The MASCHINE Sampler, the bad, the ugly

I’ve worked over 5 years with this sampler and I think I am at a point where I can judge this product to a fair amount. I didn’t check out every feature it had, but I also wasn’t lazy and didn’t invest any time in learning this hardware.

Time flies by. Sometimes time flies a little to fast by and you think to yourself: “Am I really 5 years older?”

“Did I spend my time wisely?”

Well the answer for me, in that case, is yes and no.

I made some music with it. Not too much, not too little. My personal problem is always that I want to have everything and try out everything then there is a phase right now in my life where I want to dig deeper into Modular Synthesis and music theory, programming and video editing. I started again with LSDJ and got a little frustrated.

I still use the MASCHINE hardware sampler and the software in a stand-alone environment. I know about its basic features.

I know that I am using MKI right now even though there is an MKIII and a Studio version of MASCHINE out there.

At that moment that is enough for me.

Hell… if you’re on a budget you might even cut one corner more and purchase the MASCHINE Mikro for only half the price which has basically the same functions but you have to push more buttons to get to your goal. If you’re a hardcore learner on an island-syndrome autistic level, this might be even your thing. Choosing a not so ideal piece of hardware and pushing its buttons so fast that you might overrun the casual users like me.

It’s basic, but it gets you fast to your goal.

You start the software and off you go. It’s as simple as that. Just press “Play” & “Record” select a Sample / Kit / Loop / Instrument and off you go. In the beginning, you think stuff like: “That is so simple….. how could I enjoy this so much?”

Welp you just do! The pressure sensitive buttons in combination with a simple note repeat function add a lot of value to dynamic parts in your tracks. You simple clone and copy and extend Scens and Patterns and if you’re really good, you got a professional hip hop beat in under 10 minutes. MASCHINE was my first sampler. I heard a lot of positive stuff about the MPC hip hop sampler series, but they also had their disadvantages. Like you had to save samples on a floppy disc or an SD card and plug it into the sampler to start. They also had to be in a special format. You still have that issue with the special format.

Kinda ironic when you think about all the music programs and their sampler functions and how little capability they have when it comes to just simple samples in very well known formats like .FLAC or .WAV or .MP3, .AAC, M4A….

Makes you sometimes wonder. But this is a general problem in the music software industry in general and a subject for another time…

NATIVES INSTRUMENTS - MASCHINE MK II
NATIVES INSTRUMENTS – MASCHINE MK II

Use it in most DAWs:

You don’t have to use it always in its stand-alone mode. No. You’re totally free to add it in your DAW like FL Studio or Cubase. The disadvantage here is that with every new MASCHINE version and every new Cubase, Ableton, FL Studio or Reason version it gets more and more and more complicated to direct your MASCHINE hardware in proper order to start your personal jam session. Sometimes you’re lucky and somebody uploaded a useful tutorial to the subject you have and it fixes your request. In other cases, you must be some kind of 3rd level quantum mechanics mathematician to understand the routings that each program has to get and give and how to direct what to do where when. This can be the most frustrating part for you and it might leave you unsatisfied. You just wanted to start producing, recording and mixing some concepts. Nothing more. Instead, you got an inner look on how to build a whole church by starting all alone brick after brick. This is really hardcore-nerd stuff.

 

“What about other samplers?”

Samplers need to be intuitive and you should be able to craft loops together spontaneously. Simple as complex.

If this criterion doesn’t apply with a sampler that you don’t have, you should consider buying a new one and selling

the old one. Remember always the physical laws of entropy. Everything that you bought new and sell as used will have

less value. There is that factor. Then there is the thing about the software that I MUST use in order to use the sampler.

The pro is that I can quickly arrange from my laptop or PC new sounds and samples and I got 2 displays to edit my song.

The con is an extra device. An extra device that might fail any minute, an extra device that cost me extra money.

In a case like mine, it is necessary for me to work with my PC. Some other people try to build a musical set up by

purchasing musical gear and connecting everything with each other fitting piece in order to avoid a PC at all cost.

Be it a funny project or a serious endeavor, you decide in the end. In my case, it is easily applicable. Plus nowadays a good laptop for 200€ isn’t a too heavy purchase. You’ll survive it.

Are you coming from a different hardware/software background?

Maybe you’ve avoided NATIVE INSTRUMENTS all your life to focus on freeware programs. I always feel the need to improve something in every song. An exported song is not a finished song. No matter what you do. You always have your consciousness nagging about how the song could’ve been improved and what not. This feeling gets sometimes too strong in the MASCHINE songs that I did. You are always free and able to export certain loops or parts or only special groups and you’re able to edit them afterward in any DAW you like.

 

In the end

You’re left with a solid sampler that lasts for some years if you use it properly. Even as a non-musician you can direct the color pads to a certain color and you got a nice piece of music gear as an optical appetizer. Some people buy a lot of books without ever reading one.

I am joking of course. As many of these reviews, I will mainly focus on my own gear and hardware and tell you why I suggest it. So far I only screwed up one order. All the other stuff is quite helpful for my learning process though and that is why I am so positive at the moment. We will get to the point where I am going to mention a lot of bad stuff as well, but till then I have to write about my other stuff.

I wish I had started describing on a textual level what I feel about my gear earlier. Everything would’ve been more organized and less pressured, but that’s life right?

See you soon again.

Why I enjoy having the Yamaha PSR-S710.

Today I want to talk with all y’all folks about my Yamaha PSR-S710. As usual, it is advised to use a keyboard

of such a size (100,3 cm width times 14,8 cm height and 43,3 cm of length) with a keyboard stand (weight is approximately around 12 kg).

I didn’t choose the Yamaha PSR-S710 out of the blue. I am participating on keyboard lessons. I have to pay around 66€ per month for 2 hours of keyboard lessons per month. In this educational facility or private music school, whatever you might call it, I got introduced into this keyboard.

Which makes kinda sense, since I choose to learn to play keyboard and if I got good, I’d progress with Piano and then guitar, or something like that was the plan. Welp… 4 years of music theory were crammed into my brain. I feel more stupid than before, since I know with every lesson what I don’t know and what I need to learn in order to understand musical theory as a whole. Let’s get back to my story. I started 4 years ago with this keyboard at school.

So in the keyboard lessons I learned to play with the Yamaha PSR-S710 and in my spare time I practiced with the M-AUDIO KEYSTATION 88ES. After 3,5 years I finally decided to switch keyboard. Here are the reasons why:

– It felt like the Keystation 88ES had smaller widths, which wasn’t bad for recording, but bad for practicing. Imagine you practiced every 3 days a song to play in front of your music teacher every 2 weeks, just so you realize that the Yamaha PSR-S710 had more widthe keys and the size of the S710s felt more normal.

– After 6 years of usage, the color of the white plastic keys stained from pure white to chain-smoker yellow. I suppose every piece of plastic all around us becomes those stains because of the sun itself…?

– The Keystation 88es was purely 100% a MIDI keyboard. It was not “self-sufficient”. It always ran only with a computer. Be it a Mac, a PC or a Raspberry Pi, you always needed an external source for your sounds. The Yamaha PSR-S710 had built in presets, options, effects and styles that I wanted to check out.

A very complex menu that I won’t be able to understand in the near future (which I like, since I enjoy the challenge =) ). The Keystation 88es was very basic at this.

– You can use the S710 as well as a MIDI device or even plug-in an USB stick to record a song to it.

– The new-comer price of the S710 was around 1,000.00,-$ USD. Now it’s somewhere around 500.00$. Which is a fair price for such a complex “entertainment keyboard”.

– The keyboard speakers are also quite good. I’d almost say that I enjoyed more the sound of the S710 than my classic PC speakers. Which makes sense, since I only spend around 50€ for my speakers.This undermines of course the fact that I want to become a serious and professional producer. A lot of producers have those high-end pricey monitor speakers, but I spent my money elsewhere….

 

Musical Electronic Keyboards…

Can contain a multi pad, a pad that allows you to switch between sounds in the genres you’re playing. Music Arrangers can

be helpful if you’re a beginner. These automatic functions allow you to play a chord once with your left hand while you play on with your right hand. The left hand can relax and you can focus on the next chord you want to play.

You know these kinds of keyboards from weddings or other festivals that don’t contain modern EDM or DJs. It’s mainly for single performers as far as I know, but of course there are exceptions where people with entertainment music keyboards play in a band.

 

Just the sounds…

A big plus are the sounds. They sound a little campy and they sound a little realistic. They vary from very strange and synthetic to serious sounding orchestras. You got funky organs and flutes, guitars and you can add simple chorus and reverb effects on it. Remove voices and add voices.

Definitely better than the one keyboard I had before and definitely worse than other keyboards or synthesizers, which is kinda sure. You still get a good keyboard though for that kind of dough. 😉

 

The Keys…

Simple plastic keys. 66 of ’em. The right size. Good for beginners. The keys are not weighted and I gotta say at this point:

Git Gud as a beginner then spend some serious moolah on hardcore synthesizers or keyboards or even serious pianos.

You might even come to a point where you played and played all the time and you feel like you can do all that with your mouse and a simple piano roll.

I’m not here to judge. I prefer to jump between my Yamaha keyboard, my PC keyboard (asdf qwer) and my mouse. It feels proper to switch between all 3 to feel what you’re missing or not missing.

 

Buttons, Features…

You have a demo button. Highly recommended by me. It shows you the voices and possible arrangements and what is theoretically playable with it. The speakers on the keyboard are even better than my PC speakers. XD

You have your music arranger options on the left wing side of the keyboard and the main display in the middle. Choose and switch between sounds, patterns, styles and arrangements on the right side.

It’s a black and white display with a very small resolution. Can’t seem to find any proper info on that… however… it’s enough to read what you’re selecting and what your settings are.

 

 

Hardware / software

You can install USB MIDI drivers on your PC / Mac / Linux, but it’s not a must and from there you can start off with free software or bought DAWs. You can also use it as a single rack. Combine it with a microphone and you can basically start to entertain people where you’re playing.

The Yamaha PSR-S910 has even a vocal recognition algorithm. So the keyboard is always in your key. A nice feature, but I don’t need it. Consider if you really need it.

 

In the end I highly recommend it.

 

I basically start with all my hardware and software and supplies.

From there I want to spread out what interests me.

Of course, you guys could always suggest me new stuff to write on.

 

I highly encourage you to drop me a message, ask for help or if you’ve found errors in my writings.

I want to improve and I want you to improve as a reader.

 

So please let me know in the comments what was good and bad so far.

If you’d like to see me focus in a different approach, or anything that might be healthy for an open-minded

and bright conversation.

 

My own Yamaha PSR-S710