Native Instruments have been changing the face of music production for some years now, and as one of the very first companies to produce synthesisers designed to be run on computers, it is nice to see that they have managed to keep their quality so high — and continue to innovate.
Maschine is a good example of how Native Instruments have applied their German ingenuity to produce a good quality product that gained huge support when it was released.
It still enjoys continued support, with studios across the world producing every genre of music known to human-kind. In fact so successful were they with the design of the original Maschine that they have adopted the adage with Maschine Version 2 — ‘if it is not broke, don’t fix it’. This upgrade, then, is almost identical to its predecessor, on the outside at least.
One very obvious difference to be found on the latest Maschine is the fact that it is now available in white. It looks ever so classy, not to mention downright slick, with its white and aluminium finish.
Not content with offering a choice of white or black, Native Instruments have decided to release a range of pimp packs for Maschine that makes it possible to change the colour of the faceplate and knobs thanks to a removable magnetic faceplate (whether the world is ready for a Pink Maschine or not is a whole other matter entirely).
A slightly more practical accessory that is also available is the Maschine Stand, which fits both versions of the Maschine controllers and is designed for use on stage or in the studio.
The second most obvious improvement to be found on Maschine V2 are the multi-coloured LEDs that backlight the main pads, as well as many of the other buttons on the control surface.
Not only does this make using the interface much more enjoyable, it also adds a high functional level not seen on Maschine before by being able to group sounds and samples by colour. This makes a huge difference when performing live, and this improvement should be received very well indeed by hardcore Maschinists.
Other improvements have been made to the pads to make them more sensitive, responsive and dynamic when being played. In addition to this, the sensitivity of the velocity responsiveness can be tweaked to suit individual playing styles.
If there was one disappointment about the original Maschine, it was the LCD screens. The size as it turned out wasn’t the problem, but the quality was a bit rubbish.
Thankfully, this niggle has been done away with — the new screens are crisp, and the white-on-black colour scheme is very easy to read. The master section has also been redesigned, seeing the introduction of a new large push-button knob that also doubles as a jog wheel. The whole master section is much cleaner and easier to use than the one found on the original version.
The Maschine software has also had an upgrade, with features such as time-stretch and pitch-shifting being added into the mix. Automatic BPM detection aids in stretching samples to the correct length, and BPMs can now be smoothly stretched between two points.
New effects have also found their way into this latest software update. In addition, Transient Master is now included along with new tube and tape saturators to bring out the warmth of sounds and add an analogue feel.
The good news for existing Maschine owners is that the new 1.8 version of the software is available as a free update from the Native Instruments website for all registered users.
To make matters even more interesting, Maschine comes with what Native Instruments call a Massive Bonus! We call it a right result in the form of a free, full version of their fantastic synthesiser, Massive.
Tweaks have also been made to Massive to map controls over its parameters seamlessly to Maschine, making hands-on tweaking possible and opening up a lot more possibilities to get the best out of this hugely popular virtual synth.
To round off the package of sounds and instruments, Komplete elements is also included with Maschine V2 and contains over 1,000 sounds from Native Instruments’ Komplete software, including the vintage Abbey Road drum kit, six Reaktor synthesisers, Vienna Symphonic instruments, and 35 guitar rig amps and effects.
Native Instruments have managed to take a good product and make it better without ruining the original brilliance or adding niggles. The build quality of the hardware controller is better than ever, and the new components all add extra functions and value, especially the coloured LED backlights for the buttons.
Updates made to the software that runs Maschine have been well thought-out, and while not groundbreaking, the inclusion of Massive and Komplete Elements more than makes up for any disappointment in that department.
Maschine V2 works on every level and has ensured that its legendary status in the studio world will remain firmly in place.
|Ease of use||8.0|
|Value for money||8.0|
It would have been nice to see a new Version 2 of the Maschine software rather than the 1.8 update currently shipping with the V2 hardware controller.
|Native Instruments have taken a modern studio classic and — in addition to adding improved components and new features — they have polished the original Maschine design to make it more versatile and mouth-watering than ever.