KK3 UX Feedback

spicemix
spicemix Member Posts: 57 Member
edited January 7 in Komplete Kontrol

I thought I'd share my general thoughts on Komplete Kontrol & its ecosystem while it's still new enough I haven't started ignoring the pain. I bought a refurb S61 mk2 from you just now, have a large VI collection including Komplete, and got the Maschine Factory Library upgrade so fairly komplete setup.

I understand a lot of the tradeoffs and business objectives but of course we have to balance those with user objectives well enough to stay in business. Yes? Fine.

In general I like the old GOMS framework of minimizing mouseclicks and keystrokes and if you challenge your staff to minimize the gestures required to reach a user goal while still having high usability without reading the manual or memorizing vulcan neck pinches you win the game. Gamification works well with a lot of today's staff.

OK so onto specifics:

  1. The browser in KK, yes a lot of anger for removed functionality but I do think 80/20 rule is solid for usability and reducing visual load when you're trying to be creative, and making the learning curve appear more shallow, is a win for musicians. You were braced for me to argue on the other side weren't you haha? But no I think the general direction with KK3 is solid. The problems are in the (rather unavoidable!) details.
  2. Why is the KK3 ... menu *between* the ||\ and the file name? Did anyone review the design for obvious errors? Yes it will annoy the doc team to have to redo all the screenshots but this was total amateur hour. Maschine 2 has the menu to the left where it belongs. Embarrassing. Please don't coddle the staff at the expense of absolute basics.
  3. It's 2023 (when you made this, yes it's now 2024) and we don't do search the way KK3 does it anymore, not for at least 15 years now, and Google for 25 years. When you enter text to be searched nowadays, you search the entire universe of targets by default, and the results are ranked in terms of probability you're going to want them. KK3 inverts this just hilariously wrong: User presets (far more likely to be selected than factory presets) **aren't even shown at all** unless you target and click the little user icon (Fitts' Law). And you have to do the same for favorites. This is more embarrassing than the menu being jumbled in the wrong place. I mean what were you thinking? Obviously, favorites and user presets should be prioritized in the search results without clicking anything. Furthermore, multiple constraints prioritize the intersection of terms rather than just the union. The union could still be there, down the ranking, but the more intersections the higher the ranking. Yes? I mean, can anyone argue against with a straight face? This search is what your product does, primarily.
  4. This was a bitter upgrade for many of your NKS partners I see. You must've changed some format and you think these 3rd parties will voluntarily update their support for *your* hardware and pay to ship out refreshed files while getting nothing back in return? No you need to support backward compatibility, so the Spitfire etc NKS still work in KK3 that were working fine in KK2. None of these inane "Apple Silicon" errors. You do not have dictatorial control of the business at this point, your old Pascal-flavored Kontakt sampler (already an antique programming language 20 years ago) is being replaced with proprietary players, and MIDI 2.0 is threatening to open up a lot of this indexing, and the people who really take all of this on the chin are your own users who are paying you extra for the pain. So get the old NKS files working again. As is no changes needed. That's an order. And for those wanting a workaround, you can always just use the plugin approach and add those instruments as direct plugins bypassing NKS but still getting some benefits of KK3. For that matter, doing that, and saving your own setups, obviates much of NKS, if you crawl through the silly roadblocks.

I should note that the fanboys for decades have always been very unhappy with my commentary, but they know that I'm advocating for the users, and the companies 100% always take my advice a few years later, after a lot of unnecessary and avoidable brand damage has been done and they've lost the luxury of premium pricing as a consequence. Tough love dude.

I will add more as I uncover it. Thanks, in general I am happy with the product, it's pretty and the hardware feels solid, but I'm glad I'm not in the credits.

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Comments

  • spicemix
    spicemix Member Posts: 57 Member
    edited January 7

    Trying to steelman the decision to hide user patches and favorites by default, the only argument you could try to scrounge would be that it entices the user into using something new instead of their old standbys. I don't think that works.

    The extra clicks lose the GOMS game I mentioned...every single time you pull up a user or favorite patch it forces extra clicks. Tech's value proposition is efficiency first and foremost. Furthermore, the sort you use on results is alphabetical. This is predictable, but I think a probability ranking is better. You can tabulate usage patterns to find a user's, or the whole userbases' most loved patches, this will add enormous value as a default. Alphabetical could be an optional extra click of course, as it is I'd be best off naming my VI company AAAAAudioXperts like we had in the old Yellow Pages. That isn't user value.

    So I would have favorites first, user patches second, and the rest third, all at once, the extra buttons would optionally hide rather than show categories, the whole thing would be subtractive interaction filtering down into finer groups, but maybe not even subtracting, just re-ranking. These rankings may have been costly in the aughts but aren't so difficult nowadays. Even if you are shipping standalone hardware implementations now.

  • spicemix
    spicemix Member Posts: 57 Member
    edited January 7

    More:

    • The way in KK3 you default Kontakt to "single view" but not even Kontakt's own single view where it affords an override with a visible menu is a disaster. What percentage of your users know about "Edit View (cmd-3)" that shows you the entire Kontakt browser in KK3? Yes I know the emphasis with the mk3 keyboards is direct connection with the Kontakt plugin, plugin hosts are out of fashion, but the reason they are out of fashion is they have been done POORLY. And this was a poor decision prioritizing a clean look over usability. My suggestion would be, if you want to default to single view, you use Kontakt's single view where the menus to override it are still visible, rather than KK3's single Kontakt view where you need to find the View menu in the ... menu which is in the wrong place on the UI anyway. I nearly decided not to buy the keyboard because people were saying Kontakt doesn't support multi's in KK3 but they simply didn't know about Edit View that gives you back all of Kontakt. I myself had to read the manual to discover this. Self-own for you here, those are both your products, and they are subtracting value from each other. Bad process/bad results.
    • In happier news, NKS isn't needed to get proper keylights in KK3 Kontakt instruments. I was also leaning to not buy because people were griping about that, but that is old information. I researched this purchase a lot, and there was stale and bad information out there, and your own materials are quite vague. Yes you don't want to say "you don't need NKS to..." but you almost lost the sale.
    • There are two gargantuan misses in the KK3 implementation. First of all, you allow the construction of plugin chains, and you have assignable knobs on your hardware. But you can't control more than one plugin in the chain at a time with those knobs!!! Obviously, it would be a major win to have one or more pages of knobs that can control anything in the chain...bonus points if you can control multiple parameters at once with a single knob.
    • Secondly, there is no MIDI thru. 1983-era instruments had MIDI thru. MIDI only gets seen by the first plugin in the KK3 chain, and the later plugins can't respond to it. There is no way (at least I've found so far?) to get your coveted poly aftertouch to control a vibrato plugin *while also* controlling your precious virtual instrument plugin. That is dead obvious functionality that a plugin host could master. The only thing which allows this easily is VEPro, it's klunky and brittle but it has a MIDI routing panel that lets you learn MIDI to any plugin's assignments in the chain. Or in their case, the entire arrangement of channels. I use it, but I don't love it, and a plugin host really ought to allow this. I could do this with my DW8000 and MIDIVERB ][ in 1986.
  • nightjar
    nightjar Member Posts: 1,235 Guru

    Excellent dissection of where KK3 stands at this moment.

  • spicemix
    spicemix Member Posts: 57 Member

    Thanks. The team can let me know if they want UI mockups of all of these suggestions in trade for a s88mk3 😋

  • Kymeia
    Kymeia Member Posts: 3,454 Expert

    Furthermore, multiple constraints prioritize the intersection of terms rather than just the union. The union could still be there, down the ranking, but the more intersections the higher the ranking. Yes? 

    Yeah it makes no sense that the default search Boolean is 'OR' rather than 'AND' - all that does is add more clutter to each search , rather than refining it

  • JesterMgee
    JesterMgee Member Posts: 2,451 Expert

    Yeah it makes no sense

    Just apply that to the whole of KK V3, easier that way...

  • spicemix
    spicemix Member Posts: 57 Member

    Since you're the independent NKS authority, what exactly did they do that broke the old NKS files? Is there a chance they will fix this?

  • JesterMgee
    JesterMgee Member Posts: 2,451 Expert
    edited January 7

    Old NKS files work just fine as far as I know, I have only used KK V3 for about 30 minutes while in Beta before swiftly throwing it in the bin.

    I think there are issues where the sub banks do not show, however I believe this is actually an issue for most libraries tho it is confusing when some of the NI staff say they cannot see a problem. Also, not possible to edit any of the data for NKS files in the new V3 software currently, can't assign tags, can't easily click through presets and watch the GUI of the plugin (which is needed in many cases to see position of controls for additional info when tagging among other useful reasons.

    So NKS1 files load and work (just without artwork for the MK3 unless the libraries have been updated which I am doing currently) just with inability to select sub banks for some ungodly reason.

    Kymeia is a better one to ask because I think he has it installed and uses it to some degree somehow for something. I personally find much more I dislike than anything I like about the update so i'm not a good one to ask about it.

  • spicemix
    spicemix Member Posts: 57 Member

    Well what happens here (Mac, running standalone or in Logic) for Spitfire NKS libraries and some others put up an error saying something like "Can't be loaded because either they haven't done VST2 to VST3 transition or don't have Apple Silicon Support" but not only do the plugins load directly (go into plugins view and select them from the VST3 menu) and work fine that way, but they all have VST3 Apple Silicon as well.

    I think this is part of this bug: https://community.native-instruments.com/discussion/17510/nks-compatible-spitfire-audio-plugins-no-longer-shown-in-komplete-kontrol-3-0

    It's a bug in the NKS file format I'm almost certain. The borked libs may have not followed the format perfectly, and this became mandatory in KK3, or something else is up. I can continue that part of discussion over in that thread I suppose.

  • Kymeia
    Kymeia Member Posts: 3,454 Expert
    edited January 7

    can't assign tags

    Yeah you can, it may have been bugged in the version you tried but you can now - it's properties you can't edit (yet)

    I've experimented with building in KK3 but it's a lot clunkier but you can edit tags and assign params to knobs but I have to user NKSF Banker to edit the properties of course

    Part of the clunkier is to do with VST3 though and has been an issue since the switch, VST3 plugins are just weird when it comes to params, some report hundreds of dummy params, some let you learn assign them but then they disappear again when you reopen the NKS - very annoying but I suspect this is more a VST3 issue than KK, and it's a problem in KK2.9 too

  • JesterMgee
    JesterMgee Member Posts: 2,451 Expert
    edited January 7

    Can you type in a tag that exists and hit enter to apply it tho? Or does it still intelligently say "ThaT tAg AlrEaDy ExiStS"

    IDC about properties as I use my own tools for all that, I use KK for saving out presets, designing control layouts and tagging files.

  • Kymeia
    Kymeia Member Posts: 3,454 Expert

    Don't know - I have never edited tags that way, I just select the tags I want from the list available and apply them

  • JesterMgee
    JesterMgee Member Posts: 2,451 Expert

    Yeah, I don't use a mouse as that takes far too much time. I have quick keys that enter the tags for me and this stops that from happening. It is also far easier to just enter a few letters, have the tags appear then use an arrow to select than mouse clicking around everywhere.

  • Diam
    Diam Member Posts: 200 Helper
    edited January 7

    It is somewhat comforting to see the user consensus in relation to KK3 software, as I feel the whole model has become rather disjointed. I even regressed my Native Access to v1, as the update just confused things. At present I have no intention of moving forward with NI software as it almost ensures that my hardware compatibility is compromised. Even the thought of upgrading to a Mk3 keyboard with the amount of limitations and bugs presented in the software and with legacy libraries, NKS content etc. seems impractical. Polyphonic aftertouch is a nice thought, but at what expense?

    Bit of a shame on some fronts, but I know when your stuff doesn't work as you need or as intended, all you want it to revert to that point that it was.

    So for me at least, Kontakt 6 and KK 2.9.6 for the foreseeable future. I think the third party libraries are the most enticing anyhow. Fortunately many releases are still Kontakt 6 compatible. Long may that be the case, though I feel the glory days may be numbered.

    They say “If it aint broke don't fix it.” I would also add “If your gonna fix it, don't break it.”

    Kudos to all of the NI software developers though. They have created some great tools and set a standard. Let's see what this year brings us.

  • spicemix
    spicemix Member Posts: 57 Member

    People think of me as negative, I'm actually a giant fan of all kinds of gear, you just only hear from me when something needs attention. I don't like bad business (very rare in music gear actually, other than some annoyance crippleware) and I am not fond of bugs bad ux and mismanagement. But I think NI is generally headed in the right direction, not as aggressively as a startup of course, but the new stuff is pretty good. And although I am keeping a KK2.94 installer handy I'm happy enough to build in the K7/KK3 era. If I had Jester's investment in the prior era I would feel differently of course.

    I generally know what I want to use and if I don't the preview feature is nice, just roll right through the presets in whatever order, I don't trust categorization much, and find it ridiculous procrastination to sit and catalogue my sound library, but tactile control would be a plus, and hopefully MIDI2.0 makes this universal and they give us a standard that has a satisfying UX. NI does well for their own catalogue at least, it's "komplete" enough you could just stay there, but I find the house sound a bit glossy and hyped, not always my taste. So it was disappointing that they didn't have solid 3rd party support in KK3 so far.

    I'm guessing they rewrote the parser for NKS2, they didn't maintain the old parser and its quirks that some 3rd parties sloppily used, and the real error here is those 3p files with quirks weren't in the acceptance test for the new parser. I would've just kept the old parser code and used it if there wasn't nks2 header or whatever. But I haven't looked at the files myself and could be way way off in analyzing that bug. Anyway I have the workaround of instantiating the noncompliant plugin in the plugin chain view rather than browsing for a preset for now.

    We need larger operations to push things forward, just like we need small and scrappy operations. Things move slow in the larger and older operations but they have gotten there eventually and as long as they don't make too many mistakes they can deliver value others can't. But a complaint is a gift and we should be generous in complaining when we're not liking it. They are making more money than we music makers are, and our work won't get paid for at all if it has these sorts of flaws.

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