You might have noticed the release of Kontour as one of the new instruments included in Native Instruments' Komplete 10 bundle. Kontour is the result of the first collaboration between Native Instruments and Nonlinear Labs. (Full disclosure: I am still a shareholder at NI.) Kontour's synthesis engine was developed by Nonlinear Labs. It is based on Phase 22, a synthesizer I have been working on for several years. Kontour is its adaptation as a highly refined software instrument.
Kontour's concept consists of the following characteristics:
Kontour can be considered a sort of "preview" to the first synthesis engine of our hardware synthesizer (working name "Emphase"). The audio processing structure of Emphase will be similar, but not identical (and therefore not preset-compatible) to that of Kontour.
So the question arises: just what are these differences? First of all, we are creating a synthesizer. As we have the performing musician in mind, Emphase will be totally dedicated to human real-time control. Automatic control sources like Kontour’s motion recorders are replaced by the live input from the musician.
We have very high aims in terms of expressiveness and therefore we use our high-resolution TCD protocol. TCD gives us complete control over how the voices are assigned, how they are influenced by the pitch bender, ribbons, and pedals, as well as what is going on inside of each voice. In addition, morphing will play an important role for finding and modifying sounds.
You see the different intentions: Kontour integrates perfectly with the environment of software-based music production, while Emphase is optimized as a stand-alone hardware instrument.
Currently, we are working on ideas that have evolved from the development of Kontour. For example:
As you see, we are constantly learning, and the work on Kontour has given important impulses to the evolution of our synth engine. Thanks to the colleagues at NI, the sound designers and the first users of Kontour for your extremely valuable feedback!
We'll continue to give updates on our website as we move ahead with the synth engine, the user interfaces, and the overall synth construction.