You know how some NI lovers were complaining that they weren’t getting new synths? You can officially stop complaining. More details on each of these soon, but Native Instruments has dropped an enormous number of new synths, including one entirely-new instrument, in a single mega-announcement:

  1. Battery 3: Battery is a huge favorite drum sampler around here, so word of a new Battery 3 could be the most welcome news in this announcement. There are lots of new features — arguably a bigger upgrade than Battery 2, with new sound shaping features and adjustable flam, humanize, and roll settings. There’s a new wave editor, beefing up the sampler side of the equation. But I think the best improvement could turn out to be the redesigned, customizable matrix view, which could resolve the one part of Battery that felt clunky. It looks like it’s much easier to see and adjust your drum matrix.
  2. FM8: Whereas the previous FM7 was focused on emulating existing FM synths (namely the Yamaha DX series), FM8 promises to be a truly new take on FM. Sound morphing, a programmable arpeggiator, new effects, and new presets, are among the new features. What I like best: a new, friendlier interface to make controls accessible.
  3. Absynth 4: The thought of Absynth getting deeper actually makes my head hurt, but new wave morphing and freely-assignable modulation will make this synth more powerful. Fortunately, this release promises to be a little easier to use (thank you!). Previous versions of Absynth had deep but confusing envelopes. This version mercifully adds a master ADSR envelope and an envelope “step mode”, which sounds like this could finally clear the hurdles that kept Absynth from a wider audience.
  4. Massive: Massive is an entirely new instrument, with “wave-scanning oscillators”, multi-mode filters, flexible routing, drag-and-drop modulation, macro controls, and an envelope step sequencer that looks inspired by Absynth (though much easier to use than early Absynth releases). I really want to say more, but … well, stay tuned, and go listen to the samples on NI’s site and see what you think.
  5. Komplete 4: Naturally, Komplete needs an update with all this new feature, and it’s getting one. It’s also terrific to see that NI is bundling in the instruments that were missing, like Akoustik Piano, and including all the new stuff. The only software missing is Massive, though it’s available for a limited time in a bundle with Kore and Komplete. (Too bad Massive isn’t just rolled into Komplete, as it looks very promising.) Also, Komplete will no longer include Intakt or Kompakt, though these stripped-down samplers were already a bit redundant and obsolete, made more so by Kontakt 2 and now Battery 3, so I expect few will miss them. (I actually left them out when I installed Komplete 3.)

Got all that?

New Products [Native Instruments]

Common to all the new releases are integrated KoreSound browsers and better Kore integration. This will allow you to easily find presets even if you aren’t a Kore owner, right from inside the software, and if you do use Kore, it’ll make the integration with the hardware and host much deeper. This might sound like bad news if you’re not a Kore fan, but because it functions seamlessly within the software, I think everyone will benefit. Keyboard readers know I had some criticisms of Kore in its first version, but this could involve some first steps to resolve some of the issues I raised. More on that soon.

In fact, in general there’s a common trend you can see in all the screen grabs to improve NI’s user interfaces. We’ve heard people on the forum and comments here on CDM (let alone other sites) talk about loving the sound capabilities of NI’s software but wishing the instruments were a little more accessible from a UI standpoint. I look forward to doing some hands-on reviews with these instruments to see if this effort pays off; it already looks promising.

Of course, Mac Intel users will be happiest about finally getting universal versions of the software. NI chose to upgrade the entire package, which will mean investing in upgrade fees; I expect this will anger some users, but make others happy, as these do look like significant upgrades and potentially worth the cash.

Upgrade pricing is US$119/EUR99 for existing users of individual instruments.

More on all these updates soon, but wanted to give you the first preview.