MOTU’s MachFive sampler, while perhaps not getting the kind of attention rivals from NI and Steinberg have, has had in its history some compelling features. Those features were in a multi-window interface, though, that not all of us loved – while I can’t find the review, I know when I covered it for Keyboard, I praised powerful editing features like the slicer but lamented the UI.

MachFive’s new UI looks radically different. The tabbed layout and modules and preset browsing all recall NI’s products, but there are new twists, too, like slick, readable waveform views, gorgeous EQ visualizations borrowed from MOTU’s DP DAW, and plenty of shiny. The results look far more usable, which means easier access to new sonic capabilities. And that’s good news, because it’s those features where things get interesting. Just a few highlights:

  • Granular stretching and re-pitch sounds, licensed from IRCAM. I’m fairly certain this is the first time I’ve seen the Paris research center as a specific bullet point in product promo, but there are samples that sound terrific.
  • New scripting which MOTU touts for modeling things like strumming and fingering on guitars – and lots of other things, too. New sound content will take advantage of the scripting features. And, oh, yeah, if you’re thinking that scripting is available elsewhere, CDM’s nerdier readers will like this: the scripting engine is now in Lua.
  • Hybrid synth engine covering wavetable, subtractive, and FM synthesis. Earlier today, readers were talking about disappointment that Omnisphere, the massive sample-based synth, lacked samples. Well, here you go – here’s one strong sample/synth hybrid contender. (Omnisphere’s another animal, but that doesn’t make this any less interesting.)
  • Modular effects architecture, convolution reverb mean greater ability to apply effects, from buses to individual oscillators and keygroups.
  • Oberheim-style Xpander filter.
  • Tons of ready-to-use MIDI scripting.
  • Powerful arpeggiator and micro-tuner.

You also get 45 GB of sound content (wowsa), full-screen mode, an updated slicer/looper, and expansion of MachFive’s already-extensive support for third party samples, even including obscure old formats.

I’m intrigued: the intelligent new layer rule interface, the overhauled UI and sound engine, and then extensive micro-tuning and Lua scripting start to make me interested, even with intense competition in this arena. For experimental sound design, there’s some real potential here. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, pictures:


  • Blob

    "Granular stretching and re-pitch sounds, licensed from IRCAM"


    "Hybrid synth engine"





    A very powerful piece of software – maybe too powerful for anything other than studio use? Is there any available data on CPU usage and RAM load, for instance? I suspect that you don't want to risk using this in a live situation unless you have a really powerful PC on stage.

    Other than that, on first view it really looks like Kontakt and Halion now have serious competition. 

  • Already ordered and it is even now winging it's way here via UPS. Only downside is the reliance on the UVI engine. Not that the engine isn't good; Rather MOTU doesn't seem to control the updates and I think that has contributed to the slow update/fix cycle on previous versions.

  • J

    "Granular stretching and re-pitch sounds, licensed from IRCAM. I’m fairly certain this is the first time I’ve seen the Paris research center as a specific bullet point in product promo"

    I think more users know about IRCAM nowadays because of the high-end AU/VST plug-ins they released in collaboration with Flux. So it makes sense to use that brand recognition.

  • Would LOVE a complimentary MOTU hardware component with DSP on board the device for mobile users…a sampler with synthesis? if it's anything like the K2000 VST? I might have to give Mach5v3 a spin.

  • I think this is bordering overkill. I'm not saying it's bad (it's certainly not!), but it left me thinking where do you draw the line between sampler and DAW. They could easily add a full track view as a feature.

  • aje

    Did I hear it mentioned before that Ableton have something in the pipeline with IRCAM too…?

    MachFive 3 looks awesome to me. The iLok may put me off (I dislike dongles for the most part because of driver conflicts I had in the past…) but other than that I'm already sold on this product… awesome stuff!

  • DBM

    Ob xpander filters may have me sold alone ? 

  • Seba

    Another new feature I didn't notice in the article here is comprehensive native sample format support: i.e., no more conversions.

  • Seba

    I've been a die-hard Kontakt user for years, but as I qualify for the competitive upgrade, I'll definitely be getting this: as a Digital Performer user, it's pretty much a no-brainer for me at this point.

  • the feature set looks nice but i the interface looks appalling. though restraint in UI has never been Motu, or really most audio companies strong point. 

  • Peter Kirn

    Well, there's more chrome than I'd like — it's definitely "prettied up" — but that EQ UI I've already used in their DP implementation, as well as other tools that have gone the same direction. It's very functionally useful.

    I just think in terms of layout and organization, it appears pretty clear. Of course, I'm just speculating; I haven't used it yet.

  • yeah, the EQ has always been nice. i just find the interface as a whole way over done, and the choice of the color palette isn't a personal favorite of mine. 

    i suppose it's a matter of personal taste, and this is a visual turd for me 🙂

  • Seba

    For those saying the interface is overdone: you do remember what MachFive looked like before, don't you? This is a massive breath of fresh air compared to the cramped and cluttered MachFive of yesteryear.

  • Seba

    Actually, I think the whole thing looks pretty minimal. It's not exactly Ableton, but then I wouldn't expect MOTU to be (and would want them to try).

  • Seba

    Let's compare. I call this a win:

  • J

    I don't like the GUI either. Not the worst ever, but bad enough to be a deal-breaker. Pre-emptively, I know some people don't find the graphics that important, and think it's ridiculous to only buy software that both sounds *and* looks good.

  • J

    @Seba – they're both pretty terrible. Perhaps the new one is even a little worse. e.g. the colors.

  • s ford

    crikey that looks a powerful sampler! 

    i am a little wary that modern samplers are becoming so powerful that someone like myself spends more time learning to use it and discovering cool features than actually sampling!  

    something i've been trying to do is getting 'rid off' all samples that come with a soft sampler and making my own samples; ie back to basics, really rewarding actually! 

    ah for the old days of a akai hardware sampler, always waiting for discs to load up and staring at a tiny cramped screen…. we've never had it better! 

  • looks great, all in one (sampler, synthesis, mixer & effects). Throw in an ableton like sequencer and that's all i need!

    But for me the workflow is very important, so i'll give it a try if there's a demo version.

    Also another soft sampler that doesn't sample !!!

  • J

    @s ford

    "getting ‘rid off’ all samples that come with a soft sampler and making my own samples; ie back to basics, really rewarding actually!"

    Do you mean like sampling from music, or actually recording sounds?

    I've found it pretty difficult to get good sounds when recording with my iPhone, and to process it to get rid of noise etc. But I agree that it is much more rewarding to make at least a few creative decisions by yourself! Music can be more than a series of clicks through menu options.

  • cool, but look like they just copied Native Instruemtns "Kontakt"? hehe even used the george duke example for pitch. but has some nice features, but hate the ilok! this is not for me, hate that darn ilok! 

  • Dave

    Interesting. A few questions come to mind….

    What types of waveforms are available in the FM module? I'm assuming they are all sine waves.

    Can you load your own waveforms in the wavetable oscillator?

    Does drag and drop work with Cubase 6 on a Mac?

  • dyscode

    Never used Mach5 before due to the inconsistant update policy but for library developers LUA sript might be the killer feature since it´s already a widespread standard.

    Personally I am a follower of Kontakt.

    Xpander Filter: I believe it when I hear it.

    Very few things compare to an Oberheim, and even less to an Xpander.

  • s ford


    I sample a combination of sampling records and things I recorded.  I'm planning to get a portable recorder to collect field recordings at sometime.  I use Kontakt as my weapon of choice, and it's a awesome tool for mangling sounds opposed to just playing back synth samples. 

    There's nothing wrong with having 200gb of samples/kontakt instruments on your hard drive, but I found it terrifying knowing where to start and where to finish, sometimes having fewer parameters is better than loads!  

  • inspiral

    OMG, those samples!