Nektar has launched the Aura Beat Composer at NAMM 2020. The USB/MIDI pad controller features 16 RGB pads and a step sequencer for a drum machine workflow in any DAW. Coming from Nektar, Aura also offers comprehensive plug-in and DAW control. It comes with the Nektarine 2.0 software.
Nektar Aura Beat Composer
Aura is a USB/MIDI pad controller with 16 RGB-lit, pressure-sensitive pads and an integrated step sequencer. According to Nektar, the pads can be freely configured to control multiple parts of a multi-channel drum plug-in or individual plug-ins for each pad. The Nektarine 2.0 software can host up to 16 instrument plug-ins. Nektar says that you’ll be able to browse and select plug-in presets directly from the hardware controller.
In Aura’s plug-in mode, the eight rotary knobs provide instant access to plug-in parameters like pitch, decay and level. The encoder assignments change according to the most recently played pad. Nektar claims that even complex plug-ins are easily controllable with the included, pre-configured mappings.
Pad repeat and step sequencer
The Aura controller offers a pad repeat mode for dynamic rolls. In this mode, the velocity is controlled by the pressure on a pad, while the LED buttons control the repeat rate. This mode also lets you control parameters like gate, accent interval, accent velocity offset, swing, trigger mode and clock source, the manufacturer says.
In sequencer mode, the 16 LED buttons underneath the rotary knobs become step buttons. Aura stores up to 16 patterns (one per pad) with up to 4 x 16 steps (4 parts at 16 steps each). This constitutes a pattern set, which can be stored in one of 16 ‘collections’. Nektar says that the sequencer has versatile performance capabilities. You can launch parts and patterns at any time in any combination. Parts and patterns can also have different lengths for polyrhythmic beats. Parameters like play rate, velocity, accent, gate and swing are adjustable at the step level. The sequencer can also drive external gear via the MIDI output.
Aura offers its own version of the deep DAW integration which Nektar is known for. It includes custom control protocols for Ableton Live, Bitwig, Cubase, Digital Performer, Garageband, Logic, Nuendo, Reaper, Reason, Studio One und Sonar/Cakewalk. In DAW mode, many parameters of these DAWs can be accessed from Aura’s user interface, such as transport, track selection, navigation and others.
In addition to the aforementioned 16 instrument slots, Nektarine 2.0 offers four slots for FX plug-ins per instrument, as well as four global send effects. The FX button on the Aura controller gives you access to these and lets you control effects parameters directly from the hardware. Nektar says that Nektarine 2.0 also offers tagging and sorting options for managing a large collection of presets.
Nektarine 2.0 runs as a plug-in inside a DAW in AAX, AU, VST and VST3 formats, or as a stand-alone application. The software is also available to owners of a Nektar Panorama T4/T6 controller as a free update.
Price and availability
According to Nektar, Aura will be available in the spring of 2020. The MSRP is USD 349.99 / GBP 299.99 / EUR 349.99.