Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 – Excellent budget audio interface

Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6

229$
Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6
9.2

Value for Money

90/10

    Craftmanship

    95/10

      Sound

      80/10

        Features

        95/10

          Versatility

          100/10

            Pros

            • - Included Software
            • - 6 connections simultaneously
            • - HI-Z Input Sound
            • - Routing
            • - Solid as a rock

            Cons

            • - 48v phantom power bug
            • - Sound of headphone jack

            Preface

            The Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 is a 6 in – 6 out Audio Interface. With about 230$ it is very interesting for a lot of musicians. It also has a regular Midi-Port and 2 good sounding Microphone Preamps. Phantom Power is also included. If you are looking for a decent way to get vocals, guitar and what not into you DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), read on!

            NI-komplete-audio-6_2

            I had this device for about 3 years, and I used it to teach electric guitar in different locations for every day of the week. So out of the bagpack, connecting it, using it for 6-7 hours, then disconnecting it, and back in the bag. For 3 Years in a row – so quite a strain on the connectors, especially the USB jack. It hasn’t let me down since, so I will give build quality a 11 out of 10! At the moment, I am using it as the center of my backup set-up with guitar rig and the Line6 FBV Express MKII. Works like a charm.

            So in my humble opinion especially every guitar player and guitar teacher should be aware of this nice little audio interface.

            Front connections and switches.

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            Going from left to right, we have 2 combined XLR/6,3mm connections for pluging in Microphones or Instruments. Right beneath, there is a gain controll knob and a HI-Z switch. You habe to press that switch if you connect an electric guitar or bass. It will then match the right impendance of the instrument. There are not many devices in that price category that give you 2 of these inputs, so the komplete audio 6 is the perfect device for guitar or bass teachers who work with their laptop. The only thing that I would change here is not to have combined jacks – it would be nice to have the possibility to connect 2 Microphones AND 2 guitars, and make the 6,3mm jacks switchable between line signal and HI-Z. But that is probably a matter of taste – and a matter of constructing the device as cost-effective as it is.

            Next we have the Monitor section. You can direct-monitor (without going through the software) inputs 1 and 2. Unfortunately, not 3 and 4. There is also a mono switch, so if you use a microphone you can hear it on both sides. You can switch the phones between output  1/2 or 3/4. You can also switch the monitor output to 1/2 or 3/4 – but thats only the playback channels, not the direct monitoring.
            This feature is perfect for dj’s who want to prelisten to songs before loading them to be played next.

            Rear connections and switches

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            First thing from left to right is the usb connector and the 48v phantom power switch. ATTENTION! There is a bug on EVERY Komplete Audio 6 – if the phantom power is switched off, there is still a current of about 5 volts. Enough for my studio microphone to still work kind of, even when the phantom power should not be active. In theorie, this could destroy sensible microphones. Be carefull. Thats one of the 2 things I don’t like about the device and I really wish they would fix it.

            Next we have a midi in and midi out port for connections to keyboards and footcontrollers.

            Then the connections to the sound in and outputs:
            – SPDIF in and out digital connection (revered to as channels 5 and 6 in the driver)
            – The main outputs
            – Line level inputs 3 and 4
            – outputs 3 and 4

            You can use ALL connections simultaneously and the Interface will handle that quite well!

            Latency

            if you are a guitar player like me, you probably want to use amp simulations/modelling with the device like guitar rig 5 or the new BIAS plugin. I am very happy to say that I could get a roundtrip latency of 6,7 ms out of the native. Roundtrip means measures from input to output, so everything is included (you could also say “effective latency”). If you play software instrumens on your keyboard, this is even less. Compared to a classic Roland JV1080 synthesizer it is quite remarkable – it has a latency of 8ms.

            For the low latencys to work, you should have a decent computer or laptop. I tested on a MacBook Air with dual core 1,4 intel processor.

            Included software

            The Audio 6 comes with a whole bunch of software which includes:
            – Cubase 6 AI Elements (which works well on PC – for use on new macs you have to upgrade to 7.0 for about 50$)
            – Traktor DJ Elements edition
            – Kontakt Elements Edition (with decent sounds for Piano, Rhodes, E-Bass, Organ etc)
            – Reaktor Elements Edition
            – Guitar Rig Elements Edition

            Of course the versions of the software are not full, but you can actually work quite well with them and make some great music. Considering the price of the device alone compared to similar audio interfaces, the free software makes it a total no-brainer.

            Sound

            It is always talked about how interfaces “sound” like… well, for me the perfect interface does not sound at all. What I mean by that, it does not color your sound in any way. My favorite interface come from the german brand RME, which also has the philosophy to just convert and not change.

            The Native has a good quality an any channel, and I could not here much difference to my RME Fireface 400. Only on the HI-Z / Guitar inputs I think I hear a little compression. But I don’t mind it at all, it sounds very good.

            In my opinion, if there are not any flaws like humming or reduced highs, you can make GREAT music with any audio interface.

            The only drawback here is the phones output. For standard studio headphones, it could have a little more volume reserves. In my opinion it also sounds a little thin… but that could just be me. I reduced the “sound” score to 80 because of this, the rest of the interface is very good.

            Conclusion

            If you don’t mind the phantom power bug (I had no problems with that) and do not use headphones extensively, this interface is for you. The drivers are programmed rock solid, I never had the interface crash on me. In fact, the device I am presenting here is about 3 years old and still runs smooth. I just played 4 gigs using the native with guitar rig for my sound. Not a problem whatsoever, and it felt good playing because the latency is so low. If you want lower latency, you have to spend WAY more money and get a RME UCX or a UAD Apollo.

            I recommend the device for any guitarist who wants to record himself or likes to practice with his laptop. Buy here at ZZounds.com

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            Trackbacks

            1. […] Oh and last but not least – record yourself, and listen to it! You will be surprised if you do it for the first time – most people sound better than they think they are If you need something inexpensive with all the software included, have a look at this interface (click). […]

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