PreSonus Blog

Komplete Kontrol Integration in Studio One, Part 2/3: General-Purpose MIDI Control

In Part 1 (A New Hope”) of the NI Kontroller trilogy, we covered how to integrate the DAW functions from Native Instruments’ Komplete Kontrol keyboards with Studio One. Let’s take this another step further.

In theory, Komplete Kontrol’s MIDI control surface application is only for stand-alone use, and requires using both an external power supply and the keyboard’s 5-pin DIN MIDI connectors for I/O. With a live rig, this makes sense; for use with a DAW, you have the NKS spec communicating over USB. But wouldn’t it be great to be able to use the Komplete keyboard’s control surface with non-NKS instruments, and even effects, in Studio One over USB? Well, you can.

 

GETTING STARTED

For Windows, install MIDI-OX. This utility is key to letting us re-direct the MIDI messages at the Komplete keyboard’s external output to Studio One.

For Macs running Catalina, I currently don’t know of any way to use the MIDI Patchbay utility. This is similar to MIDI-OX, but hasn’t been updated since 2008, and system requirements stop at Mac OS X 10.14. You can try using it with pre-Catalina systems; if Apple’s Gatekeeper blocks the installation, you’ll need to allow it under Security & Privacy. Once you get it installed, it should work similarly to MIDI-OX if you choose Komplete Kontrol S-Series Port 1 for the MIDI input option (and consider that equivalent to Komplete Kontrol -1 in the following description), and choose Komplete Kontrol S-Series Port 2 for the MIDI output option (it should work similarly to Komplete Kontrol EXT-1, below). Mac users, please feel free to comment below about what does and does not work with the Mac.

Back to Windows…

  1. Turn on the Komplete keyboard.
  2. After the keyboard boots, open MIDI-OX. Under MIDI-OX’s Options > MIDI Devices, choose Komplete Kontrol – 1 for MIDI Input and Komplete Kontrol EXT-1 for MIDI output (Fig. 1). Click OK to close the MIDI Devices screen.
  3. Open Studio One, but leave MIDI-OX open while Studio One is open.

Figure 1: How to set up the MIDI-OX utility so that NI keyboards can control non-NKS instruments over USB.

 

  1. Now we need to tell Studio One that MIDI-OX is a new keyboard, even though it isn’t really. Choose Studio One > Options > External Devices, click Add, and choose New Keyboard (Fig. 2).

 

Figure 2: How to add MIDI-OX as a pseudo-keyboard.  

 

  1. For Receive From, choose Komplete Kontrol – 1. Studio One will warn you not to do this, but just ignore the warning. For Send To, choose Komplete Kontrol Ext – 1. You’ll have another warning to ignore—but I promise you, no harm will come to Studio One.
  2. Click OK, then click OK again to get out of the options screen. We’ll cover when/how to use MIDI-OX later.

 

A WORD OF CAUTION

At the moment, the Komplete Kontrol application’s template management is somewhat primitive. Any changes you make are saved when you close the MIDI controller application; there’s no “Save” or “Save as” command, nor can you manage individual templates—they’re all saved in a single .dat file.

However, if saving-by-closing doesn’t work for you, and you can’t seem to save new templates, there may be an esoteric Windows problem. This is particularly likely for those who upgraded to Windows 10 from an earlier version, because the folder holding the templates may be write-protected due to inheriting permissions. Here’s the fix.

  1. Open the C: ProgramData folder. (This is a hidden folder, so if you don’t see it, type Windows key+R, and then type Control Panel in the Open box. In the Control Panel, click on Appearance and Personalization, then choose File Explorer Options. Click on View, and then select Show Hidden Files, Folders, and Drives.)
  2. In ProgramData, locate the Native Instruments folder, and right-click on it.
  3. Click on the Security tab, then click Edit.
  4. Choose Users, check all the Allow boxes, and click Apply. Also, do this for any other Group or User names that let you click the Allow boxes (Creator Owner may not…no worries). After applying everything, click OK.

Okay, now that’s out of the way. Hey!! Don’t blame me! It’s a Windows thing.

 

CREATING A STUDIO ONE-FRIENDLY TEMPLATE

You access the MIDI control surface when you push the Komplete keyboard’s MIDI button, which also defaults to opening if the Komplete keyboard doesn’t see an NKS instrument. The following procedure describes how to create the kind of template we want for Studio One’s plug-ins.

  1. Open the Komplete Kontrol application (Komplete Kontrol.exe) in stand-alone mode, not as a plug-in. This is the only mode that lets you do MIDI assignments. Then, click on the MIDI 5-pin DIN symbol in the upper right (Fig. 3).
  2. Create a new template by clicking on the + button under templates. Right-click on it to rename it.
  3. The template will default to two pages of controls (16 knobs total), but of course, we want more! Click on the + sign to the right of a page, and you can add up to two more pages.

Figure 3: The important items needed to create and customize a template are circled in white. From right to left: MIDI button that opens the MIDI assignment editor, + sign for adding more pages, and + sign for adding more templates (in this case, it’s adding one for the Fat Channel).

 

  1. Now comes the tedious part. Each knob and button needs to have a unique MIDI continuous controller (CC) number, so that each one can control a unique parameter. Page 1 defaults to CC14-CC21, and page 2 covers CC22-CC29. However, pages 3 and 4 just duplicate the assignments for page 1, and all the buttons default to CC112-CC119. So it’s time to program some additional controls.
  2. Click on one of the virtual knobs, and you’ll see its number assignment in the MIDI field toward the lower middle. Change this number to the desired controller number. The label will still reflect the old number, but that’s okay—we’ll be re-naming the labels anyway for specific synth and effects parameters. Here’s how I assigned the controllers.

Knobs

  • Page 1: 14-21 (the default)
  • Page 2: 22-29 (the default)
  • Page 3: 30-37
  • Page 4: 38-45

 

Switches

  • Page 1: 88-95
  • Page 2: 96-103
  • Page 3: 104-111
  • Page 4: 112-119 (the default)

 

Note that you can choose whether the knobs cover an absolute range, as specified by the Range From and To controls, a Relative Range, or a Relative Offset. Since I don’t like my head to explode any more than necessary, I left this option on Absolute to start, knowing that I could change it later. You can also program keyboard parameters, pedals, the touchstrip, and the keyboard key colors—16 color choices in all. So, different templates can color the keys differently for visual confirmation that you’ve chosen the desired template (of course, I chose the color “mint” for the Mojito template).

So to recap, we’ve set up a general-purpose template, with a separate controller for each knob and switch, that we can use to create a custom control surface for non-NKS instruments and effects… as we’ll find out in part 3 of the NKS trilogy, Rise of the Controller.

  • Gary

    Hey Craig,
    After following the instructions on this article, I now noticed that my sustain pedal is inverted in Studio One. It sounds fine while I am recording but on playback, the sustain is backwards. Do you know how to fix that little dilemma?

  • Stefan Robbers

    On a Kontrol M32, press shift + Plug-in to enter midi mode. You don’t have buttons but you can assign up to 32 dials using the page knobs on the M32. This way you can use Control Link, and it does not not require the Midi Patchbay tool or complex setups.

  • Lo siento, no tengo el Maschine Mikro MKII, así que no puedo escribir sobre eso.

  • luiggi sanchez

    Cuando habrá algo para Maschine Mikro MKII?

  • I agree with your points in general, but consider that it’s very easy to put your most-used parameters on one page, while having 3 other pages available for something like adjusting envelopes – which you might not do as often, but whose parameters interact a lot. It’s instructive to see how companies choose parameters for their NKS plug-ins; that’s given me ideas on what is (and is not!) the most efficient way to use hands-on control with the KK keyboard.

  • Rob Gray

    I see! I just have multiple templates such as “Mai Tai 1” and “Mai Tai 2” but for most things I only really needed a “greatest hits” of parameters anyway. I found too much side to side scrolling within templates can actually negate the immediacy of the assignments anyway. I can see why someone would choose to do this, just thought it was an odd choice for a one-size-fits-most series on the topic.

  • You can, but the object of all this is to make non-NKS plug-ins act as similarly as possible to NKS. By using the NI MIDI controller templates, you can name the controls, load different templates for different instruments, program the keyboard light colors, limit the controller range, and the like. Also with using the PreSonus External Control device, I haven’t found a way to go beyond 16 controls and eight switches. By adding pages to the NI template, and using the method described here for control, you can have up to 32 knobs and switches – helpful with synths like Mai Tai. I would welcome a simpler option, but after working on various approaches over several weeks, what’s described in this series is what I found to be the most comprehensive solution to making non-NKS instruments and effects feel like NKS versions.

  • Sorry, I don’t have an A-series keyboard. But I would assume that Komplete Kontrol A25 MIDI would be the same as Komplete Kontrol -1 – give that a try.

  • Rob Gray

    Why make it so complicated? Why not just create a template and use Control Link with the Controller in the MIDI window?

  • Leo Bercoff

    “no enough memory” is a common message I get since long time from MIDI-OX. That’s why I think it’s somewhat obsolete, despite it does a great job in monitoring and routing MIDI.

  • Leo Bercoff

    Midi-Ox? Last version 7.0.2 is from 2011. It works over Windows 10 but lots of time it crashes and cannot live together with other programs using MIDI ports, in a way difficult to describe. It’s time somebody does a refreshed program, or even Presonus implement some router like that inside Studio One. Would be really great!

  • DoctorDongle

    I had a lot of trouble after trying the setup in part 1 in this series. Basically I have nothing called Komplete Kontrol -1. I have Komplete Kontrol A DAW and A25 Midi to choose between.

    This whole setup in part 2 looks even more complicated. So I am not going to try it. Anyway I have a Faderport 16 so I don’t need Komplete Kontrol for a lot of tasks.

  • Paul

    The memory Issue, Make sure studio one or any other daw is not running while selecting device in midiox.

  • Native Instruments intends the keyboard knobs to be used only with NKS-compatible plug-ins, unless you’re using the keyboard’s DIN connection in stand-alone mode (i.e., not through USB). Then the keyboard serves as a general-purpose MIDI controller for live use. MIDI-OX fools the keyboard into sending the data that would normally go to the DIN connectors through USB as well, so that Studio One (or other programs) can use it. As to the memory issue, are you saying MIDI-OX says there’s not enough memory? It’s a very small program, so that shouldn’t be an issue. I’ve never had that happen; maybe try re-installing it?

  • I try to set my keyboard in MIDI-OX’s Options > MIDI Devices, but the program tells me there is no enough memory, but I definitely have enough…. why didn’t Presonus managed to do full integration, so we could use NI Kontrol knobs to control any buttons in S1?