NEKTAR AURA BEAT COMPOSER –
MAKE YOUR OWN BEAT!

 Nektar AURA is a powerful beat making and performance instrument. This MIDI Pad Controller has 16 hyper-sensitive RGB illuminated pads, an on-board step sequencer, a flexible pad repeat engine and incredible plugin control.

The included Nektarine software turns AURA into a complete beat making solution. Start creating right away with the built-in DP-1 drum player and play any of your own or the included drum samples. Want more? Create kits using any combination of VST, VST3, AU plugins and audio samples. AURA and Nektarine put a complete powerhouse for inspired beat creation at your fingertips. Get into the zone – Make your own beat!

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A PAD INSTRUMENT THAT RESPONDS TO YOUR FINGERS!

Anything that can be done in the Nektarine software, can be done from AURA – from pad setup to performance control of plugin parameters. And once a kit is loaded in Nektarine, you’re ready to go.

AURA’s 16 RGB-illuminated pads are great for finger drumming and trigger at the lightest touch. Pad sensitivity can be adjusted on a per-pad-basis to ensure a nice even response across all pads. Additionally, a Bias parameter lets you adjust the overall velocity curve response from linear to logarithmic or exponential. Other curve options include a Dynamic response where the velocity value is set at a medium point with the rest of the curve adjusted accordingly. Fixed and step options are also included if you prefer a more rigid response.

Pad pressure is assignable to Aftertouch (channel and poly) , Pitch Bend or MIDI CCs. Pad pressure can be a great dynamic performance element for sustaining sounds such as press a pad to slightly bend pitch on a percussion sound, as you can do on a Djembe.

Each pad is illuminated by an RGB LED, providing a total of 16 distinct colors. 8 mode buttons give one-press-access to key functions, including Mixer, pad setup, Instrument and effect plugin control, browsing and solo/mute. The eight 360 degree analog pots offer smooth control of parameters with a solid and consistent feel.

AURA is an instrument that gives you all the control when you need it, complete with updates on the 3.5” TFT color display. Though your computer may always be close at hand, everything can be done from AURA – so you can focus on beat creation without any distractions. 

PAD REPEAT

AURA’s on-board Pad Repeat engine is directly accessible, offering a dedicated on/off button and settings menu. Use Repeat to create rolls or other percussive lines, that would be hard to play by hand. The repeat settings are highly customizable with realtime parameters for groove and speed control – all right under your fingertips on AURA’s 8 potentiometers.

Looking for some instant Trap-style hihat lines? The first 6 RGB LED buttons right above the display switch repeat rates in realtime. Create truly dynamic rolls by using pad pressure to control velocity while changing the repeat rates with the LED buttons. Other parameters include Repeat Rate, Gate, Accent Interval, Accent Velocity Offset, Swing, Trigger Mode and Clock Source.

 

AURA HARDWARE OVERVIEW

AURA’s hardware is all about realtime access and performance: A host of controls ensures direct access to key features without any menu diving. At the center are 16 large RGB pads – they are velocity and pressure-sensitive and can be fine-tuned to match your personal playing style. AURA’s 8 heavy-duty rotary pots are always assigned to control a selected feature’s parameters with their assignments shown on the color TFT display. 4 display buttons give access to additional settings, MIDI assignments or secondary menus. Dedicated buttons make it easy to switch between different modes: Internal MIDI controllerStep Sequencer, Pad Repeat or DAW Control are always just one button-press away.

The hardware Step Sequencer is programmed like a classic drum machine from the 16 small RGB buttons. Each pad can be programmed with its own independent sequence. You can solo, mute or trigger sequences simply by hitting a pad and control other parameters from the pots, which makes the Sequencer an excellent realtime performance tool. The MIDI Out on AURA’s back lets you sequence external MIDI gear and can also be used as a MIDI interface from the computer.

 

Aura Front View Hardware Features

Then there’s the transport section for DAW Control: With Nektar DAW Integration everything’s set up for instant control of your DAW’s transport functions from AURA. In this mode, the pots let you set locators, select tracks, navigate and even set up a connected footswitch for transport control. Without DAW integration, the transport buttons can be assigned to MIDI functions or to control the sequencer. The 2 footswitches are also MIDI-assignable.

In combination with Nektarine, the Nektarine Buttons come alive and give you access to deep plugin control of your VST, VST3 and AU plugins; Build maps as deep as you like and control the assigned plugins, sends or insert FX from AURA – with full parameter feedback on AURA’s screen. Nektarine also includes Chord and Scale modes, so you can use the pads to play chromatically or assign chords to each pad.

AURA WORKING WITH YOUR DAW

AURA works as a pad and MIDI controller with any MIDI software but the included Nektarine software adds another dimension. Load Nektarine in any VST, VST3, AU or AAX compatible plugin host and you’ll experience AURA control VST, VST3 and AU plugins, load audio samples and create combination pad setups with drum sounds from any source.

AURA also comes with Nektar DAW integration software for many of the most poplar DAWs. Nektar DAW integration adds extra functionality that helps the process of recording beats in your DAW. Scrolling through tracks updates the AURA display, showing the track name and hosted instruments. When you select a track hosting Nektarine, the DAW integration knows. If multiple instances of Nektarine are used in a project, AURA even knows which of many instances are on the current track. This ensures that pads are always updated correctly along with all other AURA settings.

From the DAW page, the Song Position or play head can be moved. Loop length can be set and the loop point moved using the pots. A button combination moves the Song Position/play head to the left loop point, ready for recording.

The dedicated transport buttons enable Click, forward/rewind, loop on/off, stop, play, record, set loop points, goto left loop point, undo and automation read/write. Transport functions are always accessible, regardless of what menu is selected on AURA.
With DAW integration installed, you are ready to record beats anywhere in the project, without having to reach for the mouse.

 

Nektar DAW Integration software for AURA currently supports: Ableton Live Suite, Bitwig, Cubase, Digital Performer, Garageband, Logic, Nuendo, Reaper, Reason, Studio One and Sonar/Cakewalk.

WHAT IS NEKTARINE?

Of course you could load an instrument plugin onto a track in your DAW and play it right away – but the fun really begins, when you make your own kits & sounds by combining multiple samples and plugins in Nektarine. Create kits with up to 16 different instrument plugins, 64 insert FX-plugins and an additional 4 send FX. All of this playing on one track in your DAW, with total recall at the touch of a button. 

Simply load the Nektarine plugin into any VST, VST3, AU or AAX DAW (meaning virtually any current DAW), scan your plugins and you are good to go: AURA can now control your installed VST and AU plugins directly from the hardware! Existing instrument patches can also be imported into Nektarine’s powerful database.

You can even import your sample library and play the samples in Nektarine’s DP-1 drum player. And before we forget: AURA includes a license for the Nektarine stand-alone application. This lets you create beats easily by sequencing your instrument plugins from AURA, drum-machine-style: get groovin’!

BUILD YOUR KIT WITH SOUNDS FROM ANY SOURCE

Load a multi-sound drum plugin like Groove Agent, one of the many Kontakt libraries, or any other drum plugin and they instantly take over AURA’s 16 pads. The pads can be setup from AURA or Nektarine, with all settings saved with your DAW project/song or in a Nektarine Multipatch.

Don’t like the snare? Replace it!

Play the pad, press ‘Add  Slot’ in AURA’s Pad Setup menu, press Browse and select a patch from your library on the TFT color display. Done – loading the patch also loads the plugin.

Any pad can be reassigned to a new plugin by creating a plugin slot and loading a patch or plugin from AURA’s browser. The patch browser lets you filter for particular plugins, categories or tags to quickly zoom in on the sounds you are looking for. Finding that “perfect” kick or snare for your track across multiple plugins now becomes a matter of seconds, because a patch automatically loads the plugin it belongs to.

Keep adding instrument plugins until you have a different one playing on each of the 16 pads, their key ranges can also overlap for sound layering.

MIXING AND EFFECTS

Once done with your assignments, press the “Mixer” button on AURA. On the Mixer screen you can see mix levels, pan and FX sends for 8 pads at the same time – just play a pad and the right group is visible.

The small buttons underneath the pots now control solo and mute, AURA’s soft buttons switch between volume, pan and send 1-4 control views.

4 insert FX slots per instrument channel as well as 4 global send FX slots provide plenty of additional processing options. The FX plugins can be loaded and tweaked from AURA, using the two dedicated “FX” buttons for direct access to inserts and sends.

 

AURA Mixer Display

The Nektarine software also has a Mix View, presenting all parameters at a glance in a traditional console design. In here you can see and tweak settings across all 16 pads, you can open plug in interfaces and even insert new plugins onto a channel directly from Nektarine’s browser.

Playing a pad on AURA selects the channel for editing and you can tweak it from the hardware or in the software.

A big time saver: Of course you can save edited patches on every level, including each effect and instrument. But with Nektarine, you can save your complete setup in one step.

Your kit, including all of the FX configurations and pad assignments is saved as part of a DAW project/song or in a Nektarine Multi-Patch for instant recall.

Nektarine Mixer View

BUILD KITS FROM SAMPLES 

Nektarine Pads View Audio Browser

You can also play samples directly in Nektarine and build kits in no time – no external plugins required: Switch Nektarine to Pad View, activate the Audio browser pane and simply import the samples you want to use by dragging them onto the browser area. That’s it – you are good to go! 

Once your samples are imported, you can browse, select and even audition them in Nektarine or from AURA, just like on a hardware drum machine.

Now simply drag samples onto the 16 pad slots. For each sample, a DP-1 drum player is loaded in the background automatically, delivering instant playback and addtional tweaking options.

You won’t even have to save a patch for each sample: All of your assignments can be stored into a Nektarine Multipatch in one easy step !

TAG IT ALL: THE BROWSER 

Nektarine’s “Browser” provides a powerful database to help you manage your libaries: It is designed to manage thousands of audio files, patches and kits with features like customizable tags and sorting tools including full control from AURA. 

You can mount your existing audio library folders, and display them, including their subfolders, in an expandable tree structure.

Just like with patches, you can tag audio files and folders for an even better overview. By assigning the files to categories or creating user tags like “favorite kicks”, you can filter the results in a heartbeat and see exactly the sounds you are looking for! 

Browser settings are independent for every instrument and effect plugin slot. They are stored with a Nektarine Multi-Patch or even a DAW project/song, along with all other settings. Nektarine can be run in any DAW hosting AAX, AU, VST or VST3 plugins or as a standalone application in Windows and Apple OSX.

Nektarine Audio File Browser

NEKTARINE RACK VIEW

Nektarine Aura Plugin View

You can always display all loaded plugins’ user interfaces in Nektarine’s dedicated Rack View. The header bar displays all important parameters including level and pan for the slot. Want to see the next one? Simply scroll down until it is in view. You can also close and expand the UIs to quickly manage your window space.

Each slot’s up to 4 insert FX plugins can be found right below the instrument. Additionally, all Aux send master controls can be displayed at the bottom of the window. 

Patches right where you need them: The integrated Browser Pane on the right displays a selected plugin’s patch library, including Nektarine’s powerful filtering and tagging options. 

NEKTARINE DP-1 DRUM PLAYER

The Nektarine Drum Player DP-1 makes it beautifully simple to play audio samples from AURA. Use drag and drop in Nektarine or load samples directly from AURA while you work. This automatically launches the DP-1 Drum Player with your audio sample loaded and assigned to the correct pad, ready for action.

DP-1 is compatible with WAV and AIFF files, playing back sample rates from 16kHz to pristine 192kHz and supports 12 to 24bit resolutions. But you won’t have to down-sample your sounds manually to get that gritty 8 bit-crunch sound. Simply press the “1982” button and DP-1’s real time sample rate converter takes you right back to when 8 bit sampling was the best technology could deliver! We’ve actually gone as far as emulating the circuitry found in those classic machines – including the µ-law algorithm. But on DP-1 you can tweak that sound : Change the sample rate (from 4kHz to 16kHz) or the circuits’ internal filter in realtime and make it as rough or smooth as you want! 

Nektarine DP-1 Drum Player Overview

DP-1’s user interface has been created for control from AURA’s 8 knobs and display buttons, so the experience is like working with a hardware sample player! The main parameters are grouped into 3 sections of 8 parameters each:

The Sample Parameters give you access to the typical sound parameters, starting with Pitch: Designed exclusively as a drum player, DP-1 plays the sample at its root pitch so it always sounds as intended, regardless of what MIDI note is sent to DP-1. Pitch can be adjusted to any value over 4 octaves (-/+ 24 semitones). Attack, Decay, Decay Slope and a one-shot switch let you control a sample’s amplitude envelope, from short sharp attacks to longer sustain kick drums. Using the ENV>FILT knob, you can use this envelope to modulate the also included synth-style 2 pole filter. It has Drive, Cutoff and Resonance control to let you create anything from subtle low end kicks to screaming distorted snare drums. 

The FX Section features 3 onboard tools for further sound shaping. First off are 1982 mode’s Sample Rate and Filter parameters: Simply by playing with these controls, you can turn a soft Jazz Brush Snare into a slamming crunchy 8-Bit HipHop snare. And if that’s not enough punch yet, kick in the One Knob Compressor: The higher you set the Amount, the more you’ll squash your samples’ dynamics. And the Gain knob lets you finetune the behaviour by driving the compressor softer or harder. The 2-band Equalizer has also been designed with drum sounds in mind: The Low band controls the bass, the semi-parametric Hi band lets you shape the upper part of the frequency spectrum. You’ll be surprised, how effective this EQ-section is!

 The Modulation Section lets you assign Velocity to up to 3 different modulation targets at the same time and Pad Pressure to a fourth target. You can route modulation to pitch, envelope parameters, the filter and volume for very dynamic and lively sounds.

And the best is, that you can control each section’s parameters simultaneously from Aura’s 8 knobs, which makes sound creation and editing extremely intuitive.

 

OVER 500+ DRUM SOUNDS INCLUDED

 

Nektarine includes a library of over 500 exclusive drum sounds to get you started. And all of these sounds were created new for AURA, so you’ll find a lot of fresh sounds for inspired beats!

Apart from of course including some of the most legendary analog and digital drum machines, we’ve also especially recorded acoustic drum kits for this collection.

The acoustic kits cover signature sounds from 60s Beat and the “Funky Drummer” to 70s Heavy Rock and contemporary Alt Pop. You’ll even find THAT 80s kit (yes, we couldn’t resist). But you’ll also get a dry Studio Kit and vibey sounds like a Raw Room Kit or Freemonk artist sets created from found sounds (great for hip hop).

Electronic and processed sounds include those famed British analog E-Drums, drum and bass sets, hip hop chop kits and hybrid collections including found sounds.

 

DEEP CONTROL FOR YOUR PLUGINS

 

AURA is much more than a USB MIDI Pad Controller: Press ‘Plugin’-mode for instant control of hosted instrument plugins – complete with parameter feedback on AURA’s color display. Based on the last triggered pad, Nektarine auto-selects the relevant parameters for control from AURA’s 8 heavy-duty rotary pots.

Your plugin has more parameters? No worries: Nektar’s mapping technology can even control plugins with thousands of parameters seamlessly. Simply select another mapping page using the display soft-keys or ‘Menu’ button and the pots are reassigned – with crystal-clear parameter feedback on AURA’s display. What’s more, you can get started right away, as factory maps for many popular instrument plugins are already included with Nektarine.

When programming drum sounds, quick access to key parameters such as pitch, decay or level is essential. So many of the factory maps are set up to deliver this to you – even supporting multi-sound plugins such as  Kontakt libraries or Steinberg Groove Agent for example.

On many of these plugins, each pad controls a different instrument (kick, snare, toms etc.), often also with different sound parameters and settings for each. Simply Hit the desired pad – and the controls are re-assigned for a true hardware drum machine style workflow!

AURA STEP SEQUENCER

The on-board hardware step sequencer is a great tool for creative beat composition. Press AURA’s ‘SEQ’ button and the 16 LED buttons below the pots become the much loved classic 16-step programming interface. 

16 Collections of 16 patterns each provide plenty of room for your groove ideas. Each pattern (one per pad) has a total of up to 64 steps split across 4 parts. 

AURA’s sequencer is all about interaction and performance: Parts may be triggered in any combination at any time, so you can create new variations very intuitively. Each pattern, and even each part in a pattern, can have a different length – massively simplifying the creation of poly-rhythms.

Reassigning patterns to new sounds is also easy: As there is one pattern per pad, it is just a matter of adding a slot in Nektarine with a new plugin – and the new sound is playing for that pad and pattern. You don’t even have to stop the sequencer to do this.

Aura Top View Sequencer
Realtime editing: Change the Play Rate, dial in a fixed Velocity and Accent Level Offset, set a Length for the events or add Swing for an extra-helping of groove. Many of these features go all the way down to step level. Last Step allows you to adjust the step length for each of a pattern’s parts independently. 

Power user features: Dive as deep as you like – many parameters can be edited with up to step level precision. Simply select the pattern, part and steps you want and change the values for one or multiple selections at the same time. Group editing of Velocity, Play Rate or Gate Length across 4 parts or patterns  in groups of 8 patterns at the same time is also possible. A great way to check and edit values across multiple steps without having to select them first. 

Synchronization: Internal and external clock modes ensure perfect sync with the outside world. AURA and the sequencer may also be used stand-alone with external MIDI instruments connected directly to the MIDI Out jack.

In ‘Internal’ mode, AURA works as a self-contained programmable generic MIDI Pad controller. It connects with your MIDI soft- or hardware via USB or the MIDI output jack. Store your pad and control assignments for the 16 pads, 8 pots, 7 switches and 2 foot switch connections in one of 16 presets for instant recall.

Pads can send any MIDI note. Their pressure component and the pots are programmable with a host of message types such as MIDI CCs, Pitch Bend, Velocity, Program changes NRPN and more. The pads pressure component also offers channel and poly aftertouch, the 7 transport switches and foot switch connections can control functions such as MIDI machine control, play, stop and repeat.

FACTORY PRESETS

AURA’s 16 presets are pre-loaded with example settings. These settings are a good starting point for your own presets, and give you an idea what you can use the pads for. The 8 pots are all assigned to General MIDI (GM) instrument controls, so GM soft- and hardware instruments will respond immediately.

PRESET DESCRIPTION
1. GM Drum Kit General MIDI standard drum mapping for use with GM-compatible instruments. Includes color-coding for the different instruments.
2. GM Percussion General MIDI standard drum mapping for percussion instruments.
3. GM Drums & Perc Blend of drum & percussion instrument assignments.
4. I-Map Std. Special map for instruments compatible with the I-Map drum layout.
5. I-map Ext KD/SD Layout for I-Map with extended kick and snare options.
6. Chromatic 1 Chromatic Scale from C3 – Eb3.
7. Chromatic 2 Chromatic Scale from C4 – Eb5.
8. Major Scale 1 C-major scale from C1 – D3. Pressure sends Ch-Aftertouch.
9. Major Scale 2 C-major scale from C3 – D5. Pressure sends Ch-Aftertouch.
10. Major Scale 3 C-major scale from C5 – D7. Pressure sends Ch-Aftertouch.
11. C-F-G-Am Each pad row programmed to send notes that form a chord. Color coding for chords (C=red, F=green, G=blue, A-min=yellow)
12. Am-C-Dm-Em Each pad row programmed to send notes that form a chord. Color coding for chords (A-min=yellow, C=red, D-min=teal, E-minor=purple)
13. Pressure Volume Pressure sends MIDI cc7 (volume), with MIDI channel set to 1-16 corr. with pad number.
14. Pressure Filter Pressure sends MIDI cc74 (brightness/cutoff), with MIDI channel set to 1-16 corr. with pad number.
15. Empty <free>
16. Empty <free>

 

 

 

FEATURES & SPECIFICATIONS

IMAGE GALLERY 

HARDWARE
  • 16 RGB color illuminated velocity- and pressure-sensitive pads
  • 8 heavy duty potentiometers (360 degrees, endless)
  • TFT colour display with 320×240 px including 4 soft buttons
  • 16 RGB LED buttons
  • 8 Nektarine buttons for direct access to Patches, Mixer, Pad Setup, Plugins and more
  • 6 mode buttons
  • 7 Transport Buttons with LED illumination
  • Fully MIDI-programmable pads, switches and pots
  • 16 Presets for storing all internal settings (not required when using Nektarine)
  • Rugged housing with aluminium top
CONNECTIONS

  • MIDI Out connector
  • 1/4″ TRS footswitch socket (for up to 2 footswitches using optional Y-adaptor)
  • USB connector
  • PSU connector (PSU not included)
  • Kensington Lock connector
WEIGHT & DIMENSIONS
  • 30,1 cm (L) x 23,1 cm (D) x 4,5 cm(H), 1,4 kg
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS
  • USB class compliant (no driver needed)
  • USB Power Requirement: 500 mA
  • 9v DC Power Requirement: 500 – 600 mA, center positive
  • AURA:  works with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10 or higher. Mac OS X 10.5 or higher, Linux (Ubuntu)
  • Nektarine and Nektar DAW Integration: Windows 8,10 or higher. Mac OS X 10.11 or higher
STEP SEQUENCER
  • Stores 16 Collections of 16 Patterns each
  • Each Pattern with up to 4 parts for a total of up to 64 steps
  • Dedicated programming interface with 16 RGB buttons and parts selection buttons
  • Real-time performance features (solo, mute, instant start options and more)
  • Trigger sequencer parts in any combination at any time
  • Independent settings per part (play rate, step length, velocity, accent, gate, swing and more)
  • Extensive editing features all the way down to step level
  • Internal and external clock operationLatch automation on/off
PAD REPEAT ENGINE
  • 8 adjustable real-time parameters incl. note length, accent level and interval and repeat rate
  • Dedicated Repeat rate settings & activation buttons
  • Display soft button for instant assignment of pressure to velocity
  • Tap tempo feature
  • Internal and external clock operation
    NEKTARINE
    • AAX, AU, VST or VST3 plugin version and stand-alone application for OSX & Windows
    • Load any VST, VST3 and AU instrument plugins
    • DP-1 drum sample player included (supports AIFF and WAV files, up to 24 Bit / 192 kHz)
    • 16 instrument plugin slots
    • Each instrument slot with choke, volume, pan, mute/solo, sends 1-4 controls
    • 4 effect insert plugin slots per instrument (AU / VST / VST3 FX)
    • 4 send effect plugin slots (AU / VST / VST3 FX)
    • Pads View for easy kit overview and fast kit creation from the integrated Browser Pane
    • Mixer View for kit mixing
    • Store instrument & FX plugin patches + Nektarine Multi-Patches
    • Browser Settings are remembered per plugin slot
    • Handles all pad-, plugin- & patch-management with complete control from AURA
    • Control page editor for customizing Nektar plugin maps or creating new ones from scratch
    • Full parameter feedback: display updated in real-time
    • Scale and Chords mode for building tracks
    • Multi-Patch with Pad settings saved as ‘Default’ load as default – all browser settings can be saved with tags for slots tag ‘kick’, slot 1, etc.
    • Drum Sample Library with 500+ sounds and patches including acoustic, electronic and drum machine samples
      AURA NEKTAR DAW INTEGRATION SUPPORTS
      • Ableton Live Suite
      • Apple Logic + Garageband
      • Bitwig 8-Track + Studio
      • Cakewalk by Bandlab
      • Cockos Reaper
      • MOTU Digital Performer
      • Presonus Studio One
      • Reason Studios Reason
      • Steinberg Cubase + Nuendo

      “VST” is a trademark of Steinberg Technologies GmbH, registered in Europe and other countries. “AU” and the Audio Units logo are trademarks of Apple Computer, Inc. All other product and company names are ™ or ® trademarks of their respective owners. 

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