Maschine Studio

Native Instruments’ groove-centric production studio Maschine today gets its most significant update ever. The software has been completely rewritten from the ground up, bringing expanded editing and sound capabilities and enhanced performance. And alongside the software release, there’s also a new, “flagship” controller, called Maschine Studio (above) – a big (but lightweight) beast with bright, crisp color screens and a price to match.

I took a tour of the software and hardware upgrades in NI’s offices, and so we can bring our own hands-on look at both before they ship. Please note that this is a first look at a pre-production unit (though nearly final), beta software, with some first impressions; we will have more specifics as the final software and hardware is made available to us and we fact-check additional details.

Maschine made its entry at a time when the notion of an integrated hardware/software solution was still novel. Now, that model is far more commonplace. But there’s still a big niche Maschine can fill. Here, for those wanting new hardware, that niche comes in the form of hardware that never requires you to look at your computer, while still maintaining the Maschine workflow. And for those happy with existing Maschine hardware, this is a version of Maschine that promises to make it feel like you’ve upgraded your entire computer, while adding key features like side-chaining.

Maschine 2's new UI sports easier arrangement (top right), a proper mixer page, custom heads-up displays for NI plugs, a new browser (left), and a cleaner look.

Maschine 2′s new UI sports easier arrangement (top right), a proper mixer page, custom heads-up displays for NI plugs, a new browser (left), and a cleaner look.

Akai seems to have largely surrendered the conventional MPC hardware market, choosing instead to focus on augmenting their pads with your iPad or computer. Their hardware is terrific, but the company lacks NI’s software design experience. The desktop software still lags something like Maschine in flexibility, refinement, and features – the very things that could make its MPC hardware users switch to a computer. Ableton this year offered Push as a hardware companion with Live, but it’s a different animal – for better and for worse. Push is a physical window into what you can do with Live, but Live is still a broadly-focused DAW and host, not software designed to be exclusively controlled by hardware, or on a single essential workflow. And while Arturia offers the lovely, affordable Spark, its capabilities are much narrower than Maschine’s.

Maschine now has a two-pronged attack. First, there’s the updated software, which will bring a range of new features to everyone – including owners of the original hardware. That software will also be included on any new MIKRO and Maschine hardware. Second, there’s the high-end hardware option.

Maschine 2

Arrangement and editing, on both hardware and software, is now more logical and accessible.

Arrangement and editing, on both hardware and software, is now more logical and accessible.

The software is an ambitious release. NI tells CDM that there’s not a single line of code copied from the original. (Okay… maybe a DSP algorithm or two?) The rewrite finally modernizes Maschine, offering badly-needed multi-core support. We saw Maschine running on an aging i3 MacBook Pro, and the CPU meter barely moved.

Part of the appeal of Maschine is its focus. It isn’t a DAW – and Maschine 2 doesn’t change that. But even a “groove production studio” these days has a pretty long list of demands. You can expect some of your wanted list to be fulfilled, but not all of it. We’ll have a full review, but first, the bad news: there’s still no built-in real-time time stretching in the sampler (odd, given NI’s granular chops), and MIDI routing of templates and so on is still somewhat inflexible.

But this remains a huge update. In brief:

  • No more Group limit. Let’s just linger on that one for a while. Having only 8 Groups was a huge pain in performance and the studio. Now you have direct two-button access to 64, and an unlimited total number of Groups. (The Scene limit has also been lifted.)
  • No more plug-in limit. Add as many plug-ins as you want (built-in or third-party), limited only by the capabilities of your hardware.
  • There’s finally a mixer page. This makes Maschine look a little more like a DAW, yes, but it’s essential , and something hardware drum machines have. Whether using plug-ins or drum parts, you can finally keep your parts in balance without losing your mind.
  • Cue Bus. No more auditioning samples as you play live (eep!). You can now route to a cue bus. (Sadly, not from the mixer yet, but this is still useful.)
  • Arranger timeline, easier arrangement features. The Arranger now has a proper timeline. And undo by step is back, as on the original Maschine, for two undo modes.
  • Arranger follow. Yes, you can actually have the wiper (on both hardware and software) follow your position in the arrangement.
  • Note Repeat has gate.
  • Smarter Control Mapping: multiple Sound/Group selection and editing, “improved MIDI handling and parameter mapping” (details on that soon), and macros on all Sounds, Groups and Master.
  • New acoustic and electronic drum synth models. Covering both modeled analog, electronic instruments and acoustic drum kits, the new synth models give you more than just sampled sounds. These are grouped into Kick, Snare, HiHat, Tom, Percussion, with most having a choice between electronic and acoustic models.
  • New plate reverb.
  • Updated UI. The UI functions in the same way, but it’s been significantly refined, with a cleaner, easier-to-read, flattened look. Oh, yeah, and:
  • Retina Display support. Confirming this one, but it appears NI supports your nice, new laptop — bizarrely, Apple has left this out of Logic Pro X, but at least NI has a cure for blurry UIs now in most music products on Apple’s machines.
  • Custom plug-in interfaces now make nice custom displays for the Maschine modules and other Komplete additions. (They’re similar to the new pages in Logic, but oddly, these aren’t viewable on the Maschine Studio hardware – you see only an icon.)
  • Easier browsing. You can now call up sounds with tags.
  • Sidechain anything. Yes, that includes side-chaining third-party plug-ins, another feature sorely missing in many DAWs.
  • New audio engine. In addition to side-chaining, thorough multi-core support enhances performance and 32-bit float summing improves mix quality. And things load more quickly, too. (We verified this with some of the bigger instruments in Komplete.)
  • Better Sampling: Various sample mapping improvements, plus zero crossing detection and overlapping samples.

More features: MIDI file import, a Record Prepare mode and metronome customization for easier takes, MIDI Program Change for plug-ins (VST/AU), a Pad View that makes it easier to see where your pads are mapped.

Unlimited scenes alone would make me never want to use Maschine 1.x again. Sigh of relief – cue here.

That’s a lot of stuff, but for my money, having side-chaining, better performance, and drum synths make this a good deal for existing users. The drum synths sound terrific. NI told us they wanted no portion of each parameter to sound bad, and it seems they’ve succeded. Evidently working with parallel sound design research projects, they’ve built an array of electronic and acoustic models. Because they’re synths and not samples, you can produce a range of results with them, and pitching them up and down is far more satisfying. The electronic models sound good, but the acoustic models are particularly unique, able to produce realistic sounds but also unique experimental timbres.

Because the Maschine Studio hardware commands a price premium, I also am relieved to say it’ll be easy to recommend the upgrade. Everything works with the old hardware.

At top, the new Mixer page. A reduced version is also accessible from hardware (including existing hardware, minus the additional graphics, of course). At bottom, layout pages for NI plug-ins, a bit similar to what we've seen in the new Logic Pro X - though sadly on Maschine Studio hardware, you see only the thumbnails of these, not editable controls.

At top, the new Mixer page. A reduced version is also accessible from hardware (including existing hardware, minus the additional graphics, of course). At bottom, layout pages for NI plug-ins, a bit similar to what we’ve seen in the new Logic Pro X – though sadly on Maschine Studio hardware, you see only the thumbnails of these, not editable controls.

The new drum synths may the most fun part of the update, covering a range of acoustic and electronic sounds via dedicated models. There's also a new plate reverb.

The new drum synths may the most fun part of the update, covering a range of acoustic and electronic sounds via dedicated models. There’s also a new plate reverb.

Availability: November 1, for both software and hardware.

What it costs:
Upgrades for any current Maschine user are US$99 / 99 €. That includes bonuses, though – Massive (though you should have that already), plus the percussion synth Prism, Solid Bus Comp compressor, and Scarbee Mark I electric piano.

From today through release, the eventual upgrade to Maschine 2.0 is free with any new purchase of Maschine hardware (including Mikro).

Maschine Studio is US$999 / 999 €.

Maschine Studio is easier to look at in pictures, so let’s do that.

Visual Tour: Maschine Studio

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Maschine Studio shares the basic layout and colored pads of the MK 2 Maschine hardware, but expands outward in each direction from the pad grid in order to add more dedicated controls, a new jog wheel, and big, bright, crisp color displays. For existing Maschine users, the layout is similar enough that you won’t need to re-learn anything. But it means you can use Maschine spending even less time looking at your computer display.

And for new users, particularly those migrating from hardware (looking at you, MPC), this is the first Maschine that really feels like a proper drum machine. You might forget that a laptop is nearby. Akai’s Renaissance tries to do that, but there’s a reason Maschine has been the most popular software solution for the job: the workflow is just very clear.

There’s also a clever snap-out kickstand that angles the unit and makes it easier to see the displays. They look flimsy, but felt solid.

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There are two big impressions of the new hardware: one, it’s big – at least, very, very wide. You’ll want a rollaway / overhead bag to carry it around, because no backpack or messenger bag will really do. The upside is, you have enormous clearance between controls. Cramped is the last thing you’ll feel.

Two: it’s really light. No, actually, it is. Maschine is perfectly solid (I’ve beat up mine for years), and absolutely stable in use – even with Maschine Studio’s new kickstand, which elevates the unit. But it doesn’t have (or need) much weight. That could mean that, despite the “studio” name, you’ll happily drop this in a rollaway and carry it on the road, especially since the additional dedicated buttons make sense in performance.

From the top, you can see additional dedicated controls. Editing functions and performance options no longer require the shift button – in fact, you’ll rarely touch the shift button at all. Since some of those shift functions were hard to see in the dark, this is also easier for live performance.

There’s also a much-welcome master meter and audio routing options – handy for quick sampling.

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Otherwise, the layout is the same, a boon to Maschine users’ muscle memory.

Round the back, you’ll find two sfootswitch inputs, a power on/off switch, and a surprising amount of MIDI connectivity – three output ports, and one input port. So, plug in those drum machines and synths and go to town. (Now, if NI would only beef up the MIDI features in Maschine – I know what my main 2.1 request is.)

What you won’t find is audio I/O, which seems really unfortunate. With hardware this big, it’s odd that you can’t at least have a couple of output jacks – which would satisfy the needs of 90% of the users on the road.

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Arranging tracks on the device is finally really practical, both thanks to Maschine 2 software enhancements (like the ability to finally see the length of patterns!) and the expanded displays on the Studio hardware.

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The enormous jog wheel has an integrated click button. You can use it to call up samples, but its biggest benefit is navigating patterns and arrangements. Because the jog is beat-quantized, you could also use it in performance.

Browsing is much easier, with lots of eye candy for NI’s built-in stuff. (Third-party plugs have only a generic icon.) For now, though, it is mostly eye candy – the displays go to waste for things like a graphical filter display. The text is, of course, profoundly easier to read than on previous hardware. But it’s a reasonable expectation that these displays will see more use in the future.

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The dual displays give you unique heads-up views of the waveforms and other editing features. You can zoom in to sample-accurate pictures of the waves, too, while retaining the overview on the left.

In fact, at first, Maschine Studio seems like overkill – until you see this functionality. Editing samples on the device seems Studio’s real killer feature, pricey as it may be.

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Maschine remains useful as a MIDI controller, not only when controlling the Maschine software. The expanded displays make those options easier to see, and provide additional labeling. Via Mackie Control, you can even display interactive labels on each parameter, opening up some interactive template possibilities. What you can’t do, it seems, is use the graphic capabilities of the displays; it’d be great if someone hacked that. But with the addition of the MIDI I/O, this is still a handy control surface.

NI says templates for popular programs are likely, too. This should be a nicer Maschine for controlling Ableton Live, it seems – and since my own workflow often involves Live and Maschine (damn you, Berlin, and your inescapable software!), I look forward to trying that out.

See the MIDI page below:

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We’ll have more details when Maschine 2 ships, of course. But I’m eager to get my hands on it. A thousand bucks is a lot of money for many people, so I think the Studio hardware – nice as it is – will be more of a niche. And it’s really unfortunate it can’t at least have a main audio out; come on, even a couple of NI’s accessories have that. On the other hand, yes, I certainly already own an audio interface … or four.

And the software update is a major relief. For a groove-focused workflow, it’s tough to beat Maschine – and the tactile control of software means you don’t have to give up software flexibility just to get away from your laptop screen.

Full review to come.

Oh, and yes, we’ll be hacking, too. (I’ve been using my Maschine mk1 as a Pure Data controller.)

Screenshots: Native Instruments.

Photos: CDM.

Addendum: Maschine and computer… With Studio, it really could be possible to perform with a headless computer – just script Maschine software to load on startup. But it’s also worth watching this video of Maschine (mk 1, even) and Microsoft’s Surface Pro. This could be a portable companion to Studio, or even make up for your lack of big displays on earlier hardware:

– as found by Synthtopia.

  • Jamsire

    Pretty darn awesome!

  • fry

    shut up and take my money

  • kwa-zé

    Kinda confused, I assume you mean no more 8 group limits? If so then fantastic, if not then ah well. Also, as if they couldnt stick a stereo line/phono input and stereo line out?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Fixed. Side effects of writing without ample coffee dosage.

  • Mutis Mayfield

    Not natively software compatible with Aleph?

    Just kidding.

    Do you want an mspchine? Put a mac mini with lingon/automator and (it seems for the integrated screens) you have it…

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Or a Surface Pro. Yes, the Studio’s self-contained design means a number of smaller machines become feasible.

    • Haffi

      But won´t you need a power connection for the new maschine studio or is it all bus-powered even with the new displays?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      No, it requires external power.

    • Mutis Mayfield

      It is “studio” labeled… Who cares?

      Ironic mode: off

  • andrei

    What do you mean by “From today through release, Maschine 2.0 is free.” ?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Sorry, that was unclear. Revised: “From today through release, the eventual upgrade to Maschine 2.0 is free with any new purchase of Maschine hardware (including Mikro).”

    • andrei

      thanks for clearing that up

    • roland

      : ) while you’e at it: but Live is still a broadly-focused DAW and host, not software designed to be exclusively controlled by _hardware_.

      Neat article, thanks for the great coverage.

  • yummyfoody

    So is it any easier to work with odd time signatures or does NI still think that most everything should be written in 4/4?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      No change there that I know of, but I think you’re not precisely stating the issue.

      Running in standalone mode, Maschine can change time signature and tempo. You can have a 3/4 song if you want, for instance. It just can’t do it by scene.

      Running inside a host like Ableton Live, it can change both. And speaking as one of the people who yelled at Ableton about that before they added that, I’m happy to have that solution.

      By-scene changes would be nice, just as they are in Ableton. But for now, I’d suggest if you’re mixing time signatures to do it in the host.

    • syntheticjuice

      Actually, I can describe my issues around time signatures from the last song I worked on. I recently sketched out a song in 5/4, with the project set in 5/4.

      1. When I created new patterns, I noticed the pattern length defaults to .8 bars long, which so happens to 4/4. Not a big deal cause a twist of a knob sets it back to a full bar, or multiple bars..

      2. Lets say after I moved the knob so the pattern length back to 1 bar, which is 5/4. Now, I’ve changed my mind and decided, you know what, I’m going to make a drum pattern length 4 beats long instead(even though my proj is 5/4)… But wait, I don’t see a way to select that .8 pattern length again. And to make it even more odd (to me at least), the pattern lengths of 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 are literally mathematical multiples of 5/4.. So 5/4 * 1/4, 5/4 * 3/4, etc. I was hoping to set the pattern length so 4 beats, 3 beats, 2 beats, etc. of 4 – but this is not the case.

      A workaround was setting the project to 1/4, which I guess is a trick a lot of people have used for other sequencers/hw/software? But that gets kinda odd to look at, since you constantly have to do “the math divisions” in your head when staring at at the patterns on screen.

    • Schorsch from Germany

      Hey man, you can to time signatures even by scenes. Easy via pattern length grid. Set it for example on 8th instead of scene, then the standard 4/4 bar will be not one, 8 (with pattern grid length set on scene it would be 1, with it set on 1/2 it would be 2, with it set on quarter note would be 4, on eigth changes the pattern length to 8).
      Then just set it to 7 for a pattern, and that pattern will be 7/8. For the next pattern choose 17, then you have a 17/8 pattern. You can then change by scene. CHECK PATTERN LENGTH GRID.

    • Dan

      Even via DAW you can run it on 11/8 as I did yesterday with cubase…

  • Erik Mitchell

    Excited about the new software, but still looks like there is much to be desired with the arrangement capabilities…

  • mercury

    Hoping this new version will interact better with Ableton. Currently triggering Maschine scenes in Ableton is a major chore and doesn’t work half the time.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      I’ll test the new templates.

      The templates are working for me, so I’m not certain what symptom you’re seeing?

    • mercury

      Let’s say I create several Maschine scenes. Some are 2 bars, some 4, and there are several created to go with a song created in Ableton live. What I’ve noticed is that even if I use MIDI to change the scenes in Maschine, when I sequence the MIDI changes in Ableton to trigger the appropriate scenes in Maschine I have a lot of issues. In particular, picking retrigger scenes in the Maschines settings doesn’t seem to work properly if triggered from Ableton Live Midi

    • robjac

      You could sequence in ableton instead of maschine. that way you can use a dedicated grid controller or the mk1 or mk2 template to trigger your “scenes” . [ where::”scenes”==ableton_Live_Midi_Clip(Maschine.vst)

    • mercury

      that’s what i am doing, when it plays back there are often glitches where it does not sync properly

  • http://alexbuga.is/ Alex Buga

    This is NICE!
    I can hardly wait to get it on my MK2.
    Push is on the way… dammit! Which one to keep ? :) )

    • Mike

      Keep both as they serve different purposes. Push is great for controlling Live’s native devices and the scales function is fantastic. Maschine excels at things like sampling, native control of NI devices, and the ability to load individual samples from the hardware. You can trigger Maschine with the scales of Push. Best of both worlds in my opinion.

    • http://alexbuga.is/ Alex Buga

      Unfortunately I can’t afford to keep both, so I guess I’ll keep Push for a week or so and return it.
      With the new Mixer view in Maschine 2.0… there’s no need for Live.

  • http://www.evilblender.com/ evilblender

    Wow! this is beautiful. I am SO glad I didn’t just upgrade from MK1 to MK2 – I’ve been saving up to do that… I’ll just keep on saving! I LOVE the look of that hardware. I’m hoping that jog wheel lets you fly around the sequence – and edit samples as well. I’ve liked their small hardware knobs – but like even more the control of a nice jog wheel interface (like a video deck!).

  • syntheticjuice

    Drum modeling? That sounds interesting!

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      It is. ;) Hope to have some sound samples when we get the software this month.

  • Freeks

    Paid upgrade is totally wrong! First you pay a lot from the HARDWARE then they ask money for upgrade from software that has never actually been “ready”.

    WTF?
    I understand DAW upgrade prices, but they are just software without extra money for “dongle”.

    After Live 9 and LPX upgrades i simply don’t have the money.

    • john_truckosaurus

      “Ready” and “containing all the features Freeks thinks it should have” are two different things. This just makes you sound entitled and uninformed.

    • Nick Suda

      Agreed. This is such an egregious example of user entitlement being the very force that devalues the product in the first place. People have been screaming for so long now in the post-App Store climate that things which normally cost $1,000 to fund the dev and manufacturing work that went into a product should now cost $100 or even $10 and it’s ruined all incentive for companies to add in features that in fact, yes, would be very logical and useful things to have… but people are such whiny and completely unrealistic children about how much stuff should cost that there’s no way they could subsidize adding it in,

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Well, it’s $99.

      I’m using Maschine 1.x now. It’s for me stable. And every update to this point has been free.

      Is it worth a hundred bucks for a complete rewrite of the software, new audio routing, new MIDI routing, new drum synths, new arrangement options, new plug-in options? To me, yes, absolutely. I’ll have a hands-on test to look at this more – the upgrade remains a month away.

      My impression is that the experience of using 1.x with the same hardware will still be substantially different.

    • Yanakyl

      drum synth is brilliant for me, but what do you mean by new midi routing?
      I have the mikro and miss some knobs, is it going to be easy to add another midi controller?
      Also mixer view => awesome

    • Freeks

      I have mk1 and it lost it’s value. Yesterday value was $250 today it is $150 due the expensive update. In two years $400->$150.

      When i bought it i asked from NI is the updates free and they said: yes.

      Now have to wait when the torrent comes out as i have no money to update it.

    • Bobby A

      It sucks, but don’t pirate it.

    • Deryk Moates

      Is this the first piece of software u have ever owned? This is a complete re-write, with TONS of additions and improvements, and u think people that bought a mk1 2-3 years ago should get it for free?? Get real man….all updates have been free, but major upgrades are ALWAYS a charge, no matter what company u deal with….how do u think they pay for the labor and supplies to create this upgrade??

    • Freeks

      I would love to have 1.9 “bug fix” without bells and whistles of the 2.0. 1.8 is not what NI have been advertising since the launch of the MKI. I did not buy software i bought hardware that came with bundled software. This has to be first time when bundled software gets paid update.

      Seriously. I know many Mashine users and not one makes tracks with it. They have all paid updates for either Live or Logic that they use to sequence maschine. Yes, you can sequence with 1.8 but people still make music C64′s.

      Sure getting proper sequencing is major feature. But what they advertised then before 2.0? Not so major sequencing? Sequencing that sucks? Sequencing that is really not that good but one day we will make it better?

      Screw the bells and whistles! Remove 8 track limitation from 1.8 and add usable sequencing. Not too much to ask for “beat production centre”. There still be enough people happy paying $99 for reverb and drum synth.

      It’s ice that you have extra $99 to put to what i call bug fix. Sadly i don’t have. Wouldn’t be bitching if i had.

    • heinrichz

      I teach Maschine at Dubspot in NYC as well as online and many students make great sounding tracks even on Maschine alone.

    • http://diymusicbiz.com/ Greg Savage

      It’s a badass unit that’s for sure

    • http://vrpr.org/ Henry

      If it is so bad still after so long time, why did you purchase it in the first place? Have you not tested the device before buying it? Or did your seller not have any return policy? Why moan about stuff instead of exploring the features? To me, your complaints still sound like what has been summarised very well already:

      “john_truckosaurus Freeks • 7 months ago
      “Ready” and “containing all the features Freeks thinks it should have” are two different things. This just makes you sound entitled and uninformed.”

      So, have you now stolen the new version as you indicated above? And has it shown its value to you or is it still “not ready”? And if it works well for you now, have you then purchased it properly?

      Software is a good that is manufactured just like a car or a television. It requires people doing actual work and spending actual time on it. And these people have rents to pay and food to buy – just like everybody else. So, paying for it is a normal and decent thing to do.

    • Zaqaz

      FL Studio…

    • mediumsizedrob

      Maybe you could earn some more money. Or spend less on other things if this is really a life and death situations for you.

    • michael

      It is fairly expensive, I should say.
      The rewrite is more about a ‘future payoff’ than immediate value, so hopefully the coming updates will convince me I need to upgrade, but as a hobbyist a hundred dollars is a lot of money!

    • Bobby A

      I’m with you. If they want to offer some kind of “pro” version and charge for that, that’s one thing. But to basically block us off from updates completely with a paywall is just sad. Now they can arbitrarily decide to charge for updates whenever they “rewrite” something. Slap a 3.0 on it and charge another $99. Then it will be annual like the Komplete updates. This is a really poor way to squeeze your customers, IMHO.

    • yummyfoody

      Technically, a complete rewrite is not just an “update.” It’s a completely new program. I should imagine that the updates from that point forth will be free, until such time as they completely rewrite the program as well. Developing a piece of software from scratch is incredibly time consuming and extremely expensive in terms of man hours. It’s not economically viable to give it away, unfortunately.

    • Freeks

      That also means that MK1 with 1.8 is abandon ware. We can’t upgrade our computers / OS’s as NI will not make 1.8 compatible.

      Hmm, where i remember that?
      Oh, it was NI Vokator, NI Core etc.

    • Nick Suda

      Since when was it required that previous software versions needed to maintain compatibility? That’s just not how software works. MK1 will run 2.0… that’s your way out. Bottom line. Unless you’re like, Microsoft, breathing life into XP after the failure of Vista, or something similar where the application user base is extremely broad and the code base is impossibly enormous and legacy (Autodesk or Adobe, so on and so forth), that just doesn’t make sense. “Make my set up that the product line has evolved from still work for me and be catered around me! Waaaaahhh!”

    • yummyfoody

      Everything becomes abandon ware eventually. No company can afford to support all of its legacy products forever.

    • Deryk Moates

      U are delusional dude….”block u out from updates”. Lol! This is not an update! It’s a complete re-written upgrade….every update has always been free and they gave us a bunch of free stuff along the way….and your v1 will never stop working, u still have what u paid for….now if I want to get into the next level u have to pay for that! That’s how every software company works and stays in business…is this the only software u have ever owned? Fl studio is the ONLY software that does life free upgrades, and that’s also why they can’t afford to write an osx version of their software….noone is forcing u to upgrade, like I said your v1 still works, stay with it if u don’t think it’s worth it…

    • Freeks

      Ok this not update so when we can expect 1.9 to come out?
      Before Xmas?

    • heinrichz

      Say what ! That software was born ready..simple but solid.

    • mediumsizedrob

      Is NI supposed to give away a complete software overhaul because you spent too much money on other products this year? They aren’t like Apple who can totally subsidize software development by shipping 9 million units in a week.

  • Erik Jones

    Damn, Native Instruments taking the music world by storm again. Made my fall season with this post

  • Theinvis

    Peter, was it possible to have multiple patterns with different tempos in one song in 2.0 or do you still have to use one global tempo for the whole song?

  • Theinvis

    and could you clarify if it’s possible now to record ccs of external synths please?

  • Erik de Vos

    This looks droolworthy!

  • Omar Sanchez

    looks good….. not hating but in my personal case i am mainly an ableton user and balance it with use of maschine mk2 as a hardware controller for live and also use maschine software mostly as vst in live…….. i don’t know that i want to pay $1000 for hardware with no I/O this shall look good when that music money really starts flowing in in better amounts….. for now i’ll stick to what i have currently and will upgrade the software (which looks banoodles!) at some point…… not november the 1st neither. but thingie does look all kinds of sexy

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Yeah, and actually as I say, that’s exactly what I’d advise. I think you’ll still get a lot out of the mk1 and mk2 hardware with the software update.

  • Theinvis

    what about PDC ?

  • iam3x

    so im guessing this maschine wont be usb powered?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Nope. See answer above.

  • Jon

    Looking at the direction their going, it won’t be long before they actually realase a proper DAW !

  • http://www.markmoshermusic.com Mark Mosher

    Hey Peter. Great article. Did you notice if there were holes on the leading front edge so you could mount this on the existing snare stand adapter? I realize it would hang over on the edges but it seems like it would still work on the stand.

    • http://www.markmoshermusic.com Mark Mosher

      Oh also, any sign of per-defined or user scales?

  • http://www.markmoshermusic.com Mark Mosher

    I assuming 2.0 it will open Maschine 1.x projects – but wanted to ask about that as well. Did they mention this?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Yes, both iMaschine and existing Maschine projects are compatible.

  • hoewner

    Just excited about it. Will there be a reduced price for owners of Maschine 1.x, who want to just upgrade their hardware to Studio plus pay the 99 € for the software update? (Know what I mean?)

  • Markus

    Still without audio tracks, right?
    Just like Reason was until some versions ago, and I think that doesn’t help much when it comes to recording vocals and stuff. It limits things a lot. Using audio only in samplers is a struggle.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Right, but think what audio tracks need. Think about comping, about linear arrangement.

      If you’re trying to record vocals, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t just host Maschine in another DAW and use the two side by side.

      So, no, not quite like Reason. I think it makes more sense to embed Maschine in a host than Reason, since Reason was really designed more as a standalone tool (even taking into account ReWire support). And Maschine has a workflow that really suggests it *should* be limited to sampling.

    • michael

      I do agree with this point, but a hybrid aproach, where starting playback in the middle of a midi-note (driving the sampler) would play the sample in the middle… that could be very powerful. If this would enable audible scrubbing as well, that could be a great feature for performance!
      And even before these features, just a way to see the waveform displayed inside of the sequencer lanes would be helpful.

  • squaretooth

    @peterkirn:disqus “there’s still no built-in time stretching in the sampler (odd, given NI’s granular chops)”

    Maschine’s sampler has had built-in timestrech since 1.8. Did you miss that or are you talking about realtime timestretch?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Correct, I should have said “real-time.” Edited. No, I didn’t miss this, but I think in a digital, computer-based system from one of the companies that pioneered granular-based time stretching as it’s popularly used now, it’s a fair complaint. Having to rely only on the effect module alone I think isn’t enough – not with other tools capable of doing this.

      Actually, hopefully the optimizations of the engine would now open this up, as it means Maschine isn’t straining under normal tasks. 2.1?

    • squaretooth

      Yeah, NI did boast about realtime timestretch already being on their roadmap a while ago so I’ve been really looking forward to see how they implement it especially in comparison to Ableton Live’s elastique audio warping. I’m sure this complete rewrite for 2.0 including multicore support was a necessary step to lay the foundation for it.

  • stephan

    Wow. I just really got into my MK1 this year – so happy right now! Will upgrade to 2.0 and then to the Studio. Great job NI!

  • Ezmyrelda

    I think the lack of Audio interface is welcome. Like you said, you have a lot of interfaces already and I think that most people if they are into production will pick an audio interface first as one of the most basic “really important things” for producing.. Things like this are purpose built. Like the APC40 it’s meant to take control input and as such I think output for devices like these should be left to other audio i/o devices.. It would allow people simple logical choices like.. “Do I want to use an apogee duo for this gig or is this more of a Z2 shindig?”

    While it is nice to have a few devices on the market that serve all purposes.. I think those should be left to hardware devices that are more like instruments where it makes sense for it to have i/o for both audio and midi and possibly cv.

    Blue skying things.. I could see The maschine 2, an Akai apc 40, and a push being a dream studio control setup.. with an appropriate sound card for pushing the samples of course.

    Performance wise, I can see the same setup still being fun but I might also pair it with a Z2 and the Traktor supplamental controllers (F1/X1)

    Anyway, I’m hooked.. The dual color screens and sample precise selection view alone makes it the drum/percussion tool I want as a centerpiece. Take my Money Indeed.

    • heinrichz

      Absolutely agree, pros will prefer high quality standalone converters. Better to keep the price point lower and the unit lighter.

  • Derp

    NEW DRUMSYNTHS?!

  • Rick Nuthman

    OMG really? I waited all this time to buy a maschine mk2, and like 2 months later they release this.

    • White Wulfe

      Maschine mk II has been out for around a year now.

    • Rick Nuthman

      ah crap.. I guess I’ve had it for about a year now.. Been so busy that I didn’t notice. wow time flies

  • Bly

    looks great!

    This might be a niche requirement, but I wish Maschine could host VST MIDI effects (looking at you numerology)

    • Ashley Scott

      no it’s not a niche requirement! it would be an actual competitor to the crappy vendor lock-in that was forced on us long-time Max/MSP users with Max for Live.

  • proben

    Beautiful; thanks for the great writeup! I would have to disagree with the concern about no audio i/o though – if I were to use this I’d want to use my own sound card rather than being stuck with yet another “Audio 8 DJ” style sound card built into their hardware; that’s one of the reasons I don’t like NI’s S4/S2 hardware all that much.

  • Heinrich Zwahlen

    This is a very significant update no doubt, the main thing that’s missing here to make it more DAW like would be the ability to import and play back audio tracks, not as part of a sampler i.e having audioclips in addition to the midi patterns, so we could for instance import an accapella or some other acoustic tracks and work on a remix in the timeline without having to do some slicing or waiting for the initial trigger to come around.
    Any provision of that Peter?

    • mediumsizedrob

      Exactly, maschine would be amazing for remixes if it was easier to sync up vocal stems, I wish they’d figure out a clean way to do this. I know we can open it as a plugin, but I’d rather do everything in maschine until it was time to polish the mix/master.

  • iwaiwa

    – just wondering, has Anyone completed a song in Maschine that is on Beatport or any Charts ? I have Maschine MK2 and like it for what it is. (Of course Mastering would be done else where.) But with all the talk about Maschine, does anyone (of note) really do their music (completely) in Maschine ? (versus a DAW?)

  • Chad Williams

    Hell, the mk2 was just released last year and now this? Wish there was an upgrade discount for the hardware too….. :-/

  • coolout

    Lack of Audio I/O is the biggest sticking point for me. It would have been great to have everything on one USB cable and a headphone jack. My prediction is that Maschine Studio 2 with have a built-in audio interface and the software will include audio tracks with warping. Maschine will become NI’s flagship DAW with various Komplete synths/effects integrated like Reason devices.

  • heinrichz

    An important feature not mentioned here are the multiple outputs we get for Kontakt 5, or did i overlook this ?

  • bigdssf

    Any clue as if it wil be able to run Omnisphere? It can’t as of now because of “cocoa”. Just curious…

  • josué

    when you need to buy new hardware to get full advantage from software that is also re-wirtten from the ground up you can’t call it upgrade. is just a new maschine. big disappointment, NI seems to be worried more about making money (that is not a problem) leaving unfinished developments to bring new products. no more NI.

    • squaretooth

      Huh? You don’t need to buy new hardware to get full advantage of the software. NI has made it explicitly clear that all existing hardware will always remain compatible with all new versions of the software. All original and MK II Maschine and Mikro still work with the same software, as they will with the new 2.0 update. There are obviously differences in workflow between the different versions of the hardware. It would be simply absurd to complain that older hardware can’t behave exactly like the newer more advanced hardware if that’s what you’re suggesting.

    • mediumsizedrob

      reading is FUNdamental.

  • Major Star

    One thing I was seriously hoping for in 2.0 (other than the multi-core which was DESPERATELY needed) was Re-Wire support. I have sounds in my refill library that I would love to utilize with my Maschine, but unless I use a third program like ableton or pro tools, I can’t bring them together live. Sux.

    • musikmachine

      There’s the rewire plugin from energy-xt, the demo works with single instruments.

  • Sina Mailer Daemon Djavadkhani

    Was that a DC Power INput i Saw on the back?? Not usb powered??

    • mcnys

      of course, you can’t power those screens with usb.

  • Kleemensch

    Puh. steep pricing. Are there any infos on educational pricing? when I bought the mk1 at the end of 2008 it was only 350 euros for students… Seems they discontinued their EDU program.

  • Ashley Scott

    all looks great – I’d pay up my 99 euros whatever for all these additions for my Mk1. The drum synth is a nice idea. The big deal for me is what looks like much-improved MIDI to the outside world (maybe even hosting MIDI VSTs).

  • maltepost

    will it be possible to record cc-data from an external controller/keyboard in the machine 2.0-software? and is it possible to automap external-controllers as if you are using the maschine knobs (while using mikro+controller-keyboard)?

    • michael

      This is one of the things I really miss!
      As well as using the macro-knobs on the Maschine (or preferably: my Novation SL, as it has lights around the knobs) for sequencing melodies, rather than the kind of awkward current workflow.

  • eddy chopra

    sooooooooooooo gooooooooooood

  • musikmachine

    Does it have multitimbral routing now? There seem to be a few things missed out but i know it’s early days so just waiting for more info to appear. They seem to have added most of the big features they said they would but left a few out like track mutes and solos, will you give a full breakdown of what they’ve added in the review? Thanks!

    • heinrichz

      not sure about midi in, but Kontakt has multiple outs now!

    • musikmachine

      Really, you can route the outs to the mixer channels in Maschine?!!

  • zayn

    @peterkirn:disqus I’d love to hear more about your Maschine/Live setup. Making the jump from Live or other DAWs to Maschine seems like an expensive gamble, and the two integrated is a lot more appealing.

  • C. Scott

    Do you know if the 2.0 software is capable of sampling in mono? I produce sample-based hip-hop (boom bap, if you must) and having that increased flexibility, particularly when dealing with a sample that has something like a drum break panned hard, would be a godsend to my workflow. At the moment, I use an SP404 to down convert my samples to mono, but I’d love to have the option of taking the left or right side of the stereo image and being able to process that separately like an MPC. That ambiguity aside, the rest of the update looks fantastic and I’ll be saving my pennies to purchase it when it arrives.

    • Edison

      Think you can just select the left or right channel when in the sampling screen… It will be pulling the options from whatever audio interface you use…

  • Geek Model

    How many outputs in new version of software? Still only 16 stereo? Thnx

  • Ukj

    As some starting out making music would this be a starting point, money is not a real problem. I guess should I learn to ride a bike before i get a Harley?

  • Geek Model

    How many outputs in new software? Still 16 Stereo channels only? Thnx

  • John Citizen

    Nice review – could you please comment in some more depth regarding the new arrangment workflow? I always felt arrangement was the real Achilles heel in the Maschine workflow – meaning I’d always bounce to my DAW to arrange.

    Can you please give us the run down on the new arrange process?

  • Hazel Knutty

    This is PHAQED. Another new Maschine… I have the Maschine I and after the update, it has screwed everything up. Now when I hit one pad 2-3 different sounds play instead of the one that is selected…

    • mediumsizedrob

      Have you contacted tech support? I haven’t seen this

  • Sosa

    The greatest trick that native instruments ever pulled was convincing the world it needed another door stop. And just like that it was on the floor…

    Every producer I know who bought machine doesn’t use the hardware.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Huh? Then my questions might be, a) have they learned how to use the hardware, b) why did they buy it? I’m carrying Maschine around in a suitcase as I travel I rely on it so much. I also use it as a controller for other software apart from Maschine. I’ve even built my own maps. So to claim this is some sort of conspiracy, well, uh … No.

      Also, Soze or Sosa? This some sort of baseball Hollywood mash up now?

    • mcnys

      how do you carry your maschine in your bag(maybe some soft small bag for maschine?)? i was always a little bit scared that knobs might break(thou they are sturdy…still kinda scared :) )

    • mcnys

      oh nevermind i saw UDG makes cases for maschine, and other NI hardware :)

    • mediumsizedrob

      Those are some strange cats then. The only reason to use the maschine software over a full fledged DAW is because of how it integrates with the hardware.

  • mediumsizedrob

    What’s the fascination with not “having to” look at the computer monitor? Back in the days of the MPC LCD many people would have killed to be able to work with a computer monitor attached.

    Granted, the little hi-res screens on the Maschine look great, but why would I want to edit samples, work the arrangement, etc on those instead of my 27″ hi-res display which is 2 feet away? No matter how great they look, it’s still not as much screen space and convenience of an actual monitor. If it’s not a standalone device I don’t see the point.

    Either way, I’m still buying one. And I will love the screens.

  • Rod

    Yeah… As if Maschine MK2 didn’t do it already.. THAT piece is the OFFICIAL MPC killa

  • ToR

    This is just amazing. I was just getting ready to buy a Dave Smith Tempest.
    Machine Studio seems like twice more fun at half the price.
    I think it will not only be an MPC killer but it will be a Tempest killer as well.
    (I own MPC5000 and machine mk2 and still mess around with MPC time to time)
    Ableton Push+Machine Studio will be perfect complimenting tools together for playing live.
    Can’t wait.

  • michael

    Here’s hoping they added easy note-length editing through the hardware. Like holding a note and turning the knob, rather than:
    -changing the snap-size
    -deleting the note
    -replacing the note.

  • ewillyp

    so no audio i/o means that i use the laptop/pc as my audio out?

  • chris

    @peterkirn:disqus what would be most important for me: is it finaly possible to record automations ACROSS scenes? i love maschine, and i use it a lot. but what i ever missed was this feature. cause till now, as you now, it was only possible to do automations for 1 scene. if i want automations across several scenes, i have to start on each scene at the point i finished in the other. very annoying thing.
    i mean just like recording a filter automation over the whole lenght of a song (as in most DAWs)… didn`t you miss that? is that possible in 2.0?
    best regards,
    chris
    (sry for my bad english)

  • Ezequiel Blurpenstein

    Looks great! 3 MIDI outs begs the question – how will it integrate with external hardware? Have you tried sequencing a hardware synthesizer with it, for instance?

    • squaretooth

      You can already sequence external hardware with Maschine. What Maschine 2.0 seems to have added is full MIDI CC implementation and as evidenced by Studio’s 3 MIDI outs, access to more than 16 MIDI channels.

    • Ezequiel Blurpenstein

      Yes, exactly. Fuck, this thing looks sweeeeet! I’m getting one for sure. :)

  • OM3N

    at first sight i was wetting my pants over this announcement but after i calmed down and took a moment to look at the pros and cons i have to mention a few points.

    1. its big..i for one have no more room for anything this size, something would have to go.
    2. its $$ not saying it shouldn’t be but just saying dropping a G is a decision that should give one pause when you look at what other toys you can get for that money.
    3. i like a lot of people own a previous version of machine (mk1) so spending 1,000 to get the same software that you can just upgrade to for $99 is a bit of a tough sell, although those screens are purrty.
    4. the screens. … ok we all work in front of a computer and will still need a computer to run this ..i think that i will still end up looking at my computer screen which provides way more viewing space , this also then brings up the question of redundancy with the screens and what you see on the computer screen.

    those were just a few things that made me pause and take a deep breath and really think about this purchase. Its still so drool worthy …Damn NI!

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  • changeson

    logic pro x has retina support.

  • Anders Bech Mellson

    Well turns out it was not retina ready after all…. Bummer :(

  • Foosnark

    I just bought Maschine yesterday. There were no materials for the 2.0 package in the box, and registering the hardware took me to a download page for Maschine 2.0 but didn’t provide me with the serial number to register it. I’ve written to NI support, though it occurs to me maybe the code will show up at the same time my voucher and (superfluous because I have Komplete) Massive license do.

  • rexoul

    maschine 2.0 software works with akai apc40 ?

  • Ehrdo Kaffstein

    from me greet too what is the price ?