Native Instruments has released their free KORE player software and the first packs of sounds for the KORE platform today. It’s part of their play to get soundware addicts onto KORE, their all-encompassing instruments and effects package. First, here’s a review of what KORE actually is, as it’s expanded from even what it was when first announced at the beginning of 2007. KORE is…
- KORE software, a tool that can act either as a plug-in or a host for plug-ins, which provides sound browsing, internal effects, and performance controls for combining sounds and effects in semi-modular fashion – ships as KORE 2
- A hardware controller, integrated with the software for high, resolution hands-on control and the ability to audition and switch sounds and performance presets without looking at your computer – also ships with KORE 2
- A sound platform, in which NI presets for existing instruments and effects are categorized and controlled in standardized ways — which doesn’t require KORE 2
- A set of functionalities built into NI’s instrument and effects line that make it easier to browse presets (theirs or your own) in a standard way — again, doesn’t require KORE 2 (though integrates with the hardware if you’ve got it)
So, what’s it all mean? Well, in short, you can get a handful of sounds for free, some good sounds for cheap — but, as often happens, the exciting stuff is at the deep end of the pool when you pay up for the full KORE and get a semi-modular performance environment for instruments and effects, integrated with control hardware. And since we like diving in the deep end around here, you know upfront where our bias is. That said, here’s a quick look at some of the bargain buys to be had, which could complement another tool nicely.
The Freebie: KORE Player
KORE Player, of course, can’t do what KORE 2 does, or you wouldn’t buy the full product. But if you check the comparison, you’ll see KORE Player leaves out support for third-party plug-ins, the sophisticated mapping and routing features, internal effects, and performance presets. It’s just a sound player and browser. You do get sound variations for each sound and morphing features, plus automation and recall in any audio host, so it is more sophisticated than what we’ve tended to see in this category. But it is what it is: a soundware browsing and playback tool.
Freebie lovers, though, should appreciate that you get a slick package with 300 MB of sounds (50 presets) to play with for no cost at all, so I won’t complain. I just will say, don’t assume this really gives you a sense of what KORE is, because it strips out the really interesting bits.
The Add-ons: KORE Soundpacks
The other half of the announcement today is sound packs. As with KORE Player, what this announcement means depends entirely on who you are:
You just want some sounds to play with. For US$59-79, the soundpacks give you that: new sounds taken from NI’s best instruments and effects, with synthetic drums, a Hammond C3, the Massive and Absynth synths, the Reaktor engine, sampled sax & brass, and sampled “pop” drums. And, because these play in KORE Player, you can choose different variations and morph between them. You can’t control the sounds with KORE hardware, but you can assign MIDI control (and I expect you can find something with eight knobs.) It’s a good deal — and if you want some Reaktor weirdness, for instance, it’s a terrific way to inject that into your sets without falling down the rabbit hole of trying to learn Reaktor.
You’re a power user / NI die-hard. Yes, the whole point of the Soundpacks is that you don’t need to own Reaktor or Massive or Kontakt or whatever was used to create the sounds. But if you do have those tools, you can jump in and edit the actual presets. There are a couple of oddities — the Best of Reaktor collection has instruments you’ve already seen in Reaktor, albeit with some new sound variations. I could complain about that, but at this point, I’d rather wait and get a new version of Reaktor.
The main thing is, those of you do own KORE 2, you get a free choice of soundpack to go with it (and I can see from the forums that some of the KORE 2 early adopters have been waiting impatiently for that). I’d say if you own Reaktor already, skip the Best of Reaktor and go for the Massive Expansion or something; I think that’s what I’ll be doing.
So, Would I Buy Them?
Well, okay, I’m not really the target audience for the Soundpacks. But I will say this: while I think even in KORE 2 there’s still some untapped potential for KORE to reach, the real story here remains the KORE flagship. The soundpacks look like a good buy for the budget-minded, and finally give people some of the NI sounds without requiring a massive investment of cash. (You can literally get some good stuff for $60-120, instead of hundreds and hundreds of dollars.) But, don’t try to argue that with me. To me, it’s diving into KORE + Kontakt that really starts to get interesting. It’s not for everyone, and it’s got some increasingly-tougher competition for your “powerful instruments + effects rig live” dollar (which is a good thing). But it is right up CDM’s alley, so we’ll have more of a look at what it all means soon.