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Rating and Reviews: NI Audio Kontrol 1

A superior solutions for DJs, this 2-in, 4-out interface delivers 192 kHz, 24-bit audio and comes equipped with a huge software package.

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"Compare quality, sampling rates and features...hard to beat for the money" submitted February 7, 2008

By a customer from charter.net
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Musical Background: musician, dj, recording, electronics
Music Style: all
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Sound: This thing has a nice clean and fat sound (probably due to the sampling rate). Nothing is lost. You must have a decent PC with good usb ports because this unit seems to tax it pretty good. I compare to my friends Emu recordings and we both agree mine sounds better. The headphone could be louder but again mercy on the port. Great dynamics! Feature: The balanced 2 in and 4 out plus the insane MIDI control capacity (which I haven't mastered) are great. I think an external power source might help take the load from the usb port. Otherwise no complaints. I haven't used the extra software bundle yet. I bought this for the sampling rate and the 4 balanced outs and am not disappointed. Ease of Use: I had some audible unexplainable glitches when I first fired this up and like some others experienced some bad thoughts. I have since learned to go back and set a lot of the assignments and settings not changing them but clicking off and then back on again. This shouldn't be necessary but is now routine. I think it's mostly because of Vista incompatibility. Quality: This is a fine and sturdy metal device. Well labeled and quality controls...nothing cheesy here. The lighting scheme and indicators are just plain cool. This thing is virtually noiseless. I use it with N-track (cheap but good) recording software on a modest Gateway PC and I can rival much more expensive studios. Value: Native Instruments are not for the weak of wallet. Again the sampling rate and features sold me. If they knocked off another $50 I think they'd gain a lot more potential customers. Manufacturer Support: Haven't used support but their website is useful for FAQ's, downloads and upgrades. The Wow Factor: This fit my criteria... External USB Interface 4 balanced outputs High sampling rate And it Didn't cost $300 or more to get these features Overall: I've had mine about 8 months and use it mostly on weekends. It continues to amaze me with quality recordings of guitars, bass, vocals, drums and keybords. The more I use it the more I like it.
24 of 26 people (92.31%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"Best drivers ever, OK build quality." submitted October 5, 2008

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Sound: All outputs sound very clean. Overall, very high quality. My only gripe is that the TRS sockets are not the best out there, and if you waggle the headphones male TRS, for example, you will hear crackle as the ground contact makes and breaks. I am just surprised that NI used cheap connectors on a device with fine electronics and hardware. For only a few extra bucks they could have made possibly the best audio interface of its kind. Feature: Monitoring is no good. The inputs only have a clip indicator. There is no software monitoring. What I really don't like is the output activity LEDs, of which there is one for each stereo output. These LEDs indicate POST-FADER activity, not pre-fader. If you turn down the level knobs, the LEDs won't come on at all. I like to 'see' the sound before it comes out of my monitors, to protect my ears. Then I gradually turn knob to a comfortable level. Because most devices monitor input levels, rather than output levels, this feature is redundant. I have my Audio Kontrol connected to a Mackie Big Knob which, of course, has input monitoring, and that's what I look at, not the silly LED on the Audio Kontrol. I wish the unit had 4 buttons on the top, not 3. That way I could map set them up for Play, Stop, Rewind, Fast Forward, and the knob for Volume. With three buttons I am pretty much stuffed. The best feature of the AK1, and the main reason why I bought it, are the audio drivers. I think this is the only audio interface on the market to offer such flexible ASIO multiclient functionality. This means you can have several DAWs, Winamp, Reason, stand-alone virtual instruments, etc, running simultaneously in sweet harmony. RME say that the Fireface 400/800 is ASIO multiclient; I own it and it is nowhere near as good as the AK1, be assured. The unit is bus-powered which is good for laptop use. Also, this unit does not get hot at all, unlike my Fireface 400 which is like a radiator. Ease of Use: Very easy. The drivers are by far the best feature of this product, which works every time. I put my computer to sleep, wake it up and playback dutifully resumes. I have had many more problems with my Fireface 400. Quality: The product, for the most part, is made well but: - The PCB material has a strong smell. - The TRS sockets feel cheap, at least compared to those found on Mackie equipment (e.g. the Big Knob). They are not secured to the outer shell by a nut and so the wobble. In addition, the internal contacts make and break some times when you wobble the connector, which does not happen on my other gear. - I don't like the top panel because it is made of shiny plastic which can be easy to scratch wiping it with certain cloths. Some people will love this feature though because it looks beautiful. - The knobs are made of injection-moulded plastic, and on my unit they have not been manufactured particularly well because if you turn all knobs all the way to the right, the knob markers don't point in the same direction (e.g. one is pointing to 5 o'clock and another one to 5:30). In general, Mackie products are better built in my opinion and experience. The sound of the AK1 is beautiful though. Value: A little pricy. The Mackie Satellite offers more I/O at a lower price. However, mackie drivers are not ASIO multiclient. Manufacturer Support: In my experience, NI have been supportive when I have contacted them. They can take several days to reply though, and NI staff don't always speak fluent English. The Wow Factor: I care about quality, not appearance. Overall: Satisfied till it breaks. And if it does, I hope it happens within the warranty period!
22 of 26 people (84.62%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"Finally a sound card working perfect with no conflicts...." submitted October 17, 2007

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Musical Background: Guitar and Keyboard player and music producer
Music Style: all
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Sound: Amazing, specially at this price. I used many sound cards such as,Echo Gina, Yamaha DSP Factory, M-Audio AudioFile...and AK1 is simply better.Clear and fat sound. Feature: I like the virtual instruments ( Keyboard collection )and the Guitar Combos ( Specially Vox AC30..) are nice.I'm not using the control buttons but maybe for a DJing those could be useful.I've just tested them and were OK.Not used Cubase4 cause I have SX3, but that's a good option for anyone who doesn't have a DAW software. Ease of Use: Installing was a breeze, and if you want to use the control on the top there will be no problem at all.I can't understand those people complaining about AK1.My computer is a very simple one:Sony VAIO 1.7 Core Dual2 / 1 giga RAM / Win XP, SP2, Cubase SX3 and Sound Forge7.So, no clics, no fade in bug and no noises, as I said AK1 is just a good USB soundcard working perfect in my home studio. Quality: Extremely wel made...again, no problems. Value: good price. Manufacturer Support: didn't have any problem, and I think the website's OK and the available updates are handy. The Wow Factor: I like the design. Overall: I, very happy with AK1 and I strongly recomend as a project studio soundcard.
2 of 3 people (66.67%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"Extreme! for a new type of personal music experience " submitted June 17, 2007

By a customer from yahoo.com
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Musical Background: hobbyist
Music Style: official music!
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Sound: You will listen to all your mp3s again! The playback and the stereo separation are top of the line. fabulous bass the highs are full and natural mids are great A Nakamichi for listening to all your musics again and again Turns a 50$ pc speaker into a studio monitor. Feature: only lacks digital I/O Little disturbing latency comparing to pci cards when used for real time software synthesis Very warm and accurate playback Ease of Use: Plug & Play Quality: Top of the line Clear ,Warm,and accurate Shakes your subs well pro 2 in 4 out the best box and appearance Value: Great, now is available for less Manufacturer Support: no problems made sturdy The Wow Factor: Great for the price one may feel 3 times the price Overall: Once you heard it you will buy one!
13 of 18 people (72.22%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"Audio Kontrol 1 - Warning for Mac Pro & MacBook Pro owners." submitted November 11, 2007

By na
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Musical Background: House
Music Style: House
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Sound: Warning to potential Mac owners!! Read this before you purchase. There is a real compatibility issue with the AK1 and Macs. I have a Mac Pro - but this issue is also happening with MacBook Pros. OK, technically they work together. But the AK1 will be crashing your Mac due to "insufficient power on the bus". Its USB powered only and for some reason loses connection or power on a regular basis. Happens to me about once or twice a day.. too often to be ignored. Its a good card for PC - but save your time and get a Focusrite Saffire LE if you have a Mac. This is firewire and has external power.. No problems. At the end of the day, I have to give it a 1 as it is unrelaiable and does not work properly with Macs!! Feature: The Midi contollers (Knob and 3 buttons..) were the big draw for me. That & its 24/192. I was replacing my PC with a Mac and had only ever used USB and always found it reliable. I was using Ableton 6 as a DAW on my Mac Pro. I also thought that the Midi control would be a great bonus with my Dell Laptop for DJ'ing. As a PC Laptop DJ'ing device it cannot be beat. Rubbish for Mac. I have to bring it back to the shop as I cannot afford to be without it as my Mac Pro Audio interface. Ease of Use: Is very easy.. in theory & if you are a PC owner. Comes with these Midi template things - You can assign the buttons to be used in different ways when pressed in different combinations. However, team this up with a Mac Pro & its difficult to use as it does not work properly!! Quality: Rock solid Metal case. Cannot fault the exterior. But I would question how a company like NI can let this one out into the world when there is a huge problem with it. The issue might be with the Mac - but it is NI's fault that they didnt make this with an external power supply. I cannot go on much more about the PC Vs. Mac thing.. but this card it really for PC owners. However it is perfect for Mac owners who love having their workflow interrupted!! Value: does not work with Mac's. Bad value for Money. Manufacturer Support: Look on the NI w/site support/community forum.. Issues all over the place with the AK1. It can be a bit sluggish sometimes and clicky - but that it probably to do with the Mac USB issue.. I would recommend you go there and check out the feedback from other owners. Nothing can be done about the Mac/AK1 issue. I give them a 1 as they released it and have no problem sleeping at night knowing that they are taking hundreds of $'s / £'s / €'s from people when their product does not work properly. Hilarious!! To sum up - Avoid like the plague Mac Pro / MacBook Pro owners!! The Wow Factor: I want (to get rid of) it Overall: Go back to the drawing board. Come back with something that works & dont lie to your customers, pretending that this thing works, when it doesn't!
13 of 27 people (48.15%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"Nearly hits the mark, but a few issues..." submitted September 15, 2007

By a customer from gmail.com
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Musical Background: Hobbyist
Music Style: Alternative / IDM / Ambient
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VERIFIED BUYER
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Sound: It's Native Instruments, it's not cheap, and you always get what you pay for. In this category, all high marks. Very clear, the inputs are great, knobs are not flimsy feeling (thank god). When it works, it works extremely well, no doubt about it. Feature: It comes with various software that I never used but it's nice to know that there is extra stuff bundled in. I really only needed an audio interface for my laptop so I didn't quite need all that extra stuff. Ease of Use: Straight forward. Set up drivers, register product, plug in, go. Much like any other audio interface. Quality: Unfortunately, this is where this product falls short for me. I can't say for sure that it's NI's fault, but after speaking to many people about various NI products (I also own Battery, so it's first hand experience) I can say for sure that the general consensus is that NI has some VERY dodgy initial releases. Out of the box, this unit needed a firmware upgrade so badly it wasn't even usable until doing so. I noticed every now and then afterwards that the cpu usage in my host would pin at 99% and the only way around this was to give the PC a hard reset. Thinking maybe it was just my host, I tried it as an output for everything else on my PC. Same problem. Maybe it's just my setup and hardware configuration, but be a little cautious here... test it like crazy Value: Sort of a $300 paperweight right now, but I am hoping that in the (near) future NI will release all the necessary updates for this interface that would be near flawless. Manufacturer Support: Have to give a 5 because I've honestly never dealt with NI before. I did email them once regarding a question about Battery and they never responded, I'm sure it was on some forum or FAQ anyway. Usually after a year or so the products are finely tuned so I probably will wait for a few more updates to this product. The Wow Factor: It's pretty damn sexy, given the problems I've had with it. And it's very practical. Overall: At this point, I'm about ready to go back to my native ASIO drivers and hook up my desktop mixer for recording. I think that given enough time NI will release all the updates (like the year it took for them to fix Battery 3) and all will be well, but until then, I'm looking at alternatives...
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