Native Instruments Komplete 9 Ultimate – Effects Review

Just like installing Komplete 9 Ultimate takes a long time even running it from a 2.5″ USB drive, going through and investigating all installed products will take a decent amount of time as well. So here is a pick out of the ton of effects that are included in Komplete Ultimate 9 suite. Just to be clear, there is not a seperate ‘effects’ bundle. This is a review of the effects that come with the Komplete suite!

Difference between Komplete and Komplete Ultimate

Since the majority of these products are included into the Ultimate version only it may be interesting to read up on this if you’re interested into the difference between the Komplete and the Komplete Ultimate version.

The creative effects are left out since they are in my opinion a group that deserves its own spotlight. So this is the group of studio effects that you will get with the Komplete Ultimate or you can buy them separately or in bundles per subgroup. Pricing wise it’s almost always way more interesting to buy the whole package than the separate products or even bundles. The difference in price between a stand-alone product or the packaged version simply is too big. The pricing of separate products compared to the competitors is quite reasonable over-all.

Speaking about the competitors. Most of these studio effects are inspired by vintage classic hardware that are available by others as well. But comparing these or even with the classic hardware itself never made sense to me since in the end each product will have its own merits you can use or you don’t. Same goes for the fact that some of these products are licensed tech by NI and doesn’t make it sound differently.

You might want to buy them as part of the whole suite because you like them or you get them simply because you buy the suite and don’t have to buy other products because they turn out to be just fine. But how do they sound? Let’s get into this.


A distortion combined with a filter and an envelope follower. This combination enables extensive creativity with coloring sound the way you like it. The bar on distortions plugins is very high these days and from what I’ve heard so far it can hold its own. Fairly easy to use because it has no extra menus. Just knobs and sliders.

Enhanced EQ

3-band analog modeled EQ engineered by Softube with almost minimalistic approach. Just EQ what you want and add just the right amount for a nice and warm sound. You might want to think of it as yet another analog modeled emulation but because of Softube engineering you should at least give it a check. Maybe it has the same disadvantage as using an exciter. You like it so much you tend to overdo it.

Passive EQ

Inspired by the renowned Massive Passive yet another emulation from Softube. With this EQ you hardly can make any mistakes. It almost always sounds good whatever you do. Mostly usable on the master or mix busses especially to ‘Photoshop’ digital harshness from softsynths.


Reverb inspired by old Lexicon models, engineered by Softube. Fairly simplistic user interface but the spectrograph seems to be too much for my taste. You mix with your ears, not your eyes. Usable for small ambiences to big hall reverbs making it a versatile reverb. Sound wise its way up there compared to its competitors. Sounding very natural without that digital ring to it. Downside may be that it’s sounding too silky in the higher frequencies for my personal taste.


Reverb inspired by a old lexicon flagship model reverb. Even more elaborate then the RC24 this reverb. You have more options to edit the details of the reverbs to create different details. Choosing between these two may be CPU dependant.

Solid EQ

4-band EQ with 2 additional cut filters. Run of the mill analog (SSL) modeled EQ. You can switch between filter curves between G an E.

Solid Bus comp

Your basic analog (SSL) modeled bus compressor.

Solid Dynamics

Your basic analog (SSL) modeled compressor.

Transient Master

Indispensable tool for modifying dynamics with simplistic controls. Absolute no-brainer.

Vari Comp

All-purpose simplistic compressor/limiter engineered by Softube. Very versatile because it’s simply sounding good on almost everything you use it on. Fairly easy to overuse this as well.

VC 76

A Softube engineered emulation of the 1176 classic hardware FET compressor that comes with an extra side chain option. Often used as an all-around compressor. The 1:1 ratio comes in handy when you just want to color the sound.


A Softube engineered emulation of the LA2A classic hardware optical compressor/limiter that comes with an extra side chain option. Often used on vocals.

VC 160

A Softube engineered emulation of the dbx 160 classic compressor that comes with an extra side chain option. Often used on drums or other sounds with dynamic content.


The products themselves are documented in a clear way. Updating process with the service center still requires some manual steps which can be tedious. Stability never has been an issue during the testing. All in all these plugins are one for one good tools to use in any setup. Being a plug-in-snob I’m harsh about the Solid series but they didn’t sound special to me, still way better than the plugins that come with most DAW’s because they are often mediocre at best.

I do like the Tube Series (Enhanced EQ, Passive EQ, Vari Comp) which sound very nice. The biggest surprise for me were the Reverb Classics. I had to install them separately because they weren’t on the USB drive and, silly me, was too impatient to read the manual properly. But of this lot, these reverbs are worthwhile buying separately. Is it worth buying Komplete Ultimate 9? Even when you invested quite much into the UAD DSP platform, a direct competitor, these plugins still are very interesting. Even if you only use 10% of the suite Komplete Ultimate 9 is good value for its money.

Native Instruments Komplete Ultimate 9 costs €999.

Wouter Veltmaat








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