After a long summer of anticipation, Native Instruments has announced the long-rumored update to Maschine 1.8, as well as a new series of Maschine and Maschine Mikro controllers, the Maschine Mk2 and Mikro Mk2, featuring a slightly altered body design and heavily upgraded circuitry. The new update includes some major new features, as well as some under- the-hood tweaks and fixes that should make Maschine even more useful and easy to integrate into your production workflow.
Hardware Controller Changes
The new Maschine Mk2 and Maschine Mikro Mk2 controllers have seen a few upgrades and changes. They now come in two colors for one thing, either black or white. NI has also introduced some other options to customize your Maschine including a stand to elevate the Maschine to a more performance-friendly angle, and a series of colored, interchangeable faceplates and knobs for the new controllers. The faceplates come in five different colors, “Dragon Red”, “Solid Gold”, “Smoked Graphite”, “Pink Champagne” and for all of you Zoolander fans out there, “Steel Blue”.
One of the more noticeable changes to the physical design of the new Maschine Mk2 is the large multi-use knob which replaces the “Volume” “Swing” and “Tempo” knobs which appeared in the Master section on the older Maschine controller. Now these functions are selected via dedicated buttons and all controlled by the same knob. Another visible change in the physical controller is the Vegas Mode, and the multi-colored LEDs under the Maschine pads. This may remind you of the Traktor Kontrol F1 pads. Each Sound, Group, Pattern and Scene can now be color-coded to any color in the rainbow, which could make keeping track of which sounds are on which pads much easier. Now your Maschine sets can have a fruit salad color palette to match your Carmen Miranda headdress and pink leotard!
The Maschine Mk2 controller also boasts 47 new click-buttons, more touch sensitivity in the pads and higher -contrast screens with a wider viewing angle. All of these upgrades make the Maschine experience more tactile and intuitive. Another big tweak is the USB port, which has been upgraded to a locking USB 3-compatible port. The locking port should provide a tight attachment, preventing any power loss or disconnection from the software during a performance!
Offline Time Stretching and Pitch Shifting
Since the initial release of Maschine 3 years ago, one of the most-requested features has been time- stretching of samples. Time-stretching is a way to mold a sample, shortening or lengthening it as well as allowing you to retain the original pitch while changing the tempo. Maschine 1.8 now includes “offline” time-stretching, which you may be familiar with if you have ever used dedicated sample editors such as Cool Edit Pro or Peak. The “Free Mode” offline time-stretching method allows the user to set a stretch amount via a percentage. Alternatively, “Beat Mode” offers an easy way to stretch your samples to a specific tempo. This is particularly handy if you want to stretch a loop to a different BPM/tempo for remixing and slicing. Simply select “Stretch” in the sample editor drop-down menu or click the “Stretch“ button on the controller and Maschine 1.8 will present an advanced view of the Time Stretching and Pitch Shifting options.
Transient Master and Saturators
Transient Master is a great tool that Native Instruments has previously released as a component inside Guitar Rig 5 as well as including it in some Kontakt instruments such as Studio Drummer, and now they have included it inside Maschine. Transient Master is designed as a shaper to emphasize or attenuate the transients of your audio material, by manipulating its attack and sustain phases, resulting in harder-hitting drums and fatter mixes. According to NI, “a notable benefit of this processing is that it affects all parts of the signal, whatever their level is. This musical approach retains the natural character of your sound while keeping operation simple and intuitive…” Maschine now includes Transient Master as an effect which you can insert on any Sound, Group or the Master, so you can tweak your drum sounds and samples even more extensively without any destructive editing. Maschine also includes two new Saturator effects, added to the original Maschine Saturator effect as new Modes. The Tape Saturator and the Tube Saturator are designed to add some warmth and grit that one might hear from a tape recording or a tube amplifier, respectively. The Classic Mode in the Saturator is still present as well, so previous sounds and projects will still retain the same characteristics.
Host Transport Control
Another long-awaited feature is Host Transport Control. This allows the Maschine controller to utilize its Play/Stop buttons inside of any host sequencer, such as Ableton Live or Logic. For previous Maschine users, this is a huge feature upgrade. In the past, the controller’s transport controls have been disabled when running Maschine as a plug-in in a DAW as the host application would take over all start and stop functionality. This meant the plug-in user would always have to go back to their keyboard and mouse to play their projects. Now, however, the six transport control buttons on the Maschine hardware can control host transport functions including Play, Stop, Record, Loop and Rewind/Fast Forward. This feature will work in all supported plug-in types and host applications.
A Massive Bonus
Maschine 1.8 also now includes NI’s well-known synthesizer Massive as part of its software bundle, one of the most popular synths in NI’s arsenal of products. Massive has played a significant role in the evolution of electronic dance music since its release in 2006, being used widely in various strains of dubstep and bass music. One commonly-used mid-rangey bass preset from Massive that you may recognize, “Brutal Electro,” can be heard in the official NI promotional video with Jeremy Ellis:
While Massive is useful for sculpting many kinds of sounds, it has become popular largely thanks to its rich bass sounds and flexibility in programming. The infamous “Modern Talking” wavetable in MASSIVE is a standard for designing throaty bass sounds, for example. In addition to Massive, Maschine 1.8 still includes the Komplete Elements package as well, featuring a sampling of sounds and plug-in engines from the Komplete 8 collection.
Maschine 1.8 will provide countless feature updates and workflow tweaks that are intended to make producing easier and faster for users, and best of all the software update is FREE if you already own Maschine, all you need to do is download the update from the NI website when it is released. In addition to the above, there are still more features in the coming update that will be noticeable to regular users, including a panic button to stop all playing samples, a sampling view playhead display, pre-listening and note-and-pattern editing from the hardware, better handling of missing samples and more. With new effects, controls and time-stretching, Native Instruments has responded to many requests from early adopters of the product. The new Mk2 hardware offers increased tactile response and easier controls as well as improved visibility for your productions and performances. Expect a lot more in the coming weeks on Maschine 1.8.