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Learn Music and Audio Production | iZotope Tips and Tutorials

Vinyl x NKS

by Brian Moyer, Content Marketing Specialist, iZotope June 1, 2021
“...this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Take your audio back in time for free:

Vinyl

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You may have heard some rumblings about the iZotope x Native Instruments alliance. There’s been a lot of excitement around this announcement, but also curiosity. What does this mean for our products? What are we actually doing together? 

We’re pleased to introduce the first product update for our alliance: iZotope Vinyl—the free vintage vinyl effect—now works with Native Instruments Native Kontrol Standard (NKS). In this article, we’ll explore what NKS is, how it’s been integrated into Vinyl, and how this can unlock vintage vibes in your music.

Reminder: Vinyl is a free plug-in—click below to download it now!

So what’s Vinyl?

The plug-in that got iZotope started , Vinyl is now 20 years old—and it’s still free. We’ve made a lot of technical advancements and upgrades over the years. And Vinyl remains one the most beloved plug-ins we’ve ever made.

Vinyl is an audio effect used to “age” audio by simulating the character and artifacts of a time-worn record. With controls for age, wear, electrical noise, dust, and more, you can turn any audio into a warm record with an old-school feel... or an absolutely ancient relic of twisted sonic tumbleweeds.our music, your call!

To get a feel for what’s Vinyl’s like to use, here are some sound examples of its Spindown effect.

The original Vinyl plug-in, in all its vintage glory
The original Vinyl plug-in, in all its vintage glory

Before Spindown

After Spindown

Okay cool; what’s NKS?

NKS stands for Native Kontrol Standard. It’s a technology from Native Instruments, and it allows NKS-enabled plug-ins—which, from iZotope now include Ozone and Vinyl—to run on Native Instruments gear. The result is that you can create and perform without having to shift focus from your KOMPLETE KONTROL keyboard or MASCHINE to your computer.. With hands-on controls for browsing presets, toggling parameters, and adjusting settings, you can refine your sound in real time with your Native Instruments KOMPLETE KONTROL keyboard. 

*Take a look at this article for more information on Ozone with NKS.

Or, dive into MASCHINE, the comprehensive Native Instruments beat production instrument and run your whole session from there:no computer keyboard, mouse, or trackpad required. If you prefer “in-the-box” production, you can simply open Ozone or Vinyl in MASCHINE’s plug-in menu to see their controls. So whether you’re running your session from your controller or your computer, you can forget about switching back and forth. It’s all right there.

Get KOMPLETE KONTROL over your sound

Using physical  controllers to manipulate plug-ins may not be a new concept, but with NKS, it’s never been easier to connect plug-ins to your KOMPLETE KONTROL device—in fact, aside from plugging the keyboard into your computer, there’s no setup at all.

With NKS, you can open Vinyl from KOMPLETE KONTROL’s browser and tweak your sound by twisting the knobs. . No workflow interruption, no setup, no MIDI mapping—unless you want to! Simply open the plug-in to create your own configuration.

Note: Pre-mapped parameters are only available when the VST format of the plug-in is loaded from your controller’s plug-in browser. Using a Vinyl AU plug-in or loading Vinyl within your DAW will bypass these control assignments.

Vinyl in Komplete Kontrol
Vinyl in Komplete Kontrol

Make bangers in MASCH

Now that we’ve looked at the capabilities of KOMPLETE KONTROL keyboards, let’s learn about the MASCHINE production instrument. MASCHINE software is a pro-level DAW,designed to pair perfectly with Native Instruments hardware—and now, Vinyl. To start, let’s get the lay of the land in MASCHINE:

A default session in MASCHINE 2
A default session in MASCHINE 2

If you've used any sort of DAW before—Ableton Live, Logic Pro, etc.—you’ll be familiar with most of the tools and menus you see in MASCHINE software. The first objective is to get familiar with the four main areas of MASCHINE’s interface, which I’ve color coded for you here:

  • 1. Browser - This is your tool for managing, finding, organizing, and auditioning Projects, Groups, Sounds, Instruments, Effects and Samples.

  • 2. Arranger - This area has two views: Ideas view and Song view. Ideas view is for creating and experimenting with musical ideas free from the timeline. Song view is for organizing your musical ideas into a song on the Timeline.

  • 3. Control Area - The Control area allows you to control parameters and settings for each of the Plug-in slots at each Project level (Sound, Group and Master). This area can hold settings for Groups, Sounds, Plug-ins (internal or VST/AU plug-ins), MIDI, routing.

  • 4. Pattern Editor - The Pattern Editor features both step programming and real-time recording, and is the basis for each Pattern. Create Patterns for each Group here, then assign them to Scenes in the Arranger. The Pattern Editor also lets you edit modulation for the Sound, Group, and Plug-in (Internal or External) parameters.

You may notice a few items for which Native Instruments has specialized names, like Groups and Sounds, so let’s run through those to make sure the rest of this article makes sense!

  • Effect - An effect modifies the audio material it receives. MASCHINE already includes many different effects. You can also use VST/AU plug-in effects.

  • Group - A Group contains 16 Sound slots, each of which can hold one Sound. In addition to the effects applied to individual Sounds, a Group can have insert effects loaded in its Plug-in slots. These affect all the Sounds in the Group. A Group can also contain an unlimited amount of Patterns organized into Pattern Banks.

  • Pattern - A Pattern is a sequence that plays Sounds from a Group. Patterns are the building blocks for Scenes. One Pattern from each Group can be added to a Scene. You can reference the same Pattern in different Scenes. When you modify a Pattern in the Pattern Editor, all references to this Pattern are updated in the Arranger.

  • Sound - Sounds are the building blocks of all audible content in MASCHINE. They are organized into Groups that can hold up to 16 Sounds each. Sounds can be played directly from the pads on your controller. A Sound can be loaded with plug-ins of various types (sound source or effect, Internal or External, etc.).

There is much, much more to learn and discover about MASCHINE software. Be sure to check out the MASCHINE 2 Manual if any questions come up in your next session!

Awesome! So what does that mean for Vinyl?

Plug-ins

One area where MASCHINE differs from other DAWs is in its treatment of plug-ins via NKS. Where most DAWs produce a plug-in UI in its own window, MASCHINE provides a uniform view for all of your sounds. Let’s take a look at the interface in MASCHINE when Vinyl starts up:

Vinyl in a MASCHINE session
Vinyl in a MASCHINE session

You can see in this screenshot that MASCHINE has laid out Vinyl’s controls right inside the session, without an additional plug-in window. The parameters may look different than they do in standalone Vinyl, but they all function how you’re used to. And if you prefer Vinyl’s own look simply double-click it to summon the interface you know and love. You can also view Vinyl standalone in MASCHINE’s Mixer view.

NKS in MASCHINE simplifies your workflow by removing the need to bounce between your session and plug-in windows. This may seem minor, but all those seconds of switching back and forth can really add up, especially if you’re like me and have a million projects going all the time. 

Not only that, but this removes the obstacle of learning a new layout for every plug-in in your session. With MASCHINE’s uniform display, you’ll feel right at home with any plug-in, even if you’re using it for the first time.

Hardware integration

Stepping outside “the box” for a moment, let’s see how your KOMPLETE KONTROL and MASCHINE gear can keep your hands off the computer and your mind on the music.

Both KOMPLETE KONTROL and MASCHINE offer hardware controls that link seamlessly and automatically to the MASCHINE software, and any plug-ins therein. Have a look at this screen recording, and pay close attention to the cursor. I’ve left it in place to demonstrate that the parameters—followed by the preset browser—in the DAW are changing in response to the physical controls.

Controlling Vinyl parameters with Native Instruments hardware
Controlling Vinyl parameters with Native Instruments hardware
Browsing Vinyl presets with Native Instruments hardware
Browsing Vinyl presets with Native Instruments hardware

Next, let’s look at the MASCHINE+ controller, specifically its treatment of Vinyl as an NKS plug-in.

Vinyl in MASCHINE+
Vinyl in MASCHINE+

The original Vinyl is displayed on the left to indicate its placement in the effect chain, and the streamlined NKS version is shown on the right. The four knobs below the right display correspond to the four parameters laid out directly above them. Let’s get a closer look:

Vinyl parameter UI in MASCHINE+
Vinyl parameter UI in MASCHINE+

The white pads—called soft buttons—along the top of the displays can be used to cycle between plug-ins, effects, parameters, and presets. Here’s a shot of MASCHINE+ browsing Vinyl’s presets, followed by a closer view of the display.

Browsing Vinyl presets with MASCHINE+
Browsing Vinyl presets with MASCHINE+
Vinyl preset browser in MASCHINE+
Vinyl preset browser in MASCHINE+

Note: Vinyl can only be controlled by MASCHINE mk3 when it’s connected to your computer. The MASCHINE+, however, offers full plug-in access in standalone mode.

Conclusion

The truly amazing thing about this production environment is how effortless it is. Connect your KOMPLETE KONTROL or MASCHINE gear, launch your MASCHINE software, and start creating. Work in complete, uninterrupted flow by controlling your session from your Native Instruments gear, and not endlessly clicking menus and plug-in windows to see what you need to see—again, it’s all right there. And now that Vinyl has joined the party alongside Ozone, you can get more creative, in NKS, than ever.

So gear up, plug in, and create.

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