MIDI controllers?

    What if you want more than just software? Maybe a way to actually "play" Komplete while also having full control over what you play?

    Maybe fun to know: you don't have to focus on a keyboard if you don't want to. For example, ever since I started using Ableton's Push controller I found myself using my electronic keyboard less and less in favor of Push. So imagine my surprise when I found out for myself that the Maschine controller (= a personal favorite of mine) is also fully capable of utilizing the whole of Komplete as well. If its "NKS compliant" then both Maschine as well as the Komplete Kontrol keyboards can handle it.

    Now, sure... Maschine may be a bit limited here considering that you only have 16 pads to play with. But don't underestimate the things you can do within one octave! (and there's always that amazing pitch control strip 😏)

    Komplete Audio interfaces

    Personal bias now goes into effect but I cannot help to also mention the Komplete audio interfaces. In all fairness they don't provide some of the features that are present in other interfaces, such as internal (custom) routing. However, it'll be up to you if that can pose a problem or not.

    I'm a somewhat casual user myself, but I do have my moments... Every once in a while me and a close friend of mine get together to enjoy a "synth evening". I'm a rather devoted "soft synther" whereas he's all about hardware. Often resulting in him bringing along one or more of his synthesizers which we then hook up to my Komplete Audio 6 after which we just start messing around.

    In one of our last sessions we did an extensive comparison between U-HE's Diva and my friends Roland SH201. Goosebumps! πŸ€—

    And there you have it!

    Here's my take on getting started within the awesomeness that is Komplete.

    I hope this could give you guys some impressions and/or ideas. And of course: feel free to comment if you want to know more.

    Thanks for reading!

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