MASCHINE is both an instrument and controller that is made by Native Instruments, the maker of the KOMPLETE 8 Ultimate. It combines 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 as well as additional custom accessories you can get to spice up your MK2. Throughout there may be some crossover.
First, what is MASCHINE? MASCHINE is controller hardware and computer software that work 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.
The MK2 is a groove box and sequencer that has been updated to provide for a very a much more 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 MK2 hardware is the same size as the MK1 and sits at 12.5 x11.5 and 2.4 inches tall and weighs in at 4 lbs. It has 2 displays, 16 color illuminated pads with velocity and aftertouch. There is a master push encoder and 8 rotary encoders with higher-than-MIDI-resolution for true analog feel and real-time multi-parameter tweaking as well as 47 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.
The MK2 is organized into five main areas. At the top is the Control Section. This provides access to all sound, group, and master parameters. New to the MK2 are the two 64 x 256 pixel back lit, high contrast displays with wide viewing angle give you visual feedback on the state of MASCHINE. You can find the information you need even in the darkest environment.