Native Instruments’ Maschine has really led the way in terms of solid updates since its impressive, but admittedly premature 1.0 release back in 2009. User requests have been incorporated and great new features added such that the all-in-one production studio is really starting to live up to its name. Now 1.7 is here – let’s take a look at the new goodies on offer.
The previous release saw Maschine open up to host NI’s Komplete suite of instruments but suffered from one major setback: presets needed to be mounted from the GUI; a real breach of Maschine’s intention to replace your mouse and keyboard.
That’s now been repaired: all your Komplete presets are now comprehensively tagged and can be loaded directly from the hardware browser, so your workflow isn’t interrupted as you cycle through a genuinely enormous bank of sounds. What’s more, the top parameters for each preset are automatically mapped to one or two pages of the eight endless encoders beneath the screen. That these have been mapped according not to the instrument – Reaktor, Absynth, Massive or whichever – but to each preset is testament to the amount of work that must have gone into bringing this functionality to life: at 195GB, Komplete 8 Ultimate comes on its own external drive. Better yet, owners of Maschine who don’t have Komplete are eligible for a free copy of Komplete Elements, the player version that includes the presets and some basic controls but not the instrument itself – that’s an extra 4.5GB of sounds to work with, all pre-tagged and pre-mapped, so all you need to do is download and install them and start playing your music in (another) whole new way. Maschine continues to impress.
On top of this, NI released news of the upcoming Maschine Mikro, physically smaller than its counterpart but running identical software. Mikro has one screen, one endless push encoder and far fewer control buttons, but it does retain the impressive 4 x 4 pad grid that made its big brother such a joy to play drums on, and the whole unit comes in at about two thirds the size of the original. And it’s not just easier to fit into your bag – at $399 USD, it’s considerably cheaper.
If that’s not enough, they also announced iMaschine, their first foray into the iOS world, dropping 1st October and mercifully priced at under $5. iMaschine is built for iPod and iPhone, though it beggars belief to think NI will leave that ten inch iPad screen empty for long.
NI face some tough competition here, though, and without their proprietary hardware to entice users in, it remains to be seen if they can knock NanoStudio and BeatMaker off their perches. An included 100MB WAV library is a good start, as is on-board sampler and note repeat, and it will be possible to send your tracks directly into Maschine itself, or upload directly to SoundCloud from your phone. NI’s history of intelligent development also serves them well, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on the way this all shapes up as October rolls in!
iMaschine Key Features
- 16 pads for playing the included drums and one-shot samples
- Library includes 10 projects, 25 kits and over 400 individual samples (100 MB of WAV sounds)
- Pad sampling mode: record your own one-shot sample through the built-in iPhone microphone
- Keyboard mode with two manuals for playing chords, bass and melodies
- Note repeat function with 4th, 8th, 16th, 16th triplets, 32nd for keyboard and drum pad mode
- Audio recorder mode lets you record vocal ideas through the built-in iPhone microphone
- Assign any of the 4 groups to pad, keyboard or audio recorder mode (e.g. use it as pocket 4-track recorder)
- Mixer page includes two send effects with Delay, Flanger, Chorus, LoFi, HP, BP and LP filters
- The live-mode sequencer automatically detects the recorded loop length
- Finished song idea can be exported with one touch as an audio file or uploaded to SoundCloud
- Project (including samples) can be exported to Maschine for finalizing in your studio environment
- Additional drum kits and instrument sounds can be easily purchased through the in-app store
- Import your own samples via iTunes