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Microphone Month

Hands On Review: Native Instruments Maschine

There’s a reason that groove boxes such as the MPC and the SP1200 remain in high demand. They’re the perfect tools for putting together a beat or even constructing an entire song. But wouldn’t it be cool if you could combine what a groove box does with the advantages of a computer? And wouldn’t it be even cooler if you still had the same sort of hands-on control over your grooves and song production when using a software version as you did when using a hardware groove box?

Enter Native Instruments’ Maschine, a combination of groove/song-  production software and an integrated hardware controller that connects to your computer via USB. Maschine offers everything you need for sampling, beat creating, groove work, and even entire song production. It can run standalone or as a plug-in within just about any Mac or a Windows DAW.

Maschine includes more than 6GB of material, plus you can add/create your own sounds, loops, and patterns. And we’re not talking just hip-hop and electronica here. With its acoustic drum sounds, you can use Maschine to easily create drum/rhythm tracks for any style of music. But if you are working in groove-box-friendly genres, Maschine is simply an ideal tool.

The key words in that last paragraph are “easily” and “simply.” With the tight integration of the hardware controller, you barely need to look at the computer screen at all. So, when you’re cranking out grooves, you won’t be distracted by the computer.

A great addition to Maschine is that it can now accept VST and Audio Units plug-ins. You can use either processing plug-ins or virtual instruments. You can apply plug-ins to individual sounds, to loops, to entire parts, or to the overall mix. And here’s a cool bonus: when you run Maschine as a plug-in within a host DAW, you can load plug-ins into the Maschine plug-in. It’s amazingly powerful and flexible.

From capturing sounds to programming beats, from arranging songs to designing intricate grooves, Maschine does the job. Native Instruments did it right with this one.

Mitch Gallagher

About Mitch Gallagher

Sweetwater Editorial Director, Mitch Gallagher, is one of the leading music/pro audio/audio recording authorities in the world. The former senior technical editor of Keyboard magazine and former editor-in-chief of EQ magazine, Gallagher has published thousands of articles, is the author of seven books and one instructional DVD, and appears in well over 500 videos on YouTube. He teaches audio recording and music business at Purdue University/Indiana University, and has appeared at festivals, conventions, and conferences around the world.
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