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Native Instruments Maschine+

Standalone Music Production Powerhouse

Perfect Circuit · 10/01/20

Since its initial release, the Native Instruments Maschine became a staple for electronic music production. Inspired by the iconic MPC, Maschine has presented a number of updates to the beat making workflow since day one, and both the hardware and the software components have been steadily evolving and improving with each new version over the past ten years.

One of the most exciting things about the Maschine is the community of artists exploring the creative possibilities that it offers, and who have now spent years mastering it and influencing its development. Among such artists is the beat-maker and talented finger-drummer Danny Asadi, who has carved a unique spot for himself producing and performing trap music with a persian influence. Celebrating the release of the new Maschine+, Asadi stopped by to share what he has been doing with it. While you bathe your ears in the rare mix of setar and beefy 808s, let's dive a little deeper into the world of Maschine+.

Welcome to the Maschine

So what is Maschine, and why should you be excited about the new Maschine+?

From its original release in 2009, the Maschine stood out from other products on the market—it was a dedicated hardware interface for a specialized beatmaking software. In a time when MIDI controllers and DAWs were mostly developed independently from one another, the Maschine provided a seamless fusion between both worlds, providing the flexibility of software with the speed and elegance of a dedicated hardware interface. Native Instruments created Maschine to be a new generation beatmaking station as powerful as a studio production tool as it was for live performance. And Maschine has always felt like a clever amalgamation of a groovebox, a sampler, and a DAW—but what really set it apart was a high-quality collection of sounds and instruments, infinitely expandable through curated sample and preset packs.

Perhaps one of the strongest points of the Maschine has to be given to the hardware itself, which not only is getting closer to the ruggedness of the proverbial tank with each new version, but is also ergonomically designed for a fast, uninterrupted workflow. A pair of high definition screens mimic the dual monitor setup of countless production setups, providing a clear overview of the most important elements at any given moment. The pads on the controller are perhaps some of the most responsive on the market, and they are truly a pleasure to play. High-quality encoders and knobs let the users dial in parameters and settings as precisely as possible. Finally the unique smart strip is a multipurpose performance tool capable of pitch-bending, strumming, controlling effects parameters, and more.

Independence is a Plus

Released in 2017, the Maschine Mk3 seemed to be the culmination of years of development, with the design so finely tuned to the instrument's purpose that it was almost difficult to imagine any more improvements. At this point, Maschine was already more than a MIDI controller for its software, but also a fully-featured audio interface. However, one thing remained unchanged—the instrument's dependence on a computer, which for some musicians had become a major downside. The spirit of the time has changed, and we find ourselves in a world where many musicians actively try to separate their tools for making music from the tool they use for work and studying. Not only that, it is also just plain convenient to carry around a single unit that you can pull out anywhere and start making music without the hassle of a tabletop full of separate gadgets.

With the release of Maschine+, the instrument finally begins a life of its own is undoubtedly exciting for all the fans it gained throughout the years. Maschine+ is the first fully standalone version of the Maschine to date—and this alone is enough of a selling point to attract a completely new audience to the instrument.

The interface of Maschine+ is exactly the same as its predecessor, Maschine Mk3, albeit the housing, knobs, and encoder got a premium upgrade, making the instrument feel even more indestructible. Internally, the Maschine software is handled by the powerful quad-core processor, with 4Gb DDR3L dual-channel RAM, and all the content is stored on a 32Gb built-in flash drive. There is also an additional SD-card slot which allows you to bring in more sounds, instruments, and effects into the world of Maschine+. In terms of I/O, the instrument is equipped with two 1/4" TRS line level inputs, a separate 1/4" dynamic microphone input, 1/4" TRS line level outputs, a headphone output, an footswitch input, 5-pin MIDI I/O, two USB A host slots to connect external controllers to the instrument, and a USB B slot for when (or should I say, "if") you need to connect your Maschine+ to the computer.

Just like every version of the instrument before, Maschine+ comes stuffed with content to get you up and running, making music as soon as you register your unit—only this time you don't need a computer. Besides a gigabytes of quality samples covering a wide spectrum of music genres Maschine+ standalone hosts such iconic NI softsynths as Massive, Monark, FM8, and Reaktor Prism, and more. There are a total of nine instruments and thirty five effects packaged into Maschine+, but the best part is that Native Instruments is planning on adding more packs, instruments, and effects in future updates.

All in all, Maschine+ is a very welcome update to an already powerful platform. To all the producers who already know and love the instrument, this release not only revitalizes a familiar workflow, but also clears up the space to focus on the most important thing: making music. To anyone who has not yet delved into the universe of NI's flagship production station, Maschine+ is an excellent access point.