The German brand Native Instruments are known for a broad array of software tools for producers, although are pretty handy when it comes to hardware options as well. In particular, audio interfaces – as is the case with Komplete Audio 6. This USB-powered desktop unit features in our chart on the best audio interfaces under $500, so it’s worth taking a closer look. Let’s go!
Design-wise, the Komplete Audio 6 combines aspects of the standard desktop interface format we are used to seeing, along with several original ideas. Starting with the regular, it features a compact (4.8” by 6.3”) and sturdy aluminum chassis, with inputs at the front and outputs at the back.
The main difference here is that some of the controls and metering tools have been moved to the top of the unit, usually a wasted space. This makes it quite an eye-catching and unique design, and one which is quite attractive. The only issue here is that if you are used to hiding your audio interface under a desk or in a corner, you may have to reconsider your approach as the gauges and controls on the top panel mean you need access to it.
Sitting in the lower end of the sub-$500 price range, it’s no real surprise to find only four channels in the Komplete Audio 6. These come in the form of two XLR/TRS combos on the front and two 1/4” TRS inputs on the rear panel. The outputs come in the form of four balanced 1/4” TRS ports, while you also have the MIDI cluster along with a SPDIF pair. Don’t forget the headphone output with its own independent control! Nothing too exciting there, but enough to get most jobs done.
On that note, the controls for the two analog channels comprise a gain control and sit right next to the ports, while the top panel features the large volume control, with a range of notification LEDs. Even though it is still quite an affordable unit, the high-end preamps and Cirrus Logic converters chosen for this build are pretty great, while it comes with 48V phantom power for using condenser mics. Ultimately, the hardware side of this unit is rock solid.
But it also shines when it comes to the software on offer. The Komplete Audio 6 is shipped with a copy of Cubase LE – a superb DAW – as well as a copy of Traktor LE 2 DJ software and more than 3GB of VSTi and other plugins. A very good haul for this price!
At this point, you may be wondering what makes this particular interface so special when some of its features are often found in much cheaper models? One word – performance. Despite the Komplete Audio 6 maxing out at a 96kHz sampling rate, the preamps and converters it comes with are top notch.
It delivers a very clean, low-latency sound regardless of whether you are using a microphone or recording an instrument. On top of that, the top control panel offers a very concise and clear view of what is going on with the device. Combine this with the awesome software suite and you have an audio interface that can do just about anything you need it to.
Having just two channels may limit its usefulness for more ambitious producers, or bands needing lots of inputs, but the Komplete Audio 6 is a very cost-effective and reliable way to record high-quality audio. Put it this way – if it was around $50 cheaper, it would probably be topping our chart of the best audio interfaces under $200. Very impressive!