Using Komplete Kontrol S series to control multiple hardware or hardware + software?

krisbg Member Posts: 5 Member
edited March 2022 in Komplete Kontrol


I bought my KK S88 MKII with the intent to make it the center of my studio. While using it only with software, there are no issues, introducing hardware is where one gets into trouble. First it went that there is no ability to send MIDI over MIDI DIN and USB together, which makes using hardware and software together impossible - first big failure. I think both Arturia's and Novation's top tier keyboards can do that, and it is a shame KK can't do it.

Then comes the next surprise: if you would like to use it only with hardware, and use keyboard splits to play two or more synths together, it is impossible to do it, because while the keyboard is connected with USB to the computer, to setup the zones and MIDI channels, you can't play the synths over MIDI DIN, but once you disconnect the keyboard from USB, at least mine loses the zones - only the left zone's light guide stays there, but the right zone light guide is turned off. Currently I don't have a MIDI splitter to try whether it actually sends data from the right side, but my guess is it will not. I will buy a splitter as soon as possible to try.

To my opinion this seems like an underdeveloped product, and it screams for two things: make sure disconnecting from USB doesn't mess up the zones, and also make the keyboard work over MIDI and USB simultaneously as it is with competition.

I am considering buying also a KK S61 MKII, but if it behaves the same, it is a big stopper, and I might go the Novation SL61 MKIII route, although its aftertouch has issues on its own.



  • JesterMgee
    JesterMgee Member Posts: 2,437 Expert

    All keyboards are the same, but if you use a daw you can use the midi as a midi out and send anything out that way and also setup splits as you want, just need a daw or midi routing software. Daw makes sense if you want to use synths as well. Pretty sure you could do what you want using Maschine software.

  • krisbg
    krisbg Member Posts: 5 Member

    Thank you for replying! I wouldn't agree with you though. Arturia KeyLab 61 MKII can send simultaneously MIDI and USB data - I have hands-on experience. Unfortunately it doesn't have zones and its aftertouch is also low resolution as it seems to be with Novation SL61 MKIII. From the demos I've seen, it seems to me Novation SL 61 MKIII could also send via MIDI and USB, not to mention it has two MIDI DIN outputs, so you could control two synths without MIDI splitter. I know I can do it via DAW, but I guess that would introduce more latency and is prone to loops, USB is not shielded and may introduce noise in the hardware etc. Finally if the ability to send only over MIDI or USB might be a design decision, the issue with losing the zones configuration when removing the USB cable seems more like a bug.

  • JesterMgee
    JesterMgee Member Posts: 2,437 Expert

    Thank you for replying! I wouldn't agree with you though.

    No, I was talking specifically about NI keyboards are all the same as you were asking if the S61 would behave the same way. I am well aware other keyboards out there are more capable when used with hardware specifically than the S series.

    I know I can do it via DAW, but I guess that would introduce more latency and is prone to loops,

    Shouldn't be any issue with loops, setup a simple template to take a channel and send out of the EXT port on the keyboard and that is it. Connect to your MIDI splitter and off to your gear and it would behave as expected.

    Latency would be no more than the time it takes any physical digital synth keyboard to register a keypress and generate a sound. If you can play digital based synths then you should not notice any latency using a PC MIDI setup. Where latency would be potential problem would be the software synths and audio setup on your system. MIDI signals do not need "processing" and are literally just a couple of bytes of info. That would be as close to real-time as your ears could hear so basically should not be considered an issue

    USB is not shielded and may introduce noise in the hardware etc.

    Incorrect. Most USB cables have shielding connected to ground at one end of the cable to provide interference rejection. It would be unlikely that any noise in the 3ft of USB cable would be transferred through the grounds of the MIDI to Audio hardware to cause issues. If that happens, you have some poor grounding in every piece of hardware that is connected to that system!

    First thing when looking for a solution is to not be stopped by the "what ifs". Especially if it is not proven to be a problem for your case. That's the best way to never solve any problem.

    The USB Out port on the keyboard offers MIDI out direct from the keyboard when not connected to the PC so at least the keyboard can operate in some kind of basic manner. The main drawcard of this keyboard is in the computer software side and it is not comparable to keyboards designed specifically with hardware synths in mind. NI is a software company so makes sense to have hardware to control software.

    When connected to a PC, the MIDI OUT port becomes an output from the system, not the keyboard, so all you need is a way to rout MIDI out the system. Many professionals do it this way because you can have all your hardware synths setup on separate tracks and all you need to do is switch to a track and you have control over the synth as if it was part of your project. Throw in a multi-IO audio interface and you now have audio on that channel complete with its own effects if you like and latency should not be any more than just working within the box (so long as things have been setup fine).

    Trust me, a lot of people operate this way both in studio and live. Check out how Deadmau5 sets things up for example, everything connects to a computer (and he has a LOT of hardware) and through to a single keyboard basically and he seems to be doing alright for himself.

  • krisbg
    krisbg Member Posts: 5 Member

    Thank you again for the long reply!

    I wasn't aware that KOMPLETE KONTROL - EXT could be used to send data to MIDI DIN out while USB is connected. That makes some sense, but again you always need a computer with a DAW. Moreover, in my case my hardware synths are always connected with a USB cable to the computer and from the DAW I can send directly to the synth over USB - that way I will have to go through a cable two times - from the controller to the DAW and from DAW to synth, while using KOMPLETE KONTROL - EXT I would go three times though a cable - controller to DAW, DAW to controller and controller to synth. Also, if the DAW is the splitting and dispatching point, there would be no need for a MIDI splitter.

    I tried them both now and they work, there is no noticeable latency or difference, but that is in an empty project. My main concern is what would happen, when running a heavy loaded project, with a lot of virtual instruments and effects running. Even though MIDI is very lightweight, there might be delays due to host load.

    On USB shielding - in Behringer Deepmind groups you can often read that some of its noise issues are due to USB not being shielded, but they might have meant the synth's USB circuitry, while I misunderstood it for general USB cables - my mistake.

    So, in general there is a solution for S-series and hardware, but not as elegant as Novation SL MKIII. Unfortunately the latter has that aftertouch issue, and maybe S-series are still a better compromise. I still think though that they might fix at least the issue with zones configuration being lost, when unplugging from USB - this way one could send to multiple hardware directly through MIDI DIN, using MIDI splitter, and SL MKIII's advantage would be reduced.

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