Welcome to the Maschine


If you start to explore the world of music making via computer, you soon come across some regular themes. One is what DAW do I need / what’s the best / what’s right for me? Another is about what sounds to buy, what’s good freeware. These things depend on context. As a novice music maker (composer if you will), I quickly spotted the prevalence of Native Instruments. This led me in a direction I never anticipated…

The World of Native Instruments

I soon spotted the vast wealth of plugins produced by Native Instruments, and the great bundles under the Komplete banner. What could I justify? What could I get some benefit from? Are they really that good? I downloaded all the freebies, but my question was unanswered.

I spotted a Native Instruments Meet-up, and went along hoping to get some insight into the Komplete bundles. First impressions: I was at least twice the age of most people gathered in Reading’s Readipop studios one Sunday, most of whom were DJs, into grime / R&B and many other things I don’t  have any idea about. I decided to give it a go, and was soon fascinated by the world of Maschine and the brightly coloured devices that made it sing. I’m into prog rock and 80s synthpop, and had only just learned there was a thing called synthwave, a category I could identify with and thriving at that. Maschine to me looked like a new way to think about songwriting. I was fascinated, but what next?

The Maschines

There are two obvious choices at the time of writing (November 2018): Machine Mikro Mk3 (£199 list) or Maschine Mk 3 (£479 list). The price is a big factor; if it was a mistake, the Mikro Mk3 was a smaller sunk cost, and still gave me a little bit of the Komplete range. The full-sized Maschine Mk3 is clearly a better bit of kit but were proper screens (versus using the computer screen) and an audio interface enough to swing it for me? The answer was no. I then realised the bundled sound packs were different and the full-sized Maschine has an £133 (list price) of extra samples / loops &c plus a full copy of Komplete Select. The price difference seems lower.

In the end I bought the Mikro Mk 3 and may only get the Komplete update, priced £79. It comes with some extra Maschine samples / projects / stuff and I also have gigabytes of samples from magazine CDs. Not as good, but a way forward, and I am still keen to upgrade to a bigger version of Komplete at some point.

This may all change once I see what’s in any Black Friday sale this year, but until then the Mikro is a brilliant introduction to a different (for me) way of thinking about music, and I’m very happy with it.

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