KK3 UX Feedback

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  • D-One
    D-One Moderator Posts: 2,860 mod
    edited February 14

    @Matthew_NI said:

    If anyone has specific questions, I'm available to answer those, but I'm getting a little lost in the meanderings.

    Well, since you're offering I do have a question about something I am quite confused about:

    Why wasn't the strategy used for a new major version of Kontakt by having a separate plugin also used with KK? Meaning Kontakt (6) is separate from Kontakt 7 so it's sort of interchangeable, while KK3 requires the removal of KK2 since there is no separate V3 version, it's all just Komplete Kontrol.

    In my particular scenario, due to the above where my DAW (Ableton) has no auto migration and I don't want to use Rosetta for (performance reasons) with my older projects I had to go through them all and manually change every KK instance to VST3 which is obviously a pain in the rear, but I am unsure if is just Abletons fault for not having auto-migration or if a separate KK3 plug could have helped solve this mess.

    Admittedly this is probably an ignorant question, but I am not a bit weary that when eventually VST4/KK4 comes out I'll have to go through this again.

  • spicemix
    spicemix Member Posts: 61 Member

    I think what we would like is called a roadmap.

    Of course that often leads to overpromising and underdelivering which is a faux pas. But these complaints are because the product is already underdelivered: it doesn't serve as a unified browser across all sounds available (it divides things into "Factory" and "User" banks with no unified view available FOR NO GOOD REASON). It offers plugin control but only on instruments within the wrapper or Kontakt 7 without the wrapper. It is partially extensible with user NKS but there's zero good tooling made available for the community to extend it. KK3 broke a good portion of the value of KK2...the implicit promise is that tech gets better not worse.

    All of this is disappointing and demotivating to continue to add value, and one can have sympathy with Spitfire's apparent apathy updating their NKS because that apathy is even being shown by the company whose proprietary platform this is.

    A roadmap that makes this all make sense would go a long ways toward clearing the air and reviving some enthusiasm for the NI NKS ecosystem. I'm glad I've only put $500 total into the Maschine mk3 and S61mk2, I am weighing an S88mk3, but I would need a lot more certainty these issues were going to be addressed before that splurge.

    A universal, open-standard direct plugin control & metadata approach replacing NKS is a good way of addressing all of this, if that is what is being focused on. But I'm not sure we can't have something in the interim. If you open sourced your stuff I would probably have released FX Kontrol by now, though others would have long beaten me to it. You would still be selling the hardware and the libraries but wouldn't be getting as much criticism. You don't like the criticism and we don't like arbitrarily unfulfilled ecosystems.

  • nightjar
    nightjar Member Posts: 1,282 Guru

    Hard to see how much NI would put in jeopardy if they did share a more open roadmap of where KK3 and S-Mk3 is going in 2024-25. Put some caveats in there for legal reasons..

    But Share The Vision!

    The competition can't counter in any big way.

    NI would gain some wind behind their sails!

  • MorrisEd
    MorrisEd Member Posts: 62 Helper

    I think you are giving NI way too much credit. Their pattern is to do nothing for a long time, then do a little, then back to nothing. They constantly make excuses for why things cannot be done while other companies are steady releasing product after product, update after update. You may be right that wrapper software is dead, as I don’t think running plugins on the computer makes a lot of sense anymore when you have products like the Akai Force which let you switch between controlling your DAW And using plugins on the standalone device. It almost seems silly to waste computer power loading a bunch of plugins now in KK when I have a similar group on the Force without any of the crashing issues. NIs time may have passed by. We needed something like Komplete when workstations couldn’t offer a similar experience, but that’s all changed. This is the reason the MK3 release was so disappointing to me. Akai has moved forward at a breakneck pace, and it felt like NI did nothing.

  • spicemix
    spicemix Member Posts: 61 Member

    At some point I'm just beating up on a little company so maybe I should ease off. I have enjoyed their things enough to complain, because typically I fix what bothers me myself and I can't fix KK3 to do everything I want it to. I would rather write code than complain. Yet things work enh sorta well enough I doubt I'd write much code for this. The FX Kontrol thing is so easy a modification to KK3 there would have to be a reason to not do it though.

    I thought about Akai stuff but I have so much invested in the NI stuff already that moving into the hardware was a natural. I don't do much groovebox work. I'm not offended by plugin wrappers but silently breaking people's sessions as mentioned above with an upgrade is a real amateur move. The thing that confuses me the most is why they did KK3 at all. I suppose it was part of the new hardware budget, and we'll see if they have enough budget left to finish this. Squeaky wheel gets grease so go ahead and squeak.

  • spicemix
    spicemix Member Posts: 61 Member

    So let me make this absolutely simple in summary, so zero people will misunderstand the product and why some of us are complaining about it.

    Product Definition:

    Komplete Kontrol serves as your single source of access, inspiration and control for all your virtual instruments and FX plugins. With all compatible Native Instruments hardware, KK gives you hands-on control over all your plugins wherever they are used in your sessions, for multiple pages of parameters with 8 convenient controller knobs. A unified browsing experience with compelling graphics allows you to filter, search, and preview all of your Native Instruments and 3rd party virtual instrument and FX patches based on a variety of subjective criteria, helping you sort through potentially hundreds of thousands of sounds to find exactly what you are looking for without taking you out of your creative flow. 

    Vendors officially supporting the NKS standard also have their patches in the special "Factory" sub-bank. Other products that have received community support that you may install are in the "Community" sub-bank. Finally the patches you create yourself are in the "User" sub-bank. And from any of those, there are the "Favorites" you have designated. These four filter choices are always present and easy to access, they aren't mutually exclusive, and when none are activated, you are browsing everything at once.

    Komplete Kontrol FX enables hardware control for all of your NI and 3rd party FX plugins, just instantiate it on any audio channel and load your FX plugins the same way you would after instrument plugins in KK. Unlike KK for instruments, KKFX doesn't offer previews, however it does offer instant temporary loading of FX settings across entire FX chains. So you can set your DAW playing and try out different KKFX preset chains, and you will instantly hear what they do. You can also have Macro settings that allow the 8 encoder knobs to apply across the entire FX chain (as you can in Maschine software). The same filters and subjective categories are available in KKFX as KK, and you can also preview and add KKFX presets directly to a virtual instrument in KK for instruments.


    ...OK? Is anyone unhappy with that definition of the product? Isn't that what a complete fulfillment of this product concept would do? And isn't it actually quite easy to modify what's already there into this? Are you gonna try to tell me this would be more than a week for your best coder who's already up to speed on your builds? There is absolutely zero hard here. Yes I know, although if your codebase is stinking mess of mistakes made by people who left the company 10 years ago then OK even changing the color of a button may take the 6 months a diseased big company suffers. But you managed to build KK3...

    Let's enumerate the present KK3's failures on this definition, to remove any false sense of satisfaction:

    FAILURE 1: "A unified browsing experience with compelling graphics allows you to filter, search, and preview all of your Native Instruments and 3rd party virtual instrument and FX patches"

    Nope. The browsing experience is arbitrarily divided into Factory and User banks, You cannot unify them completely even with unsupported hacks, and there is ABSOLUTELY NO JUSTIFICATION for that limitation. This is penalizing the paying user for a dispute with 3rd party vendors whether they submit to your supervision and vigorish, leave us out of it, we have little patience for your bickering at our expense.

    FAILURE 2: "These four filter choices are always present and easy to access, they aren't mutually exclusive, and when none are activated, you are browsing everything at once."

    Not there again. Factory and User banks are mutually exclusive for no good reason and a user's own presets are forced into the same pile as unlicensed 3rd party presets. That is outright user abuse and forcing my stuff in with the stuff you don't like because they don't obey and pay you is really, really not a good look dude.

    FAILURE 3: "With all compatible Native Instruments hardware, KK gives you hands-on control over all your plugins wherever they are used in your sessions"

    Nope, Conway's Law has struck again, Machine hardware controls Maschine plugins, KK hardware controls KK plugins, even though they are all the same 8 knobs design and same NKS information. I buy your fancy controller, I should be able to use it anywhere for anything. You have a "controller" menu disambiguating who is in control of what, you have the ability to follow the active plugin in the DAW, Softube can do this with Console 1...kindly spare us lame and false excuses and make this work. I truly doubt every team was so poorly coordinated they all implemented redundant and incompatible protocols onto their plugins, but if so, let's examine senior management.

    FAILURE 4: "Komplete Kontrol FX enables hardware control for all of your NI and 3rd party FX plugins, just instantiate it on any audio channel and load your FX plugins the same way you would after instrument plugins in KK."

    AWOL. I paid for your hardware controllers, I paid for your FX plugins like Replika XT, and I can't use the controller on the plugin for my vocals and other tracks, just for your instruments. ******? I PAID YOU FOR EVERYTHING YOU OFFER. And this again is what, a week of work just making an alternate build in a monorepo with some conditionals to not load instrument plugins in the first slot and apply the FX patch immediately on browse but go back to the original patch if it isn't loaded? Seriously gonna try and tell me this is hard? Please.

    FAILURE 5: "Other products that have received community support that you may install are in the "Community" sub-bank."

    While I am super-appreciative of the yeoman work several users and small businesses have done trying to extend NKS support themselves by hand for products that don't officially have it, and I have even contributed some graphics myself, I took one look at the contortions they have to go through to do it that I gave up. Why doesn't NI distribute the tools it uses and offers its official 3rd parties to the community as unsupported assistance? It only helps your platform, and if users download these things themselves, and they end up in a "Community" bank that the user can exclude from browsing if they want, well it isn't your responsibility and it only helps your platform. There will still be motivation to release official NKS, and even more so, because the platform will be COMPLETED and none of this demoralizing, vibe-killing partial fulfillment wrecking its experience. Platforms want to be open source, but also be profitable enough to keep building, and this would do both at zero cost.


    ...OK you're just going to shrug your shoulders with this spectacular series of needless own-goals? I don't aim to demoralize the staff we're all relying on to build these things. But these failures are what is demoralizing, not the messenger pointing them out. All of this would be a couple person-months at most to fix? In a situation that was even vaguely healthy. And if your situation isn't that healthy then this will force a proper reckoning.

    Good luck.

  • Kymeia
    Kymeia NKS User Library Mod Posts: 3,693 mod
    edited February 15

    Factory and User banks are mutually exclusive for no good reason and a user's own presets are forced into the same pile as unlicensed 3rd party presets.

    Keeping factory content from user content is generally a good idea, Mac's even do that on a system level, there are separate locations for factory plugin presets and user plugin presets, it's there also in most hosts including Logic itself. The reason is simple, factory content gets updated by the companies own setup programmes (or installer shells for setup programmes like NA) - that means it is susceptible to being overwritten by updates in order to maintain compatibility. User content is your own stuff, I do not want that to be overwritten by factory updates and I doubt anyone would and I am sure NI or any company that release a factory update would also be absolutely and rightly vilified if they allowed their installer to mess with or even delete user content. So they are kept separate for very good reasons. Last but not least, I for one want to be able to tell what is user content and what is factory. So I have no problem with them being kept separate organisationally either even though I can understand if someone might want to lump them all together.

    The only problem with this separation in Komplete Kontrol is there is no justification for making the search engine confine itself to one side or the other. It is entirely possible to maintain separation of factory from user content on a systemic level while allowing for integration on a search and browsing level.

  • spicemix
    spicemix Member Posts: 61 Member
    edited February 15

    This latter paragraph is what I meant, in fact, there is no way to implement my recommendations without this being true. I have "Factory" "Community" and "User" as separate banks, rather than forcing together Community and User as KK3 does presently, and I have them browsable and searchable either all together or in any combination. KK3 disallows shared browsing of both, why wouldn't I want to consider both? Do I know going in which of these categories has the gold I'm digging for? Generally I won't, but I might, in which case these are opt-in filters as every other filter in the heterarchy is.

    As for redundancy and priority, I don't have an issue with names being duplicated and neither does the present KK3. One thing I do notice is it isn't immediately clear where a preset came from. In this case, we could highlight the Factory/Community/User filters in the upper-right bar to demonstrate which of these a given preset was from, and as for sort order, I would probably prefer User then Factory then Community as a rank order. Of course I've also suggested they do a Google-era weighted search rather than a Yahoo-era alphabetical ontology, but that may be more than a couple person-months to deliver.

    As for housekeeping of factory vs community NKS, when I did the hack to move my 3rd party NKS into the Factory folder, I just put them all in their own separate folder linked to in the XML/prefs file, I can see exactly what's mine vs. factory and since I had to put them there manually I can pull them out manually, and everything is cross-indexed and unified by the plugin name anyway just fine. I was going to go into approaches for managing community NKS in a more automated way over on the user NKS thread, but I think that may be too complicated for a relatively niche thing like this, unless NI decides to grant community full citizenship ("separate but equal" as you insist) in the ecosystem, and make it worth our investment. Right now too much unnecessary doubt hanging over this platform, all NI's fault.

  • spicemix
    spicemix Member Posts: 61 Member
    edited February 16

    A possible (speculative) explanation btw for all this is, they may actually be working on a plugin controller product (note how Nektar is about to release direct plugin controller hardware, though a bit clunky and limited). This would make sense as they merged with the fx plugin companies Plugin Alliance and iZotope.

    And whichever nervous little person running that new product development has forced the rest of the company to specifically not offer a plugin controller solution in the existing hardware, carving out an artificial exclusive for their new product that isn't here yet, leaving us hanging out to dry in the meantime.

    That would be "the reason not to" ship KKFX or have Maschine hardware control KK software, they want to sell us yet another thing to compete for reach space with thinking we'll buy it too. Tragic mistake there is, this sort of tactic poisons the brand, and few will buy into it regardless of the artificial exclusive because they'll sniff around for well-informed opinions and find ones like mine. The Kontakt franchise, and to a lesser extent Maschine, is your bread-and-butter, and we will buy that hardware if it pays off for us, and it does in a clumsily partial way mostly just for the other things you sell.

    That clumsy history will ruin your profit opportunity, whereas giving us everything you've got with every product you sell will get everyone cheering for the brand, contributing to the NKS standard, making all of your products succeed. Universal plugin controllers have equal access to all of your plugins too, the reason we'd buy yours is...they are already shipping, and already in front of us for other reasons.

    Difference between effective, mediocre and disastrous management.

  • Matthew_NI
    Matthew_NI Product Team Posts: 840 mod
    edited February 16

    @spicemix give me some specific questions and I'll gladly answer them. Long speculative threads aren't as helpful (nor are they accurate) as they could otherwise be.

    Also, please keep it civil. We don't need to refer to anyone on my team as a "nervous little person". You can be constructive without debasing yourself or others.

  • Matthew_NI
    Matthew_NI Product Team Posts: 840 mod

    Q1: Why didn't we follow the strategy of a new major version arriving as a separate plug-in?

    A1: To ensure continuation for as many users as possible. Had we delivered it separately, all instances of KK in all projects would ultimately require manual replacement as VST2 continued to deprecate, rather than some. And if something is completely removed, then completely re-added, there's less we're able to do to auto-translate settings.

    A2: Regarding migration, I wouldn't say it's the fault of any one manufacturer, but it is certainly a choice as to whether they support auto-migration or not. I wish more would, it would make things even easier.

  • spicemix
    spicemix Member Posts: 61 Member


    See I've been doing this hobby of diagnosing the pathologies of little audio companies for 30 years and this is the typical defensive reply. Internally, what happens is the better developers all agree with me (many have come up to me in person at conferences and said so) but the managers assert themselves by saying "we're going to stick with our strategy until things change."

    And when things change, and start looking bad enough to force a course correction, what has happened? Irreversible brand damage. They end up doing my suggestions anyway, but after 2-3 years instead of the 2-3 months that would have avoided the damage. This is all true, please google this history, I did use a few aliases over the years but everyone recognizes me by now.

    For an in-process example, look at UA giving up and selling native perpetuals, only too late, and now desperate to bulk up the customer list for a better valuation in acquisition. I suppose they are waiting for the acquirer to kill the millstone DAW project which is the advice they are still ignoring. Pride cometh before the fall.

    Anyway best of luck to the actual talent still there, the hardware is absolutely gorgeous and would be nice if they complete the software someday. I'm signing off.

  • BIF
    BIF Member Posts: 553 Pro

    Man, I thought I was the king of TLDR. You're overthinking this.

    Oh, and you may be using the word "little" too often as an insult. You know..."nervous little" and "pathologies of little".

    That can be considered equivalent to a "little" slap in the face. Just a "little".

    Just trying to help. A little.

  • spicemix
    spicemix Member Posts: 61 Member

    While everything I've noted about the inexplicably bad product decisions has been noted long before, again I usually show up at the final inflection point when the company has effectively decided to forfeit a fundamentally winning position for no gain at all. As if they are tired and just want it over with. Danke.

    But I have zero access to inside information as that would make my hobby not just shooting fish in a barrel, but totally pointless. Indeed the best way to get me to shut up isn't to ban me, but to give me inside information. But no one does. That segment want me to send these messages, because they still care.

    But for an actual insider view of things in this unraveling rollup? How about Dirk Ulrich, founder of brainworx and Plugin Alliance and the largest private shareholder in the firm? What does he have to say about things?

    https://www.audiopluginguy.com/news-dirk-ulrich-steps-down-from-native-instruments-board-of-directors/

    ...resigning from the Board of Directors in disgust?!? That's more histrionic than I ever get. He must also be "overthinking this." A little.

    The dead-ender fanboi's aren't very numerous here and they must not be generous with the NFRs for them either. Now that would be a boring and pointless hobby. Anyway leadership is a de facto thing. The talent should go ahead and self-manage. Bring this to a head and show who's boss. European management will always back down.

  • nightjar
    nightjar Member Posts: 1,282 Guru

    I did not see the words "in digust" anywhere in the article... perhaps you meant the word "disappointment".

    Anyway, I am glad he is exiting... NI buying PA/Brainworx was a big mistake IMO... a huge unneeded thing for the future of NI + iZotope.

    Nothing about PA or Brainworx was pointed towards the future. Any ideas coming out of Dirk's mouth would have been pulling in the wrong direction.

    NI should sell off everything PA/Brainworx and not be bothered to try and integrate those products.

    Focus on NI + iZotope.

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