Maschine Studio Review Maschine Studio

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    Rise of the Maschine

    When Native Instruments first introduced Maschine to the audio world a few years ago, it was a new concept that proved to be an instant hit. Since that initial introduction, Maschine has risen to become the premier hybrid music production tool for both studio and live performance. Taking advantage of tactile hardware control and the flexibility of an ever evolving software platform, NI showed that a perfect blend of software and hardware provides the key to true creative expression.

    So imagine your favorite tool got a massive amount of new features along with a sexy new sidekick to go with it. That’s exactly what Native Instruments has decided to do with the Maschine 2.0 software and their brand new flagship controller, the Maschine Studio.

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    The 2.0 Software: From Great to Awesome

    There have been quite a few improvements to the Maschine concept in the 2.0 upgrade, many things that dedicated users have been looking forward to. One such improvement is the addition of multi-core support at the foundation of the new software. This allows for users to take full advantage of their computer resources when working directly in Maschine. That means more samples, more plugins, more effects, more everything!

    Speaking of plugins and effects, you now have the option to load unlimited internal and third party effect plugins at the sound, group, and master level. This allows for way more complex sound chains than were previously possible in Maschine.

    Another limit that has been lifted is the number of groups in a project, that’s right, you now get unlimited groups. These groups are easily accessed from the software or on the controller.

    With these limitations removed, the need for a way to manage your sound levels has increased, so NI introduced a dedicated mixer view that allows direct metering of the individual sounds, as well as all the groups and the master channel. In this new mixer view you not only get the general levels, panning, and output routing parameters, but there is also a built in channel strip view that shows you mini versions of whatever plugins or devices you have loaded on the respective channel.

    They also opened up the options for routing audio and MIDI internally, this allows for the use of multi-channel or multitimbral plugins directly in Maschine. So if you have 16 sounds loaded in one instance of Kontakt, you can now route 16 midi channels directly to that single instance. Good news for many, though personally I’ve always been the type to load a plugin as many times as needed as opposed to using it in a multi-channel fashion. In addition to the internal routing enhancements, you also get deeper access to multiple MIDI interfaces. You can choose specific MIDI devices and tie them to specific sounds or groups, and you can also choose from multiple MIDI output devices, so you are no longer limited in the number of output channels. If you have a 4 port MIDI interface, you can access each port and its channels separately. Something many of us using external hardware devices with Maschine will no doubt enjoy!

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    There’s also a brand new drum synth included in Maschine 2.0! This allows you to craft your own drums from scratch and it’s not just synth style drums, they even have some physically modeled sounding acoustic drums, this gives you a whole new area of flexibility to create with. Sample editing got a nice update with the ability to quickly add your own slices manually, overlapping slice markers, and a new “edit range” that allows you to apply various edits to the chosen range without changing the start and end markers of your sample.

    Other updates such as having the ability to actually see the length of your songs in regular time format the ability to import third-party/user presets for various Komplete plugins such as Absynth, MASSIVE, Kontakt, FM8, etc, and the included 8+ GB library along with the free Komplet Selection (Massive, Reaktor Prism, Scarbee Mark I, and Solid Bus Comp) make for a well-rounded update that will definitely deliver something for users of all types.

    Maschine Studio: Love at first sight?

    As if the software update wasn’t enough, they have introduced a brand new hardware controller! The first thing most will notice about the new Maschine Studio controller is the look, for me, the new high resolution color screens are an instant hit. The graphics allow you to really immerse yourself directly into the controller experience. Editing samples with the detailed color waveforms directly on the hardware screens just feels much more intuitive and is sure to please anyone.

    Browsing through the included 8+ GB library along with the Komplete Selection is super quick thanks to the new visual browser that takes full advantage of the gorgeous screens. Oh, and if you happen to own Native Instruments Komplete or any of their instruments and they all show up with customized product images directly in the browser! Everything just looks better on these screens! You get to see the full graphical mixer, all of your pattern and sequence data is shown in the arrange view, and you even get tiny graphical icons of the plugins that show you what you currently have loaded on any given channel or sound slot.

    The Maschine Studio hardware feels and looks really good. They added a dedicated edit section so functions like copy, paste, clear, undo, nudge, and quantize no longer require hitting the shift+pad combinations of the previous model. The jog wheel allows for various editing, browsing, and selection functions. They added a hardware volume meter directly on the controller with a dedicated volume knob to control and provide visual feedback on the levels of the various inputs and outputs. This is a display only, there is no integrated audio interface, Maschine uses whatever audio device you have connected to your computer.

    If you turn it around to the back you will notice the power input, power button, two footswitch inputs, 1 in/3 out MIDI interface, and a Kensington lock. Oh and for those of you that have tried multiple different ways to set your Maschine at an angle, they included a built-in collapsible stand.

    You still get the same 16 high quality, velocity sensitive pads, as well as the 8 rotary encoders, 8 multi-color group buttons, and 58 back-lit click buttons for parameter access.

    A great addition to the Maschine legacy

    Native Instruments has delivered another incredible instrument as they continue to solidify their place as the leader of the hybrid groove production platform. The total integration with Komplete as well as the ability to load any third party VST or AU plugins makes Maschine Studio a creative force like none other.

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