There has been talk of Native Instruments making standalone hardware that runs their expansive catalogue of effects and instruments, It looks like the time has come!
First, let’s get down to the specification and price.
The launch price is a confident £1099 which sits it in the middle of the pricong pack when compared with its competitors in this category, at current prices, the Maschine+ sits comfortably between the AKAI Professional MPC X currently retailing at £1570 and the AKAI Professional MPC LIVE II which currently retails at £1039 you also have the outlier, the AKAI Professional FORCE. Notice a trend here? All competitors seem to be comming from the stables of AKAI Professional.
However we'll let the specs speak for themselves. The Native Instruments Maschine Plus, presents with;
- A Quad-core CPU.
- 4GB DDR3L RAM.
- 2x color displays (480 x 272)
- 32 GB internal flash storage (with OS and factory content.)
- SD card slot with included 64 GB SD card for your own samples (expandable to 1TB).
- WiFi with Ableton Link support.
- USB and dual USB host. For connecting to a computer, there’s a USB B port. There is also an additional two USB A ports – that can be use to connect USB MIDI controllers and devices (in addition to the MIDI in and out Sockets) or external hard drives
- Locking power. There is a twist-to-lock power adapter to help avoid unplugging the device by accident.
- Audio I/O: 2x 1/4″ TRS balanced line outs, 2x 1/4″ balanced line inputs, plus a 1/4″ dynamic mic input and stereo headphone out.
- 44.1kHz / 24-bit audio interface (96kHz/24-bit when connected to a computer).
- Footswitch and MIDI. MIDI in, MIDI out, 1 footswitch.
The new unit provides the Maschine hardware and software/workflow (Maschine Software is supplied for both desktop & standalone). The unit has the same the velocity and pressure-sensitive pads and shares similar colour displays to the Maschine MK3. In fact the the layout of the Maschine only differs slightly to the MK3 and is encased in a lovely aluminum exterior.
A Native Instruments custom built, Linux-powered embedded computer running inside an aluminium Maschine controller shell, that seriously resembles a Maschine MK3 (with additional USB host capability & some other tweaks). The USB A ports mean you can add an external Hard Drive where you can access your projects without having to use a PC. This kind of customisation results in a ‘Maschine’ that allows kits and snapshots you build on your computer to run on the standalone hardware without any computer, the kind of seamlessness that makes the user experience that much more satisfying. On the connections side of things, the unit unfortunately lacks XLR Mic in and phantom power........also, if you hoped for battery powered goodness, no dice, you'll have to opt for the AKAI Professional Live II for that.
Native have included a CPU meter. Through extensive testing, Native Instruments have ensured that you can use instruments and effects to their full capacity on the available hardware and memory. The theory is that one can use the CPU meter and get solid performance and timing, while, when using a PC or Mac, all kinds of other variables can affect the readings and performance gets nonlinear as you start to max out CPU resources.
Its looking like the Maschine+ launch portfolio is a healthy one. Included with the unit is the Maschine+ Selection. This pack is essentially a collection of instruments, effects, and Expansions, including;
- Reaktor Factory Selection
- Kontakt Factory Selection
- Retro Machines
- All the Maschine sample-based instrument slots and capabilities
- All the Maschine effects
- Maschine Bass Synth
- Maschine Drum Synths (all five engines)
With this kind of selection and capability, anything you build or have built in your custom Maschine kits you can use on this standalone unit and you can live sample directly onto the hardware. Various expansions are included; DEEP MATTER, LILAC GLARE, SOLAR BREEZE, TRUE SCHOOL, VELVET LOUNGE, plus vouchers that allow you to choose two more. Native Instruments also see fit to throw in the Raum & Phasis effect for good measure, the amount of choice is truly immense.
Some of the unique standouts on the Maschine+
- You can do everything over the air - Using the built in WiFi, you can update, and download sounds. As if your computer never existed
- Sample right on the hardware - Like AKAI's MPC range, you can sample directly onto the device.
- Play with MIDI hardware - Maschine+ includes out-of-the-box presets for lots of synths, so, without going near your PC, you can plug in a synth and sequence all its parameters right from the Maschine itself.
- Jam with Ableton Link - Syncing up with other devices is made simpler – Ableton Live, Reason, other computers, other Maschine+ boxes, iPad and apps the list goes on.
The Maschine+ really does what it set out to do. Compose electronically with or without a computer.
MASCHINE+ will hit stores on October 1, 2020, and pre-orders are open now.