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If you’re looking to expand the sonic palette of your digital audio workstation, you’d be hard pressed to find a more radical way to do so than by diving into Komplete 8. As the name implies, Komplete 8 is a voluminous suite of software instruments, effects and unique sound-creation tools. From the smallest bedroom studios to the world’s largest recording facilities, Komplete 8 arms its users with unlimited musical possibilities.
There are two available versions of this monstrous bundle of software: Komplete 8 Ultimate and Komplete 8, both of which are Mac and Windows compatible. These are all-encompassing collections of software that cover everything from industry leading virtual guitar effects and modeling, electronic and acoustic drums, grand pianos and organs, symphonic instrumentation, every kind of synthesizer under the sun and scores of instruments and devices that defy categorization. Both bundles run as VST, Audio Units and RTAS plug-ins (and many run as stand-alone programs as well).
As you can likely surmise, Komplete 8 Ultimate is the top of the range, all-inclusive package. Ultimate comes with 50 individual instruments and effects. In addition, there are over 13,000 sounds and 240GB of samples. One of the many things that makes this the ultimate sonic toolbox is that it comes preloaded on its own USB 2.0 hard drive, so you won’t have to spend a tremendous amount of time feeding DVD ROMs into your computer. Installation is fast and easy, so you can dig right in.
The standard Komplete 8 bundle may be smaller, but it still empowers you with unlimited creative potential. For half the cost of Ultimate, you get 27 instruments and effects and a substantial 110GB of sounds. It includes all three of the flagship products found in the Ultimate bundle: Kontakt 5, Reaktor 5.6 and Guitar Rig 5 Pro (more information on these in a bit). The question is, do you really need this many different kinds of instruments and effects, and at what point does the number of options become too much?
It all depends on the projects you expect to do, and the amount of sonic variety you desire. Some people may be perfectly happy only owning one software synthesizer, while others may never desire one at all. However, there are plenty of people who may want the icy wash of a very digital-sounding FM synthesizer for one portion of a composition, and then juxtapose that sound with a subtractive synthesizer in the next portion of their work.
Many people are committed to creating new music, and their journey of discovery is by no means a short one. It’s a lifelong quest, and therefore they require tools that are as varied and unusual as the world around them. Today I may need to create a backing beat with a realistic sounding 1960s drum set, but who knows, tomorrow I may experiment with melodic rhythms using a West African calabash and balafon. The Komplete 8 bundles are products for people who want to compose for all sorts of mucial applications without boundaries.
I could elaborate endlessly about the wild range of things you can do with these two versions of Komplete 8, but rather than yammering amorphously about its vastness, how about I just give you a little taste of some of the included applications that get my synapses firing?
Beyond the 70 synthesizers, sound generators, beat makers and sequencers that come preloaded in Reaktor 5.6, you can download over 3,000 more online for free, and build your own instruments from scratch. You’re only limited by the amount of spare time you have.
This is a comprehensive software sampler that enables you to create your own samples or use the 43GB library of included sounds. Kontakt 5 acts as the central nervous system for a number of instruments in Komplete 8, and it has its own compressors, EQs and filters.
Have you ever marveled at the tone and character of one of Ringo’s drum fills on a Beatles recording and lamented that you’ll never be able to get that sound? Well cheer up, because both bundles come with Abbey Road | 60s Drums. It’s a Kontakt instrument that contains samples of vintage drum kits that were recorded with period equipment in the legendary Studio Two at Abbey Road. In addition to the 60s sample library, Komplete 8 Ultimate includes three more libraries for Abbey Road 70s, 80s and Modern Drums.
Massive is an incredibly popular instrument for creating thick and juicy electronic bass lines and strident leads. If you overhear a couple of electronic music producers chatting in a café, you’ll likely hear the name Massive mentioned over and over again.
With 17 guitar amplifiers, 27 cabinets and 54 effects, Guitar Rig 5 Pro supplies you with an the kind of firepower that only large recording studios used to have. Guitar players have a ball crafting unique tones with all of this muscle and even use it live onstage with the addition of the separately available Native Instruments Guitar Rig Controller. But it’s important to keep in mind that you can pass any sound through these amps, cabinets and effects—not just guitars.
When it comes to intricate and textured sounds, Absynth 5 soars deeply into the lush sonic territory that I always hoped synthesizers would reach. Perusing its 1,800 presets is a fantastical journey. For sound design and music that requires glorious and other-worldly instrumentation and effects, Absynth 5 is a direct flight to a distant and vibrant solar system.
In the world of computer music making, Battery is a product that many rely upon for creating awesome-sounding beats and percussive elements. It’s got a powerful interface with its own built-in effects, but the real value of Battery 3 is its sound library. It just rocks.
You don’t always need warm, analog-sounding synthesizers. Sometimes a mix calls for a cold and shimmering layer of purely digital sounds. Utilizing FM synthesis, FM8 is popular instrument for glassy and radiant sounds.
If you like synthesizers that aren’t wholly predictable, and react differently depending upon how you interact with them, you’ll be inspired by Reaktor Spark and its unique take on subtractive synthesis.
Thanks for checking out this B&H InDepth article. If you have any questions about these mammoth software bundles, we encourage you to submit a Comment below.