March 2024 – a community update from our Chief Product Officer

Simon_NI
Simon_NI Product Team Posts: 13 Product Team
edited April 3 in NI News

Hey there, I’m Simon. It's been just over a year since I joined Native Instruments as Chief Product Officer. I hope you’ve noticed an increase in me and the other product managers engaging in our community forums recently, which is a trend that will continue. As part of that, I wanted to take the opportunity to look back on some of our recent releases in 2024 so far and give you a glimpse into what lies ahead. 

What’s new in 2024 so far?

First up, let’s kick off with some of our recent launches, starting with VEA (Vocal Enhancement Assistant), a new AI-powered tool for podcasters, vloggers, and streamers. VEA uses some of the industry-leading technology from RX, Ozone, and Nectar to make your voice sound amazing, with three simple but powerful controls – Clean, Shape, and Boost. Unlike some products that only work with pre-recorded audio, we worked hard to make VEA work in real-time so you can also use it on live streams, live radio, and in-game. We’ve had some great feedback so far and are already thinking about how we could bring the technology we’re building for the next RX into a VEA 2.0. 

Meanwhile, we’ve released several great new instruments for Kontakt. Electric Keys captures the sound of two iconic, vintage electric keyboards, while Schema Light and the brand-new Action Woodwinds add new dimensions to our cinematic series, with atmospheric, rhythmic soundscapes and stunningly realistic woodwind phrasing – perfect for film scoring. We also have the new Echo Versions expansion – classic dub sounds with an ultramodern twist, tailor made for Maschine and beyond.

We also launched three great new plugins for Plugin Alliance MEGA subscribers. The bx_enhancer brings a saturator, compressor, EQ, clipper, and auto-leveler into a single powerful mixing tool. The Cenozoix Compressor is a next-generation compressor that uses anti-derivative antialiasing (ADAA) technology to prevent high-frequency distortion. And HYPE from ADPTR Audio is a multi-band tool for compression, harmonics, and stereo enhancement.

Then there’s the return of Trash – iZotope’s much-loved distortion plugin. The team and I are excited about this for a few reasons. First, it sounds great: the two X-Y pads and over 600 distortion types and impulse responses make it just a lot of fun to play with. Second, there’s a free “lite” version, so anyone can get started. Third, it’s our first plugin for Logic Pro for iPad - making those X-Y pads especially fun to touch.

Our NKS ecosystem experienced significant growth in Q1. We were able to process over 130 third-party products that are compatible with our NKS hardware. Most of these products are made with Kontakt, our powerful instrument platform with over 100 active instrument-building partners.

And last but not least, we were thrilled to partner with the GRAMMY Award-winning Jacob Collier to build Audience Choir, a truly unique instrument that lets you dial in the sound of his live audience singing, as recorded during his most recent world tour. Oh, and it’s free!

Working hard on critical compatibility updates

The last few years have seen a once-in-a-generation change in desktop software. A combination of Apple Silicon, macOS Sonoma, and VST3 has meant a significant amount of work to update our products.

Across Native Instruments, iZotope, and Plugin Alliance, we have more than 500 software products, built on many different technologies and systems. Making them run on the latest platforms and operating systems is a non-trivial amount of work, requiring meticulous attention to detail and extensive testing. 

Even so, I want to recognize that it’s taken longer than many of you expected. We’re working to ensure that when new operating system updates are released in the future, we’ll deliver compatibility updates faster. We’ll (finally) introduce fully Sonoma-compatible versions of Kontakt and Maschine – two of our most complex products – later this month.

In 2023, this work also reduced our capacity to invest in new products and features. With these updates behind us, we're excited to shift our focus back toward new products and feature development.

So what’s next?

Moving forward, from new creative instruments and audio tools to significant updates for existing products, there's plenty to look forward to.

Major updates for our key software platforms

Later this year, we’ll significantly expand what's possible in Kontakt, our flagship instrument platform. We're excited about the new sonic opportunities this will enable for both instrument builders and music producers. I can’t say much at this point, but there’ll be new ways to import and manipulate sounds, enhanced capabilities beyond just samples, and innovative methods to help you play instruments, not just control them.

And building on regular updates over the years, we recognize the need for bigger strides forward for Traktor and Maschine. Both will receive long-overdue software updates this year, with improvements that bring new creative tools and a clean, modern interface.

More capabilities for Kontrol

We released our new Kontrol S-Series MK3 keyboard in September. The MK3 is built on a completely different technical architecture from the MK2, which relied on the host computer for all the on-device graphics and functions. The MK3 has a powerful onboard processor, which lays the foundations for new features to come.

We’ll soon release an update that brings on-board Play Assist and MIDI template editing to the MK3. This will allow you to use Play Assist with any MIDI connected device, not just instruments running on a connected computer.

We’re also close to introducing some new accessibility features that will make Kontrol easier to use, particularly for visually impaired users. While these features may not be used by everyone, for those who do, they’re essential.

You can read more about the current state and future plans for Kontrol in Matt’s recent community post.

MIDI template zone editing

New, inspiring instruments and effects

We’ll roll out more instruments and expansions to expand your sonic palette, including another instrument built in partnership with a major music artist and a host of new additions for composers and sound designers.

We’re also close to releasing three new plugins from Plugin Alliance: a modern yet legendary-sounding bus compressor from Brainworx, a stonking new hybrid drum machine developed in partnership with Unfiltered Audio, and a unique saturation plugin from our friends at NEOLD, faithfully modeled from a one-off circuit using extremely rare vintage components. 

Expanding what we offer through subscription

While many of our customers like to purchase perpetual licenses, others prefer the flexibility and lower up-front costs of a subscription. We offer several subscriptions today, including Plugin Alliance MEGA and iZotope Music Production Suite Pro.

Based on customer feedback, we’re working on an expanded version of Komplete Now, NI’s popular subscription service, to include everything you need to produce music – a wide range of instruments and sounds, inspiring creative effects, and powerful mixing and mastering tools, including products from Brainworx and iZotope, not just Native Instruments. 

We also understand subscriptions aren’t for everyone, so don't worry – our perpetual bundles won't be going anywhere.

Making it easier to access and update your products

Finally, we're continuing to improve Native Access, our platform for managing desktop software installation and updates. Making this work reliably for over 500 products on many operating systems and hardware setups is no easy task – especially as operating systems and security tools add additional permissions and friction. But we recognise we have more work to do here – this is a priority for us in 2024.

Recent updates have included the ability to open applications directly from Native Access, automatic download resumptions in the case of network errors, and many improvements to how we handle queued downloads, with more reliability work to come.

Furthermore, we’re working on making it possible to distribute and activate products from iZotope and Brainworx through Native Access – enabling you to get all the software we offer in one place.

Stay tuned for more updates

That’s it for now, but I’ll be back in a few months with another update. And in the meantime, please let us know your thoughts below. We're always listening to your comments.

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Comments

  • Matt_NI
    Matt_NI Administrator Posts: 1,110 admin
    edited March 19

    In addition to the post shared by Simon, you can find a new post by our CEO in the NI blog: https://blog.native-instruments.com/embracing-2024/

    Please note that this thread will be open for comments and questions until Friday 1PM CET :)

  • Kymeia
    Kymeia NKS User Library Mod Posts: 3,731 mod

    If by hybrid drum machine you mean a mix of sample based and modelled drums/percussion that would be fantastic. Esp given it's from from Unfiltered Audio. I hope it will have NKS2 support

  • Vocalpoint
    Vocalpoint Member Posts: 921 Guru

    Simon

    Pleased to meet you.

    Thank you for the excellent update - look forward to seeing what's to come in 2024.

    Cheers

    VP

  • Percivale
    Percivale Member Posts: 208 Advisor

    Sounds like a plan. Let's wait to receive them.

  • MaikR
    MaikR Member Posts: 170 Advisor

    Also a welcome and thank you from me @Simon_NI but also a thumbs up for the good quality response by @LostInFoundation 👍🏻

    Hopefully you’re willing to give some insides on Traktor, but especially on Maschine / M+ like it was promised before:

    Thanks in advance!

    Regards,

    Maik

  • Simon_NI
    Simon_NI Product Team Posts: 13 Product Team

    @MaikR - I can't share details of what/when we're doing for Maschine - but the team has been working on taking all the user/community feedback, estimating the effort & time required for key features, and then working across product/design/engineering to come up with a clear scope for the next major release. This takes time as it's easier, for example, to work on two features in the same part of the app rather then two features that are totally separate. We're now aligned on what we want to ship -- but as with all software development, estimates can be wrong, and unforseen issues can arise -- which is why we can't publicly commit to a scope, features, or date at this time.

    But the team's focus is in the right things, and they're working on them in the right order.

  • MaikR
    MaikR Member Posts: 170 Advisor

    Yep, all plausible and understandable.

    Did you also read the posting I was referring to? It’s not about new, major updates, but about ‘information’ on the Audio Interface compatibility issues.

    Regards,

    Maik

  • holonology
    holonology Member Posts: 78 Helper
    edited March 19

    Hi @Simon_NI - appreciate these heads up. Certainly saying something is greatly appreciated and gives us an idea of what to expect.

    Re: Maschine, a lot of users would expect a hardware upgrade based on the recent S-Series refresh. That refresh was backwards compatible (aka: MK2 devices are supported. So on a similar note, can you ellaborate at all on the Maschine software update (guessing a potential v3.0?) in terms of whether it is planned to continue supporting MK3, even if a MK4 is on the cards?

  • Ruben5
    Ruben5 Member Posts: 5 Newcomer

    Thank you! looking forward to the arrival of the Midi template to decide to buy the S61 MK3 (I don't use software, nor a computer, I use a synth and I only need to send 8 different parts to the S61 MK3). I hope the update arrives as soon as possible:-)

    Regards!

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