Well, kind of. NKS is the company’s solution for allowing third party plug-in developers to integrate their stuff with NI’s Komplete Kontrol and Maschine hardware. Until now, only NI’s own software instruments could take advantage of stuff like auto mapping of controls, light guide and the native browser for selecting sounds. Extending this access to other companies’ products seems like an obvious step, but given how long this has been in the works for, it was presumably rather more difficult to actually implement than it might seem.
This isn’t the first such system that’s been tried (hello Novation Automap) but NI has a good track record of integrating hardware and software so I’d expect this to be pretty seamless to actually use. Third party developers will have to update their instruments to add compatibility but these updates will apparently be free – likely a requirement made by NI to encourage users to jump on board with their hardware ecosystem. Some pretty big names are already on board including Arturia, Heavyocity, Softube and e-Instruments amongst others. More complex instruments, especially Kontakt-based ones, can have lots of fairly fiddly controls so the prospect of them auto mapping to the hardware is a tantalizing one.
The Komplete Kontrol software 1.5 update will be available in late October along with a new (and presumably final) addition to the company’s keyboard lineup, the S88. To the same controller spec as its smaller siblings it adds an 88 weighted key Fatar keyboard and – at last – a true piano-like playing experience. NKS is really the first time NI has fully invited other developers into its hardware world and on the face of it, both sides could gain from the new arrangement. Expect to see more partners added once this stuff hits the streets.
Find out more about the S88 ($999 / 999 € / £729) and other Komplete Kontrol hardware here.