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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
Studio One 4.53 introduced integration with Native Instruments’ Komplete series of keyboards, which is a big deal. Although these keyboards are theoretically dedicated to NKS-compatible plug-ins and mixer/transport hands-on control, with Windows systems (Mac fans, there’s more on this later) you can use the keyboard as a general-purpose, hands-on MIDI controller for non-NKS plug-ins, including all bundled PreSonus effects and instruments (as well as plug-ins from other manufacturers). Also, unlike standard NKS, you’ll be able to control effects, regardless of whether or not they’re inserted in an instrument track.
There’s a lot to cover, and since this is more like a tutorial than a tip, it’s split into three parts: DAW control with Studio One, creating custom templates for plug-ins, and how to apply the templates in your workflow.
INTEGRATING THE KEYBOARD
Choose Studio One > Options > External Devices, and click Add. Scroll to the entry for Native Instruments, unfold it, and select either your A/M or S series keyboard for Receive From and Send To. I’m using an S49 (Fig. 1).
INTEGRATING THE CONTROL SURFACE
Now let’s set up the Komplete keyboard as a new control surface. Again, choose Studio One > Options > External Devices, click Add, and scroll down to the entry for Native Instruments. Unfold it, and select Komplete Kontrol DAW – 1 for both Receive From and Send To (Fig. 2).
CHOOSING THE MODE OF OPERATION
To edit NKS plug-ins, press the PLUG-IN mode button in the keyboard’s cluster of six buttons, toward the upper right. Controls that don’t relate to a synth or effect, such as the Transport, Metronome, Tape Tempo, and the like remain active. When it’s time to mix and you want full integration with Studio One’s mixer, press the MIXER button.
The following describes how the control surface for the current S-series Mk2 keyboards integrates currently with Studio One; click here for information from PreSonus on suitability with other NI keyboards, and updates.
Transport. The Play, Rec, and Stop buttons do what you’d expect, but there’s more to the story than that—there are several nuanced options. The following assumes you’re starting from a stopped transport.
This takes care of the mixer and transport functions. Next week, we’ll cover how to create custom MIDI control setups using the Komplete Kontrol application, and that will prepare us for Part 3, which describes how to create “faux NKS” control surface capabilities for PreSonus instruments and effects. Yes, it really is possible…
Native Instruments can seemingly do no wrong when it comes to compelling and original VSTs. One of their more recent endeavors is THE MOUTH, and enterprising YouTube accountholder void101a has posted a video detailing how to get THE MOUTH to talk the talk in Studio One 2.
Well, I say “detailing,” but at two minutes there’s technically not a lot of time detail… which is good. When it comes to workflow, we try to keep it simple. This isn’t the case so much with our attitude toward convolution reverbs, but I digress.
Here’s how to use your mouth.