Maschine is a hybrid hardware/software digital audio workstation developed by Native Instruments. Maschine consists of a controller that connects to the included sequencing software, which can be installed on any compatible computer or laptop.
The Maschine controller is designed like a drum machine, similar to products like the Akai MPC. The controller is powered and connected by USB, with each variation featuring 16 pressure sensitive pads and back-lit buttons. The hardware is not limited for sole use with the Maschine software, but is also compatible with Native Instruments' Traktor DJ software, and music production software such as Ableton Live and FL Studio. There are currently 5 different hardware variations:
- Maschine: As the original configuration, Maschine featured 16 pressure sensitive pads, 11 rotary knobs, 2 LCD screens, and 41 buttons. Alongside the USB connection, Maschine also featured a MIDI input and output to connect to compatible gear externally.
- Maschine Mikro: Designed as the budget and portable configuration, Maschine Mikro featured 16 pressure sensitive pads, but only one LCD screen, a single knob, and 28 buttons. Mikro also lacked the built in MIDI connectivity which Maschine possessed.
- Maschine Mk2: The current configuration of Maschine is nearly identical to its predecessor, but features RGB backlighting for all of its button and upgraded pads. As well, 3 knobs related to volume, tempo, and swing were replaced with a single jog wheel, and 6 buttons. The unit also comes in either black or white, and features a removable magnetic top-plate and knobs for further color customization.
- Maschine Mikro Mk2: The current configuration of Maschine Mikro features upgraded pads, and RGB backlighting. The hardware layout is identical to the previous iteration, but comes in black or white.
- Maschine Studio: The most recent configuration of Maschine, Studio is marketed as the premium edition of the hardware. Studio features 16 pressure sensitive pads, RGB backlighting, 9 rotary knobs, 2 color LCD screens, 2 sliders, a jog wheel, and 66 buttons. The controller also features dual MIDI inputs and outputs, 2 foot switch inputs, and an input for a 15v power supply, as USB power is insufficient.
The Maschine software is designed to be used as a standalone production studio, or utilized as a plugin within a digital audio workstation. The software is primarily based on drum sequencing and designed for use with the Maschine line of hardware controllers. Users assign drum kits, instruments and sounds from the included library, to each of the controller's 16 pads, and can manipulate sounds further by applying effects and plugins. The software also includes tools to capture and manipulate audio samples in real time. All functions can be performed without the use of a mouse, and instead directly from the hardware itself. The 2.0 version of the software added multi-core cpu support, a new audio engine, the removal of plugin limits, and other upgrades to UI and audio effects.
Maschine was also ported and simplified into an iOS app called iMaschine. Users use the touch screen to manipulate a virtual recreation of the 16 pads found on the Maschine controller. With the release of iMaschine 2, the app features many of the features found on the full production suite, such as step sequencing, arrangement, and the ability to record and manipulate samples. iMaschine 2 on the iPhone 6 line of phones also utilizes the phone's 3D touch capabilities.
On October 1, 2011, Native Instruments released Maschine Mikro, a budget oriented version of the hardware controller, but with the updated Maschine 1.7 software. That same year iMaschine was also released, an iOS app which brought key features of both the software and hardware components to the mobile platform.
A year later, on October 1, 2012, updated iterations of the controllers, Maschine Mk2 and Maschine Mikro Mk2, were both released alongside Maschine 1.8 software. The software came bundled with a copy of Native Instruments' Massive, a synthesizer plugin.
On September 8, 2016, Maschine Jam was announced and is planned for release on September 29, 2016. It brings grid based sequencing to the Machine workflow much like the Ableton Push controller.
Native Instruments has released several official expansions for the Maschine software's digital library. Each expansion is geared toward a specific genre of music, each containing several different drum kits and instruments for use. The latest expansions also include presets for the Massive and Monark synthesizers, both of which are created and distributed by Native Instruments. As well, many of the expansions have been released for the iMaschine and iMaschine 2 iOS apps, albeit streamlined for use on the mobile platform.
Maschine can easily transform a laptop and some headphones into a professional production suite. By simply touching two buttons at the same time, shift and pad mode, any percussive instrument or synth can be played in a range of specific key signatures. There is also a note repeat.
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