Of late it seems that not a month goes by without a big announcement coming from Native Instruments’ Berlin headquarters that promises to change the way we do our thing behind the decks and in the studio. This month is no exception, with some rather large news indeed.
This big news is the release of Maschine Studio, which promises to not only change the way a lot of people make music, but also completes the Maschine product range which has now become the “Maschine Family”.
This may sound like marketing hype but there is more here than first meets the eye, as we shall discuss later. And if that wasn’t enough to keep NI fans happy, then the news of the release of version two Maschine software should keep them in a state of nirvana for some time to come.
Native Instruments have marketed Maschine Studio as a groove production workstation, but that description does not do this workstation justice, as the Maschine we all know and love has been transformed into a full-blown DAW-style production centre. While this new controller has the familiar Maschine layout and styling, it has grown both in size and in terms of the features on offer. The most obvious of these are two large colour LCD screens, VU meters and a revised editing and browsing section complete with full-sized jog-wheel.
The LCD screens are absolutely gorgeous. With vivid colours and ultra-sharp resolution, they really do revolutionise the workflow. With most parameters and settings available on the control surface the amount of time spent staring at a computer screen is dramatically cut down.
While the Maschine Studio’s pads are identical to the Maschine MK2, they are close to perfect as they are. What has changed is the browsing and editing section which benefits immensely from the improved layout and extra-large jog-wheel. Maschine Studio has a lot more going on round the back, where a total of three MIDI outs, one MIDI input, two foot pedal inputs and a USB connection can be found. Another nice touch can be found underneath the Maschine Studio, where two feet can be extended to angle the control surface without the need for an additional stand.
The news of Version 2 Maschine software is every bit as exciting as the Maschine Studio hardware, thanks to the many innovations and new features to be found. The software has been completely rewritten from the ground up, including a new audio engine which means faster load times, the availability of side-chaining, more simultaneous instances of VSTs running, as well as a tasty new routing system. Also new to Maschine 2.0 software is a dedicated mixer page which makes full use of the 16 outputs available, with volume, pan, solo and mute settings all up for some tweaker action. For Machine Studio owners, the levels and settings can all be seen on those lovely LCD screens.
With this new code base and features, NI have taken Maschine one step closer to being a full-blown DAW system without alienating existing Cubase and Logic users, as the software can be used in stand-alone mode or as a plug-in within a DAW, giving the ultimate in flexibility.
Existing Maschine users should not feel left out, as the Maschine 2.0 software will be available for use with the original Maschine and Maschine Mikro controllers. However, the upgrade fee of 99 Euros has got the internet buzzing, with some users feeling angry at the cost. However, given the fact that the software has been completely rewritten and includes some killer new features, this point of view could be seen as more than a little harsh.
The new Maschine 2.0 software is a fantastic leap forward for Native Instruments and the Maschine Studio controller makes full use of the new features on offer, making it a force to be reckoned with. While the size of Maschine Studio makes it less portable for some, the Maschine family aspect comes into play with the original Maschine or Mikro controllers being perfect for life on the road, while their larger sibling resides in the studio full-time.
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