Native Instruments Komplete 11 Ultimate is the elephant in the room when you are looking for your next buy. It's hard to miss the multitude of people recommending it across forums and comment threads, though, I was always wary of these recommendations being a loud minority of NI fan-boys. After the right circumstances, and a lot of reading, I decided to make the leap and go for it. This guide shows you the difference between the various Komplete packages, and also how I managed to get a Maschine Mikro MkII and Komplete 11 Ultimate for £315 less than the price of the software alone.
The first thing I will say is that Komplete 11 Ultimate, is incredibly expensive at first glance. At £929, the Ultimate software bundle is out of reach for the majority of people. It is made further confusing by the range of similar sounding products of which I'll give you a brief guide:
Komplete 11 Select (~£159) - is the smallest bundle which comes packaged with NI Hardware such as the Maschine series and the Komplete Kontrol Keyboards. It contains a decent, though limited variety of instruments, including NI Massive (~£129 alone). If you are planning on getting a small controller, the fact that all this software is bundled makes it significantly more worthwhile to spend a little extra on an NI product than a controller by someone else.
Komplete 11 (~£479) - Is the middle-man, containing 45 instruments and over 150GB of sounds. It contains all the Kontakt Pianos except Alicia's Keys (an instrument carefully sampled from Alicia Key's own piano), and most of the synths. Notably, it includes both Battery 4 and Drumlab, two exceptional drum samplers and processors.
Komplete 11 Ultimate (~£959) - This includes pretty much everything. With the entirety of Komplete 11, and so much more. It has 87 instruments and over 500GB of sounds, in a way it is more than a person ever needs. Notable instruments include Alicia's Keys (see above), Abbey Road Drummer series (6 instruments), the complete discovery series (world music), 6 incredible bass emulations, complete series of Symphony Essentials, huge range of cinematic and soundtracking sounds, and an incredible collection of FX (including more advanced versions of those in Komplete 11).
Just a thing to note at this point, is the fact that the value of the instruments in Komplete 11 Ultimate being bought separately would exceed £8,000 ($10,000), so there is no denial of the fact that it is an incredible deal.
It gets a little more confusing when you are researching what to buy because in addition to those three tiers of Komplete, there are also previous editions.
This means that there are update packages, and upgrade packages which you can buy as well, if you own one of the many tiers/previous versions. Above, is a screenshot off the NI website which I have added the titles on for clarity. In short however:
Update - is where you can update from a previous edition of the software to the same tier (you have to have a previous version of Ultimate to update to the latest version)
Upgrade - is where you can move up a tier and potentially update at the same time. If you have select already, and want to move up to Komplete 11, or Komplete 11 Ultimate, then this is for you. Likewise if you have Komplete 8-11 you can Upgrade to Komplete 11 Ultimate
Now then, once you have explored these through some online shops, you may notice that many of the numbers don't add up. I'm going to show you how I got NI Komplete 11 Ultimate PLUS a Maschine Mikro MkII for £644.
For reasons I'm not entirely sure why, it is often cheaper to buy the software and an additional piece of hardware, than it is to buy the software alone. To do this you do need to be a bit smart about it as purchasing the wrong type of Komplete will be a pain.
What you need to do is look for any hardware where the Komplete Select is bundled in and then choose the appropriate upgrade. I wanted to go as cheap as possible and so I went for the Maschine Mikro MkII (£269). This meant I only needed to get the Komplete 11 Upgrade from Select.
Normally, this would cost ~£769, but if you shop at the right time, you can get a massive discount on Komplete bundles. This is why I recommend you actually DO opt into receiving promotional e-mails from software companies. Below is an e-mail I received from Native Instruments giving a 50% off limited time offer:
And so, by just waiting until the time was right I was able to get the upgrade for half price. I spent a whole £315 less than I would have done if I'd bought the software any other time, and to top it off, I essentially got a free Maschine Mikro MkII on the way.
I'll give a shout out to Red Dog Music who were able to help me double-check that this was the best deal, and the details which saved me so much money. They've not asked me to say this, but they have always given exceptional service which is the reason most of my equipment has been from them. If you are in the UK, they have two stores in England, and one in Edinburgh so do check them out, even their online services are superb!
(Their Facebook page if you are interested)