MASCHINE, is both an instrument and controller that is made by Native Instruments, the maker of the KOMPLETE 8 Ultimate ensemble of musical instrument plugins and applications. MASCHINEcombines a pattern-based sequencer, professional sampler, multi-effect unit, and VST/AU plug-in host with tactile control. Because this is such a complex system I will break this review down into two parts. Part I will cover the hardware aspect, and part II will cover the software portion though there may be some crossover.
First, what is MASCHINE? MASCHINE is controller hardware and computer software that works together to create music. It can be used live on stage as well as in the studio. It has the qualities of a dedicated instrument, with the advanced editing capability of a software system that can become the creative center of your musical production. You can incorporate it into any Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) that supports VST, AU, or RTAS formats, or use it as a stand-alone unit. You can even use it to control your external MIDI hardware and software.
There are actually three types of MASCHINE. The one I am reviewing is the original and is the granddaddy of them all. There is also MASCHINE MIKRO which is the entry level version with its smaller footprint and is made for those who work primarily in their DAW and are not in need of in-depth hardware tweaking capabilities. And then there is iMASCHINE, a professional beat sketchpad app for your iPhone or iPod touch providing the same workflow as MASCHINE.
MASCHINE, introduced in 2009, creates a new workflow for beat making with integrated hardware and software. It gives you the ability to create tight rhythms, harmonies and melodies. It is a groove box and sequencer that provides for a very intuitive method of creating beats. You can tap freely on to the pads or build your beats using the Step Sequencer as you would in a classic drum machine. Patterns can be combined and rearranged on the fly to form larger patterns, and since it can be integrated with your favorite DAW, whole systems of music can be created easily.
The MASCHINE hardware sits at 12.5 x11.5 and 2.4 inches tall and weighs in at 4 lbs. It has 2 displays, 16 illuminated pads with velocity and aftertouch. There are 11 endless rotary encoders and 41 backlit buttons. It has MIDI in and out and a USB 2.0 interface. It also comes with a 6 GB sounds. For more system information check out the Native Instrument specifications page.