NI’s iMaschine gets an update — great news for iPad users

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Our friends at Native Instruments are releasing a long-awaited update to mighty Maschine’s iOS counterpart, iMaschine. For those of you not yet familiar with this product: this is a standalone mobile beatmaking app as well as an excellent addition to an existing Maschine setup. Besides a familiar 4×4 pad grid, it features a two-manual keyboard for playing basslines and leads, an internal sampler allowing you to capture sounds from the built-in microphone on your iOS device, an internal mixer with 2 effect sends and a smart sequencer to tie it all together. It’s an excellent sketch pad for capturing musical ideas on the go – you can upload your projects directly to Soundcloud as well as export them to Maschine for further editing.

NI's iMaschine gets an update — great news for iPad users

The new version brings a couple of heavily-requested enhancements. Besides a metronome toggle button (finally!), the interface has been reworked: on the iPad, it now allows two-handed operation, combining performance and editing controls on one page. The effects parameters can now be controlled with X/Y pads and the sampler is capable of grabbing material directly from the iTunes library, complete with start/end point editing and a swipe gesture-based undo/redo function. The update is free for existing iMaschine users and includes a new sample library: Quantum Collection.

Here’s what Native Instruments has to say:

Native Instruments releases iMASCHINE update – now also optimized for iPad

Native Instruments’ popular iOS beat sketchpad now optimized for iPad, plus new sounds and features

Berlin, May 22, 2014 – Native Instruments today released an update for iMASCHINE – the acclaimed beat sketchpad for iOS devices. The latest version of the app is optimized for iPad, adapting to its larger screen layout. The update also includes a generous set of new sounds, iTunes sampling, and more. Current owners of iMASCHINE receive the update free. New customers can get iMASCHINE for $4.99 / 4,49 € / £2.99 / ¥500 at the Apple App Store.

iMASCHINE allows users to create music sketches on-the-go with their iPad or iPhone. With an eclectic selection of drums, synths, one-shots, and a built-in audio recorder, it is designed for on-the-go beatmaking. The update features a new user interface and an optimized layout for iPhone 5, iPad and iPad mini. On the iPad, the modified interface allows two-handed operation: editing and performing functions are now on the same window as iMASCHINE’s 16 drum-pads, 2-octave keyboard and the audio-recorder, making its workflow even smoother. Aside from iMASCHINE’s standard library, the update also includes QUANTUM COLLECTION – a brand-new iMASCHINE Expansion featuring a choice selection of sounds from the recently released MASCHINE 2 Library. The new iTunes sampling allows users to capture parts from the music on their iOS device and edit the samples’ start and end points.

Writing and performing with iMASCHINE becomes easier, thanks to a number of helpful workflow enhancements. Intuitive XY performance controls are a new way to perform effects. A swipe redo/undo function is a welcome addition for an even faster workflow. Lastly, this iMASCHINE update adds a metronome on/off switch – a popular request from the iMASCHINE community. Anyone who already owns iMASCHINE gets this entire feature set, including QUANTUM COLLECTION, for free by updating the iMASCHINE app on their iOS device.

Pricing and availability

Current iMASCHINE owners get the update free by updating the iMASCHINE app on their iOS device. New customers can get iMASCHINE for $4.99 / 4,49 € / £2.99 / ¥500 at the Apple App Store.

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Why this iMaschine update is good

Native Instruments’ interface designers again prove that they’re at the top of their game and understand how touch interfaces are supposed to work. Emulating traditional tactile controls and replicating the look of an actual hardware unit makes little sense on a flat control surface – it’s much smarter to take advantage of what you can’t do with faders and knobs and focus on optimizing for the platform instead of wasting valuable screen space on useless things. The Traktor DJ app is excellent in that regard, and this iMaschine update seems like it’s going to be a lot of fun to play around with as well. After all, how often do you catch yourself tapping a beat while listening to music on the go, and then proceed to forget the idea when you get home? This thing just hits the nail on the head.

NI's iMaschine gets an update — great news for iPad users

Still, people who rely on the iPad platform for their performance may find reasons to complain – such as the lack of MIDI and Audiobus support. To those people, I can only say: please get back to me when multi-touch displays that support velocity and aftertouch are commonplace. Until then, NI already has an “app” that does everything you want: it’s called Maschine and comes with pretty neat controllers that can take a proper beating – unlike an iPad.

Keep in mind, iMaschine isn’t a replacement – if anything, it’s an enhancement. It’s not supposed to be a full-on mobile production app aimed at nerds, and the light-hearted promo video doesn’t even try to convince you otherwise. We see Jamie Lidell performing a simple spontaneous jam with Qkidz, a girls’ dance group from Cincinnati. The focus isn’t on the app at all – it’s about the vibe and having fun, and it’s a promo video done right.

At that price tag, there’s little to complain about – the only thing that comes to mind is that users generally don’t want to pay for the same content twice. A Maschine Expansion should include a voucher for its compact iMaschine equivalent.

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