Kore, Komplete, Reaktor @ cdm

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When you’re working in the studio or designing sounds, navigating complex parameters with a mouse makes some sense. But when you want to focus on sounds — while playing an instrument in private or (especially) live — you really want hardware control.

Kore 2′s controller does let you do this. The trick is to learn how to navigate different levels of sounds, since you may have different instruments in a performance you want to control. Here’s a quick reference guide to how to do it.

This comes off a little like those old text adventure games. (You’re in a dark dungeon. There are entrances to the LEFT and RIGHT. There are SOUNDS. You can hit the CONTROL button.) But walk through these steps with a performance open, and it’ll make sense — and with a little practice, you can do this quite quickly.

Performance Level

Screen shows: NAV > [Your Performance]
Highlighted button: ENTER
Use it to control: Overall mix

With nothing selected in the Kore window, you’ll see an option for the top level of the performance. From here, if you hit CONTROL, you’ll be able to bring up pages for the channels. That makes this an easy way to mix levels for your overall sound, adjust effects send levels, mute, and so on. After hitting CONTROL, the LEFT and RIGHT arrow keys become active. Press these to switch between different channels, and the MASTER channel. (Note that if you haven’t renamed each source channel, they’ll each display as “CTL > SOURCE,” so you probably do want to rename them!)

To get into the details of each channel, press the ENTER button.

Performance level controls the top level of your sound creation in Kore. You can easily control channel pages for each source here. )Top: what you control in Kore. Bottom: what it looks like on the controller.)

Sound Matrix

Screen Shows: NAV > [Performance] and displays the Sound Matrix
Highlighted buttons: ARROW buttons, ESC
Use it to control: Navigation between matrices, browser loading

In the Sound Matrix, you can navigate between inserted modules, effects, and instruments using the arrow keys. So, for instance, if you have an arpeggiator you want to control, you’d hit the arrow buttons until it’s highlighted, then press CONTROL to bring up its control pages and activate those parameters on the controller encoders and buttons. If you press the SOUND button, you bring up the active morph matrix. Press ESC if you want to return to the matrix.

Because you can activate an individual slot in your Sound Matrix, this is also an ideal level from which to bring up the Browser. Hit F2 in a slot, and you’ll see a list of Koresound names. Hit the preview button on the controller (the one that looks like a speaker), and you can audition sounds from a keyboard or other controller.

What about sounds embedded within sounds? Select a slot, and hit the ENTER button on the controller. To return to the parent sound, hit ESC.

Control Pages

Screen Shows: CTL > [Active Page]
Highlighted Buttons: UP, DOWN, CONTROL
Use it to control: Individual parameters using the encoders and buttons – this is the fun part

Hit CONTROL, and you enter the all-important control pages — the point at which you actually control sounds. Using the up and down arrow keys, you can switch between pages. If you’re using a third-party plug-in, that’ll include all the plug-in parameters, so you can scroll through a VST or AU plug-in and find each individual element you can control.

Hit CONTROL a second time, and you can switch between user and channel pages or user and plug-in pages. If the active plug-in doesn’t have a user page, you’ll see “CTL > No Page.” Hit CONTROL again to return to the plug-in page, or use the Assign > Learn feature in software to add parameters to your own user page.

Again, you can hit ESC to return to the previous level and go back to the matrix.

When Inside a Host

Running inside a host like Ableton Live or Logic, the Kore controller will function just as it does in standalone mode. The difference is, you may have more than one instance of Kore — more than one channel on which the Kore plug-in is running. For example, I often like to run live sets with a small number of Kore instances in Live, each within different channel setups, and activate them for different parts of the set.

This means you have to be able to switch between instances.

Hold down the F1 button, and you’ll see a screen of rectangles. Rectangles with a solid border are active instances; broken rectangles with just the corners displayed are inactive. To choose which instance you want, you can either use the UP and DOWN buttons or (cooler) use one of the eight toggle buttons on the controller.

There’s just one trick: Kore will use the order in which each instance was added. That can be confusing if you’re looking at channel numbers and going left to right. If that’s hard for you, I’d be careful to add Kore instances from left to right when working in your host. If you reorder channels later, be sure to reorder your Kore instances, too.

Review: Commands

(ESC repeatedly to get to this top level)
CONTROL, then LEFT / RIGHT: Channel control pages
ENTER: Select a channel for more detail

Sound Matrix:
UP / DOWN / LEFT / RIGHT: Select insert in the matrix
SOUND: Morph matrix for active insert
CONTROL: Control pages for active insert
F2: Load browser and replace at the active insert
ENTER: Navigate one level deeper into an embedded sound
ESC: Return to the Performance level

Control Pages:
UP / DOWN: Navigate through pages
CONTROL: Toggle User, Plugin, Channel pages
ESC: Return to the Sound Matrix

In a Host:
(Hold) F1 + button / UP/DOWN: Select active instance of Kore from available instances

(I’ll be brushing up the above list so we can do a printable quick reference card … corrections / additions welcome.)

Any Questions?

Does that make sense? Give it a try and see if any spots are confusing. To me, though, the ability to navigate entirely from the hardware is a huge boon … even if I just used it for sound design, I’d want that capability.

One big note: just because a button is inactive (confusingly) doesn’t mean you can’t use it – and that also means you’ll have to remember which button is which, unless you can read black type on a black background. (If anything changes, we’ll update this documentation.)

And if you have tips of your own, be sure to share.

12 Responses

  1. adam

    I wish they would make a bigger model. Don’t get me wrong I love my Kore but a few more knobs and maybe some sliders would help no end.

  2. [...] most importantly, I’ve just finished off: Reference: How to Navigate Kore 2 with Hardware – No Mouse! Reference: How to Navigate Kore 2 with Hardware – No [...]

  3. DaveB

    I would like to know, it his only work for Kore hardware 2, or it will work with, the first kore control?


  4. Matt

    Just got Kore 2 and found this pretty quickly although I must admit it wasn’t intuitive. I did a usability test with my roommate who is a signed artist (told him to use Kore and gave him no hints or manual). He didn’t get far but once he knew the secrets he was moving around.

    PETER, How would you improve the experience?

  5. Peter Kirn

    Well, I’m all for usability, I’m not sure what music software would pass that test. And maybe it shouldn’t: your relationship with a musical tool is over the long term. That first experience is important, but sometimes it’s necessary to sacrifice usability at the outset in exchange for better usability and depth over time. I’m not saying Kore makes the “right” choice there, just that I wouldn’t evaluate something based exclusively on using it without a manual!

    That said, if we’re talking the hardware specifically, to me the issue is that the Kore controller is pretty minimal. Some of this is indeed a little confusing at first, because there aren’t always dedicated buttons for things, and you’re navigating various levels of sound control.

    One tip, if that bothers you: use one instance of Kore instead of multiple instances, and consolidate what you need at one level — like control pages at the level of the whole performance. (The latter is probably generally good advice, so you don’t have to navigate the hierarchy just to control something.)

    So, the easiest thing to do is to improve the experience of how you’re using it rather than the product itself.

    Did it start to make sense after following this tutorial, though? I guess that’d be my main interest.

  6. Peter Kirn

    @DaveB: I’ll look into compatibility with the v1 controller. I believe at least *some* of this works.

  7. DaveB

    cheers! Peter.

  8. Andy

    Peter that all makes excellent sense (and I needed to clarify all this) except the last section about the F1 button. I know it is meant to do as you say- move between instances of Kore, but for me it is doing something different- moving between slots on the matrix of a single instance.
    I thought that might be because I only had one instance installed so I opened another instance. Exactly the same and more worryingly I cannot access the second instance.
    Now I know this is not tech support but I thought it interesting that pressing F1 gave me the option to move around the matrix with a visual that you describe as for moving around instances!

  9. Andy

    Ah got it!

    Pressing F1 does do as stated if you are on the top level ie ‘instance moving’.

    But if you are on the matrix or channel level it performs page navigation- moving between different user or channel pages.

    I think!

    Can someone see if I’m correct?

  10. Matt

    It all made sense (before and) after the tutorial. My biggest complaint is that the navigation both internally and across instances is just a bit too hidden and not as fast as I would like in a (lights flashing, music pumping, drinks flowing) live situation.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still think that the hardware/software coupling in Kore is one of the best th ings to happen to my studio! And I agree some of it needs to be burned in as muscle memory.
    I would utilize that big dial more and even add clicker to it for accepting a selection.
    I would make the wheel move sequentially accross internal devices when in sound mode and to move across instances control mode (the arrows are fine for switching pages).

  11. Matt

    Ps I think you forgot to mention, you can use the dial for changing pages in control mode. This is fast, but as I mentioned above, I’d rather that speed be transfered to something else that currently needs a mode switch like changing instances of Kore.

  12. continuous

    This is pretty late in the game (months after this was originally posted) so you’ve probably already figured this out but….

    Regarding your comment”One big note: just because a button is inactive (confusingly) doesn’t mean you can’t use it – and that also means you’ll have to remember which button is which, unless you can read black type on a black background.”

    If you go into KORE’s preferences, under the Hardware setting, and change the LED Brightness Low from zero to 2-3% (but leave the High at 100%)all the labeled controls will be dimly lit, even when not in use, and the active ones will be a bit brighter.

    I am still trying to “lock in” with Kore, if you know what I mean. With Maschine it was pretty much instant. I “get lost” sometimes trying to nav… One thing that is really giving me trouble is that the Menu function does not allow you move from say Sounds to Performances to Plug-ins etc. I want to be able to roll from one to another. I would even like to be able to load a plug-in via the hardware and then browse it’s presets but no dice…. so it’s back to the mouse again. In contrast, with Maschine I can “go mouseless” for hours, except for hitting apple n on my keyboard to get a new file started. You can even save from the hardware (sorta).

    Anywayz, sorry for the long winded post but I’m really just trying to get up to speed with all this new gear and softs and KORE has been giving me trouble but I previously have been unable to put it into words.

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