August 29, 2012

Maschine Mk II- Some Upgrades Are Hard to Fight

So, it’s finally happened. After a little speculation as prices dropped and units ran out of stock all over the place, Maschine has finally seen an upgrade.

Last week, we had Native stop by our offices to talk about this and some other wild surprises en route from everyone’s favorite integrated hardware/software geniuses, and were not let down when we got our hands on the new unit. Yes, I have known the whole time and couldn’t tell you guys, unlike certain leaky brick and mortar retailers… I’m sorry… but I still love you.

So, although I have been tight lipped, I will give you the skinny.

1. Color Led pads:

Remember those awesome pads from the mikro? Remember those awesome pads on the F1? Well, they’ve been combined. Now you have the improved feel of the Mikro and you also have color coding and such at your disposal. Brave new world, eh?

2. Improved buttons:

Seriously, the little things go a long way. If I ever had any real gripes about my beloved Maschine, it was that the buttons often left me wondering if I had pressed anything. No longer must I worry, as the Mk II has a definite click and improved feel upon touch. There’s something reassuring here. Also, the improved trim detail just makes the whole thing look pretty slick.

3. Consolidated controls:

Where once three knobs hung out, controlling tempos and volume and swing, a new, slicker rotary now controls all three. Each independent function now is addressed via a button to the left. If you don’t press the button (drum roll) the rotary is now a scrub. Yes. Yes, this is rad.

4. Massive:

Purchasing Maschine Mk II now means you get a free copy of Massive. Pretty much just blew the power you get right out of the box up a few ranks. Nuff said.

5. Software Improvements:

Just to scratch the surface? Transient master is now a Maschine effect. Wanna drive the session from Maschine while using your favorite DAW? Good, cause you can now. Alongside the inclusion of Massive… well… I think we all know we’re talking about a serious competitive advantage here. The fact is they are giving two of the coolest toys in Komplete out to enhance an already powerful station into a full on synth powerhouse. Of yeah- and time stretching. No big deal…

6. Reversed LCD:

The old dark text on a light screen has been replaced by sexy light text on a dark screen. Honestly, it looks awesome. It even looks cooler when powered off. This is not available on the Mikro version, but the Mikro version does offer the other improvements.

7. Black or White:

Yup. Something happens when modern devices wander into the second age of awesome… Much like Apple, from whom Native seem to take a lot of inspiration, Native have made the move of offering Maschine Mk II and Mikro Mk II in black and white. Yes, in case you are wondering, the white does look very good.

8. Improved Knobs and Custom Colors:

Yep, not only are the knobs feeling pretty great, there are a series of faceplates and matching colored knobs coming that can all be quickly and easily swapped via a simple to use magnet based system. Watched it done in just under two minutes. The faceplates look pretty great too.

My overall impression? I love it and I am frustrated. I like it when an upgrade comes out and I can say “cool, but I don’t need to upgrade” and just watch it grow the community with which I share my favorite tools… but this thing is too slick. I have to have it. My wallet is bracing for the pain. As far as legacy Maschine owners go- we will see all the software improvements, but you only get Massive if you purchase the new hardware… So don’t rule out that purchase (or the smarter one of buying Komplete 8) just yet. We’ll have this worthy upgrade to an established and well loved system in stock ASAP- and you, dear readers, will be the first to know about it. Stay tuned…

There’s more info at the Native site as of right this very second…