Reviewed: Maschine Studio & Maschine 2.0
Maschine 2 Software
With hardware covered its time to look at the new Maschine 2.0 software. This is a complete rewrite of the code from scratch, which is refreshing to see.
Too frequently software developers just seem to keep tagging and tweaking new code onto old until they reach a point of unusable, buggy instability so it was a pleasant surprise to see see that Native haven’t reject this approach, especially with the original Maschine software not being particularly old and I’m sure they could of looked down this path but; thankfully they didn’t and in the process we now get the highly needed multi core support that so many Maschine users had been hoping for. I was running mine on a dual I7 15” Macbook pro with heavy Plugin and effects use at some points and never experienced any lag or drop outs and the CPU meter never showed any real stress.
One thing that does strike me here with the new software is that even though not actually marketed as a full DAW (It’s a Groove production Studio) is the question of how far away are the geeks at Native from actually making the leap and producing one? Having used Logic X (Apple please take note of above rewrite comments), Studio One and Ableton going over to the Maschine software it appears they are pretty much there – It has full plug in support, audio editing and midi flexibility so it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if we did see a full Native instruments production suite in the near future; and why not? I can’t think of someone better to do so, we will just have to wait and see!
Jumping straight in there’s a lot of new stuff here all laid out with a nice new flat looking GUI which stays true to a lot of the previous versions workflow, but at the same time it offers a much better overall viewer/user experience with a much more thought out browser display and mixer section and great visual representation of the particular mode you have the Maschine unit in, whether it be working and editing audio or working with plug ins or the newly added Drum Synth, the whole GUI has been cleverly redesigned to give great visual representation and feedback of the task in hand.
It’s hard not to really like the new GUI as it’s certainly a massive improvement over the previous one and certainly reconfirms the priority Native have placed on usability and workflow – It’s great having amazing technology that sounds great but so often software is let down by the complexity of its interface leaving you with hours of exploring, reading and learning to get fully to grips with them. Here you can pretty much dive straight in as everything is clearly laid out and pretty much self explanatory making it much easier to get to a handle on and swiftly move up into power user territory. Music is a creative art and I find nothing worse than being inhibited or bogged down in taming technology.
One of the biggest inclusions in the new software is the new Drum Synths section which offers 5 monophonic internal drum plug ins that you can literally shape any percussive sound from. I’ve used plenty of drum synths, both analogue and digital over the years with varying results with some good, most bad but I can honestly say that these sound great. Despite personally believing that the best way to create drum sounds remains sampling actual acoustic drums as you can never truly replicate the real thing these come very close and if its digital drums you are after then you couldn’t really ask for anything better than what’s offered here.
There’s a full break down of what’s on offer here
Another new addition is a switch from the limited Groups function which switches from the previous cap of 8 to unlimited – This is a huge feature for producers as it removes one of the most restrictive elements of the previous software – A group is one whole “batch” of sounds mapped to one instance of the 16 pads so now rather than having a finite pallet to work with you have an unlimited amount – just as it should be.
On top of this the welcome addition (and previously missed) inclusion of side-chain functionality, as something so commonly used now that it was noticeably missing and previously users had to drag all audio from Maschine into logic and then sidechain once exported. Maschine has a great feature that allows you to drag audio/midi directly to your DAW (which I do use as I always finish up in Logic) but its good that I can now do this pre export leaving one less task in Logic, again one extra positive workflow step.
There are a lot of other features and I could go on and on here (as usual) It’s hard with tech reviews to cover everything, and retain interest within a specific amount of words so ill sum up here and then you can make your own mind up !
I cannot rate the whole Maschine range more highly – In a world where these days pretty much all electronic music is made virtually within a host computer, Maschine casts off the sterility of modern working and throws us back to a world where music creation is hands on and expressive, which is how it should be!
The key thing that clearly Native had in mind when they developed the new Maschine Studio and especially the new software is WORKFLOW which they have achieved with stunning results. Think of it this way, if you were painting a picture you wouldn’t want to go to another room every time you wanted another brush or another colour – you would want all of your colours available and within reach and all brushes clean and accessible right beside you so you could get on and do what the whole thing is supposed to be about, creating and painting the picture – these days electronic music creation can so easily become a staggered and inhibited process of trawling settings and drop down menus, mouse clicking and box dragging that the actual element of creativity, freedom and expression is governed and relegated by the main task which is actually instructing the computer.
Maschine Studio and the V2 software throw all of that out of the window with something that extends your creativity and assists it with an almost common sense method of working, I have always said that one of the most important things about electronic music creation is the ability to take the ideas in your head and reproduce them instantly with the tools you have, if you cant do that your overall creativity is inhibited and your potential is being stifled, the new Maschine enable users to do just that, quickly and effectively get on the buttons and get creative!
Yes it’s still not perfect (but nothing ever is) but all I would say is try one! Whether it be Mikro, Maschine or Maschine Studio – I’m certainly not here to endorse Native, it means nothing to me if you buy one or not, but I will always endorse things that have a positive effect on making music and this is something Machine does very well.
The “Studio Version” is a triumph in Music Technology and there’s not a lot here to dislike, and I know mine will be getting a lot of serious use as an integral and central part of my studio set up, if yu are serious about music creation I’d strongly suggest doing the same!
You can view a comparison chart of the full Maschine range here.