Komplete 13 Buyers Guide

Welcome aboard the Komplete bundle bus! I’ve been on board this thing for over a decade. Now I’m going to help you determine which Komplete 13 bundle makes the most sense for you and what you do.

Native Instruments (NI) Komplete 13 is a huge collection of up to 122 Virtual Instruments and Effects. While this complete collection of music production software tools is targeted at professionals in the music industry, they appeal to hobbyists and anyone aspiring to be a music producer.

Some preliminary questions before you proceed any further.

1. Am I planning on purchasing 3 or more premium instruments from NI?

If you have three or more virtual instruments or Kontakt libraries (that are included with Komplete 13) in your NI shopping cart, you should consider Komplete 13 instead. This is just basic math. Don’t spend the same amount on individual instruments and effects when you could buy a version of Komplete 13 for the same price or less.

2. Will I use half or more of the included products on a regular basis?

It should go without saying that you should only purchase things you will use. However, on days when GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) sets in, it can be hard to resist buying things we don’t need. Can I get an amen?

If Waves has taught us anything, they have taught us that just because a bundle contains a hundred plugins it does not mean they will all be used. I would rather pay full price for two plugins I will use than pay half price for a hundred that I won’t.

3. Do I need to purchase Komplete 13?

If you need several of the items in Komplete 13 to get a gig, be hired for a job making a soundtrack, commercial, or TV show, then just buy it. If this is your bread and butter, there’s no sense debating here. You will find the tools inside this bundle worth their price. Then you’ll go over to Spitfire Audio and purchase several of their sample libraries too. It’s what you do.

If you don’t need Komplete 13 to earn a living wage and you answered no to the first two questions, then you should consider passing. I won’t tell you how to spend your money. If you’re like most of us, you aren’t flush with expendable cash. You might also be married and have to explain your purchase later to your spouse. Instead, just buy what you need or what you will use.

What’s up with the four different versions of Komplete 13?

Komplete 13 comes in four different bundles: Komplete 13 Select, Komplete 13, Komplete 13 Ultimate, and Komplete 13 Ultimate Collectors Edition. Then there’s a fifth one called Komplete 13 Hoarders Edition. Okay, I made that last one up. Here’s what you really need to know about each edition.


Komplete 13 Select

Komplete 13 Select is basically a gateway drug, or “the first one’s free”, for purchasers of Komplete Kontrol S-Series keyboards and Maschine hardware. Select is the entry-level version of Komplete and contains 16 instruments and effects.

If you are brand new to the world of music production, this is your stop. You can purchase Komplete 13 Select and exit the bus now. The good news is that upgrade pricing will always be there when you’re ready to level up. Upgrade pricing is fair and won’t cost you more than if you had bought the next tier. It may be even less if you can catch an upgrade sale!


Komplete 13 (without any other labels)

Komplete 13 is essentially the original bundle labeling. Back in the early days, there was only one version of the Komplete bundle. The current version contains a whopping 68 instruments and effects – that’s over four times the plugins included in Komplete 13 Select. The price is three times more expensive than Komplete 13 Select, which seems reasonable.

If you regularly produce music for yourself or others as a hobby or professionally, this bundle will appeal to you. It’s full of incredible synths like Massive X for deep sound design and Super 8 for polysynthesis. There are also several incredible-sounding pianos and other sampled instruments such as The Giant, Noire, and Analog Dreams for retro nostalgia. You also get Abbey Road 60’s Drummer and Studio Drummer. Both are great acoustic drum kits. Included are session guitar players, bass guitars, and contemporary strings as well.

If you primarily create electronic music or don’t intend to create cinematic scores, this is your exit. Pick up Komplete 13. It will keep you busy for years to come. It’s not about the number of tools you own, but the tools you know how to use really well. Don’t fall into the trap of wanting more because you might need it someday. If that someday ever comes, you can still upgrade!


Komplete 13 Ultimate

I have to be honest. At the time of writing this article, I’m still rocking with Komplete 11 Ultimate! There are some new items in 13 Ultimate, but nothing I particularly need. Now that I have gotten that off my chest…

Komplete 13 Ultimate is a massive upgrade from the standard version with 118 instruments and effects. It’s also double the price (insert frowny face here). I am sure you were hoping for a better discount than that. Regardless, NI makes up for the lack of pricing on a curve with premium Kontakt instrument libraries – not so much in the synth category.

The biggest advantages here are for the professional studio and composer. There are several more acoustic drum libraries including my personal favorite, Abbey Road Modern Drummer. There are additional Kontakt Libraries for guitars and bass. But when it comes to cinematic libraries you’ll find an additional 14 libraries such as the award-winning Damage from Heavyocity, Straylight, and Thrill. I also find Rise & Hit to be especially fun for a lot of genres.

If you are not working with incredibly detailed symphonic scores, this is your stop. You could easily exit here and be perfectly happy with your purchase for years to come. If you get the urge to go bigger later, you still can!


Komplete 13 Ultimate Collector’s Edition

Welcome to the largest edition of Komplete ever created – Komplete 13 Ultimate Collector’s Edition. Now, this is where the math may not add up to a good value for you. For 25% more money you get an extra 4 premium Kontakt libraries and some upgraded versions of premium libraries. Symphony Essentials becomes Symphony Series. You also get a string quartet and Arkhis, a cutting edge, modern cinematic library.

If you need (or want) all of those items, this is the last stop this bus makes before it heads back to the station. Realistically this bundle is created for people who score, and earn a living doing it.

But what about all the Komplete Expansions they talk about?

Expansions in many cases are additional synth presets. While these are cool, anyone spending this amount of money should be willing to dig into sound design and learn to create their own sounds. The other expansions are essentially from the world of Maschine. If you use Maschine, then perhaps these expansions are appealing to you. However, expansions should rarely be a real selling point as they don’t offer any new functionality or workflow improvements.

You should ask yourself this question; Will I use those 73 expansions in the Collector’s Edition or just find a half dozen I love? Chances are, most of them will never touch your projects.

My final thoughts before you head off and spend your paycheck

If you already own an instrument like Massive X, Kontakt, or Reaktor, you may qualify for discount pricing to purchase Komplete 13! Be sure to log in for your cross-grade price.

If you own a previous version of Komplete, you may be eligible for upgrade pricing, which is extremely reasonable. Keep this in mind for the future when Komplete 14 comes out. You will save a fortune when that happens. And be on the lookout for a Komplete upgrade guide from us when that happens.

I have said this throughout this article, but I’ll say it again. Buy what you need. Use what you buy. Learning one instrument extremely well is worth more than knowing a little bit about them all. Chances are, the artists and composers you admire have worked with far less and created great pieces of art. Now go make music!