Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61 MK2
The 61 key variety of the Native Instrument Komplete Kontrol is feature rich.
Contrary to its smaller size, the S61 gives you all the main features you get in the more advanced, larger members of the Komplete Kontrol line. In addition, the control layout has some one-touch buttons that save you the trouble of struggling to find button combinations to make things work.
The dual display have unique functions and make navigation and sample selection a breeze. The Midi controller’s size adds to its portability.
There are many other goodies that you get along with the Komplete Kontrol s61 MK2, which adds value to the overall package.
- First Impression
The NI Komplete Kontrol S61 MK2 comes in a rugged body with dimensions of 39.6” x 11.7” x 3.3”. It is very portable and weighs only 6.5kg. On the back of the Komplete Kontrol S61 MK2, there are a couple of inputs for your sustain and expression pedals. There is also an input for a Midi-enabled device and a Midi out to connect to a speaker system. The unit is bus-powered, which means that the Type B USB port is cable enough to power the unit when connected to a computer which is a good feature. Lastly, you’ll find a port for the power adapter.
The NI Komplete Kontrol S61 MK2 has a Fatar key bed with 61 semi-weighted keys. The keys also have an aftertouch feature. In addition, you have a row of lights called guide lights over each key that gets activated to show different parts of the key bed in terms of applied features/sounds.
The controls are organized into three sections for easy access while playing. You’ll find a couple of wheel controls on the side panel to the left of the key bed. The S61 MK2 has a pitch wheel and a programmable wheel for modulation effects. You also get the option of a touch strip which can be assigned effects like volume so that you can alter the volume of any key by sliding on the strip from left to right. There are also two dedicated buttons for octave shift in this section. On the main control panel above the key bed, there are two colored displays with a row of corresponding buttons at the top and some knobs on the bottom. Most of the navigation is done through the multi-directional master knob, which makes selecting a certain sound from thousands of samples relatively easy. Through the knobs below the display, the user can first choose the category on the right and then select the group on the left display. Once the group is chosen, it is easy to pick the sound you want from the screen on the right, thanks to the preview feature that lets you hear what the sample sounds like before it is mapped to the keys. Once the sample is loaded, the 8 intelligent knobs automatically let you change the relevant parameters of the selected sound.
- Intuitive Functions
You can access other smart controls on the Komplet Kontrol S61 MK2, like the ability to assign chords to single keys. You can also restrict the key bed to a particular scale. The helpful guide lights over each key to help show the user the keys belonging to the selected scale, which can be a useful way to learn. There is also a separate button for the arpeggiator function that brings more creativity to your sound. All the necessary controls are laid out so that you don’t need to dig deep, as most of the navigation has been made easy through the dual display and dedicated one-touch buttons.
- DAW Control
One of the features of the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61 MK2 is that, like most Midi controllers these days, the S61 can control certain aspects of your DAW directly from the controls on board. This gives you more freedom as you don’t need to go back to the laptop to tweak your effects, change your tracks, etc. The S61 is compatible with all leading DAWs, including Ableton Live, Logic, Garage Band, Nuendo, Studio One, and Cubase. Also, the VST sounds in your DAW can seamlessly be mapped to the S61 for quick sample work. You can also play or record through dedicated buttons on your unit and select and set the tempo of your metronome through the tap tempo feature. A useful quantize button can instantly adjust the timing of anything recorded using the unit.
- Software Bundle
The software bundle you get with the S61 gives you many tonal options. Massive, Monark, Reaktor Prism, and Retro Machines give you many synth sounds that cover different playing styles. The Gentleman and Scarbee Mark 1 have you covered in terms of piano samples ranging from acoustic piano sounds to some fascinating electric representations. If you’re more of an organ player, the Vintage Organs plugin has all the organ sounds you need. You can also access Drum Lab and West Africa for some authentic sounding percussions Kontakt libraries. Finally, Replika and Solid Bus Comp give you plenty of reverb and compression effects to choose from. Many other plugins in the software bundle help you build your unique sound. You can use all these plugins after registering your instrument on the Native Instrument website.
The dual displays make applying samples and other features fairly easy and are good to see on a unit at this price point. The software bundle is a great value addition.
The dedicated one-touch buttons for some of the major features make toggling very easy while playing live or in a studio.
The software on the S61 is a bit buggy. If you’re using a compatible DAW with the unit and happen to close it and then reopen it, the S61 may refuse to recognize it. You may have to restart your computer to regain control.
Also, the guide lights may malfunction and flash randomly. The customer support also has some bad reviews. The response is slow and even non-existent at times.
Here are the videos of using Komplete Kontrol S49 MK2 in various DAWs: