Native Instrument’s Komplete is one of my go-to tool in music creation and I personally recommends almost any music producer to have a version of it. The question is which version out of the four available to get.
Komplete Standard is the best choice for beginners, hobbyists, or anyone new to Native Instrument plugins. Ultimate and Collector’s Edition are humongous in terms of options, price, and storage required. While you may be tempted to buy them for perceived value, there is more than enough content in the Komplete Standard bundle to last you for years.
What is Komplete 13?
NI was a young dilettante VST published two decades ago, but they had their eyes on the prize. They wanted to dominate the virtual instruments market, and the single releases just weren’t getting them there.
In 2003, in a moment of epiphany, they released the ‘big blue box’ – the first comprehensive bundle called the ‘Komplete Series’. It created a buzz long before it hit the shelves and rightfully became a runaway success.
Komplete bundles are a large collection of VST instruments, effects, samplers, off the peg loops, and sampled sounds. While the debut was successful, every subsequent version has helped NI retain its stranglehold over the market.
Komplete Versions Explained
Today, the Komplete bundle is available in four variations:
- Komplete 13 Select – Basic (free with KONTROL and MASCHINE hardware)
- Komplete 13 – Standard
- Komplete 13 – Ultimate
- Komplete 13 – Ultimate Collector’s Edition
I’ll help you figure out which of these bundles is best suited for you. As much as I’d love to go through all the previous versions, we’ll stick to Komplete 13. It’s an uphill task to source the info on the previous bundles because Native Instrument removes them from the website.
However, you check out this spreadsheet if you want to geek out on the stats of all the versions with an ultra-comprehensive chart. That said, let’s dive right into it.
Comparing Komplete 13 Bundles
Komplete Standard Bundle
- 68 Instruments and effects
- 24 expansions
- 36,000+ sounds
- 320+ GB Sample library
- Cost: $599
Komplete’s Standard (K13S) bundle contains all the flagship instruments, synths, and comprehensives libraries to start music production with any DAW of your choice.
It features the famed Reaktor 6, FM8, and Massive X. It also offers multi-sampled instruments such as Session Guitarist, West Africa, and Noire. It’s bursting at the seams with samples and cutting-edge VSTs to function as a neat one-box production toolkit.
Secondly, it doubled up as the best choice if you have simple needs. Ultimate and Collector’s Edition bundles can turn into “bloatware”. You might find it frustrating to navigate through all the options and figure out how to use them.
It also depends on your level of expertise and the stylistic needs of your genre. If you’re just getting started with EDM, for instance, you should focus on how to derive sounds from a synth + sampler. You don’t need 118 instruments to distract you from learning.
That said, Komplete is undoubtedly a worthwhile investment. Yet, it’s not the only thing you’ll use. It’s advised to focus on your DAW and learning in the early stages. You will always have the option of upgrading to Ultimate when you can justify the additional cost.
Komplete 13 Ultimate
- 118 Instruments and effects
- 24 expansions
- 67,000+ sounds
- 840+ GB Sample library
- Cost: $1,199
Komplete 13 Ultimate (K13U) features everything in the Standard bundle and then some. It’s a viable choice if you have already used NI and Komplete instruments. Every Komplete user/customer loves the ULTIMATE bundle, but there are cases of buyer’s remorse in the community.
K13U costs nearly twice as much as K13 (standard). That’s a huge jump in the price. Yes, you also get nearly twice the instruments, sounds, samples, and additional expansion packs. Nevertheless, it’s a whopping 545GB of download with 840GB of uncompressed samples.
Of course, there are exceptional cases when you may need it. K13U might have something specific that you need/want. For instance, K13U has the FLESH creative sampler, Razor and Skanner XT synth, Alicia’s Keys (Acoustic Piano), and a whole bag of Abbey Road Drums.
If that’s not the case, stick with the regular/standard version. Don’t forget that NI gives you the option to upgrade or buy individual NI plugins from the store. It’s a smarter way to spend your money, especially considering how often they go on sale.
Komplete 13 Collector’s Edition
- 122 Instruments and effects
- 73 expansions
- 115,000+ sounds
- 1.1 TB Sample library
- Cost: $1,599
The Ultimate Collector’s Edition is the be-all and end all of the Komplete bundles, but again, it can be overwhelming if a beginner-to-intermediate producer starts so huge. Don’t buy the Collector Edition because of the shiny packaging, hold it up against your needs.
Instead of looking at it as the most versatile offering. Go to the Native website and look at the list of tools and samples in the comparison charts. You won’t notice any significant difference between Komplete Ultimate and Komplete Ultimate Collector’s Edition.
There is barely any advantage if you compare the synths, samplers, effects, and instruments. Even for cinematic scores, you only get Arkhis, which is used for orchestral soundtracks.
In all honesty, I can’t imagine anyone needing so many instruments unless they are running a music production studio. For most users, especially hobbyists, you end up paying for things you are probably never going to use.
The actual value of Komplete Ultimate is in the expansions. Expansions such as Grey Forge, Sierra Grove, Amplified Funk, and DJ Khalil are very appealing if you need them. All the same, they consist of some fantastic samples/sounds and loops for hip-hop, Electronica, and EDM.
Even then, any serious producer who composes/arranges for TV or film-scores will still need other content such as SoundToys, Waves, and UAD bundles. Of course, if you’re not looking to break even, you are free to indulge.
Native Instrument’s Komplete FAQ
What does Komplete 13 Ultimate include?
Komplete 13 Ultimate includes 118 instruments + effects, 39 expansions, 67k+ sounds, and 800+ GB of uncompressed sample libraries. It features all the flagship synths like FM8, Massive, Absynth 5, and Razor amongst others. It also features all the Abbey Road Drum VST and several other percussion and acoustic piano VSTs.
Is Komplete Ultimate worth it?
NI’s premium bundles such as Komplete Ultimate and Collector’s Edition are the most expensive versions on account of their humongous sound libraries, expansion, and a large collection of sounds. However, they can offer great value to pro-level or expert music producers, especially if they are into film scores and orchestral scoring. It can be a good choice for anyone familiar with NI plugins, and in need of such a large collection of plugins and sounds.
Should I upgrade to Komplete 12 or 13?
You should upgrade to the latest version if a) you can afford, b) you need the new additional sets of instruments/effects/expansions or c) you want to keep abreast with the latest sounds and VSTs. Some people prefer gaps between upgrades whereas others buy individual plugins. If you need new content from NI, their annual sale usually offers it at a very reasonable outlay.
How much storage space do I need for Komplete 13?
Komplete 13 Standard is a 200 GB download with a 320GB sample library. Komplete 13 Ultimate a 545 GB download with an 840 GB sample library, and Komplete 13 Collector’s Edition is a 770 GB download with 1.1+ TB of uncompressed sample libraries.
Komplete is the ultimate dream, the source of all GAS, especially if you’re into EDM, hip-hop, and a host of other genres. I know people who’ve spent $3000+ on crossgrades and upgrades with no regrets whatsoever.
On the other hand, I have also seen people pull the trigger on the Komplete 12 Collector’s Edition and then never use 80% of the instruments and effects. I’ve been on the Komplete bandwagon since 2010. Due to my needs and budget, I skipped many of the recent upgrades and only made the jump to Komplete 13 in 2020, mostly for Reaktor 6.
You won’t have any qualms with the quality, as Native Instrument is a highly reputed brand. The only thing you need to watch out for is the value-to-cost ratio. I hope this post has given you insights that will ensure that your money is spent well.