Native Instruments Maschine
Since its release, the Native Instruments (NI) Maschine has become a staple in many hip hop producers’ music production arsenal. The swiss army knife of a drum machine provides beat makers with a simple and intuitive way to improve their beat making workflow. By taking advantage of NI’s 1.7 software update, Maschine users can use VSTs and third party plugins allowing for unlimited beat making possibilities.
When you open the packing for the Maschine, you’ll be greeted with 16 touch sensitive drum pads. If you’ve used any of the hip hop beat machines from Akai’s MPC series, you will find this all too familiar. However, one of the special features the NI maschine offers is that its pads are back lit. This means that any time you select a drum sample for your hip hop beat using the pads, they will light up corresponding with the pad you’ve selected.
In addition, hip hop producers will find:
- 11 rotary encoders for realtime multi-parameter tweaking
- 41 buttons for direct control of all software functions
- Two 64 x 256 pixel backlit displays
- Over 6 gigabytes worth of drums samples and sounds.
- 1 USB port Bus, 1 integrated MIDI I/O interface, 1 Kensington lock
Weighing in at only 4 pounds the Maschine is fairly portable, but if you are in need of something smaller to throw in a backpack, the Maschine Mikro is an alternative solution.
Native Instruments has developed a reputation for creating innovative music software products and the Maschine is no exception. The company made great efforts to completely integrate their beat making software with the hardware. Everything that you can do via the bundled software can be accomplished using the hardware. For hip hop producers, this provides complete flexibility. Traditional drum machine enthusiasts will find comfort in knowing they don’t have to constantly click the mouse to get things done and new age beat makers will find the software straight-forward and simple to navigate.
When you get the Maschine you also get a free copy of Komplete Elements. Komplete Elements is 1,000 + sounds from the Komplete software bundle. This is a nice bonus to add to the 6 GB of sounds you already receive.
Whether you come from a software based music production background using music programs like Pro Tools or you were an MPC die-hard, the Native Instruments Maschine makes your work flow seamless. You can literally create a solid drum groove in a matter of minutes. With the additional effects and use of third party plugins in version 1.7, it will make you think twice before purchasing an MPC again.
Some of the areas where the Maschine doesn’t do well are in regards to its lack of audio ins and outs. Their absence makes it impossible for you to plug your headphones into the device and jam out. If you want to be able to plug your headphones directly into the drum machine, then you may not want to purchase this item. However, the Maschine does allow you to choose the audio interface you integrate with its software. You can plug your headphones into your external audio interface as a solution.
Another area that the Maschine falters is its lack of integration with the popular music program Propellerhead Reason. Hip hop producers using Reason will be disappointed to find that the Maschine is not fully integrated. It also lacks adequate support for Rewire. However, the Maschine can still function as a midi controller to be used with devices like the Kong Drum Designer.
For those debating whether to purchase the Maschine or not, its definitely worth a try for the value provided. The seamless software and hardware integration allow for music beats to just flow. MPC hardware users will find that although they may not get the exact same “sound” of traditional MPC’s, they will notice an improved workflow and access to VSTs and third party plugins from the latest version.