NI Komplete Kontrol S88

I’m planning on taking advantage of the current Native Instruments sale and will be picking up the upgrade from my current Komplete 8 Standard to Komplete 11 Ultimate.

I’m also strongly considering purchasing a Komplete Kontrol S88 keyboard to go with it.
Does anyone have experience with the S series keyboards and, in particular, the S88?
I know the smaller ones have Fatar keybeds and I am familiar with the action of these through my Moog Voyager and am really impressed.

My main question is how good is the full weighted action on the Fatar keybed in the S88? It is promoted as having a very close action to a true acoustic piano. Does it live up to this?

I currently have two weighted 88 note keyboards, a Yamaha DGX630 piano and a Yamaha KX8 both of which are reasonably good but not really like a true piano action.
My primary instrument is keyboards and I learned to play simultaneously on acoustic piano and synthesizer so I use both depending on need. I’ve been playing now for little over 30 years so not inexperienced by any stretch.
I find the action on my Yamaha 88 note keyboards to be somewhat fatiguing after some time. I do not find this with any true acoustic piano and over the years, I’ve played everything from cheap uprights to six figure concert grands.

Also, how good are the S series keyboards as stand alone controllers with no PC running (although I’ll be using it primarily with NI software)?

Hi David,

the keybed in the S88 is a FATAR TP/100 which is the same as in the nord HP-series. I’m really not a big fan of this keybed. The TP/100-family differs significantly from the TP/40-family. It’s base is made of plastic. The TP/40s have steelframes… so the TP/100 has a weight of about 6kg, while a 88 TP/40 has about 13kg.

Also last week I got a call from a guy who bought an S88. He was very very disappointed from the device. If you want to use it standalone, you loose a lot of control.

So in my opinion, the S88 is not a really good device. And it’s quite expensive too!

But you should go to your local musicshop and check it out by yourself!

If you have any questions regarding keybeds, feel free to ask. I’m quite familiar with those :wink:


I have owned an S-88 for several months now, and I totally LOVE it! It is weighted, but is so FAST! I can play like lightning on this, do single-note repeats, and the functionality of the knobs with automatically populated “scribble strips” is to die for. (No more remembering what you assigned to this controller… and multiple pages of assignments! Blows the usual “banks” idea out of the water.)

The keyboard comes with a separate piece of software called “Controller Editor” which allows DEEP customization of the standalone functions of the keyboard, even allowing the scribble strips to be named, with several pages (banks) of knob setups available to customize. Knobs can be set up as various kinds of continuous controllers or as switches. When you ARE attached to the computer, you can switch to “MIDI mode” to access not only your default template, but can page through as many templates as you have set up - the driver is always present to load in those custom setups.

I am so grateful that they went with the lighter construction, as I move this thing around a bit! It impedes the action not a bit … at least I should say, I am not left wanting for more.

The mod and pitch wheel have been replaced by a cool touch strip that at first I wasn’t so sure about, but its ability to simply touch at a location, or to set into “bouncing” or “continuous loop” modes makes for a dynamic (depending on how fast you “throw” it) LFO-like modulation effect that can have “gravity” (thus slow down) or be freewheeling till you stop it. Awesome fun!

Buy from somewhere that allows returns, read the manual and watch all the videos, adjust your “touch” to suit your preferences, and marvel. This thing is very well thought out. And the synths having NKS support are SUPER, from the browser to the knob assignments (which are editable still). I also purchased some of the NKS browser setups made by Jason at for my synths not having native NKS support that he has made modules for.

I have six controllers here, and this is without a doubt my favorite. It has pushed all the others aside and is the centerpiece of my studio now. The Akai MPK249 and MPK225 are nice for solo and bass riffs in certain patches when playing live, and the Kawai K5000 Fatar keybed is my favorite general synth keybed, but this S-88 is a total BLAST! It is a true beast - and has revived my love of playing piano, for sure.



I really should also mention that the light-guides are SO USEFUL in conjunction with synths utilizing key-switches - it is clearly obvious where the switches are. As well, you can set up keyboard splits for the standalone and/or MIDI mode using the Controller Editor and assign different colors to your splits, so never get lost again. Plus, tiny splits become easy to get to. No more having to remember that stuff, other than which color goes to what!


1 Like

Thanks heaps for chiming in guys.

From what I have read in various reviews, the S88 seems to be either a love it or hate it thing. I haven’t read much in between. Fantom and Terry, your replies are further confirmation of this!!

The total purchase of an S88 and upgrade from Komplete 8 standard to 11 ultimate is almost two grand here in Australia even with the current promo so it isn’t a small investment. I’m also building a new studio DAW at present which will come in at almost $3K so my budget is going to take a big hit.

I’m in two minds about the S88. I would be content to stay with my Yamaha DGX630 as a controller if the action of the S88 wasn’t a significant step up. I can live without the software integration of the S series but it would certainly be nice given that I use NI software frequently. The fact that u-he have Diva integration with S series is also tempting.

Again though, this is a lot of money for the luxuries I’m not sure I really need.

What to do, what to do!!

I think most musicians go through this process 2-3 times a year, and occasionally take the plunge. At least I know I do.


FantomXR was addressing the merits of the keybed alone, and of course, that is an area of widely varying opinions. The S-88 is much more than the keybed. If I were a concert pianist, perhaps I’d be more particular, wanting the feel of a favorite Steinway or something. After 50 years of keyboarding, I am a BIT picky, and the S-88 passes muster with room to spare - it is a joy to play for me.

The depth that it brings out of the NI Komplete collections and the other supported NKS synths is much more than you might glean at first blush. It becomes a VERY expressive instrument. (Also, I was surprised how few other weighted keyboards had aftertouch. Gotta have aftertouch!)

No buyer’s remorse here! :slight_smile:


1 Like

A totally underrated feature! I love that!

@David: I don’t have any experiences with it personally. I owned a S61 one and a half year ago and there were a few things really annoying. But in the meanwhile it looks like NI worked on it and supports much more live-features than back in the time. I think you just have to test it by yourself. Since I build my keyboards by myself I might have another look at the devices on the market. As far as I know you can not address the display (yes… it’s only one and not 8 also it looks like this) without using the kontrol-software. And to me it feels a bit uncomfortable to run a host in a host (kontrol-software inside cantabile). Anyway: Terry seems to be very happy! So why don’t you give it a shot? :slight_smile:

Actually - you can set up a template using that Controller Editor software with splits, colors, knob labels for the scribble-strips, and pedal assignments, and then assign that template as the default template for the keyboard. From then on, you can disconnect from the computer to use it, or use it in MIDI mode while connected and still have access to multiple templates via the drivers alone. The things the Komplete Kontrol software adds are the arpeggiator, chord-modes, and the browsing functions with their automation of knob assignments. So, it is still quite versatile when not using Komplete Kontrol, but that overlay adds in some nice “toys”.

The Komplete Kontrol software is fairly lightweight, and is so useful for the browsing that one doesn’t mind. But once you’ve gone beyond browsing and have firmed up your sets, then straight MIDI mode into Cantabile suffices just fine, and you still get your knobs and knob/switches with the scribble strip telling you what they do that you’ve set up, and several templates to choose from for different scenarios using the up/down arrows at the far right of the keyboard.

Quite a lot of versatility, but easy to dive into and use. The manual for the Controller Editor software is a must-read, IMHO, found in the Program Files folder. Short, sweet, and very revelatory.


Thank you so much everyone for your input and thoughts here. I’ve decided to hold off on buying a new controller keyboard for now.
I’ll be grabbing the upgrade from Komplete 8 standard to Komplete 11 ultimate while the discount is on though.

FantomXR, you have me VERY interested in this… A new Cantabile-Keyboard

1 Like

Another update. I’ve just purchased and installed the upgrade from K8 standard to K11 ultimate and have been experimenting with some of my analog synths as controllers. It turns out that my JX3P with Inque MIDI mod and PG200 works with Komplete Kontrol and anything I’ve loaded into it so far (including Diva). This should also work with my Juno106, Moog Voyager and two JP08 synths too. Needless to say, I’m quite delighted. :slight_smile:

This gives me an abundance of knobs and sliders to use.

1 Like

I just thought of another idea… Map the Voyager to Diva running all Moog modules. Instant polyphonic Moog hardware controller!!!