The manual is pretty large for this guy. It is clear and sufficient, but, if you are familiar with plugin synths, I would just poke around for awhile and get used to it first. Then, when you have questions, the manual is adequately indexed so you can find you answers quickly. That's what I did and I feel fairly confident using this massive synth to get awesome sounds.
Overall, no the configuration is not simple. Its quite a beast with a lot of parameters to tweak. However, the preset setup is pretty nice. If you have used any Native Instrument synths before, this is a familiar face. If not, it won't take but a minute or two to quickly surf through presets.
It depends on what functions you deem typical when asking if they are easily accessible. I tend to mess with the basic attack/decay type parameters on synths and I have to say, its not very easy to locate these functions. There are a ton of options (maybe too many for my purposes).
I run a Macbook with the programs mentioned earlier and a Presonus Firebox for my main performance rig. Yes, it works flawlessly in this configuration.
So far, it has never crashed on me or lost any of my presets.
I would give it a 10 out of 10 for sounds, they really are amazing in this synth, but I would give it a 7 out of 10 for accessibility. There is a little too much going on for my tastes, maybe that will change when I have more time to learn about this huge plugin. So I guess I'll give it an 8 out of 10 overall.
I have been using this synth for almost a year.
What I like most about this unit is its vast array of quality presets. They are a good way to get your creative juices flowing. Set a good preset up and start messing with familiar parameters and you can get some unique bombshells out of this guy. I also recommend messing with parameters you have no idea about to see what they do, you can get some whacky stuff going on this way too, but be careful, don't mess with everything at once or you might not know how to get back to the sweet sound you just had.
What I don't like about this synth is the overall interface. I find that most Native Instruments are harder to use than other plugins I have come across. I wish there was a way to make it larger so the font was easy to read when playing live and simpler to navigate through, but you can't always get what you want.
Besides that, it is an amazing unit packed with a ton of quality sounds.
I think I paid around $200 for this guy. Thats about average for a nice synth plugin so I am happy about the price.
The sounds that come out of this thing are truly awesome. I write a lot of "Radiohead" and "Flaming Lips" style music and this thing fits that glove very well.
I have a bunch of different soft synths, but I find myself drifting towards this guy when I want something a little strange and very unique.
Yes, I would definitely purchase this synth again. My studio partner might even upgrade to Komplete 5 so I will get to play with the new Absynth.