Stephan Schmitt has had a passion for music technology since he was a boy – from his fascination with the instruments of rock musicians in the 1970s, to building and modifying equipment, and working in music shops and as a sound engineer while studying electrical engineering.

In 1993, Stephan started to conceive and develop a software synthesizer. He founded Native Instruments in 1996 to realize the project that later became REAKTOR. Since 2012, he’s been heading his new company, Nonlinear Labs.

Throughout his life, Stephan has continued to make music. It is his love of live performance that eventually brought him – and us – to KONTOUR. We sat down with Stephan to talk about his latest synth, and his evolution as a leading software instrument designer.


"It was clear that Reaktor would be the best platform for intense research and the realization of an innovative synthesis engine.

With the user interface and modulation system of Kontour, we reached the limits of what you can create with Reaktor. Building the Motion Recorders was extremely tricky and time-consuming – these kinds of event processing structures can cause a large number of side effects.

It was exciting when the results from the sound designers came in. It vastly widened the horizon of what I had realized up to then on my own. And I was astonished – I hadn’t expected these sorts of sounds would be possible."


"When I use Kontour, I always have my feet on two control pedals next to two footswitches for sustain. The pedals are assigned to two macro controls, the modwheel to another. And of course there’s also pitch bend and aftertouch.

I like to play ‘bread and butter’ sounds like pianos or clavinets, but also explore the less predictable ‘life in the machine’. The resonator and feedback structures can behave like an untamed animal. The extensive routing options give you a feeling similar to a modular synth or circuit bending.

My heart beats for live-performing musicians. That’s why Kontour is very playable and expressive. But this synth is really for anyone looking for fresh, organic sounds that can be heavily bent – it’s a real-time synthesizer. It works great in typical production and sequencing environments and the motion recorders allow for a lot of experiments with mutating sounds."


"The most important advancement in music technology now would be in how humans interface with the technology. That’s why many developers are looking for new user interfaces. Expression, a high level of intuitive control, and new sensors in combination with growing CPU power will translate physical input into musical parameters.

Workflow and interaction are key for the next generations of music tools. That’s why Native Instruments is so successful with products that integrate hardware and software."
PayPal PayPal Credit MasterCard Visa Diners Club International American Express JCB Sofortueberweisung Ideal Poli

Some of these payment methods might not be supported in your country. Learn more.