The Komplete Kontrol A49 passes my test for a good MIDI Keyboard in FL Studio. 👍
The A49 isn’t perfect (explained below), but does a good job (and allows for a similar workflow like in my FL Studio courses.)
Again, this review is specifically for FL STUDIO USERS!
I personally use the M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49 (Review).
Entering the Native Instruments .NKS Eco-System..
You can use the A49 without using .NKS and entering the Native Instruments “Komplete eco-system”.
For example, you have to enter FL Studio’s .flp eco-system, otherwise you can’t use FL Studio, so that’s fine. But I’m talking bringing a third-party eco-system into FL Studio now.
I use the Komplete Kontrol A49 without .NKS and KOMPLETE KONTROL plugin. This allows me not be locked into additional must-have software, and provides good long-term compatibility when opening old projects.
Installing the A49 Experience
I’ve always found Native Instruments installs lots of software on my computer whenever I’ve tried their products over the years..
For example, the A49 installs 3 programs (and one program – Controller Editor – doesn’t even work with the A49!):
In addition to the 3 programs installed, my Apps & features on Windows had 7 different Native Instruments items installed for just a MIDI Keyboard!
There’s some examples of lots of software from Native Instruments, just to install a MIDI Keyboard..
Not a big deal, but it is something to point out!
Usually MIDI Keyboard companies require you download the latest driver from their website. It’s really easy to install/uninstall, and LIGHT WEIGHT..
For comparison, here’s what the M-Audio Oxygen Pro installs:
Does the Komplete Kontrol A49 Work Good in FL Studio?
When first released, Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol 49 MIDI Keyboards did not work well in FL Studio.. But the code has been updated, and we are now in a good state!
The main problems were the Transport buttons (MMC) not following common practices, and certain buttons and features were disabled due to no “Native Instruments Deep Integration”.
But two awesome things happened..
- Komplete Kontrol firmware updated (v1.8)..
- FL Studio introduced MIDI Scripting in version 20.7!
(Komplete Kontrol v1.8 introduced “Stand-alone” mode for normal MMC transport button practices, which allows FL Studio 20.7’s new MIDI Scripting feature more control over the A49! Free Komplete Kontrol MIDI Scripts are available.)
You must understand FL Studio has never been a DAW for deep integration with MIDI Controllers. The beauty of FL Studio (and now with MIDI Scripting), is the user has tons of control on how THEY want their MIDI Keyboard set up..
More pictures below.. it’s important we cover things specific to the A49 and FL Studio usage first..
Native Instruments .NKS (Deep Integration)
Again, I caution FL Studio users using .NKS and KOMPLETE KONTROL plugin.. (You are loading a plugin into a plugin.. which I do not think this is a good practice.. learn about choosing plugins).
But here’s how it works if interested.
To get the real Native Instruments experience, you must use .NKS which gives “hands-on” with instruments and effects.
Various companies have adopted .NKS into their plugins which give “hands-on” access to parameters.
To use .NKS inside FL Studio, you load their KOMPLETE KONTROL plugin, which you then load VSTs inside of KOMPLETE KONTROL plugin to take advantage of .NKS for plugins that support it.
This is what the KOMPLETE KONTROL plugin looks like:
I caution FL Studio users being swayed into this flashy “hands-on” approach, which forces them into the Native Instruments eco-system without being aware of it.
It’s important to understand FL Studio has never been a DAW with great support for automatic “hands-on”.. The beauty of FL Studio (and now with MIDI Scripting), is that the USER can decide how THEY like to set things up (look into GLOBAL LINKS).
I recommend the Komplete Kontrol A49 without .NKS for a great experience in FL Studio. You get semi-weighted keys, and operational transport buttons (with a FREE MIDI Script).
Build Quality of Komplete Kontrol MIDI Keyboards by Native Instruments
Okay, if you’ve made it this far.. good stuff.
In short, the A49 will give you a good experience in FL Studio, and it’s priced nice. It gives semi-weighted keys, and operational transport buttons that work with a free MIDI Script in FL Studio.
The bad is it doesn’t have FORWARD or REVERSE transport buttons (nice to have), it doesn’t have velocity curves (key velocity is on a default setting, which is quite sensitive, but can be quick-fixed in FL Studio.. more info below), and the CONTROLLER EDITOR doesn’t work with the A49. It also does not have sliders (which I do not use often, but are nice to have), and it does not have a drum pad (which I think keeps the cost down, which is good).
Ultimately, I think the Oxygen Pro (review) gives a better FL Studio experience… but the A49 passes my test, is more affordable, and will still give you a good experience in FL Studio.
Lets now cover the build quality of the Native Instruments A49!
Semi-Weighted Piano Keys on Komplete Kontrol A49 MIDI Keyboard
Remember, at the end of the day, every MIDI Keyboard is essentially the same.. (it has no sounds in it, and we play notes to control the sounds inside our music program).. so that holds this A49 at a great competitive price-point.
Okay, So How are the Keys!?
I think they are nice semi-weighted keys, but do not have velocity curves, which could be a deal breaker for you… The keys are definitely a huge step up from non-semi-weighted keys!
Now, thankfully, FL Studio allows us to set our own custom velocity curve, which only needs to be set up once, and seems to fix the velocity issue quite well. Here’s the velocity curve I set up for the A49, in case you need a good starting point.
No velocity curves is definitely odd from a MIDI Keyboard manufacturer.. as almost every MIDI Keyboard on the planet has offered “Velocity Curves” over the years as a “basic function”.
Komplete Kontrol Knob Quality
These 8 knobs are nice! Native Instruments calls these 4 banks “Pages, which we switch by using (◀ M) or (▶ S) to access 8 knobs at a time, for a total of 32 knobs!
They are Endless Encoders (learn the difference) which have no beginning and end. They twist well, and have a nice weight. They are touch sensitive, which is really cool, but doesn’t bring much value to the FL Studio workflow.
Note, the 4D knob feels cheap, but I see it being durable if handled with care, and it does operates well.. (it just wiggles cheaply).
Komplete Kontrol Transport Buttons FL Studio (MMC vs. Deep Integration)
The transport buttons were the biggest weakness of the A49 Keyboard in FL Studio until MIDI Scripting and v1.8 Komplete Kontrol update were introduced.
With those updates in place, a free MIDI Script is still recommended for optimal workflow in FL Studio.
Note – You can use Deep Integration MIDI Scripts without needing to use .NKS and KOMPLETE KONTROL plugin!!!
It’s important to point out the Komplete Kontrol A49 does not have FORWARD and REVERSE buttons like on the Oyxgen Pro, which Iare also nice to have, and I find myself using them in the arrangement stage of a song!
(This could be set up via MIDI Script, though.. such as METRO for REVERSE and TEMPO for FORWARD!)
Buttons on the Komplete Kontrol MIDI Keyboard
The A49 has clicky buttons which are quite loud, and require quite a bit of force. This is not bad as they operate well, but something to point out, as it would be loud if you were trying to be quiet..
In my Oxygen Pro review.. I realized that clicky buttons are advantageous compared to “squishy” buttons. (Learn the difference between MIDI Keyboard buttons).
I definitely prefer clicky buttons. The A49’s are a little louder than the Oxygen Pro’s (the Oxygen Pro’s don’t require as much force, either!), so you’d hear the A49 easier if trying to be quiet at night, but in real practice, the A49 has good clicky buttons..
Komplete Kontrol OLED Screen
Komplete Kontrol has the A-Series (this review) and the S-Series.
The S-Series is the premium line, and has a much better screen.
The A-Series comes with a small screen, but works great, and I have no complaints.
Is the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A49 Well Built?
The body feels strong, and has good weight to it. When playing the piano, it does not move or slide around!
The Frame (Chassis) – A49 Body
The A49 is made of good plastic.. with very little creaking when pressed hard. There is literally no flexing at all when it comes to opposite corners.. it is engineered well.
The bottom of the A49 also has 6 nice rubber feet, which in addition to its good weight, hold the piano in place when playing.
NI A49 Slider Quality
The Native Instruments A49 does not have sliders! I have this section just so you are aware!
Even though I do not use knobs and sliders often, I did miss the look and option of having sliders (if I ever wanted to use them)..
(Knobs and sliders are the same thing.. so I’m sure that kept the A49 cost down, which is good! The Oxygen Pro has sliders + knobs.)
Native Instruments A49 Drum Pad Quality
The NI A49 does not have drum pads.. again writing this so you are aware..
However, I think drum pads on a MIDI Keyboard are unnecessary, an extra cost, and really “gimmicky”.. learn more about keys vs. drum pads. So I like that the A49 does not have drum pads to save the customer money!
Pitch and Mod Wheel Quality Komplete Kontrol
The pitch and mod wheels feel great, and are a nice size to work with! I’d say they are better built than the Oxygen Pro’s in every way.
They are bigger, heavier for finer control, and again, they actually work in FL Studio properly lol. Good job here Native Instruments!
(The Oxygen Pro’s pitch wheel has issues.. M-Audio updated the firmware, which didn’t fix it in FL Studio.. thankfully, I don’t use the pitch wheel at all.. so not an issue for me personally).
Summary of the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A49 Review
To summarize.. what I am saying is the Komplete Kontrol A49 works GREAT in FL Studio WITHOUT using Native Instrument’s proprietary .NKS or KOMPLETE KONTROL plugin software, which forces users into their Komplete Kontrol Eco-System.
I think the Komplete Kontrol A49 is the best value on the market for a MIDI Keyboard with semi-weighted keys in the 49-Key range.
I was able to play the keys enjoyably, and have access to the transport buttons which gave me a good experience in FL Studio. (FREE Komplete Kontrol MIDI Script required!)
But for a better experience, I think the M-Audio Oxygen Pro (Review) is worth it for the price difference. Again.. all of these reviews are for FL Studio users, and I’m also on Windows, so cannot verify for Mac.