NKS - Details

This page contains technical details of the Native Kontrol Standard. As a legal disclaimer, I do not have access to the specification from Native Instruments and all the information is based on my own research.

What is NKS?

I assume you already know about NKS, the Native Kontrol Standard. If not, I recommend you look at a brief overview on the Native Instruments Website.

Details about NKS

NKS consists of several parts:

  • A preset file (.nksf for Instruments, .nksfx for Effects)

  • A directory structure where the preset files and metadata information are stored

  • Several metadata files

  • A central database where favourites are stored and preset names/banks are cached

NKS Preset Files

NKS preset files are RIFF files with 4 sections:

  • A Summary Information Section, which contains data like the preset author, comments, bank information, types, modes and vendor name

  • A Controller Assignments Section, where the controller pages are stored

  • A Plugin ID section, where the plugin ID is stored to the software can load the correct plugin

  • A Plugin Chunk section, where the plugin specific preset information is stored

Directory Structure

The user content directory contains sub-directories which specify the plugin name. Each plugin directory has one sub-directory per bank. Finally, in each bank directory, the NKS files are stored.

If the bank contains instruments, it might contain audio previews in an additional subdirectory named .previews. Audio Previews are stored in the .ogg format, consisting of the full NKS filename appended with .ogg.

To my knowledge, audio previews are not possible for Effects.

Metadata Files

Metadata files are plugin specific and contain information about the Plugin name displayed on the NI Hardware, image files and color settings.

These metadata files are usually stored in the public documents folder, typically found in C:\Users\Public\Documents\NI Resources.

Folder or File



A SQLite Database containing entries for all plugin colors used for Maschine and the Visual Browser. This database is managed by Maschine / Komplete Kontrol and should left untouched.

MST_bgcolor Maschine Studio Background Color (probably also for MK3)


Visual Browser Background Color (= in Maschine and KK software)


A SQLite Database containing name variations of the plugin. This database is managed by Maschine / Komplete Kontrol and should left untouched.


The name displayed on Maschine MK2 (and maybe MK1 as well?


The name displayed on Maschine Studio and MK3

MIKRO_shortname The name displayed on Maschine Mikro


The name displayed in the visual browser


A SQLite Database containing categories, information about plugins and groups.

Currently it is not known for what purpose it is used, as the actual data about presets, plugins, groups and categories is stored in AppData\Local\Native Instruments\Maschine 2\komplete.db3 for Maschine and AppData\Local\Native Instruments\Komplete Kontrol\komplete.db3 for Komplete Kontrol.

dist_database\<vendor name>\<plugin name>\


Contains information about the plugin categories


Contains the background color for the visual browser, not sure if it can also contain the background color for Maschine Studio


The shortnames for different hardware (see above)


A metadata file containing vendor and product name

image\<vendor name>\<plugin name>\


A metadata file containing vendor and product name


A 134x66 pixel PNG image containing the artwork displayed when using the Maschine Studio/MK3 plugin browser MST_logo.png A 240x96 pixel PNG image containing the logo displayed in the Maschine Studio/MK3 preset browser. MST_plugin.png A 190x75 pixel PNG image displayed when viewing the plugin chain on the Maschine Studio/MK3 hardware OSO_logo.png

A 417x64 pixel PNG image. Currently unknown where this is used.

VB_artwork.png A 96x47 pixel PNG image displayed in the visual browser. VB_logo.png A 279x47 pixel PNG image displayed as bank header when browsing a plugin for presets.