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Into the crowded sector of portable USB audio interdeals with, Native Instruments have actually released 3 brand-new boxes. The first two, the Komplete Audio 1 and also Komplete Audio 2 are sub-£100$150 two in/2 out jobbies that if it wasn"t for their striking looks would certainly be shed amongst the crowd of comparable offerings from many kind of various other suppliers. But complying with on a couple of months behind is the Komplete Audio 6 MkII. This has actually a solid feature set at a decent price, but there"s somepoint a little additional that may well tempt you away from the competitors.

This is the successor to the long-lived Komplete Audio 6, originally released in 2011. It was a smart little box made from an aluminium extrusion and also featured the six networks of audio (four analogue inputs and outputs, and also S/PDIF) that offered it its name. At a time when everybody else was making fiddly little 1U rack elevation tools with all the controls on the front panel, it had an extremely cool volume dial on the optimal. The MkII goes for a completely various aesthetic however retains all the many essential functions.

The Komplete Package

All three of the interdeals with follow the current Native Instruments architecture ideology of smooth lines, square corners and also deeply babsence, minimally featured surfaces. The difficult plastic of the KA1 and 2 is outclassed by the metal sandwiching of the KA6 MkII. But they all share the extremely reflective and also shiny fingerprint-magnet monitoring LED panel on the optimal. The KA6 MkII is weighty via effective rubberised feet that sheight it slipping on the desktop. It is also larger than the original, being about the dimension of a Video Game Of Thrones DVD boxset and just as imposing. It keeps the ergonomically advantageous top–installed volume knob from the original, but this only handles the output volume of channels 1+2.

All various other controls are on the front, and they are specifically as you"d imagine them to be. Two "combi" mic/line/instrument inputs have actually individual gain knobs and also 48V phantom power. (There"s a mono/stereo switch for linking the networks.) Twin headphone sockets with independent volume regulate, for you and also a friend, deserve to be switched to monitor either outputs 1+2 or 3+4, and also a knob mixes in between straight input monitoring and software program monitoring from the hold.

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Round the earlier of the Komplete Audio 6 we discover a USB port, MIDI I/O sockets, S/PDIF I/O, and also 4 audio outputs and two audio inputs on quarter-inch jack sockets.

On the back tbelow are the other two inputs, 4 analogue outputs and S/PDIF coaxial in and out. There"s additionally the very welcome sight of MIDI in and also out ports, which is regularly a rarity at this price. A single USB socket rounds off the relationships and points out that this is pucount USB bus powered. There"s no socket or choice for a power supply.

At the price of £189$249 the Komplete Audio 6 MkII is a decent, robust, elegant and well-constructed audio interchallenge through a prevalent physical attribute collection. The knobs are little but great, with incredibly bit play or noisiness. The switches switch favor they need to and also the sockets plug in solidly. It could be a little bit humdrum if it wasn"t for the truth that it looked so fabulous!

Once you"ve mounted the chauffeurs (Windows) and plugged it in, the surveillance panel lights up pleasingly. The white text stands out nicely from the reflective black. Three white LEDs tell you if it"s gaining USB power, if the phantom power is on and also whether there"s any type of MIDI activity. There"s sepaprice input monitoring on all 4 analogue inputs, through four blue LEDs resulting in a red LED top light. Only outputs 1+2 get LED monitoring. It"s all rather sparkly on that reflective surface and also it is so a lot even more valuable to have it on the optimal of the interchallenge rather than squeezed onto the front panel like so many type of others execute. In reality tbelow are no indicator LEDs on the front panel at all.

On the computer there"s extremely bit in regards to manage software. There are no mixer applications or routing alternatives, simply a box to collection buffer dimension and sample price. And that"s fine by me. I regularly uncover that audio interface mixing applications tfinish to gain in the way, including an extra level of potentially getting points wrong in between the hardware and also your DAW. But it can likewise be a small also easy as you can not set up any kind of surveillance alternatives or routing. So you deserve to only "straight monitor" using the headphone sockets on the front utilizing the knob to mix in between straight and also hold. You can"t direct this to an output on the ago and acquire a mix of wet and also dry input via your major speakers. Once you"re in your DAW or online instrument then all 6 inputs and outputs existing themselves for occupational through the ASIO driver and you"re all set to go.

Testing

Time to put it through its paces. The original KA6 has constantly percreated well — Native Instruments regulated to compose good chauffeurs that didn"t bother the CPU till you gained dvery own to exceptionally low buffer sizes — so I was keen to check out if the new one was approximately that sort of level. And yes, it"s remarkably good.

Recordings were crisp and clean via an excellent amount of headroom, with nothing unexplained or remarkable for this price. In terms of latency, from the buffer size food selection, you can choose all the method dvery own to an nearly mythical eight samples. Most interencounters seldom provide you an alternative listed below 32 samples. This equates to a millisecond or two of latency, but it"s not fairly as easy as that. The regulate panel has a "Safe Mode" tickbox that hides an enigma buffer in the background, enabling the input latency to come down to tiny levels while keeping the output latency at a slightly buffered level of an extra millisecond or 2 to prevent audio glitching. It"s a valuable attribute if a small little bit mysterious.

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The new Komplete Audio USB audio interdeals with are joyously basic, lovely to look at, well designed, durable and portable.

So, when trial and error through the Oblique RTL (Round Trip Latency) energy through Safe Mode involved, the finest round trip latency (that"s in and out aget, prefer as soon as security through effects) it might attain via eight samples was 5.5ms. Without Safe Setting it gained down to 4.3ms. At 64 samples it managed 5.6ms without Safe Setting and also 6.6ms through it on. At an extra typical establishing of 128 samples round expedition latency was 11.1ms through Safe Mode and 9.2 without. Around 10ms round-trip is pretty conventional for this level of USB audio interconfront and also so the fact that it have the right to reduced that in fifty percent is pretty impressive. In doing some testing on the output latency while running online instruments I discovered I might gain down to just a couple of milliseconds and still have a completely glitch free real-time audio response.

Is Safe Mode important? Yes and also no; it really depends on your device and also what you"re doing. On my test machine — a Surface Pro 6 i5 running Windows 10 — it would crackle once playing a complex polysynth digital instrument at eight samples, however after turning on Safe Setting the glitches went amethod — and also the feel and also response of the instrument as soon as playing was identical, or at least the distinction was as well little to notice. Instead of all this Safe Mode business the options might be even more in-depth, but I guess it"s just trying to save points straightforward and also glitch totally free in the many feasible instances. In regards to CPU performance I found that the processor only started to gain bothered by the strain at 32 samples, and also if I was all set to sacrifice a pair of millisecs at 64 or 128 samples then the CPU would hardly battach.

DC Coupling

So much, so great, yet what sets the KA6 MkII acomponent from any various other audio interface everywhere near this price is that the four analogue outputs are DC coupled. They execute not have actually the filter that"s found on the majority of audio interencounters that removes the exceptionally low frequencies and level voltage interference. This means that the KA6 MkII deserve to pass regulate voltages (CV) from software to hardware modular or semi-modular synthesizers and also gadgets. You deserve to have four networks of CV for managing your Eurorack — that"s amazing! Well, impressive in that it"s hard to uncover audio interencounters that do this at this price. The PreSonus Studio 68c is one slightly even more expensive opportunity, however you"d generally be looking at a MOTU interchallenge or somepoint similarly high-end for DC-coupled outputs. Or if you wanted it all in your Eurorack then the Expert Sleepers ES-8 would certainly execute the task, yet has no mic preamps or instrument inputs.

So exactly how well does it work? Pretty great... To make use of the DC-coupled outputs you must be running software program that outputs control voltage. Reaktor have the right to execute it within the Blocks frame and also treats CV simply choose any kind of other audio signal. Bitwig Studio has actually a variety of CV–connected gadgets in which you deserve to choose a physical output for the modulations you are creating. Ableton Live 10.1 has the new CV Tools tools for exactly this sort of point and there"s additionally VCV Rack, Audulus, Voltage Modular and others. All they need is a physical DC-coupled output to be able to sfinish CV out to your exterior equipment. So, for instance, via Ableton Live"s CV Tools you deserve to sfinish out LFOs, create sequences, or pitch and gate indevelopment. You deserve to sequence and also modulate your rack straight from your DAW by means of the Komplete Audio 6 MkII. It"s brilliant.

You just have the four DC-coupled outputs, and if you"re likewise utilizing audio from your computer then you"ve only really acquired outputs 3+4 spare for controlling your rack. It"s vital that you do not get your outputs perplexed as your speakers are not going to thank you for sfinishing them flat voltperiods.

But it"s not all simple cruising. Due to the fact that the KA6 MkII is bus powered it can just manage to geneprice ±2V, giving you a voltage range of 4V. Eurorack normally deals in ±5V. So when routing an LFO from CV Tools to your filter module the move may feel a tiny limp. Similarly, once calibrating the CV Instrument it"s going to offer up a maximum range of four octaves, which is most likely plenty in most instances but not as wide as it can be. It doesn"t have to be a problem; I am more frequently than not attenuating LFOs in my rack to create a smaller range of modulation, so ±2V is fine. However before, you deserve to likewise add even more selection to the signal with some CV shenanigans from a module you most likely currently have actually. You could usage networks 2 or 3 on the Make Noise Maths to add some voltage to the variety. Daisy–chaining both will get you as much as about ±5V. Or for much less than 40 quidabout $50/$60 you can pick up a Doepfer A-183-3 DC Amp, which can carry out the job without any type of bvarious other.

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The Komplete Audio 6 MkII"s front panel is wbelow we uncover the XLR/jack inputs and also associated gain controls, a knob that mixes direct input monitoring and also software program security, and also a pair of headphone ports via volume controls.

There"s one various other problem via the DC–coupled outputs and also that"s to carry out via the nature of outputs 3+4. They are balanced and only balanced. Outputs 1 and also 2 have the right to take care of well balanced and also unwell balanced cables, and also so work perfectly via a constant Eurorack patch cable via a 3.5mm to 6.5mm mono adaptor on the finish. Plug the exact same cable right into output 3 or 4 and you just gain half the wavedevelop. Only the positive CV is acquiring with. I tried a number of different cables and also adaptor combicountries to attempt to remedy the problem and also uncovered that the most basic solution wregarding use the exact same cable as before yet to pull it out half a centimetre so that the pointer associated to both signal routes. The outcome was that I got my complete ±2V back, but it was polarity inverted — great enough at a pinch!

In researching this worry I found that it"s actually a difficulty on most audio interfaces that say they are DC coupled. I discovered a couple of forum threads of civilization trying to occupational through MOTU and also PreSonus interdeals with and dealing with many frustration in trying to get CV out of the DC–coupled outputs. The answer came from Expert Sleepers, the world behind a suite of CV plug-ins dubbed Silent Way and also the ES-8 DC–coupled USB audio interconfront for Eurorack. Their hardware has actually none of these troubles yet many civilization are running right into trouble through other interencounters once making use of the Silent Way plug-ins. As I"ve found on the KA6 MkII, it all comes down to gaining the correct cable. One solution is to usage a "Y" audio insert cable, which has a TRS plug on one end and also 2 TS plugs on the various other. This gives you a dual CV output wright here one of them is inverted, which can have its own uses. Alternatively, Expert Sleepers can market you a "floating ring" cable that has actually a quarter-inch TRS jack on one finish and a mono mini-jack Eurorack patch plug on the various other.

Although the DC coupling is not specifically flawless, when you"ve obtained over the hurdles it is genuinely workable and opens up up whole brand-new locations of software/hardware communication and imagination.

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Conclusion

The new Komplete Audio USB audio interencounters are joyously easy, lovely to look at, well designed, robust and portable. The driver design and also performance is remarkable at this price. Do the additional features of the Komplete Audio 6 MkII make it worth roughly twice the price of the KA1 or KA2? Yes, I think so. The second headphone output is beneficial and also the MIDI interchallenge can be a finish godsend, as little hardware synths seem to save appearing on my desk. Having even more I/O provides it a much more flexible interchallenge and also one that"s a little bit more reassuringly cased in metal. But the cherry on peak is undoubtedly the DC-coupled outputs which, while not perfect, are going to open up a totality various other way of interacting via my gear.


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