MASCHINE STUDIO is the flagship music production system for tactile, creative beatmaking with an acclaimed sound library. The first Maschine made its debut in 2009. Consisting in a controller and an associated software application, it intended to provide mouse and screen fans the workflow of an MPC-type device, while providing the processing power of a computer to MPC hardliners.
And now, Maschine Studio and Maschine 2.0 are the latest hardware and software iterations of Native Instruments’ famous ‘Groove Production Studio’ combo. While Maschine Studio now sits at the top of the controller lineup, the Maschine 2.0 software works with the entire range: Maschine, Maschine Mk II, Maschine Mikro and Maschine Studio. Maschine 2.0 is a complete rewrite of the software, introducing a fresh, clean new look, a new audio engine with multicore support and plenty of workflow enhancements and new toys. The multicore support certainly hits the spot: a project pushing the CPU meter into the red on i7 iMac in Maschine 1.8 barely tickled 40% in Maschine 2.0.
This 2.0 version of Maschine allows an unlimited number of groups to be created. With these groups you create musical sequences called Patterns, which are themselves organized in Scenes. When it comes to the numbers, “unlimited” appears to be the new watchword, applying to Groups (used to be limited to eight), Scenes (64) and plugins (four per Group, three per Sound). That’ll be enough to get many upgrading on its own, as will the new Arranger view, which displays Scenes on a standard bars and beats timeline rather than the abstract fixed-length blocks of old. It also brings with it a Follow mode and the ability to freely set the loop range.
image source native-instruments.com
The Maschine Studio controller builds off the massive improvements made to the Maschine MkII controller to become the dedicated producer’s top-shelf hardware option. Two beautiful high-resolution color displays stand out the most, and they are the heart of what makes Maschine Studio the closest thing you’ll find to a single-box production machine while still needing a computer to operate. The displays can show you truncated versions of almost everything shown in the software, as well as work as a supplementary display for the software. The controller is the biggest in the Maschine series: 17″ long, 13.8″ wide and 2.3″ high. The height is doubled if you use the retractable feet to tilt it.
On the back panel, two footswitch jacks, a USB port, four MIDI ports help you expand your setup, and a power connector. The USB port isn’t enough to supply the Maschine Studio with power anymore, which you can blame partly on the two multicolor displays the size of an iPhone 3G each. They are not touch screens, as usual in the Maschine series, the controls are placed around the displays, with push buttons above and rotary knobs below the displays, all of which are assigned different functions depending on what you are doing at the moment.
Maschine 2.0’s Mixer, gives a traditional mixer-style overview and control of your Group, Sound and Master levels and panning, as well as routing of MIDI and audio within Maschine. The full range of Sound and Group setup functions are accessible in the Mixer, including colouring, renaming and plugin loading, and with the Plug-in Strip below it, it has all mix- related bases covered, despite the vast empty space that could drown those who invested in large monitors.
To switch to Mixer view you must use the Shift + Navigate buttons on the Maschine Studio controller or, within the software, use the View menu or the Tab key. Users of Ableton Live will feel at home, however, this key is disabled when Maschine is used as a plug-in. In Mixer view, the computer screen is divided into two parts: a stylized mixing console on top with a channel per group (or sound, as we will see) and, at the bottom, a detailed display of the plug-ins on each group, called Plug-In Strip.
The mixing console can be reduced and you can activate, at will, the display of audio inputs/outputs, MIDI, names of plug-ins loaded, and aux management. The mixing console also allows you to manage the new Cue output of Maschine. Remember that the gain of each of the four virtual inputs and outputs (Master, Group Currently Selected, Sound Currently Selected, and Cue) can be directly controlled with the big knob on the controller’s top right corner. The mixing console can be reduced and you can activate, at will, the display of audio inputs/outputs, MIDI, names of plug-ins loaded, and aux management.
An interesting Mixer feature for live performers is the new Cue bus, which enables any Sound or Group to be taken out of the mix and routed to the dedicated output of your choice – ie, your headphones – by clicking a button on its channel strip. Remember that the gain of each of the four virtual inputs and outputs (Master, Group Currently Selected, Sound Currently Selected, and Cue) can be directly controlled with the big knob on the controller’s top right corner. It works exactly as advertised, although to get to the Cue On/Off function on your Maschine controller, you have to navigate to the Sound or Group’s Output properties page and turn a knob. Not quite the DJ-style push-button setup we hoped for, and perhaps it can be moved to a Shift-button operation at some point. Other sources the Cue bus can receive are the metronome and sample pre- listening in the Browser/Sample Editor.
The mixing console has two display modes: one for Groups and one for the Sounds contained in the Groups. You can display either the Group or Sound channels, which is an excellent thing and makes mixing Sounds easier. However, it’s a pity that this transition between Group and Sound mixer modes can only be done within the software and not from the controller. That’s one of the only actions that can’t be done via the controller, which ought to give you a good idea of the possibilities it offers, and the frustration you feel when you face such minor details.
The other great novelty announced by Native Instruments is the Drum Synth. These are a collection of five dedicated drum and percussion synth plugins (Kick, Snare, Hi-Hat, Tom and Percussion) that draw on a range of sound generation techniques (virtual analogue, physical modeling, etc). These plug-ins are structured in the same way, more or less, namely with a synthesis engine and different effects. That said, each plug-in offers the possibility to choose different engines, each of which has its own set of specific effect parameters. For example, the Kick Drumsynth has eight engines, including Sub, Tronic and Maple – a massive 808-style analogue tone, a punchy 909 and a warm acoustic emulation – with Sub’s adjustable parameters centring on pitchbend and distortion, and Maple having Skin Tune and room ambience.
So, for the Kick, you have the following engines: For the big electronic bass drums, you have Sub for sub lows and Tronic, which produces a sound richer in harmonics. For acoustic bass drums, Dusty offers a rather deep sound, Rasper is more crunchy, Snappy allows you to play with the position of the virtual mics, Bold emulates a rock-like kick, Maple a more jazzy one, and Push offers a double-kick kinda sound.
The Snare synth’s engines are even more varied, from the analogue Volt, through the noisy Pow and Bit, to the acoustic Sharp, Airy, Vintage, Chrome and Iron, and the ever- essential Clap. The trio of Percussion engines take in the astonishingly realistic Kettle and Shaker timpani and shaker emulations, and Fractal, a highly flexible synth that handles everything from cymbals and bells to hand drums and FX with aplomb. Hi-Hats have the following engines: Silver, with a very analog-synthetic sound; Circuit, which produces a robotic sound; and Memory, which is closer to an acoustic sound. The Toms feature Tronic, analog, belonging to the same family as the one on the kicks; Fractal, which allows you to create a wide variety of sounds, ranging from organic to really crazy; and Floor, which emulates acoustic toms. Finally, for Percussion you have Fractal, based on the feedback oscillator bank of the toms Fractal; Kettle, which emulates the kettledrums of an orchestra; and Shaker for all Latin hand percussion sounds, like shakers or maracas.
The second best thing about Drumsynths is how easy they are to use. The best thing about Drumsynths, though, is their sound – they’re immense, really filling the frequency spectrum with colour and energy. The only downer is that you can’t use them outside Maschine – we’d love to see them unleashed as a separate product, not to mention an iOS app, although we won’t be holding our breath.
The Maschine Studio controller, then, is a big, spacious slab of a thing that gives off a profound impression of solidity and quality. Nobly doing itself out of an aftermarket opportunity, NI has built a pair of sturdy fold-away legs into the back that angle it to about 20 degrees or so. Remember that the Maschine Studio has one physical MIDI input and three physical MIDI outputs. The latter will allow you to control external hardware modules (or plug-ins with a standard MIDI interface, The latter will allow you to control external hardware modules (or plug-ins with a standard MIDI interface, although in this case it’s more convenient to use the USB connection). Nevertheless, the connection to the computer is indispensable for one good and simple reason: although Maschine is powered with a dedicated cable, it turns off when you disconnect the USB cable! A pity, in my opinion, especially considering that the Maschine software, by contrast, is not necessary to control an external module or third-party software.
To switch to generic MIDI controller mode you just need to press Shift + Channel. The corresponding CC numbers appear above the rotary knobs and below the push buttons on the top. In addition to this, the left screen displays the pages available for the different knobs and pads, while the right screen displays the note values of the active pad matrix.
The bottom half of the unit is essentially the same as your regular Maschine Mk II, but with all the Shift functions (Quantize, Copy, Paste, Undo, etc) moved out to their own Edit section, and the Master Knob replaced by a 30-step push-button jogwheel with sexy white LED halo. Like the Master knob, the jogwheel is used to shuttle the playhead in the Arranger and make browser selections, but it also has other functionality of its own. In Note Edit mode, it’s used to apply pitchshifting, swing and volume changes to selected notes (with some behavioural quirks that we’re told are being addressed as a high priority), while in Mix mode (see below), it can be used to adjust the volume and pan of the currently selected channel.
Maschine has also a very capable software sampling feature, with which you can record, edit, slice up and map samples all from the Maschine Studio controller. You can record either any of four external inputs (not simultaneously), or internally, using Maschine’s Master out or any Group output as the source. To sample external sources, you’ll need to use an audio interface or your laptop’s internal mic, since Maschine Studio has no audio inputs or a mic. You can also record samples of any length, meaning that you could use Maschine to record full vocal tracks if you really wanted to. After recording, you can edit start and end points, slice the sample and assign slices across the drum pads.
This is the Native Instruments Maschine Studio feature:
- An amazing hybrid music-production system that couples Maschine 2 software with a custom hardware controller
- Runs as a freestanding music system (that hosts VST and AU plug-ins) or as a plug-in in your favorite DAW
- Sequence virtual instruments, create drum grooves, record samples, slice up loops, and more all from one user-friendly environment
- Tag-based visual browser and total integration with Native Instruments Komplete make finding the right sound easy
- Access your whole library of instrument sounds and effects (and tweak them) from the dedicated hardware controller
- Browse presets, select sounds, sample new sounds, and more, without looking at your computer
- 8 mode buttons and 16 ultra-playable multicolor pads offer up direct access to all major functions and play virtual instruments
- Stereo LED metering and volume control let you monitor and adjust your master output, input, group, send, and cue levels
- Classic groovebox features including 16 velocity levels, swing, pad link, note repeat, step sequencer, and vintage MPC 60/SP 1200 sampling emulation
- 8 multicolor buttons provide vital feedback and let you jump between an unlimited number of groups (each with unlimited inserts)
- Complete multi-mode transport section with loop control and shift function lets you keep your hand off the mouse
- Multipurpose jog wheel provides precision editing, scrubbing, browsing, and other useful functions
- Built-in stand lets you change the angle of your controller
- Includes 24 pro-quality effects including EQ, filter, delay, reverb, etc, plus Native Instruments’ Massive, Prism, Scarbee Mark I, and Solid Bus Comp
- Runs as an AAX, VST, or AU plug-in; hosts VST and AU plug-ins
This is a review video Native Instruments Maschine Studio
Native Instruments’ Maschine Studio is the next evolution of a breakthrough hybrid music-production platform that makes creating music fast, intuitive, and totally natural. Maschine Studio provides you with the all-hands control you can only get from hardware plus the phenomenal flexibility of a software environment. As the center of your rig, Maschine Studio lends its amazing nonlinear music- making workflow to your favorite virtual instruments, or you can add it to your favorite DAW or hardware rig as you like. Whether you’re into electronic music production or live performance, you’re going to love working with Native Instruments’ Maschine Studio. This Native Instruments Maschine Studio sale at a price range $999.00