Maschine Studio: Beat making never looked so good

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As beguiled as I was by the original Maschine, I vowed to never have one in my life because it was a bigger productivity black hole than Candy Crush. But then those bastards at NI had to go and release this particular new lump of beat making digital crack. Maschine Studio is the daddy of NI’s groove making lineup, and aims to destroy beats, and your life with it.

Let’s get into the nitty gritty courtesy of NI’s usual splendid press release:

Native Instruments Announces MASCHINE STUDIO and MASCHINE 2.0 Software

New flagship groove production studio to be released alongside major software revision

Berlin, October 1, 2013 – Native Instruments today announced MASCHINE STUDIO and MASCHINE 2.0 – the new flagship groove production studio and next generation of MASCHINE software. Considerably bigger than the original hardware, MASCHINE STUDIO provides expanded tactile control and new hi-resolution color displays, setting a new precedent in intuitive, hands- on, computer-based beat production. As with the acclaimed MASCHINE and MASCHINE MIKRO, MASCHINE STUDIO is an integrated solution combining the latest software technology with a hardware-based workflow. MASCHINE 2.0 features a host of enhancements – including a new mixer page and dynamic drum synth plug-ins – designed to deliver more power and speed to all three MASCHINE production studios. MASCHINE STUDIO will be available at the NI Online Shop starting November 1, 2013. MASCHINE 2.0 is included with MASCHINE STUDIO and all MASCHINE and MASCHINE MIKRO products shipping on or after November 1, 2013.

Providing complete hardware control over virtually all software functions, MASCHINE STUDIO’s workflow is centered on 16 highly-responsive multi- color backlit pads, a new Edit Section with jog wheel, a Level Section and two hi-resolution color displays – a major hardware advancement. The displays enable producers to focus on MASCHINE’s hardware workflow, providing detailed visual feedback of the software’s powerful features. When editing samples or working in MASCHINE’s clip-based pattern sequencer, the displays show an overview of the full selection on the left screen while the right screen allows for detailed fine-tuning when slicing, editing, and composing. When browsing, the displays provide easy navigation and selection of projects, groups, sounds, instruments, effects, and samples with KOMPLETE Instruments and Effects product icons visible directly from the hardware.

A new Edit Section provides dedicated buttons and a jog wheel with LED indicators for visual feedback and enhanced functionality. The jog wheel allows quick adjustments to volume, tempo, and swing settings, and speeds up browsing and editing. The Level Section provides a convenient volume knob and a multi-purpose meter display for master, group, sound, and cue levels plus monitoring for up to four selectable input sources when a multi- channel audio interface is connected. Dedicated control buttons allow fast switching between MASCHINE STUDIO’s sampler, arranger, mixer, and browser, and provide direct access to channel settings and an all-new plug-in strip. For producers already using external equipment, one MIDI input and three MIDI outputs allow MASCHINE STUDIO to function as a command hub, controlling all equipment from one comprehensive controller. On the underside of the unit, a highly sturdy, built-in collapsible stand provides the optimal angle for working with MASCHINE STUDIO.

MASCHINE 2.0 presents a major revision of Native Instruments’ groove production software, delivering a host of powerful features to MASCHINE STUDIO, and both generations of MASCHINE, and MASCHINE MIKRO. A tag-based attribute browser makes samples and presets easy to find while the new plug-in strip make MASCHINE’s internal plug-ins much more accessible by displaying their individual user interfaces instead of generic buttons and knobs. A brand-new, dedicated mixer page provides detailed level adjustment and flexible routing of MASCHINE 2.0’s aux sends, plug-ins, and unlimited groups and insert effects. A new audio engine with multi-core technology adds sidechaining and allows higher instrument, effect, and plug-in counts, faster load times and more. High-quality 32-bit float internal summing delivers the latest advancements in professional sound quality.

Also new and exclusive to MASCHINE 2.0 are five drum synth plug-ins meticulously developed with Native Instruments’ years of experience in software synthesis. Each instrument caters to a specific drum type, and delivers an easy-to-use interface. The plug-ins are capable of a wide range of sounds – from crisp and digital, to warm and analog, featuring accurate acoustic-sounding drums. Because they are based on synthesis, producers have a refined level of control over the sound of each drum. Not only are these plug-ins fully-adjustable and automatable directly from the MASCHINE hardware, they now add a signature sound aesthetic to the world of MASCHINE.

In addition to hosting any VST or Audio Units plug-in, MASCHINE 2.0 comes with an 8+ GB sound library of professional, production-ready sounds. Also included are full versions of Native Instrument’s acclaimed MASSIVE synthesizer, the unique synthesizer for percussive and mallet sounds PRISM, the powerful compressor SOLID BUS COMP, and the meticulously sampled vintage electric piano SCARBEE MARK I, providing a versatile setup ready for any production task. MASCHINE can be used as a standalone on either MAC or PC systems, but also loads as a VST, Audio Units or AAX plug-in in all major DAWs for seamless integration with existing production environments. MASCHINE 2.0 software features batch export of full songs, groups, and single sounds in lossless WAV or AIFF formats in up to 32- bit/192kHz quality. Import of older MASCHINE projects, iMASCHINE projects, REX files, and MPC programs is also fully supported.

Pricing and availability

MASCHINE STUDIO is available for purchase at retailers worldwide and at the NI Online Shop from November 1, 2013 for $999 / 999 € / ¥ 104,800. MASCHINE 2.0 is included with MASCHINE STUDIO and all MASCHINE and MASCHINE MIKRO products shipping on or after November 1, 2013. Current MASCHINE users can purchase MASCHINE 2.0 on the NI Online Shop from November 1, 2013 for $99 / 99 € / ¥ 9,800. Customers who purchase MASCHINE or MASCHINE MIKRO between October 1, 2013 and November 1, 2013 will receive MASCHINE 1.8 with purchase and a free download for MASCHINE 2.0. They will be able to download the new software on November 1, 2013.

Native Instruments Maschine Studio v2 software (11)

Now I’m a very long way from qualified to make intelligent comment about Maschine, simply because I’ve yet to spend more than an evening with one. And in all honesty, my needs would be perfectly serviced by the Maschine Mikro. But while the hardware looks like pure gear pr0n, it’s the software that is likely to be of interest to most people.

V2 looks to have had a serious feature injection. I remember V1 looking a little barebones, but this is looking like a fully fledged workflow on its own, independently of the hardware. Again, I stress that I’m not expert, and defer to your probable more expert knowledge, but are NI making a serious play for Ableton and Bitwig users? I wonder if the Maschine software might at some point be split off from the hardware and be available on its own? Maschine is after all just a controller — now a very glossy and hi res one, but it has no real brain of its own, but does act as an interface between the software and the outside world.

Native Instruments Maschine Studio v2 software (4)

It does seem that the days of standalone beat making are over. With Akai and NI all being tethered to a computer for the raw grunt, it looks like you’re going to need a sofa rather than an armchair for evening beat making. But it does look like the Maschine trinity is complete, unless they plan to do an MPC Fly style one at some point.

So to recap — Maschine Studio is NI’s largest and most spectacular Maschine to date, and comes in at $999/€999/£829 and will ship with the updated Maschine v2 software.