There are 4 variations of Komplete 13 to choose from these days, so picking out the one that works for you is a little more tricky - plus the larger variations are most definitely “SSD Eaters” (the collector’s edition clocks in at a whopping 1 TB). There are a few plugin updates, like Guitar Rig, but this review is going to focus on the new instrumental content. Strap in, there’s a lot!
Okay, can we first stop for a second to appreciate the genius of that section header? Because the realistic instruments taking up valuable bytes of hard drive space and… oh, fine.
The sampled instruments see a significant upgrade this time around with the inclusion of Noire, Stradivari (I tested the Ultimate edition which came with the violin), Mallet Flux, Mysteria, and Session Guitarist.
The interesting thing about these instruments is their propensity to offer two complete paradigms. Mallet Flux, for examples, offers some truly inspiring mallet instruments that sound absolutely stunning. They are meticulously sampled, and have a level of polish that feels wonderful. Add a mix interface that allows you to play back activated rhythm patterns on each instrument, and you’ve got an incredibly useful engine for generating realistic sounding mallet patterns.
This holds true with the other sampled instruments. Noire would be an excellent piano instrument on its own. There are 16gb worth of samples and dynamic layers, it sounds rich and playable. Add the ability to insert a felt dampener between the hammers and the strings and now you can get a truly mellow piano tone that really sits way back in the mix. The particles engine doesn’t just add ‘pads’ to your piano, but it actually adds rhythmic textures and swirling motion behind the piano in a way that makes you want to explore every preset (which, I’ll admit, I did).
The Session Guitarist instruments are very much worth the investment in time it takes to learn them. The guitar loops provided are diverse, and putting the guitar in ‘melody mode’ truly gives you the flexibility to get guitar tracks that are nearly indistinguishable from an actual player. Having access to so many different guitar articulations at the press of a keyswitch really allows you to bring out the natural sound in the samples and make it very convincing.
I found Mysteria to be fun for crafting vocal textures, but I am not completely convinced I want to put aside 30gb of space for it. It definitely has its place in cinematic sound design, but I definitely categorize this one in the ‘you already know if you need it’ classification.
The Stradivari Violin was truly awe-inspiring. The size is huge, but this solo instrument was so good I instantly regretted not getting the entire quartet and splurging for the “Collector’s Edition”. Orchestral composers, if the other 3 instruments in this acoustic string collection are anything like the Stradivari Violin - this is the new collection to beat.
In terms of the synths provided, there are a few fun ones to check out. Super 8 is a new synth that has its own plugin as opposed to running in Kontakt or Reaktor. It has a very ‘big’ sound to me, which makes sense because it uses its own combination of dual oscillators plus FM synthesis. I found the plugin easy to navigate (although it definitely has a Reaktor ‘look’ to it) and the presets are ample. The modulation routing and mapping for Komplete Kontrol owners is well thought out and makes playing Super 8 with a well-equipped controller fun and simple.
There are three additions to the ‘play series’ and my favorite of them is Butch Vig Drums. I was ready to write off BVD as something I wouldn’t use much as I have a TON of drum instruments already - but BVD is something special. The combination of well played and powerful grooves with the synth / filtered / effected elements make this a wonderfully useful tool for quick modern production. It also looks amazing (I know, we’re not supposed to care about that, but… it does!)
The synth patch expansions give you a ton more use out of Reaktor, Massive X, and Battery 4. It was fun to pull up Battery, a plugin I hadn’t delved into for a while, and hear Indigo Dust kits integrated and give a fresh sound to a plugin that wasn’t getting a lot of use for me.
Straylight and Pharlight both load up in Kontakt and are excellent additions to the lineup. Granular instruments typically excel at creating haunting textures and atmospheres, and these two are no exception. While they both have a really unique sound, I found Straylight to be unlike anything I had ever heard before. The macro controls allow for realtime manipulation of the ambient textures, and this felt far more ‘playable’ than a lot of other ‘ambient libraries’. I could definitely see those that work in scoring for film and media getting a LOT out of this instrument.
The instruments of Komplete 13 are truly unique and excellent additions to the lineup. As far as value, I definitely feel they are worthy of the upgrade (I have not always felt that in my 13 versions of purchasing Komplete software updates). From realistic sample libraries to out of this world synths, there is something for everyone with Komplete 13. Check out our separate review of Guitar Rig 6, as well!
Price: $1,199 / $399 update
Pros: Stradivari Violin was an absolute highlight. Noire was incredibly fun to play. Super 8 is going to be a top synth pick for me from now on.
Cons: I wish I got all 4 quartet stringed instruments. I think they could make the ‘what’s new’ advertisement a bit more clear