by Native Instruments

How to spark new ideas with the Play Series

Find out how the new KONTAKT Play Series instruments can help you
create new and interesting sounds.

Inspiration can strike at any time. And when it does, you need a fast, easy way to convert your creative energy into results. The Play Series of KONTAKT instruments can help you quickly generate new musical ideas and instantly satisfy your impulse to start playing.

Let’s face it: you don’t always want to spend time tweaking a sound before you start writing a new song or recording a new track. Sometimes you want to power up your equipment and create right away. We designed the Play Series just for that purpose. These streamlined instruments make it simple to capitalize on creative moments whenever they happen. You can load up a vintage-sounding synth, unusual keyboard sound, or atmospheric pad, then pick from 100 presets, and see where your inspiration takes you.

Of course, if you want to customize your sound, the Play Series has you covered. Each preset provides a set of simple controls so you can quickly shape the sound and add some unique effects. You can also morph sounds in real time. All Play Series instruments come intelligently mapped to MASCHINE and KOMPLETE KONTROL, but you can also map parameters to another MIDI controller.

Let’s check out the first members of the Play Series family and explore some of the key features you might encounter in a typical workflow.


Meet the growing family

The first four Play Series instruments show the breadth of this series. And with the Play Series, there’s no overlap from one instrument to the next – each has its own distinctive sound and character.

ANALOG DREAMSIf you want to evoke ’80s new wave for a TV soundtrack or add retro synth flavors to your latest modern pop or EDM track, ANALOG DREAMS is your go-to instrument. You can tap into fat analog basses, mellow pads, cutting leads, plucked sounds and stabs, and weird effects instantly.

ETHEREAL EARTHThis instrument specializes in rich, effects-laden pads. Many presets incorporate acoustic world instruments, such as brass, string, and wind instruments. But others are built more on complex waveforms that help produce truly unique sounds and textures. Reach for ETHEREAL EARTH when you’re looking to create an ambient, atmospheric environment for sound design, or you want to layer otherworldly textures into contemporary productions.

HYBRID KEYSNative Instruments offers a wealth of products that meticulously capture the natural sound of acoustic instruments. But HYBRID KEYS is something totally different. Yes, it draws from detailed samples of acoustic pianos, electric pianos, organs, harpsichords, mallet percussion instruments, and a few synths. But it combines those samples together with one another and with digital waveforms to create completely new takes on keyboard-based instruments. HYBRID KEYS patches give you cutting-edge sounds that could work great in everything from pop and R&B tracks to trap and EDM.

MODULAR ICONSThe latest addition to the Play Series, MODULAR ICONS lets you patch into the fun, creative energy of vintage modular synths. These synths were once used by pioneering electronic musicians and prog rock keyboardists, and now employed by contemporary electronic producers and some of the world’s leading soundtrack composers.

Developed in collaboration with the Bob Moog Foundation, MODULAR ICONS includes presets constructed by legendary artists, including Jean-Michel Jarre, Steve Porcaro, Mark Isham, Michael Boddicker, Jeff Rona, Benge, and others. You can also take a spin on some rare instruments, such as Keith Emerson’s ARP 2500, Roland System 700, and Moog modular. Or see what you can come up with using the massive, famed TONTO modular synth, made famous by Stevie Wonder. Other sampled instruments include modular synths from Buchla, Emu, EMS, Serge Modular, EML, and Polyfusion.

MODULAR ICONS lets you put patches in motion with a flexible built-in sequencer. Set the rate, steps, and other parameters to get your sequence running, then tweak macros in real time to generate evolving sounds.


Start with loads of presets

Each Play Series instrument features at least 100 presets to help you quickly find that sound you’re hearing in your head or let you discover something totally new. Presets are grouped according to familiar categories, so you won’t get lost scrolling through all the possibilities.

Each preset uses two distinct sound sources, which might include a clean acoustic instrument sample, a heavily processed sound, or a complex digital waveform created through wavetable synthesis. Presets then mix in a variety of sound design elements and effects, including KONTAKT 6 effects such as REPLIKA delay. The results are patches that might remind you of classic analog synths, conjure up ambient environments, or present you with a strange hybrid instrument you never would have imagined.


Customize your sound

The presets give you everything you need to get started. But Play Series instruments also make it simple to customize sounds for your particular taste.

Start by choosing new sounds for one or both of the sound sources. Then blend them together as you like. What do a sitar and a chorused organ sound like together? You can find out with ETHEREAL EARTH. How about a mono saw wave crossed with a classic ’90s synth? ANALOG DREAMS lets you experiment with that combination. The main interface page for each instrument shows you the waveform for each sound so you can quickly see what you’re getting into.

Once you’ve chosen a few sounds, you can start to manipulate them with simple macro controls that vary from one preset to the next. In addition to a knob for blending the two sound sources, you’ll likely see one or more controls for shaping the envelope, such as attack and release. Then you might see controls for adjusting the oscillation rate of an LFO, adding saturation, or incorporating some unique sound design elements, like ‘wobble’ or cassette noise.

Many patches also include one or more controls for effects. Depending on the patch, you might have controls for auto pan, stereo width, phaser depth, bandpass, or bit depth. In many cases, you’ll also see controls for the amount of delay or reverb.

With the Play Series, you can manipulate all of those macros in real time to create shifting patches. Turn the dial in the interface, or map the knobs to your MIDI controller to change sounds while you’re recording or playing live.


Get ready for even more playing

With more than 400 presets in total plus fun, easy ways to make sounds your own, the first four Play Series instruments offer some serious creative possibilities. And this is just the beginning. We’re already working on additional offerings that will include lo-fi textures, drums, artist collaborations, and more.

Each future instrument will be just as simple to use. While the framework provides an incredibly flexible environment for developers, it also helps ensure that each Play Series instrument maintains a consistent look and feel. Whether you’re reaching for a wall of modular synths, a spacey soundscape, a hybrid keyboard instrument, or any other instrument that joins the series in the future, you’ll be able to start playing immediately.

Ready to start playing?

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