The Komplete Kontrol is part of Native Instruments flagship “Smart” keyboard range. Also available in either 49 of 88 note models, the S61 features a fantastic feeling, professional grade key bed supplied by renowned Italian keyboard manufacturer Fatar, and this allows for really expressive playing, with the semi weighted keys also featuring after-touch control, for further expressive possibilities. Each of the keys also features a bright, RGB light, which is really handy, especially in a live environment, as it allows you to easily see sounds, key zones, switches, and other functions at a glance.
The keyboards layout is pretty impressive, the first thing that catches the eye are two huge high resolution screens, which when combined with the 4 directional, push button encoder, makes it super easy to browse and navigate your software’s sounds, tweak parameters or mix tracks, all without having to keep looking up at your computer screen.
There’s 8 assignable, touch sensitive control knobs, two large ergonomic, pitch and modulation wheels, plus an assignable touch sensitive smart strip which can really open up creative possibilities within the software.
A comprehensive transport control section allows for recording and playback control of your DAW recording software, as well as controlling things like Tempo and looping. There’s individual buttons to access quantize and arpeggiator functions, and there’s also a dedicated control section to allow for one-touch access to scenes and patterns within Native Instruments Maschine software.
All of this functionality, combined with the semi-weighted keybed, does mean that the S61 isn’t exactly the lightest or most compact keyboard on our list, but everything about it does feel super high quality. It also features pretty versatile connectivity, with 2 foot pedal inputs, a USB port, standard MIDI in and out sockets, and the option to power the keyboard from an external power supply instead of the USB, and this all ensures that the Komplete Kontrol can integrate into any MIDI setup.
The little brother of the Native Instruments S61 is the A61, a kind of a stripped back, more affordable version, which still offers pre-mapped knobs and buttons, allowing for in-depth control of their Komplete and Maschine software.
As opposed to the professional grade Fatar keybed found on the S61, the keys on the A61 are Native Instruments own design, but they’re still full size and velocity sensitive, with a semi weighted action, and they feel really nice and responsive to play.
The S61’s big screens are replaced by a smaller, but still very usable OLED display, allowing you to browse sounds and see which parameters you’re adjusting in real time. Elsewhere, the A61 isn’t quite as feature packed as it’s bigger brother, you don’t get the indicator lights above the keys or the smart controller strip, there’s just the one foot pedal input and MIDI can only be sent via the USB socket, but you do get all of the most useful controllers that are found on the S61, and this includes the 8 assignable control knobs, the large pitch and modulation wheels, and the versatile transport controls which work seamlessly with your favourite DAW and allow access to functions within Native Instruments Maschine software.
What all of this does mean is that the A range range of keyboards are significantly cheaper and more lightweight than Native’s flagship S range, all the while still maintaining the core elements that you need to get the most out of their software. Plus, you can also get this keyboard in smaller 49 and 25 note models, if you were looking for something a little more compact and portable.
So if you are serious about using Komplete as your primary production software, it’s kind of a no brainer that you’ll definitely want to check out either the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A61 or the S61…