Native Instruments unveils Komplete Kontrol S-Series controller keyboards

Native Instruments has plenty of hardware for beatmakers and DJs, but what about synth players - the people who've been using the company's products since it started creating software instruments back in the '90s?

Finally, they're being catered for with a new range of controllers known as the Kontrol S-Series keyboards. Available with 25, 49 or 61 keys, each of these has a Fatar keybed and promises a "luxurious" playing experience.

Playability is only one small part of the story, however - the S-Series models are also notable for their tight integration with the software in NI's Komplete bundle. Sounds can be browsed by type rather than instrument thanks to the Komplete Browser, while the Native Map technology automatically assigns the parameters in each Komplete instrument to the touch-sensitive controller knobs.

Then there's the Light Guide - a set of multi-colour LEDs that can show key switches, zones and more. These also have a performance angle, illustrating scales, chords and arpeggios as they're played.

Songwriting aids

Speaking of chords, the S-Series' Smart Play features include a Chord mode that enables you to play complex chords with single keys. There's also a Chord Set mode that provides ready-to-play progressions. Could these keyboards actually write songs for you, we wonder?

Smart Play also offers scale mapping - select a scale and its notes are shown on the Light Guide. You can also map scales to the white keys. An arpeggiator is included, too, and the eight controller knobs can manage its direction, rate, rhythm, patterns, and variations.

Finally, we have the two touch-sensitive Touch Kontrols, which promise to go far beyond traditional mod and pitch wheels by mimicking not only their behaviour, but also that of physical objects such as springs and bouncing balls.

Commenting on the launch of the S-Series keyboards, Daniel Haver, CEO of Native Instruments, said: "In the last two decades our software instruments have shaped and defined diverse musical styles and genres. The Komplete Kontrol S-Series keyboards finally bring our original vision to life, and elevate the experience of sounds to a whole new level. Only now the diversity of all Komplete instruments and sounds becomes truly accessible in a single instrument, in ways that no controller or keyboard ever did before."

The keyboards will be available from 1 October from retailers or through the Native Instruments website. The S25 will cost $499/€499, the S49 will be priced at $599/€599, and the S61 will be available for $699/€699.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.