Choosing a computer for production generally means choosing flexibility, the ability to more effortlessly combine lots of sound sources and techniques. So it makes sense that, given that Native Instruments’ Maschine promises to bring computer-style flexibility to hardware-style groove box and drum machine workflows, it should behave like computer software. And that has meant many Maschine enthusiasts have asked for plug-in hosting. It doesn’t make Maschine a generalized “DAW” production tool, but it could mean, for people who like the drum machine style of working, the ability to mix and match sound sources as you can in a DAW.

With a beta scheduled for 2011, and a final release early in the year, Maschine users should get that wish. Version 1.6, Native Instruments recently revealed on their forums, will add VST and Audio Unit plug-in hosting, both as effects and sources.

Thomas at NI wrote up the news last week (whilst I was still busy working on this redesign):

So, according to popular demand, the upcoming 1.6 version will allow you to use VST and AU plugins as sound sources and effects in your Maschine project. This includes both the whole NI range of instruments and effects as well as any third-party plugin.

Check the screenshot for an idea of how this will look like. Instrument plugins can be used in any sound channel, and effect plugins can be inserted on both the sound and group channels as well as on the master.

Obviously the addition of plugin hosting requires quite a bit of development and testing…

1.6 won’t just include plug-in hosting, but this could be a big breakthrough both for Maschine addicts and, on the other hand, people who were waiting on Maschine to add such a feature. Forum post:

Coming up: Free Maschine update with VST/AU plugin hosting [NI User Forum]

I think in a way it’s unfortunate that music tech news cycles are the way they are; usually there’s a lot of attention and focus and “exclusive” cover stories and special issues in newsstand glossies right when a tool is new. But it often takes months and years for the tool to mature, and for users to really sink into productive workflows – indeed, that’s the sign of a deep tool. So I’m happy to give Maschine more attention in 2011. If you’re a user, let us know how you’re using Maschine now, and if this change is relevant to you.

  • http://www.littleshipstudios.com littleship

    I've only had my Maschine for a few weeks and have barely scratched the surface, but the workflow is immensely fast and NI seems to really understand what the end user wants. As long as you can run a low-latency system, there is really no reason in my opinion to buy anything but Maschine. Really excited for this release!

  • http://www.computermusicguide.com Chris

    I don't use maschine, but would it be possible to use it as a simple step sequencer for programming things such as bass lines?

    That's the #1 thing missing from DAWs IMO, is an all in one, tied to hardware, step sequencer.

    I guess bringing the gap by making specialized hardware is prohibitive, but I would think there'd be market potential for a 16 step electribe or xox style hardware / software solution without having to resort to third party plugs.

    style intravece

  • http://www.computermusicguide.com Chris

    I have some sort of poo as my icon. Lovely..lol :)

  • http://www.computermusicguide.com Chris

    Sorry for the typos, i'm not used to this white on white scheme.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Chris: Yes, you can use Maschine as a step sequencer. Of course, there are DAWs with step sequencers out there, but I agree about easy hardware control.

    Wait… you have trouble with black text on a white background? I've got … very bad news for you.

    You can customize your avatar by signing up at Noisepages, or it will pick up an email associated with a Gravatar.

  • http://down-sample.com Jake

    Interesting new feature, but I use Maschine in Ableton Live anyway, so not all that useful to me.

  • http://noisepages.com/members/ohmygoditsdigital/ Paweł Milewski

    awesome! can't wait … that is major update imo

  • OS

    Given that Maschine was missing several key features when it was released (MIDI export, load pattern without kit and vice versa), as an early adopter, I've been pleased with the relative speed with which NI has added functionality this past year. Like Jake above, I tend to use Maschine as a plug-in, but within Kore more than Ableton in my case. I've actually been using Kore more for writing these days with Maschine/Battery and a synth or two on just a few channels. Once I'm happy with what I have, I stream those channels into Ableton to create a few variations, mix and arrange. The main reason for this is to break myself out of the many habits I’ve developed as a longtime Ableton user (since version 1!). There’s an advantage to being very familiar with an environment, but it can be deadly boring to feel like I’m going through the motions to build very similar arrangements again and again with different sounds. I find that limiting myseslf to imported MIDI files and the basic Kore MIDI processing plugins driving a few synths alongside drum machines and FX is a powerfully simple way to build ideas quickly in no small part because it’s a less visual enterprise. I find myself tweaking and listening more than I do when arranging 50 clips in Ableton, many of which I could probably do without. I see VST hosting within Maschine as an extension of this idea. Having two robust controllers hardwired to hosting applications that will run any plug-in want while giving me a lot of visual feedback on the device display is an exciting prospect. I forsee a productive future for myself running VST’s inside Maschine, alongside (or inside of) Kore, inside of Ableton. Of course, one day that will also become boring, and on it goes.

  • http://twitter.com/confusedmachine MattC

    This is huge. Exciting. I just hope they test the crap out of it first, Maschine is pretty damn stable and would be a shame for that to disappear!

  • Jason Brunton

    Maschine has really been developing nicely – i've only been using it for 6 months or so and I bought it when I realised how easy it was to do things like select different Snare sounds whilst a pattern is playing using dedicated hardware controls – it's almost like using an R-8….or an SR-16!!!

    I hope this doesn't complicate the workflow too much – it's REALLY fast and east to use at the moment – sometimes "limitations" are a good thing :)

  • http://BigHotSho.com BLAKEBUCK

    I'm an diehard Ableton fan, and have used Live for many years.  Compared to some other DAWs, Live is so simple and intuitive to use.  And when I'm being creative, it's all about efficiency.  Getting an idea down without having to overcome technical obstacles.

    Basically, the more efficient I am, the more creative I am.

    I got Maschine about a month ago and in that time I've been totally blown away.  Just like Live, Maschine is all about being creative with the absolute minimum amount of technical hassle.  To me, it's like Live on steroids.

    And this news of hosting plugins inside Maschine makes it even better.  I already use VSTs with Maschine since I run it inside of Live. But the workflow is still kinda clunky (I love sequencing almost entirely within Maschine now).  And for those without a DAW this is huge news.

    Just a quick aside for any Maschine users out there: this thread over on Ableton's Forums really inspired me – poster Nepotist made a track a day for ten days using Maschine then put the album up for free download.

    http://forum.ableton.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=

    He got the idea from a YouTube video, where this guy does a "7 Minute Workout" – he samples a random 10 seconds of a random record from his crate and gives himself 7 minutes to turn it into a beat.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piMv9-P2feA

    Amazing stuff.

  • http://www.computermusicguide.com Chris

    @ Peter, I guess it was my monitor @ work. The text box was white and blended into the background and my text disappeared as I was writing it.

    Looks fine from home!

  • http://noisepages.com/members/geronimo/ Jeremy Hand

    As an early adopter of Maschine, I've been very pleased with the pace of updates…given the fact that the NI team have plenty of projects to develop and revise, I think they have done an excellent job. I'm curious to see how they implement plug-ins, although my intuition tells me I should examine Kore…

    Also, what other features and improvements have they implemented? At their current rate, I predict NI will have made Maschine into the premier product in its class by this time next year…

  • http://noisepages.com/members/active/ Chris Gilroy

    i'm soooo excited! i'm with Blakebuck, i've been using it inside of ableton for about 8 or 9 months now and still can't get enough of it. as a drummer, i find it the perfect controller complement for a monome in a studio. super bump to adding VST/AU. win!

  • Nicolai

    Any word on whether the update will support sending Midi CC messages to external gear? That has been a big omission so far.

    I would imagine that at the very least you would be able to automate parameters for VST/AU's hosted within Maschine (hopefully!).

  • Karl Popper

    @Chris: Not only can you step sequence using the pads (with nice informative lighting effects) but you can even do elektron style parameter locking. Hold down a pad and tweak a knob to lock that knobs parameter to a certain value on that step.

    This update will be huge. Not only will it double maschine's value as a production tool, it also shows just how keen NI is on funneling their users suggests right into the development pipeline. I just hope I can find a way to 'preprocess' my input through vst's before sampling….

  • http://www.alexbuga.com Alex Buga

    @Karl Popper You can set up a pad to receive input from sampling, and add a VST, and output that to another pad which will actually sample the whole deal.

    I can hardly wait to sample my guitar through Maschine and add Guitar RIG :D , although I've recently bought a hardware guitar processor (ZOOM G2NU).

    Anyway, I bought one of the first Maschines in Romania. I'm a hobby musician, but I hated messing around with the mouse and I wanted something special to boost my creativity.

    So far I'm very pleased and I can see the potential of it for a fulltime producer. I happen to know a few and they were blown away when I demoed Maschine to them.

    My only wish would be a standalone Maschine with an embedded soundcard :D That would be AWESOME !

    Oh yeah, and for the connaiseurs: MIDI IN/OUT when running it as a VST :) ) I think that's why they decided to include VST.

  • Karl Popper

    @alex buga: Right on. The main reason I use maschine as a plugin is so I can use guitar rig on the sampling input. Now that they've included vst support, standalone mode just got a whole lot more attractive. Now I can take advantage of those transport controls that were worthless in plugin mode!

  • apoclypse

    I was a very ealry adopter of Maschine. I saw the potential immediately. Maschine is almost a whoel different price of software from what it was when initially released. As for workflow. I used to use Maschine as a plugin in-order to get my other synths involved. However that was too slow for me, the logistics of working with a DAW was very limiting. So I started to use Maschine standalone with the audio routed into Kore 2 via Jack. That works brilliantly. I can arrange and work on a whole song and drop it into a daw after I'm done. Now I don't have to waist resources on Jack and routing audio to Kore. 

    I've done a whole album for an artist using this workflow. 

  • deecodameeko

    THIS

    IS

    AWESOME

    NEWS!

  • HEXnibble

    This is huge for those of us that prefer to use Maschine standalone. Maschine is well on its way to overtake Ableton Live's Session View. Maschine already offers key things that Live users have been dying to have like real time clip automation. Once the real time timestretch gets added, it will truly be GAME OVER!!!

  • Bendish

    To me there is little more to this than the hardware. Everyone goes 'Ooooh its like an mpc but with software!' but Its going to be 400 quid to get something that Live can already do. Once they have non normalising consolidation in Live, all editing, sequencing, sampling can be done without anything else. I mean is this really that amazing?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piMv9-P2feA

    That could be done in the same time just using Live. 

    I ain't sold. Guess the update is for NI hos.

    Whats the big deal?

  • http://noisepages.com/members/substrain/ substrain

    @Bendish: The big deal is the hardware-like workflow that you couldn't previously get from software. It's more fun and quicker to do things in Maschine because you can do pretty much everything from the dedicated controller without ever having to touch the mouse/trackpad or even having to look at the computer screen. It feels more like playng an instrument. Someone who has used standalone hardware like the MPC, electribe, Machinedrum…etc. is more likely to get the point.

  • Matt Gnarly

    This is really convincing me that I should pick up the Maschine soon, and substrain I fully agree with you, the workflow is really what counts, I remember making beats in minutes on an MPC and it being fun, software and mouse-clicking feels tedious and a drawn out process in comparison. 

  • Atebitz

    I never understood the big about making beats with hardware (used Reaper, Reason) until I played with Maschine. Soon got one and I love it. Then I got the Arturia Analogue Factory Experience because I love the hardware/software hybrid angle…looking at the Focusrite Liquid 16 as well now this awesome news is out about plugins within Maschine. Can't wait to use Analogue Factory inside Maschine and there should be no more complaining from anyone about the extent or quality of te built in fx…

    This news has made my year and I am so looking forward to 2011!!!

  • o.h.

    I was looking at getting a piece of gear to make my composition workflow less screen centered. I was looking at the SP-555 and the MPCs mainly, but then the Maschine came out and blew them all out of the water. I can do everything on the Maschine with the screen of my laptop turned off. That's the beauty of this thing. Even though I'm enthused at the prospect of plugin hosting in the Maschine I am also weary that this might contaminate the purity of the original Maschine concept. I really hope the stability and off-screen workflow doesn't suffer from this addition.

  • http://soundsandgear.com soundsandgear

    this is really a dream come true for many folks. Ever since I got Maschine…I've been pushing for this feature. I personally come from a hardware background, and always wished I could save everything in one file. Bank/program changes, multi files, program files, midi settings, etc…just used to be the way it was. Moving to software my first real "move away" from hardware was when I discovered ableton…loved it, couldn't stand any other daw for music creation (not speaking about recording vocals and such, just the creation aspect)

    But there was still something missing, then I got Maschine, it's the hands on workflow, plus the familiar groovebox sequencing I am used to. So I always wanted to be able to open my plugins inside Maschine, it would be like having all my rack modules/synths inside my sampler/sequencer. 

    I'm not worried about how NI will implement it, I'm quite sure however they do it will be a joy to use and not disrupt the workflow we have all grown to love.  I never liked the idea of using a daw for making my msuic, to me the DAW is my tape machine/digital tracker, but up until now there really wasn't a viable alternative to the daw for making music on a computer.

    Maschine isn't for everyone for sure, but it definitely caters to a group of users that want something different than what traditional software offers.

    For me, this will allow all of my production work to be done with Maschine, and the daw can do it's job as my recording/tracking platform.

  • Michael N

    I'm currently using Maschine as a controller for NI Traktor Pro. I LOVE it, mapped it for 4 decks and it's more than I'll ever need. This is great news though, and couldn't come at a better time as I'm just starting to dive into the production end of the pool.