domenica 10 febbraio 2013

Native Instruments Maschine MK2 review

Ok, I finally got the new Native Instruments Maschine MK2. It looks like the next big thing outta here, lot of endorsements and cool videos on the web about this software/hardware combo, but what's new in it? Is it that big deal? Let's dig it!

I formerly owned one Akai MPC2000XL and one Akai MPC1000, and I still own one Akai Z4. So I am very well acquainted with old generation samplers, drum machines and step sequencers. I wondered what's really new in Maschine, and I have to admit that the most part of it it's just a copy of the MPC series architecture and workflow. The pad sensivity on Maschine controller is simply amazing, and with the MK2 version the user can freely configurate pads' colors, just to visualize the content of each pad.
One thing I really like about Maschine is that you can use it in standalone mode, or you can open it in another sequencer/DAW (ProTools, Logic, Live!) and get it running within your favourite DAW.
This is really the final solution in the studio and on a liveset, very fast and very easy to use and program.

To keep it simple, let's see what I like and dislike:

  1. Pad sensivity is amazing.
  2. The sw runs very well on Mac and Mountain Lion. The workflow is simple and steady.
  3. You can export every single sample/loop/phrase in .WAV, and then import files in your DAW. Altough, you can just export stereo files. Mono option is missing here.
  4. The controller is very well constructed and solid, the native mapping is very cool. After two days of learning, I just started having fun with it. This is a cool learning curve, right?
  5. In a couple of hours you can come out with cool beats, efx, loops or whatever. Easy to use, to program and to understand.
  6. You got 8 groups. Each group contains 16 sounds. Quite simple, isn't it?
  7. The sound library is veeeery cool!
  8. The manual is very understandable and easy to use (just english, tho).
  9. It's an unvaluable tool for composing/arranging/playing live.
  10. I love the "swing" section. You can work on a master swing on the whole track, or you can assign different swing values to every single pattern. You can come out with bullshit, but also with very interesting and creative sound textures.
  11. Sync'ing with another sw (let's say Ableton Live! 8 or Traktor PRO 2.6) within one laptop it's very easy. I also sync'ed it with another laptop running Traktor Scratch PRO, via MIDI cable and Midi Clock. Just look on youtube, it's plenty of tutorials.
  12. You can also use Maschine as a step sequencer, and I really love this old fashioned feature.
  1. The MIDI implementation is ridicolous. If you use the hardware in controller mode, you can remap all the buttons/knobs to your personal taste (so you cannot control Maschine software in controller mode). But if you are using the hardware to control the Maschine sw, then you cannot send ANY Midi Message from the Midi OUT: It means that if you want to control the software and in the same time send MIDI messages to another device, well - FORGET IT!
  2. You just have 8 assignable parameters controlled by 8 knobs per group. I really miss a master section with all the efx and filters. Switching from one group controls to another (Macros) is quite messy, so you WILL need an external controller in order to control all the parameters you want (8x8= 64 parameters in a row)..
  3. The sampler editing section is very poor. If you are looking for ping-pong loops, or reverse loops (like in those old time samplers), or wanna pitch the loop or assign a pitch envelope or a LP/HP envelope to the loop, again: FORGET IT!
  4. Ok, we got 8 groups, each group contains 16 sounds (pads). But why I do not have the chance to switch the page and get more sounds in the group? I mean, it would be cool to have 32 or 64 sounds for every group. This is a sw limitation, I hope that developers at NI will give their help to get it bigger in the next updates!

That's it! Hope you will find my review useful. If you have any question, please don't hesitate to ask!

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