We take a closer look at the NI Komplete Kontrol A25, a well designed and good quality controller which is a steal at this price point.
NI Komplete Kontrol A25
A year ago Native Instruments wowed us with the Mk2 update of their S-Series Komplete Kontrol keyboards. Like the larger Maschine boxes, these had alluring high-res displays and a plentiful complement of colourful buttons and indicators. The intention was clearly to establish NI software as the heart of your production workflow, with highly-integrated hardware control making access and control as easy as possible.
It seems that NI are now intent on bringing some of this functionality to users with shallower pockets with their new keyboard controller range in the Komplete Kontrol A-Series. Up for review we have the smallest of the range, the 25-key A25. Despite its relatively diminutive stature it features full-size keys and has the same button, knob and screen configuration as it’s larger siblings (the A49 and A61). Styling is similar to the recently updated Maschine range, with black backlit buttons employed throughout.
Overall, the look is smart and functional, with a sprung, semi-weighted keyboard action that feels solid and playable. Getting started with the A25 is as simple as connecting the enclosed USB cable. The unit takes all its power from the USB port, so there’s little else on the back panel other than a pedal input (TRS jack) for adding an external sustain or expression pedal.
The A-Series comes with a decent bundle of sound generating software – with the provided NI instruments and libraries all accessible in both standalone and plug-in versions. However, they can also be brought together using the Komplete Kontrol software. Here browsing can be directly controlled by the buttons and knob above the A25 keyboard (with the eight encoders automatically mapped to suitable sound editing parameters).
Other than individual button lights being on or off, the small front-panel OLED is the only way of getting any visual feedback without resorting to the attached software. Whilst the S-Series design means they almost feel like self-self-contained instruments, the A-Series feels a little less seamless in use. However, this is perhaps a fair compromise given the large price difference.
That being said, for the A25’s £119 price tag you do get two strong Kontakt-based piano libraries, a couple of excellent synths and ‘Player’ versions of Reaktor, Kontakt and Guitar Rig plus a £22 NI Store e-voucher. Additionally, Maschine Essentials, which includes the full Maschine software (but with a trimmed 1.6GB of content) is also thrown into the mix. This means that buying the A25 gives you a means of getting started in music making without touching any other software. However, if you already have a favourite DAW, there is also plenty on offer here beyond just the hardware. DAW control/integration is included for Logic, Garageband, Ableton, Cubase and Nuendo and the Native Kontrol Standard is being adopted by an ever-increasing number of 3rd-party sound creators.
It may not have the bells and whistles of the S-Series, but if you need a well-designed and good-quality controller keyboard then the Komplete Kontrol A-Series is well worth a look. For the money, and when you take into account the included software, the A25 is actually a steal.
- Komplete Kontrol A25 – £119
- Komplete Kontrol A49 – £159
- Komplete Kontrol A61 – £199
- KOMPLETE KONTROL
- MASCHINE ESSENTIALS (full MASCHINE software plus 1.6 GB MASCHINE Factory Selection)
- THE GENTLEMAN
- REAKTOR PRISM
- SCARBEE MARK I
- REAKTOR BLOCKS WIRED
- REAKTOR 6 PLAYER
- KONTAKT 6 PLAYER
- GUITAR RIG 5 PLAYER
- + £22.00 e-voucher to spend in the NI Online Shop