Nektar Aruba

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

The included Nektarine software and drum library turns Aruba into a complete beat making solution that works in any DAW. Use your favorite drum instrument plugin (VST/VST3 or AU) or start creating with the built-in DP-1 drum player, K1 Kick, S1 Snare and T1 Tom synth instruments.

Play your own library of audio samples or incorporate any combination of plugins with any other content, to create your own unique kits. All settings, including pad setups, are stored as part of your DAW song/project or Nektarine Multipatch for complete recall when you next start working.

Aruba and Nektarine put a complete beat creation powerhouse at your fingertips. Best of all, Nektarine runs in any DAW as a VST, VST3, AU or AAX plugin so you can load your kits in the environment you prefer. Go on – Make your own beat. It’s a blast!

Aruba’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 centre are 16 large RGB pads – they are velocity and pressure-sensitive and can be fine-tuned to match your personal playing style. ARUBA’s 8 heavy-duty 360-degree 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 controller,  drum machine style 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, or recorded in real-time, 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 ARUBA’s back lets you sequence external MIDI gear and can also be used as a MIDI interface from the computer.

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 Aruba. 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.

Aruba’s feature set is greatly enhanced when connected to the included Nektarine software. Eight mode buttons give one-press-access to key Nektarine functions, including Mixer, Pad Setup, Instrument and FX plugin control, browsing and solo/mute. When a mode is selected, the eight 360 degree analog pots offer smooth control of the selected mode’s parameters and in particularly, deep plugin control of your VST, VST3 and AU plugins. Control the assigned plugins, sends or insert FX from Aruba – with full parameter feedback on Aruba’s screen. Many plugins are already pre-mapped for control but you can also create your own mapping, as deep as you like.

ARUBA stores 16 user Internal presets for pad configuration and pot MIDI control assignments. When paired with Nektarine, an ulimited amount of pad configurations can be saved complete with plugin and Nektarine settings. Pad’s are programmed from the Pad Setup mode which also includes menus for Chord and Scale, so you can use the pads to play melodic parts or assign chords to each pad.

Aruba (formerly Aura) show how repeat rate can be changed via RGB buttonsARUBA’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 ARUBA’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.

Drum Machine-Style Sequencer…….with Record

The on-board hardware step sequencer is a great tool for creative beat composition. Press ARUBA’s ‘SEQ’ button and the 16 LED buttons below the pots become the much loved classic 16-step programming interface. Each pad is now a pattern, triggering the note the pad is assigned to play.

Activate the sequencer’s Record button allows you to play the pads and capture/record the played notes with velocity values in individual patterns. It’s a fast and fun way to build a beat adding steps by design or intuitively. Editing is super easy too. Just press the 16 step buttons to add or remove note steps even while you record. Each step is recorded strictly to the play rate set for each pattern (default is 1/16) . Every pattern (one per pad) has a total of up to 64 steps split across 4 parts. The 16 patterns are combined called a Collection. A total of 16 Collections can be saved internally for future use.

ARUBA’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.

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.

Nektarine 2.5


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.

Any combination of Instruments & FX can be stored for performance as a Multi patch – great for live use!

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


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 ARUBA’s 16 pads. The pads can be setup from ARUBA or Nektarine, with all settings saved with your DAW project/song or in a Nektarine Multipatch.

Don’t like the snare? Replace it!


The Nektarine Drum Player DP-1 makes it beautifully simple to play audio samples from ARUBA. Use drag and drop in Nektarine or load samples directly from ARUBA 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!

DP-1’s user interface has been created for control from ARUBA’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.

K1, S1 and T1 drum synth instruments

Nektarine software’s latest update adds 3 new drum synth instruments: K1 Kick Synth, S1 Snare Synth and T1 Tom Synth. Each drum synth combines a harmonics oscillator, tailored to deliver the body of the instrument drum sound, with other sound elements. This enables a sound pallet covering acoustic inspired to outright electronic or experimental drum sounds.

K1 Kick Synth

S1 Snare Synth

T1 Tom Synth

For example, the K1 Kick Synth combines open and closed beater options with body, pitch and transient parameters along with a bend parameter that can deliver a sharp electronic pitch thud or longer glide.
The S1 Snare Synth includes Wire options and noise sources with Body and Transient parameters. Each instrument is optimized for the purpose its designed for.

All instruments have control of pitch, decay, slope and a cutoff filter with saturation. The shared effects section contains important tools for production-ready sounds including overshoot distortion which adds grit and zap to any sound, a one control compressor optimized for drum sounds and a 2 band EQ. Velocity as well as pressure can be routed to many of the instrument parameters to create dynamic and well playing sounds.

The new suite of drum synth instruments compliments the existing DP-1 drum sample player which already comes with a factory sound library of acoustic and electric sampled kits. The factory sound library has been expanded with new K1, S1 and T1 drum synth patches, taking the total to over 600 individual drum sounds and 45 kits.

DAW Control

Take advantage of ARUBA’s deep DAW integration: Aura of course works with any MIDI software, but if you use one of the DAWs supported by Nektar DAW Integration software you can select tracks, navigate projects or control extended transport functions directly from the hardware. Nektar’s integration software takes care of all required setup tasks, so everything is pre-configured for instant use.

Once installed, the dedicated ‘DAW’ button comes alive and assigns ARUBA’s surface to take control of many popular DAWs at one press. Seven transport buttons are otherwise fully MIDI assignable, including MMC commands, and can be used to set up transport control for any software not supported by Nektar DAW integration.

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


ARUBA’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.

In ‘Internal’ mode, ARUBA works as a self-contained programmable generic MIDI 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.

Loading plugin patch directly from Aruba (formerly Aura) Mix Nektarine control from Aruba (formerly Aura)


  • 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


  • MIDI Out connector
  • 1/4″ TRS footswitch socket (for up to 2 footswitches using optional Y-adaptor)
  • USB connector
  • PSU connector (9V DC / 600 mA, center positive. PSU not included)
  • Kensington Lock connector


  • 30 cm (L) x 23 cm (D) x 4.5 cm(H)
  • 1.4 kg


  • ARUBA: USB class compliant (no driver needed) 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 7, 8,10 or higher. Mac OS X 10.7 or higher


  • 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 operation
  • Latch automation on/off


  • 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


  • AAX, AU, VST or VST3 plugin version and stand-alone application for OSX & Windows
  • Load any VST, VST3 and AU instrument plugins
  • 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)
  • 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 ARUBA
  • 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 save as ‘Default’ load as default – all browser settings can be saved with tags for slots tag ‘kick’, slot 1, etc.


  • Ableton Live Suite
  • Apple Logic + Garageband
  • Bitwig 8-Track + Studio
  • Cockos Reaper
  • MOTU Digital Performer
  • Presonus Studio One
  • Reason Studios Reason
  • Steinberg Cubase + Nuendo

Note: Find out how it integrates with your DAW here: Support Documents

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