Can a software/hardware combination be as tactile as standalone gear like the MPC, but do, you know, computer-y things, too? That’s the question posed by Native Instruments’ new Maschine.

My Maschine just arrived in the mail, but one look in my inbox and I find that the folks at AudioMIDI have beat me to shooting a hands-on. What you see immediately is that you have immediate, hands-on hardware control of everything. With software behind that, that could lead to a lovely melding of hardware-style manipulation but software-style flexibility.

Conclusions of the AudioMIDI vid:

  • Feels great; feels not cheap
  • Roland-style step mode
  • On-the-fly sampling
  • Performance-style controls

Since AudioMIDI did shoot their video first, here’s your chance to say what you’d like in the CDM video. What do you want to see? What questions do you have?

And MPC fans, let me put it a different way: what would you have to see to be impressed by this?

Update/Clarification: Since this seems to be a point of confusion for some readers, both NI and AudioMIDI have confirmed that this isn’t an official review or special NI-sponsored promotion. This is a retailer excited about a box they got in the mail grabbing a camera and showing some initial impressions as they started using it. I am glad we put this up, though, because we’re getting some great feedback from all of you as far as what details you care about. So keep that coming, as I think I’ll be able to answer all those questions.

  • Jason

    There is a lot of discussion in the below post in the NI forum about using your sequencer to trigger drum kits in Maschine's software. It seems NI is saying you can only "play" or send MIDI from your sequencer to one "pad" or "sound".

    I would love to see how that works, and if its possible to trigger Maschine's sounds from a MIDI track in a DAW, and also whether or not you could record MIDI on a MIDI track that is sent from Maschine. It would also be nice to play Maschine's kits with another hardware controller if you wanted to. Can you try all that?

    It seems like its a big limitation if you can't trigger Machine's kits with MIDI tracks. I mean, one would think you'd be able to use your current MIDI grooves and send them to Maschine like you would with Battery or other VSTs. It seems NI's stance is that by allowing you to do that, it would somehow "detract" from the "feature" of Maschine being an "all-in-one" solution for drums; which is kinda crazy, because it still has to be tethered to a computer. I'm fine with forcing Maschine to be tethered, but I feel like you're purposefully limiting the supposed benefit of Maschine working with software on a computer if you limit it as described above.

    Here's the thread:

    https://www.nativeinstruments.com/forum/showthrea

  • http://www.combatdave.com combatdave

    What I'd like from the CDM video:

    1) The voiceover/commentary run through an autotune or vocoder (preferably both).

    2) Spandex.

    I look forward to seeing it!

  • http://xfader.com regend

    i know this argument might be pointless and off topic but one thing i really enjoy about SP12/SP1200's and MPC60's/3000's is that the audio sampling architecture, the AD/DA's, and the engineering that went into the designs is what made these sampling drum machines unique. Software and VST's have a way to go before capturing the sonic subtleties. What about firewire/USB audio interfaces that have similar characteristics to previous sampling technologies that have existed? Creative Labs did employ EMU engineered chips in the EMU branded audio interfaces. Would it be worth to release a hardware audio interface that has selectable sampling bit rates as well as frequencies or is this controlled by host software exclusively? This is one of reasons I can't let go of a Lexicon PCI card that has Lexicon Reverb DSP chip but it only works with win98. After I run a vocal track through it and then take the WAV back to my MAC i'm quite happy. Workflow issues…I know…I'm ready to discuss the VST dlls using WINE now.

  • Mike

    I wasn't all that impressed with their review. You can tell how much they rushed to get it out.

    I'm curious what the pads feel like. I used to think that MPC/MPD pads were the best, but now I think that the Korg PadKontrol pads are a bit snappier and let you do more finger bouncing and quicker rolls. Which kind do the Maschine pads most resemble?

    And on the software side, do you have to sequence within that 16 beat framework or can you slide your notes around? And are you always sequencing in loops with Maschine or can you be more linear? I'm curious to see what the Maschine/Host software relationship is like as well.

  • Rex Rhino

    Well, the most obvious thing that it would need to make this MPC fan impressed is if it worked stand alone without a computer.

  • Skip

    I have yet to watch the AudioMidi review (sitting in work writing this right now) & maybe they cover this. I have been thinking about picking up a Maschine, to perhaps replace my MPC1000. One thing that I didn't see mentioned in the NI videos or literature was Mute Groups. You can do some really clever things using pad muting & mute groups on the MPC. I utilize this feature very often in my MPC programs and would be pretty disappointed if it doesn't exist in the Maschine. I'd have to guess that it does since I think the real reason for the mute groups is to do closed/open hi-hat stuff, but I'd like to know for sure. Thanks.

  • Nick

    8*16 is 128, which apparently is a "really big number" for the tech gurus over at audiomidi.

  • actuel

    I want to know about the editing functions and looping options. from what i can see it only does forward loop. No forward > backwards (repeat), etc. I hard to tell how robust the audio editor is at this point. For example, is their timestretch?

    I do quite a bit of micro sound designing and working with small waveforms. While, I don't mind piggy backing with Live, not having basic audio editing capalities found on samplers over 20+ years old, OOF! Having to reach outside of Maschine for simple tasks is a deal breaker. It's not like they don't have the technology to implement these features if they're not already in there.

    Anyway, eager to find out more.

    thx.

  • tobamai

    Looks like a solid piece of kit. So what's the final answer on "Can you control all the lights and displays through sysex to customize it?" I've heard a couple different ones, but now that they're in the wild we should know for sure.

  • MaisOui

    All they show is features of midi apart from the step sequencer. This seems barely different to a keyboard with pads. I don't really think controlling the fx parameters of what ever software they used, with a midi knob is anything new and interesting.

    They strike me as people who just do reviews and want to say something nice about the NI sending them this for free not someone who knows what they are talking about when it comes to music production or performance!

  • GrievySteve

    my MPC questions would be.

    1. are the pads velocity only or velocity and pressure like a real MPC? You need pressure for really playing note repeat otherwise it's just machine gunning.

    2. what is the latency like? for programming beats, feel is everything. This might be the one major place the MPC wins.

    other things

    1. don't tell me about the quick sampling, show me! if it's quick and easy and never done before, SHOW US!

    2. I like the 808 style programming.

    3. the buttons look like rubber pad buttons which suck. They wear out and the silk screen on top of them wears out quickly.

    4. I like the screens.

    5. they seemed to have a hard time navigating it. Might just be because they are new at it. Might be that it's not real user friendly.

    6. what is the minimum computer?

    7. Rewire? how does the sequencer play in another application?

    8. REX files?

  • James

    It'd be nice to see the software interface.

  • bliss

    An enthusiastic PK making phat beats is what I want to see in the video! (In addition to the other suggestions.)

    ;)

  • nd

    I'd like to know if Maschine can sequence any odd time signatures? It looks like it can only handle 4/4…

  • what would the capta

    just any review that isnt completely biased would be fine. I like audiomidi but this is more of a promo video for NI than a critical analysis of the kit

    did NI pay them to do it?
    http://whatwouldthecaptaindo.blogspot.com/

  • http://blog.sighup.ca Steve

    I'd like to hear/see something made with it entirely without beats.

  • meatshake

    @what would the captain do:

    I agree completely- this should be a training video for first week guitar center sales peeps– (tap tap tap) "listen! it's made of aluminum!"

    –>And MPC fans, let me put it a different way: what would you have to see to be impressed by this?

    I'm no MPC master or anything, but one feature that is great about the MPCs is the ability to advance or retard a single instrument/track by a tick or two- some interesting things can happen to the rhythms I have yet to see that. (yep. I said retard)

    Come to think of it, tightness is something that MPC users have always talked about- responsive timing. Without any DSP to help tackle latency, Maschine doesn't seem to offer an inherent advantage over any other software tools in this regard. That said, I do think NI make some efficient very efficient software.

    Track mutes and 16 level velocity are also important MPC techniques.

    looking forward to a in depth and critical review..

  • http://www.celebusite.com celebutante mitchell

    Hi all.

    This is Mitchell, the guy who did the video. Cut us some slack- it arrived, they stuck in our hands and said, "MAKE VIDEO NOW". There wasn't much consideration of learning curve.

    Let it be very clear that this video wasn't intended to be a review; surely impossible in that kind of time frame. It was just intended as "hey, it's here, in the flesh, and here's a cursory look at some neat things it does".

    Nick- Really? Making fun of my math? Keep in mind I was concentrating on shooting and improvising dialog as I went without pausing, stammering or sounding totally dumb (it's not as easy as it looks). And I was trying to be funny, as I find the standard stuffed-shirt type straight ahead product vids to be rather trite.

    MasiOui- The controller has enough dedicated buttons that you can do just about anything from the controller quickly and on-the-fly; this was clearly designed for playing live. And "whatever software we used" was the Maschine virtual instrument- in standalone mode running on my MacBook.

    >>They strike me as people who just do reviews and want to say something nice about NI sending them this for free not someone who knows what they are talking about when it comes to music production or performance!

    What led you to believe it was free? It isn't free, it's part of store stock. I can't just take it home. Duh. We're a store. We sell things. Of course we want to say positive things. But we don't say good things about stuff that we think sucks, because we value our credibility.

    Honestly, I initially wasn't very excited about Maschine, because I'm not really excited about MPC's or MPC-like products. But once we started fooling with it, it was immediately fun and musical, so my attitude changed.

    As for "not knowing what they are talking about when it comes to music production or performance"… you should be ashamed. It amazes me how nasty people can be on forums. Amongst other things, I was the music director for the band Berlin from 2000-2007, and I've had a monthly column (and written product reviews) for Keyboard mag for five years, so you might want to google someone before you shoot your mouth off.

    Honestly we don't have all the answers right now (we shot it Tues, and I spent most of yesterday editing). But with that said I'll try to answer what I can:

    - the pads are sensitive and everything is very responsive. They're a lot like the Korg nano pads, but a little more robust. They're not like Akai MPD pads i.e. you don't have to beat the crap out of them.

    - not sure about mute groups, didn't get that far, but I'm sure it does 'em (Battery, has LOTs of mute group options, so I'd be shocked if Maschine didn't).

    - as far as I can tell the audio editor is pretty basic; I couldn't even make it normalize. It does have an "instant" REX-style slicer, but I didn't have time to mess with it. But again, I don't want to say for sure until we mess with it more.

    - "Can you control all the lights and displays through sysex to customize?" Not sure. No offense, but stuff like this isn't usually a big priority for manufacturers who are mostly interested in making sure their big ambitious product works properly. There's a Monome with your name on it awaiting you, sir.

    - not sure if the pad do pressure. I used the repeat function, but only really quick.

    - the 808 programming is really really cool. You can see that I was going 100mph on it.

    - "the buttons look like rubber pad buttons which suck. They wear out and the silk screen on top of them wears out quickly."

    Uh, how can you tell? What should they make them out of?

    - They seemed to have a hard time navigating it. Might just be because they are new at it. Might be that it’s not real user friendly.

    As previously mentioned, we had about 20 minutes with it before we shot. Anything with menus and an OS isn't going to be lighting fast right out the gate. But I got the impression that one could get quick on it pretty easily. No offense, but was anyone quick on an MPC on day one?

    - Sorry we didn't show the app, but my laptop doesn't have screen capture software and shooting a computer screen with a mini-DV is sheer awful. NI has screenshots on their site.

    Anything else, please call Olivia here at audioMIDI at (818) 477-4023. We'll be glad to answer (or figure out the answers) to any specific questions.

  • bitbot.cc

    I'm curious about the use of the knobs to modulate effects and other pattern parameters.

    Let's say you have a distortion effect on one pad and a filter effect on a second. To modulate the effects in a live/real-time fashion, can you assign knobs to parameters across all active pads, effects, and so forth?

    For instance, I'm stepping through various pad combinations live. I'd want to assign knob 1 to "distortion amount on pad 3" and knob 2 to "filter cutoff on pad 8-12" and knob 3 to "volume of pad 14" so that I can very quickly tweak multiple values by spinning the 8 knobs, while hitting pads to change the actual pattern content.

    Is this possible? I wish NI posted manuals :(

  • jordan314

    This looks pretty decent. I'm pretty sick of my MPD 24. It's just sitting there gathering dust. I can do better beats on my MIDI keyboard, the transport doesn't work with half my apps, and I have a knob that jiggles/twitches sending MIDI noise making MIDI learn impossible. The Maschine looks interesting because there are actually sound modules designed to work with it, though I don't know if I'd throw $500 at it. But time for a new interface I think.

  • http://www.sounddesigntutorials.com SoundDesignTutorials

    I've had the opposite experience of jordan314 with my MPD24. It's the only MIDI controller I've kept and used consistently! This new NI gear looks pretty good, too, but ultimately not enough to part me with my money given what I can already do.

  • tobamai

    Thanks for the feedback Mitchell!

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Yes, I was actually about to chime in on the video — it's a preview more than a review, it's a hands-on. I mean, it's okay to get excited about gear, too. :)

    This is all good feedback, though, in terms of looking into the details.

  • Math:Eugenic

    Okay so the REAL problem with iLok dongles, NI contends, is that they arn't big enough?

    Also, of course they arn't trying to be disingenuous hypers! The man is wearing a Moog shirt. Any man wearing a Moog shirt can be nothing but honest and good.

  • J. Phoenix

    I am curious about the following:

    Functionality of equipment outside of the NI Maschine environment itself. How well does it interface with other software and hardware via the USB & MIDI i/o.

    Also, programability/ease of assignment for whatever midi parameters it can send.

    Already mentioned but the velocity + pressure capabilities of the pads. Only velocity?

    Also mentioned: perceived overall durability…best destined for 1 gig, a tour, or perhaps a safe table in the studio?

    For the record, I got a kids w/ new toy vibe from the video, not corporate schilling. Looking forward to more in-depth analysis from the correspondents; and now back to our sponsors.

  • WTF ?

    Pad Kontrol + Ableton + recycle

    Who are NI aiming this at ?

    Marketing all wrong and at 500 it just not gonna sell imho

  • Roma

    it would be nice to see the same girl, naked, no guy

  • http://soundcloud.com/cynic Cynic

    I'm not an oldschool MPC head by any means but I've spent the last few months getting DEEP into the mpc1k with JJOS2xl.

    Stuff that I would need to see in order to be impressed by this:

    = Latency discussion.

    My MPC is immediate. I keep my soundcard operating at around 7ms latency just so my (older) CPU doesn't choke. I'm guessing MASCHINE is burdeoned by this. 7ms can really fuck up your playing. Sometimes I don't like to quantize. I want that human feel.

    = Export.

    What's the workflow when you've built something in MASCHINE and want to export it to your DAW for mixdown?

    All I've seen are stereo track exports, not individual wav files for different channels in MASCHINE. Does the MASCHINE vsti have multiple outs?

    I have to bounce individual wavs like that with my MPC. How is this an upgrade? Can I export MIDI files to my sequencer via drag&drop and keep rolling with my idea? Or can I perhaps trigger individual patterns via MIDI ala guru?

    = Workflow.

    How's the sample recording / chopping / editing? How deep does it get? Is it easy to bounce back to Wavelab then reimport in MASCHINE if I want to do something drastic? Easier than my MPC?

    A lot of MPC heads work by recording notes/chords from their instruments and mapping them on the pads for sequencing. How fast is this? Can I work the same way?

    = Quantization.

    How's the swing? Can I load groove templates? Is there an iterative quantize?

    = Extra mojo.

    What can it do that my MPC can't? Can I sequence VSTs from it easily? How's the internal resampling work? Does it have a CHORD mode like JJOS2xl where I can set up chords/keys to play depending on what pad I hit?

    ……I'm sure there's more but this is just what comes to my head immediately.

  • what would the capta

    Mitchell

    did they actually pay you to do this then? I'd be interested to know why you put it out so quickly – was that pressure from NI or your own choosing?

    In terms of valuing you're credibility I'm not suggesting the thing sucks and it doesnt deserve a positive review and you are totally in NI's pocket- but you didnt make a single negative comment!

    No piece of kit is that perfect! Where the critical analysis saying – look this features really cool , but it would be better if it did this

    If you want tomae videos just running through the features to say whats out on there so you can get it out first then fair enough – I can't knock you for that, but maybe its about making it clear that thats what you doing rather than a review

    everyone else

    we are giving mitchell a bit of an insane beating cmon let not be flamewar geeks lets just get back to making music

    ps if any of you want to flame me back please feel free to do so on my blog – at least that way I'd get boost my hits lol!

    follow the life nd tiems of an electronica band @
    http://whatwouldthecaptaindo.blogspot.com/

  • Pingback: audioMIDI.comblog hands on with NI Maschine, the hardware & software groovebox

  • samoan

    Or you could just buy a Trigger Finger or some other control surface and use it with whatever software you want. This doesn't seem like a very innovative device, unless I'm missing something.

  • Legs

    NI site said pads are pressure sensitive (respond to aftertouch.. polyphonic one would assume.)

  • Brad Nikon

    Great to have early impressions like this video, and what you had to say about the machine was interesting, but PLEASE PAN DOWN AND SHOW THE MACHINE NOT YOUR FACE.

    We want to see the product not a talking head telling us about the product. Show someone working the surface of the product while you talk in the background.

  • robin parry

    ..to be impressed? no computer needed!!!

    idi*ts! its he integration that make's an mpc so responsive

  • apoclypse

    First of all a lof of the questions asked on this site have already been answered on NI's site.

    The pads are pressure sensitive.

    There are no groove templates for now but NI said they will be adding features to the software as time goes on an added benefit of a hybrid software/hardware method. This is something that isn't always that easy to do on hardware and some companies actually charge you later for minor revision features.

    You can't sequence VSTs on it yet since there is no midiout or VST support but an NI rep said this is in the work the (the midiout part).

    The software and hardware work without each other so its not a dongle.

    Latency is always going to be an issue when dealing with software but its not really an issue since you get latency on an MPC as well if you are more than a couple of feet away from a speaker. Its a fact of life.

    No Rewire it runs as VSTi in host DAW if needed.

    So far nothign on the import formats. I think they just support wav and aiff for now but I think an NI rep said that battery kits will be supported in the future 9assuming you already have battery, I guess like Kontakt).

    I already ordered mine it should be here today.

  • crikey

    I'd like to hear how irritating it is or isn't that there is no MIDI export function and no way to stream MIDI to the host sequencer for the purpose of pattern recording to a MIDI track. I've been reassured by NI that exporting audio is great way to get my Maschine-conceived ideas into Live or what have you, but there is nothing quite like the portability of a midi file for a drumbeat. A generous assessment of the exclusion of this capability might be that it is an oversight or technically prohibitive, but given that NI aren't exactly new to the game or underfunded, I see it as more of a calculated move to keep users working within the Maschine environment. This is unfortunate given how much the marketing message bangs on about "integration". They seem to have nailed the hardwiring of a control surface to many key aspects of intuitive workflow, but I hope they come to realization that confining users to proprietary file formats is a strike against the product.

  • B.C. Thunderthud

    Having read Mitchell's comments I think I understand the position he was in and I sympathize. The video is pretty fun but it's essentially the "first" post of product videos.

    How does this machine differ from a really crafty padKontrol setup? The answer's in the software which we saw and heard exactly nothing about. AudioMidi should avoid this kind of move in the future, no one likes a firstie.

  • Art Gillespie

    @Peter

    For me, it's all about how long it takes to get a found sound trimmed and onto a pad. Can I preview from a pad while I'm sampling/editing? Can I import mp3s? Ogg Vorbis? FLAC? (Developers don't seem to appreciate that crate digging takes on a distinctly digital flavor these days!) I'd love to see a samplist's workflow overview in the CDM vid.

    @Mitchell

    I loved the video, man. Unboxing vids are way better than scripted product review vids. Here's hoping you guys do lots of them in the future.

  • http://www.celebusite.com celebutante mitchell

    round 2…

    @ what captain would do…

    >>did they actually pay you to do this then?

    I'm employed by audioMIDI.com. They pay me, because I don't work for free. I'm not employed by Native Instruments. audioMIDI is a Native Instruments reseller. No one gave me anything for free.

    >>I’d be interested to know why you put it out so quickly – was that pressure from NI or your own choosing?

    It's an anticipated new product that people are excited about, so we thought it would good to be the first on the block to crack one out and show it "in the flesh". We didn't sit around and have extended meetings trying to figure out if people were going to cry because we didn't cover every single feature. We didn't have a production meeting where the video was storyboarded and committee decisions were made about when to show the product as opposed to my face (for the record, I shot that part myself, and it's hard to move the camera and speak into it at the same time). The video was simply meant as "hey, here's this neat new thing, check it out". I'm starting to get tired of hearing myself say it.

    And though this may offend some, we are a retailer, and I'm not going to apologize for the fact that we ARE in the business of selling stuff, and having a video like this DOES make it clear that we're one of the first on the block to have it. For those who must have Maschine now, we'd love to sell you one. For those who think it's crap, hey, stick with that MPC60.

    >>In terms of valuing you’re credibility I’m not suggesting the thing sucks and it doesnt deserve a positive review and you are totally in NI’s pocket- but you didnt make a single negative comment! No piece of kit is that perfect! Where the critical analysis saying – look this features really cool , but it would be better if it did this

    I played with it for a half hour before we shot the video, so I didn't have a chance for "critical analysis". I'm not about to say something negative that could be wrong due to my lack of experience with a product in a video that will live forever on the interwebs. Are there negative things about it? Sure. You want something that you can take to the gig, sans laptop? Well, then this ain't it. The sample editor seems really limited (but maybe I'm missing something).

    Personally, I can accomplish the same tasks with Logic and Battery that I already own. But 1) Maschine is better for a live situation because of the tight controller integration, and 2) everyone and their brother seems to have a big boner about MPC-anything, and I most certainly do not get excited about an MPC. But there's no point in my spewing my very admittedly weird and narrow opinion of what's cool for me. On video and in written reviews, I take a pragmatic approach of "will this be useful for people who are into this kind of thing", which is far more useful for everyone. And with all that said, I DO think Maschine is fun and useful.

    Are we biased? Well, audioMIDI is a Native Instruments dealer, so making a negative piece about something would be pointless for everyone- I admit, it's a fine line to tread. But if we think something's a piece of shit, we just wouldn't bother to promote it much. I can honestly say there's pieces of gear (big, expensive, shiny new ones at that) that are supposed to be big new buzz shit and we think they're losers and we kind of let them lie. Again, being a music retailer is an odd and tough biz, and we honestly attempt to be more honest and "real" than a lot of our competition.

    >>If you want tomae videos just running through the features to say whats out on there so you can get it out first then fair enough – I can’t knock you for that, but maybe its about making it clear that thats what you doing rather than a review

    Well, after this silly shitstorm, we decided that we would be clearer about "first look" vids in the future. But that said, pretty much the first words out my mouth in the video are "we just got this, the latest and greatest, etc." I (wrongly) assumed that would make it clear. Common sense would indicate that, given a product of this complexity, one would want to use it for a while (as in, at least a week) before trying to really authoritatively speak about its plusses and minuses. Note that I never say it's review anywhere in the video.

    >>everyone else

    we are giving mitchell a bit of an insane beating cmon let not be flamewar geeks lets just get back to making music

    >> ps if any of you want to flame me back please feel free to do so on my blog – at least that way I’d get boost my hits lol!

    Thanks, that is appreciated. People get really weird on forums/blogs… it's odd that I feel as if I should apologizing for what was supposed to be a quick, fun little vid to show our excitement for a new product that we feel lots of people are going to enjoy.

    >>Roma- it would be nice to see the same girl, naked, no guy

    You don't get out much, huh? Besides, I look, like awesome naked…

  • maxamillian

    "Latency is always going to be an issue when dealing with software but its not really an issue since you get latency on an MPC as well if you are more than a couple of feet away from a speaker. Its a fact of life."

    I hate this kind of smart-arse bullshit. If you are using a latent system then you'll have even more latency when you stand a long way from the speakers. What a pathetically irrelevant take on the argument.

  • maxamillian

    Mitchell – I wouldn't bother reading too much into the comments. It's par for the course – remember this is the internet.

  • apoclypse

    Maxamillian: Funny, I didn't see you add anything constructive to the conversation either. I was just pointing out that you are getting latency regardless of what you use, but guess what, you get used to it and deal with it and your mind and ear adjust accordingly. If you can't adjust, well thats your issue not mine. Obviously its something people are willing to do because the controller market is actually gaining a stronger foothold. Everything from Midi turntables, to pad controllers are gaining users because newer user who haven't used an MPC or MV hardly even feel the latency, they have adjusted. Does a set of Midi turntables beat 1200's, no, but that isn't stopping Numark and Vestax.

  • maxamillian

    OK if you want me to spell it out for you, I will. I didn't have time earlier to point out on how many levels your comment was wrong, but if I must…

    Firstly, and I can't believe I have to point this out, but here it goes anyway – an MPC user is highly unlikely to be a large distance from the speakers. They're either using the headphones or have sensibly installed the MPC close to their speakers.

    Secondly, it's not just about the playback latency. The MPC has a direct connection to the internal sequencer and sounds, which means that not only do you hear the sound when you play the pad, but it's also recorded in exactly the point in the sequence when it was played, within the bounds of the 96ppqn resolution, which is a known quantity for the user. However, when you record MIDI messages for a computer softsynth with a controller, not only is your input being translated through a large array of variables (MIDI interfaces, software drivers, serial MIDI protocol…), but it's also quantized to the block size that you're currently using in your host sequencer. You cannot possibly adjust for this, unless you have some magical ability to track the stream of sample blocks. If you quantize all your playing to hard beat divisions afterwards, then you won't care, but if you want to utilize any deviations from 'the grid', then what you put in is NOT going to be the same. Whether it is close enough for rock'n'roll or not is absolutely irrelevant, the fact is that it just won't be the same.

    I am very aware of the world of controllers and software beat machines – I regularly use things like Microtonic, GURU and Shortcircuit with a Korg pad unit. I have also used vinyl timecode records with software apps. But it is still fundamentally ridiculous to say that just because sound doesn't travel instantly through the air, there is no difference between an MPC and software running on a computer.

    I hope that I have brought some useful constructive information to light for your benefit.

  • sowari

    i suggest come over to the maschine Forum at NI for further questions/comments:

    http://www.native-instruments.com/forum/forumdisp

    here are some random answers:

    the Pads feel great.

    you don't have to sequence within 16 beat framework, you can slide your notes around.

    Muting can be for individual sounds and or groups and or fx

    you can reverse samples

    at the moment there is not timestretch but there is slicing

    Pads are Velocity and Pressure

    latency, i haven't noticed any problems.

    Maschine is also a plugin

    you can set up different grids and lengths of sequences for odd time signatures

    Maschine is more that just making beats.

    Sequences can be nudged.

    it is easy to set up different velocity and mappings

    i am going to gig with it… it looks and feels very solid

    Maschine has 8 Stereo Outs and numerous possibilities for exporting Audio to your Hard Drive.

    Mapping is really fast across the Pads.

    the advantage of having a laptop is that you can have access to an enormous Sample Library. Maschine is a fantastic concept which is not just about being a bit like an MPC.

    i love it and have found it very creative

  • maxamillian

    sowari – 1 question I have which I haven't seen answered elsewhere:

    Is the Maschine hardware a dongle? Say you make a tune with Maschine in your studio, then you take the project away on a laptop, without the Maschine hardware, to the beach at the weekend. Will you be able to open the project without the Maschine hardware connected?

    If this isn't possible then it would be a big drawback IMHO..

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Maschine is not a dongle. You do not need the hardware plugged in.

    And yep, we'll get more up on this site, as well, soon. Yeah, I know stuff is answered on the forum, or even by NI, but it's good to know what the burning questions are for people so we can be absolutely certain.

  • http://soundcloud.com/cynic Cynic

    @maxamillian has it DEAD ON.

    I use the MPC1k for a pad controller to rock GURU through CubaseSX and FL Studio from time to time.

    There's a definitive difference between programming sounds right on the mpc and programming into a software sequencer.

    Even when I drop my latency down to 3ms on my soundcard the sequences I program directly on the MPC are more "spot on".

    Do I still work both ways? Of course. I find that working with different tools provide different results and it's fun and inspiring to switch things up from time to time.

    NOW that all said, I've been tracking the MASCHINE since it's announcement. I've read all the forums, viewed all the videos, all that shit. I think it's a dope idea and has a lot of promise. Being able to scan / sort / choose through all the drums on your hard drive is major. The screen on the controller is major. The sampling from any input on your soundcard is MAJOR.

    However, I still think it's not up to par just quite yet and will most likely personally wait until v2 to make a decision on it.

    Hopefully they've got one setup @ GC so I can play with it.

    Right now I'm really waiting to see what Roger Linn & co come with on the LinnDrum2 front before making any kind of decision on new beat tools.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Okay, I'm confused.

    By programming beats, you mean you're playing them live, right? If you're "programming" them step-style or applying any quantization, the latency doesn't matter, so just want to be clear on that.

    My sense is if you're getting 3ms real latency and it doesn't feel accurate, the problem is more likely timing inaccuracies in the sequencer. I'd like to see the person who can play rubber pads with their fingers that accurately on an MPC. Maybe I'm missing something, but since we're being cynical… I mean, I just literally can't comprehend what's going on here, so maybe someone can explain to me.

  • http://soundcloud.com/cynic Cynic

    Yep, programming live…sorry I didn't mean actually clicking with the mouse or using grid edit on the mpc. I'm talking about hitting the pads in realtime to record drum patterns.

    Maybe I'm not accurately explaining it, but there is a definite advantage to recording into the MPC's sequencer. It's more "immediate" for me and my patterns seem to come out better on the first try. Maybe a mental thing…who knows.

    You want to see the people who can play rubber pads that accurately? Peep game…

    jel from anticon on the mpc

    more jel on the mpc live drumming

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Hey, if it is a mental thing, that still counts. If you're more productive, great. I just wouldn't necessarily attribute that to input latency on the sequencer.

    The MPCs can get up to 960 ppq, it's true. But that's down to a half a millisecond at 120 bpm. I don't know what the latency is for the Akais to process an input, but I would be surprised if it's that small. And there are now computer sequencers that can also give you 960 ppq. If you can accurately play rhythms that need to be recorded to within a half a millisecond — and you really believe that — then you should be able to nudge your recording in the computer and have it work.

    I just think the reality check is, if you're not connecting with the computer musically, you're not connecting with the computer musically. The odds that latency is an issue, once you've gotten a low-latency system configured, are just not very good.

    Then again, if the MPC is important, the software sequencer choice is important. You might feel differently about Renoise vs. Numerology vs. Live vs. Cubase … etc. You get the idea.

    So it's not that these things matter; I just wonder if we aren't overemphasizing the hardware specs because they're quantifiable. I think the MPCs are fantastic devices, but not exclusively for quantifiable reasons. If you just want timing accuracy, you can get that with a computer. But, without getting overly warm and fuzzy, if you want an emotional connection to what you're doing with the tool, that's something special with any hardware or software.

  • maxamillian

    Peter, I implore you to read my 2nd comment. Granted, it was a little uppity, but I really can't stand the 'speed of sound' argument trotted out to justify latency. It's not relevant and it does not help the argument.

    It's not about ppqn resolution at all. It's about playing a software instrument live or trying to record live playing – what you input will NOT be what you hear. It's not even a 'constant' latency that you can nudge back – recorded notes are quantized to the buffer block size, which effectively shows itself as 'jitter' – constanty fluctuating inaccuracies. This is leaving aside the very real and very poor inaccuracies that result from using MIDI controllers and computer interfaces/drivers.

    I don't really think you can comment on this issue unless you've used a hardware beat machine like the MPC. When I first used one (I'd only used computers before), I was pretty floored by how accurate it was – there is just no comparison. There are a lot of misconceptions about the MPC and its 'feel'/'vibe' or whatever. A lot of people put it down to the shuffle/swing, but this is wrong. The 'feel' of the MPC is great because it's accurately capturing YOUR feel. Simple as that.

  • bliss

    @ maxamillian

    What I play into Logic is what I hear played back to me. Same as when I was an owner of an MPC 2500. In the beginning there was a problem with feel when switching to computer sequencers, at first Digital Performer and Reason, but that changed with use and practice. Most of my "programming" is done by playing parts into the sequencer live. And, after all, what I hear is what I respond to when playing.

    So — I, too, am not sure of what it is that you're trying to convey — unless you're just attempting to convey your own subjective experience. Because, for me, what I play into Logic or DP or Reason, is exactly what is played back — OR — is exactly what I want to hear played back. Fact is, if I make a timing error in my performance during a MIDI recording, I expect to hear that error in playback, and it does just as I remembered, every time. Same as when I've recorded a performance to "perfection".

  • bliss

    I should also point out that when I switched from an MPC, I thought the main difference was pads versus keys. Significantly more travel time to make a sound. That's what I thought made the difference between the tighter sound of an MPC and my keyboard controller. Once I got used to that, I no longer missed the MPC for its tight sound, because I could get the same sound from whatever computer sequencer I was using.

    What I missed was the more immediate and less visual workflow that the MPC offers, and I've thought recently about buying another MPC for that reason.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @maxamillian – I wasn't making the speed of sound argument. And I'm certainly not saying latency or timing jitter aren't important; of course they are. I'm saying they can be controlled to a some point that's tolerable. Now, absolutely, if you're running at 15 ms+ buffer sizes on your audio interface and recording into a sequencer with poor timing resolution, you are likely to lose something. But there are ways of controlling those variables to some reasonable latency.

    The thing is, no matter how accurate the MPC is, you still have the accuracy of the player and what's required to actuate the pad, which is a big rubber thing over a button. There are physical limits to how you can play, and then there are perceptual limits to how much timing accuracy you need to hear.

    Yeah, absolutely, set up wrong a computer is going to be painful to use. But I think as far as what's needed to record your fingers playing pads, a properly-configured computer and sequencer ought to be able to do just fine.

    Now, maybe I'm wrong, but I just can't imagine on a halfway-reasonable setup that MIDI or audio driver-induced timing inaccuracies on a low-latency computer setup are such that they're screwing up a sequenced recording played on pads with sensors. If we were talking about an acoustic / mechanical instrument, that might be another story — even relative to the MPC.

    Like I said, I could be wrong, but I've used both outboard and software sequencers and I didn't see a fundamental difference between them in terms of timing, not once things were set up properly. (Heck of a lot of other fundamental differences, though. And a heck of a lot of potential for misbehaving OS and drivers — that's another story. But assuming you've rid yourself of those variables.)

    That leaves all the other things about an MPC (or another drum machine / workstation) that are unique. And there's the fact that you have to do some work to *get* that lower latency on a computer, whereas an MPC you can plug in.

    But I'm with bliss – I'm choosing on workflow.

  • Jason

    There are some very interesting and long threads linked in this thread over at the Ableton forum where this latency issue was discussed. Its really interesting, because Ableton records what you hear, not what you play. Other DAWs record what you play, and not what you hear. Its a matter of preference, but I happen to prefer the DAW recording what I play. The reason I bring that up is that if you read through those threads, you'll really see what all the fuss is about. :)

    http://forum.ableton.com/viewtopic.php?t=106221&a

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Jason – point taken. I'm certainly not dismissing these issues, either … there are just a lot of variables.

  • sepiot

    Hi,

    sorry if this is old news and has been explored already, but here's a video (admittedly, with somebody from NI)that shows a few things about maschine from somebody who's had the time to play with it:
    http://www.sonicstate.com/news/2009/01/16/native-

  • http://soundcloud.com/cynic Cynic

    Yall are really focusing on the latency issue which is just one point of many that I mentioned.

    It's just a small piece of the overall workflow puzzle.

    Interested to see the review video CDM. I'm personally going to go try and find a local store I can demo one at.

  • maxamillian

    Peter – I know you didn't make the speed of sound argument. I'm totally with you in terms of working around any issues that are inherent with any particular setup in order to get things done. I just prefer to understand exactly what's going on in order to properly be able to adjust for it or fix it after the fact. You should try using an MKS-80 with its uber-jittery, ancient MIDI processing – even though it's a pain to line things up after I bounce parts it's worth all the effort. We can't be called professionals if we don't put in the effort and work around the issues that face us – in spite of all the flaws involved with digital tech, we really have it easy compared to how it used to be. I still really recommend trying an MPC :)

  • maxamillian

    Jason – thanks for that link, very interesting info.

  • http://myspace.com/metacitizen zyn

    i NEED to see more on how the auto chop fuction works, and how fast it is able to browse through samples and try them out to see how they sound chopped and repitched.

    this is what my mpc is all about for me, being able to (somewhat) quickly grab a loop/sample, chop it, globally pitch it around and try playing it on the pads untill i find an interesting order to play the chopped samples back on the pads and a nice weird pitch for the sounds to be at, if machine can do this as quickly as i think it should, im gonna grab it immediatly, (have my maschine money set aside waiting for the cdm review to decide)

    i also just want to say thx to peter for being interested in what we want to see out of the upcoming review, as we add more and more neurotic shit for you to cover in your video review, its no doubt going to make it more difficult and complex to produce it, so im sure im able to speak for all of us when i say we really very much appreciate it

  • http://myspace.com/ilovethebeep Beep

    no thanks, ill keep my mpc2000!

    i would be impressed by:

    - sick A/D converters like in the old mpcs

    - phono-in (what the hell do they think people sample from?)

    - touch-chopping (or something NEW!)

    the mpcs workflow istn up to date and quite slow but the sound is SICK and thats what counts to me. i never have to touch the mac to make a basic beat! if i work in ableton later i dont care about most midi stuff… and switching between hardware and software is NOT an option at all for my workflow.

    i stay oldschool. :)

  • http://myspace.com/antfactor antfactor

    I thought this INTRO/BASIC FIRST LOOK was incredibly well done and even (gasp!) entertaining. Excellent job for just playing with a new toy for less than an hour.. showing how quickly one can jump into it's basic features. My hat's off to your fine team.

    I wasn't even aware of this product before, but have been looking at alternative control surfaces for live shows with my laptop. Most of my shows for the past few years have been done using an MC-505 – to rather good effect. If I can do effective shows just using that, I'm sure this customizable and ultimately more flexible device could be devilishly fun, as I, for one, don't enjoy the idea of staring at a computer screen in the least. This box could alleviate that barrier to using my laptop and gaining a bucketload of options I never had.

  • http://soundcloud.com/cynic/music Cynic

    Not sure if anyone's still reading this thread, but I wrote a little review on gearslutz.com and figured I'd repost here as well.

    I sat down and demo'd the thing for about an hour and a half at GC. I'd advise anyone else considering the purchase to do the same thing. I didn't end up buying it because I feel personally it doesn't offer me anything above and beyond what my current setup does.

    However, I'm eagerly awaiting version 2.0 of the software and hope they continue to improve what they've got. It could mature into a really great product.

    What I liked…

    * The hardware integration is dope. You can browse samples on the unit itself, and pretty much do anything from it. It's really tight. Sort of like how I have my MPC pads controlling GURU, but no mouse and keyboard involved. However, it needs work (as mentioned below)

    * The controller itself is very solid and well made

    * The software is a good starting point, but needs refinements to compete with other things out there.

    * The workflow is really fast. You can get a kit on the pads and start playing immediately. Nice stuff.

    What's missing in my opinion…

    * The sequencer needs some usability refinements. When you zoom in the numbers don't scale. You just get 1, 2, 3, etc…not 1, 1.1, 1.2….

    * Recording a sequence, there's no "count in". You just have to loop the sequence and know when to drop in on the 1. I'd like a count in, as well as a "start on first pad hit", kind of like FL studio has.

    * Impossible to layer / effect samples individually. You can stack samples (like drums) on top of each other on a pad, but its really hackish. You also have no individual control over each layer like you do in say, battery, guru, or fl studio. Wack.

    * No "external editor" function for editing samples. You should be able to define an external editor like wavelab so you can do deep editing, save the sample then have Maschine auto-reload it. (FL Studio does this amongst other programs)

    * You can't control external midi gear or vst instruments. Wack.

    * The sample browsing needs refinement as well. There was noticable lag when I'd select a new drum kit, and every time I hit the BROWSE button on the controller my settings weren't remembered. I'd have to go re-select that I wanted to see drum kits only. That's a buzzkill and takes a lot of time when it should/could be really simple.

    In conclusion

    I'm sure this will be a good product for some people, but it's just too limited right now compared to a pad controller / software sequencer setup, or a MPC. My mpc1000 with JJOS 2xl blows it out of the water in terms of workflow.

    Can't wait to see what they do for V2 when they get more feedback from customers and possibly integrate some drum synths into the mix.

  • finnek

    I own one, and i've got to say this is the best piece of musicgear in a long time for me. Since i have it, i didn't touched Live nor any other thing. Forget your mouse, forget looking at a screen searching through 500 plugins, just get going, all done on the hardware. It's perfect! Switching through groups, switching through patterns, scenes, muting sounds, it's just about jamming! You Akai-lovers keep your MPC's, but just compare please:

    Akai MPC 500: 449 € here

    NI Maschine: 579 € here

    And it can do SO MUCH MORE, plus the regular Softwareupdates. I wouldn't resell mine for 1000 €.

  • TJ

    I've got an mpc 1000 coming but i chose it for specific reasons, even though i was aware of maschine:

    1. I can use it totally independantly of the computer.

    2. No setting up required, just a couple of upgrades and the jjos.

    3. I want to cut down on the amount of stuff i need to carry to play live, particularly for rehearsing and jam sessions; easier to throw an mpc in a bag loaded up with my tracks and i can take it and use it anywhere that has an ac outlet. This'll be great for rehearsals as i can just throw it in a bag, got to the rehearsal studio, plug it in and play.

    4. If i want to get an idea down quickly i don't have to boot a computer every time.

    5. I'd like to sequence outboard gear. Even when it's implemented in maschine i have no idea how well it will work and it will be dependant on a computer.

    6. Of course the sound and the swing of the mpc!

    I've watched a lot of videos of the mpc in action and it's far more diverse than i initially realised.

    Maschine looks great but i'd really have to try one out to know if it was gonna work for me. An mpc and a couple of outboard synths will be a sweet setup anyway. I have live and plan to get Guru and slave that to the mpc for drums. For in depth sample slicing and editing i can always use live but at least i have that functionality in the mpc and i can use it to bang out tracks when away from my daw. At the end of the day it depends what your needs are. I don't think it's a case of either or. I may get maschine down the line but i want to see if those promised updates are implemented first and at least try one out first. Peace.