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Groove Maschine

Native Instuments' next generation of groove production studio brings together hardware and software.

The biggest announcement from Native Instruments at the NAMM trade show in January, is without a doubt their groove production studio called Maschine.

It's their first real sequencer, but instead of using just software, Maschine bridges the gap with a traditional hardware interface, inspired by the likes of the Akai MPCs.

Apparently, it can be used entirely on its own to construct your productions, without needing to look at the computer. All sounds are still generated by the computer, but it's likely you'll totally forget that when you work with it. Only use the computer when it's more convenient to use a big screen with a full keyboard and a mouse.

Just like a lot of the beat making workstations, Maschine has 16 trigger pads, which are backlit. This gives feedback on what is being triggered in the software, and acts as a display when using its step sequencer feature.

Two large LCD displays make it possible to scroll through the 5GB library of sounds, effects, and settings that are available. It uses a similar approach to their Kore player so that sounds can be found intuitively according to a process of elimination based on genre, type and so on.

Producers can add their own samples and Maschine makes it easy to find them based on a selection of tags to help you organise them.

The main focus seems to be on making the process as intuitive as possible and retaining that live, human interaction. For example, you can punch some drums on the pads to record a basic beat and quickly quantise it in chunks of 50%, instead of fully locking it to a grid, this keeps your swing, but just makes it progressively tighter.

As we'd expect from NI, there's a stack of sophisticated effects in there, such as Frequency Shifter, FM, Granular and Beat Delay, Multimode Filter, Metaverb, Ice and Reflex to play with.

There's also live sampling and re-sampling capabilities from internal and external sources. Recordings can be modified using the sample/loop editor, and waveforms appear on the LCD display while chopping.

There's a healthy number of knobs to tweak your sound and on-the-fly recording stores automation data, which can easily be edited right in the unit.

In a smart move, NI made the Maschine compatible with all other DAWs (digital audio workstations). It can be loaded up in the likes of Cubase and Logic as a multiple-instrument plugin, spanning across your virtual mixer. And if you want to control other software, the Maschine hardware acts as a Midi controller too.

Price: £599

Out: March

Contact: native-instruments.com