Native Kontrol Standard now works with software effects as well as instruments, meaning that third party plug-in effects – as well as NI’s own – can now be controlled by and integrated closely with MASCHINE and KOMPLETE KONTROL hardware. Here are some of the best to get effective with.


For the totally out of this world

Conventional reverbs tend to model spaces which can vary in size from small rooms to huge cathedrals, but Eventide’s Blackhole goes a few parsecs further by modelling spaces that could never exist… at least not in the reality that we know. As such Blackhole is capable of producing loads of off-world drones and ambiences, but is also surprisingly suited to more down-to-Earth instruments like guitars, strings and pads, and will add an angelic sheen to just about any vocal you throw at it. As well as a non-standard controls like Gravity (that inverts the reverb decay) and ‘supernatural’ settings for abstract spacial and drone effects, you also get more subtle and conventional parameters to adjust. If huge atmospheres, fantastical shimmers and frankly god-like ambience are effects you’ve been striving for, then this is one Blackhole worth disappearing into.

Get Eventide Blackhole here.


For classic filtering

The original Tom Oberheim SEM (Synthesizer Expander Module) was designed to beef up early analogue synths by adding a couple of oscillators, a 2-pole multimode filter and envelopes to them, but it was so popular was Tom decided to sell a bunch of them together with a keyboard to produce a synth classic. The Arturia SEM‘s filter was the star because it offered modes that weren’t common at the time and Arturia has recreated it as a software emulation that you can fire any audio through. SEM-Filter models the modes of the original filter – low-pass, high-pass, notch and band-pass – and expands its functionality with other features including a modulation matrix and some finely produced presets. You get the great sound of the original filter plus modern day sonic flexibility for less than 100 Euros. And if you go for Arturia’s 3 Filters bundle, you’ll get another couple of classics – based on Moog and Oberheim Matrix filters – for just 100 Euros more. Nice!

Check out the SEM-Filter here.


For ultimate sound design in an instant

The Sugar Bytes Turnado is described as the ‘ultimate audio mangler’ because it takes the multi-effect concept and adds a lot of bells and whistles to it. You get 24 effects grouped into eight types which can be mixed and mangled together and then controlled in real time with eight knobs. In Dictator mode you can control all eight effects with just one knob, which a huge amount of power at just one fingertip. The best bit is that Turnado is so simple to use and experiment with, that the results can be as outrageous as you might expect, or more subtle (if you tread more carefully) and there are few effect plug-ins out there that offer this much mangling so quickly and easily.

Check out Turnado by Sugar Bytes here


For the ultimate d-d-d-delays

Originally designed as a Max For Live plug-in, you might not be surprised to learn that Dub Machines [by Surreal Maschines] is a great delay plug-in. Actually though, it’s two great delay plug-ins, both with a classic analogue leaning and designed for the ultimate in dub. You get Modnetic which includes an analogue tape delay, spring reverb choices, bucket brigade chorus/flanger/phaser and classic delay; and Diffuse with which you can morph between delays and reverbs. The combination of the two units really does offer everything you could ask for delay wise, and restraint might be in order as you can get wild results that need reigning in. However, when you get the combination right, you probably won’t believe that these are digital effects, as the results are so authentically analogue.

Get Dub Machines here.


For modern modulation

Mod Pack by Native Instruments has three classic effects – chorus, flanger, and phaser – but adds a big dollop of new features to each so that they are capable of both vintage and brand new, never-before-heard effects. Choral has four chorus modes offering everything from a lush unison type synth sounds to modern digital effects. Flair offers three modes to deliver anything from classic vintage flanging to more creative and futuristic harmonically-tuned effects. Phasis too offers something old and new with classic rack mount phaser sounds and completely new FM-style phasing effects. Who knew that such classic effects could be given such a new spin for the 21st century, and it all adds up to Mod Pack being one of the most creative effects plug-in suites out there.

Check out the Mod Pack here


For classic compression

Waves has already announced that its entire range of effects is NKS ready so you can dig around and integrate with over 70 of the company’s effects with your NI hardware. We’ve chosen an absolute classic as the CLA-76 features not one, but two FET compressors modelled on the legendary 1176. The Bluey and Blacky emulate of the Silverface Bluestripe and Blackface version of the vintage compressor. You can use the plug-ins subtly or non subtly to get everything from mellow tone shaping using the plug-in’s preamp section, or employ the All setting for a pumping and aggressive compression curve and even push the plug-ins to distortion if needs be. Waves does many classic emulations and this is one – or two – of the best. CLA-76 is also available in the CLA Classic Compressors plug-in bundle which also includes the CLA-2A based on the tube-based LA-2A opto compressor.

Get CLA-76 by Waves here


For sonic adventures

SpecOps is trying to outdo every other plug-in here by simply piling on the number of effects you get access to. You get a total of 36 to choose from and can apply these to slices – or ‘bins’ – of your chosen audio. Effects include pitch-shifting, subtle dynamics, and unsubtle distortion. Perhaps the highlight, though, is the patchable modulation system which gives you access to six built-in modulators (including a 16-step sequencer and four LFOs) so you can then start shape-shifting your audio in a number of ways. This creates effects that add sync’able movement, or rhythmic beating and pulsing to any audio, turning standard sounds into amazing results. You can be more subtle and enhance individual parts of your mix, but really SpecOps is about being brash and bold.

Check out SpecOps here.


For dense atmosphere

The 112dB Mikron Cascade plug-in was originally developed for the Cascade synth but now works with any audio file, sucking it in and ‘densify’-ing it – putting it through a complex network of delays and tuning effects. The best bit, however, is that it does all of this in a very logical and user friendly way so that you can create shimmering and cinematic results, not to mention the odd bit of coloured noise, in no time at all. Like other effects in this round up, experimentation and time spent with Mikron Cascade will yield stunning results and it’s another fantastic sound design dream.

Get Mikron Kaskade by 112dB here