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.

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