Native Instruments reveals some big news for Maschine that’s … well, smaller. A new package has smaller hardware and lower price, with the same full-sized software. And an iOS version lets you use Maschine on iPad or iPhone.

As their drum machine / drum sampler / groove workstation with plug-in hosting and doubling as plug-in matures, and becomes a focus of NI’s production and performance side, things are starting to heat up. And yes, this news comes just as we learn more about an upcoming analog drum machine. It’s a Labor Day full of drum machines.

Shrunken Maschine: Maschine Mikro is, for me, the best news. It’s cheaper than the full Maschine package. It’s smaller and lighter, with a more compact controller. You might expect NI trimmed down the samples set – nope, it’s the same 6 GB ibrary. Or maybe they added a “lite” version of the software – nope, it’s the same, full Maschine version. And you still get full-sized pads. The Maschine pads are some of my favorite currently on the market – controller or otherwise – so that’s quite nice, indeed. You do sacrifice some hands-on control: the Mikro lacks the big, beautiful screens on the full Maschine, and the additional knobs and triggers. The eight macro knobs on the full Maschine are pretty handy, as are dedicated group buttons.

So, why would I think Mikro’s a good idea? Simple: when you’re on the road, or performing live onstage in cramped spaces, the Mikro looks like a winner, and all with the same software and at a lower price. For studio use, the full Maschine is still your best choice. But I’m personally going to switch out to the Mikro, especially because – like many people, I suspect – it’ll ultimately be combined with another controller in my workflow. You can have a closer look at our two product shots from NI and decide for yourself. (Yes, there’s a Maschine Bag, and yes, I was just talking to King Britt about his on-the-go luggage setup with his Maschine, but I’m still partial to smaller and lighter!)

Finger drumming video: NI has also released a promo vid of finger-drumming virtuoso Jeremy Ellis tearing apart their new hardware. It’s supposed to make you want to buy a Mikro, or something, except it may make you feel somewhat … inadequate … with your own finger drumming, instead.

Really Shrunken Maschine: If the Mikro isn’t small enough – say, you’re on the East Coast “Chinatown” Fung Wah bus and don’t really have room for your knees – NI also has a Maschine coming for iOS in October. It seems eminently practical:

  • four tracks
  • sampling (perhaps the most fun part of having this be mobile)
  • “high-quality” effects (no reason that couldn’t just be ported from desktop)
  • instrument and drum sounds from the standard Maschine library
  • bring back your sketches into the full Maschine and edit them there

I’m only sorry it’s called iMaschine. Oh, well.

Komplete integration: As a footnote to this other news, NI notes that Maschine and Maschine Mikro each now support sound browsing and parameter mapping for instruments and effects in Komplete/Komplete Ultimate – the kind of tactile control originally in Kore, now entirely focused on Maschine.

Bottom line: For lovers of this workstation, it sounds to me like Maschine for iOS on the bus, Maschine software on your MacBook on the plane, Mikro in the hotel room, standard Maschine in the studio.

Maschine product page
Maschine Mikro

  • loving this product concept. i thought the full maschine was a bit overkill for my needs.

    the cool thing about jeremy is that he has a ton of tutorials about his finger drumming technique on his youtube page

    overall though, this kind of ability isn't in reach for anyone who won't put in the time to master that style though. 

  • RichardL

    "the kind of tactile control originally in Kore, now entirely focused on Maschine."

    Fool me once… (?)

  • Yeah, I'm probably not buying anything from NI after the Kore debacle. The only things that might tempt me are Reaktor 6 and the occasional Traktor update. Maschine? I'd check the expiration date. It might be a long way off, but it's there.

  • Peter Kirn

    Fair enough, but don't forget that the hardware itself is a MIDI controller. If it had MIDI DIN on it, it'd really be future-proof.

  • Elliot

    Maschine is $600 ($500 academic price). Mikro is $400 — if students could get it for a $300 edu price it would be an awesome seller.

  • ALTZ

    Sorry NI, you are no longer my cup of tea.

  • I'm actually kind of disappointed that the iMaschine software isn't more robust as I'd wished. I was hoping for a stripped down version of the Maschine software on the iPad. That way I could bring my Maschine controller and just an ipad for a mobile set. Maybe this provides some sort of close hardware integration, but it wasn't mentioned anywhere in the features section if so.

  • Now if NI could push through the Lion updates for Komplete I'd be happy that my money went somewhere useful. 

    I saved $ for the software and was so happy when I finally pushed the download button but neglected to to get re-directed to the page where NI tells you it's not compatible with lion!  You'd think it be a declaimer or something on the main product page for eager consumers like me that didn't do their own pre-investigation. In the end it's my fault but I had to contact customer service and wait for a reply email to show me the linked page on NI website that explains the non-compatibility. NI could've put a little more effort into warning new customers as far as I'm concerned. Lesson learned. Now I'm waiting to use the software……

  • lucas paris

    Just watched their new video on komplete 8 integration :&nbsp ;

    I've been eagerly waiting for this integration to get better control of VST's. but it seems disappointing in this video, they make their entire system of control based on presets, presets, presets… I personally never even instal presets, I try to make every single sound and so I was hoping to be able to work with synthesis from the maschine controller more easily.
    They are mainly targeting the audience of beginners who don't bother with synthesis and just use presets. NI doesn't focus on people who need some essential features like midi VSTs (would love to use numerology AU in maschine), sidechain inputs, good drum synthesis…
    Anyways I'll probably upgrade and see if I get the integration I've wished for.

    {end of frenchman's rant}

  • salamanderanagram

    "Now if NI could push through the Lion updates for Komplete"

    didn't these get released sept 1st?

  • lucas paris

    PS: When do we start our own open source vst groovebox with hardware controller?! ^^

  • Leslie

    Let me guess, there is no native iPad support… πŸ™

  • hmmm

    well it does look better than the Beat Thang

  • From all this I still prefer the talents of Jeremy Ellis … Native Instruments definitely decided to abandon its software at the expense of things like that, regrettable. But it should be said, is that nobody needs them, any controller can be used in the same way, with any other DAW.

    sorry for my english.

  • J

    iMachine could be fun if it's cheap.
    It seems lower specced than e.g. Electrify To Go.

  • Peter Kirn

    Well, another drum machine on iOS isn't news, but I think the ability to take your patterns back to Maschine *and* use Maschine's sounds is the main draw. (As for just MIDI, you can do that with a number of apps, which is cool.)

    For me, no iOS app is really a substitute for my laptop and this little mikro for hands-on control.

  • Lee

    This will sound ridiculous, but I was hoping with the koresounds integration, they would bring a encoders(+display)-only device… take the area from maschine-controller around the display, put another 8 encoders above… I give you my money…. I simply love those encoders, they are the best on the market!! Another 16 of them, yummy!!!
    I also hate presets so no excitement for (komplete) ksd integration

  • Karl Popper

    Kore made no sense to me. I'm glad they discontinued it and stopped stringing everybody along.

    I love the new form factors; dont care at all about the 1.7 update. I don't use presets. NI needs to focus on the basic (ie sequencing) functionality. Turn Maschine into the ultimate roland MV style daw/mpc hybrid.

  • Kable

    Nope, not after Kore.

  • Played for a few minutes on a machine a few years back and had fun.  Finally picked one up a few weeks back.  Love it.  Hopefully they have fixed the issues inside of Logic – the latency would be unusable until you put it in MIDI mode and triggered a logic instrument.  

    The one thing I still can't get around though is that you can't open a song from the hardware controller.  They want this thing to be a completely hands free experience – but they don't start from the beginning.

  • James

    I too was hoping for maschine for iOS.

    As in, you plug your maschine controller into an iPad instead of a computer.

  • ALTZ

    Seems like no software developers release pure software nowadays. Software get cracked and hacked easily. So they have to use hardware as dongle. See the Arturia Spark, the Maschine(s), Focusrite's VRM box…etc.

    And, NI should put most of their effort developing proper sound engines rather than offering you tons of "already good" samples. Come on!! Absynth, Massive, Battery, Reaktor. These 4 are your flagship. I don't want NI end up as a sample pack maker. 

    If the Maschine(s) is focus on drum making. Why not you implement the full Battery engine in it as well. (Just my brainstorm.)

  • Lee

    @James: And run out of power in one hour or so?

    @ALTZ: You forget that there is no need for Maschine controller to run Maschine (software)

    And Maschine is easily the flagship after Traktor…  

    I too would love to see their synths integrated nice in Maschine, not their presets…

  • loydb

    Never again after Kore.

  • Lee

    I'm very surprised for that much hate because of kore-discontinuation… You can still use your tool? Do you need more presets or what?
    Other than that you are totally missing sth if you're into drumseq… Maschine with its perfect controller is the most ergonomic piece of software ever..

  • Peter Kirn

    I understand the feelings around Kore. But I'm personally more enthusiastic about the direction of Maschine than I was the future of Kore. So I can't say with a straight face that discontinuing a product is a bad idea. I think NI was spread between a lot of products in recent years, and I personally wanted to see them gain more focus. We'll have to see how Maschine is developed, but my general sense is, even if Maschine is very much not Kore, the product line could benefit. And I'm not particularly interested in preset browsing, either; I mean in terms of the quality and focus of the software itself and Maschine's controller as a tangible interface for that software.

    I also think people are underestimating the difference between an iPad and a computer. Maschine as it runs on the desktop is doing open-ended, CPU-intensive effects that would quickly overwhelm a mobile device – and that's likely to be true for some time, as mobile devices put a premium on heat and power consumption (as they should). 

    Furthermore, the sampling side of Maschine is very much dependent on having a hard-disk based solution.

  • Peter Kirn

    …in other words, this seems generally like a good direction to me. I don't know if it's the most ergonomic piece of software ever, but right now I think it's the drum machine / groove workstation workflow to beat. And I like that it is both broad (runs as a plug-in, hosts plug-ins) and focused (I hope the goal is not to make Maschine another DAW, a la Ableton Live). We'll see how that pans out.

  • Lee

    I agree with your words peter… I said it completely wrong (and what do I know "best") It's the best dedicated controller I've ever came across… No need to look at the computerscreen at all…

  • Michael Coelho

    I spent my rainy Labor Day holiday on some quality time with Maschine. I love it. I too had Kore, but can't say that I morn it’s passing the way some seem to. All dedicated hardware/software solutions have a limited lifetime. The plug in hosting allows for as good of control of NI's VST's as Kore did. It may not offer the same sound design options as Kore, but I love the feel of the controller and it’s tight integration with the Maschine software. The Kore controller will still function as a Midi controller and you can still use it as it was intended if you don’t upgrade to the latest sound engines. I do miss Kore’s ability to morph parameters, but life moves on. I think NI’s current direction with Maschine will appeal to more users than Kore did. This new smaller form factor Maschine controller will expand the user base and allow more development of the platform. 
    BTW, I watched the excellent Maschine tutorials over at Mac Pro Video yesterday. Definitely worth the time, I picked up some good techniques and refreshed some concepts I had forgotten or missed in my initial reading of the manual.

  • Chorlito

    NI has made a ridiculous move, denying the evidence that without multicore support any VST hosting on maschine is useless. Yeah guys Maschine doesnt have multicore support.

  • newnumbertwo

    I used an MPC2000XL for years, then moved to a Korg PadKontrol + Guru.

    Coming from this pedigree I had high expectations for Maschine and I have not been disappointed. The integration is amazing and it's got the MPC workflow down cold.

    I don't understand the "because of Kore's discontinuation I'll never buy Maschine" sentiment. I never understood Kore, to be honest, although it did start to make more sense with the FX packs that were released towards the end of it's lifecycle. Kore always seemed to me like a solution in search of a problem. This is not the case with Maschine. Maschine takes a tried-and-true paradigm and then implemented every integrative feature I ever wanted in my MPC.

    Interestingly enough, I'm also a Geist owner, and the Maschine hardware, as it turns out, is an amazing Geist controller. I use Gheist inside Maschine (Gheist in the Maschine, get it?) and switching back and forth from "native" control mode for Maschine and into MIDI controller mode for Gheist is way more seamless and invisible than I ever imagined.

    Kore was a dud, but Maschine is a winner on many levels. If it wasn't, NI wouldn't be coming out with a "budget" version.

  • redoom

    Large or small version which to get?

  • I wonder if Maschine will ever include an audio input?  It would be nice to use it for live sampling.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Mike: You can use Maschine software for live sampling. Maschine's hardware is a controller only – but the assumption is that you've already got an audio interface (which is probably a pretty fair assumption)

  • Robotic Poniatrix

    The success of Mikro will depend a lot on its price. $400?  That's a hard sell when the full machine is only $500.  If it's $300, that's down in impulse-buy territory and surely a home run.

  • Intriguing!   Is there a way to record loops and slice them up on the fly?  I'll have to look into the Maschine software more.

  • Rymf

    I've never been able to find a suitable mobile audio sketchpad app that allowed me to transfer anything but flat audio back into my DAW. I bought a Maschine just last week, so I'm thrilled that NI now has the ball rolling on this. Having said that, I want SO MUCH MORE. The following wall of text is equal parts reaction/analysis and hyper-ambitious product/feature wish list.
    An iPad native version is a must. not much more to say about that. (If they're really smart they'll hire/acquire a great team of devs to really nail what will be the first in a line of near-essential companion smartphone/tablet apps for several/all of their products. More on this below.)
    File transfer for samples/patterns/projects has to happen (preferably over WiFi, iTunes file transfer is a bummer). User sampled audio clips should be much smaller and much less likely to command more resources than an iDevice can handle, as compared to something like tweaking a hypothetical iFM8's patch parameters.
    Ideally this (these? Fingers crossed…) apps should have two primary functions, with different interface problems to solve:
    First, a light mobile sketchpad with the ability to import, add/remove/edit/remix, and export essential Maschine/NI workflow elements back to the workstation. They've started down this path, but I want to see even more functionality. Kits, samples, patterns (which is where I'd personally like to see the biggest focus on automation recording–I want to be able to export patterns from Maschine, record sequences of pattern presses/juggles on whatever device I've got on me when I have a few minutes, and actually be able to use them), scene/arrangement management, the whole nine.
    Second, an in studio (and possibly also performance-oriented? That's more work, but maybe they're up for it) secondary MIDI/OSC controller. This is where the interface on display in the product shot becomes worthless. Who wants to use touch drum pads (even on an iPad 2 with it's fakie velocity sensitivity, but especially on a little iPhone/iPod Touch) when there's a Maschine, and presumably any number of other controllers, around? But there's so many other great ways to put that touchscreen to use. Transport and mix controls, effects/parameter controls, sample editing (yeah, using the knobs on the Maschine is less annoying than using a mouse, but setting start and end points with a quick touch on the display of the waveform would be nice as well), the ability to paint in automation…I could go on, but any combination of the above as well as other possibilities would be incredible.
    This is where things get really ambitious, but what's stopping NI from being the first mid/big player to make versions of this for the entire Komplete/Traktor/Reaktor lines? Consider the following, using the same "hypothetical iFM8" as before:
    1. Though it would be impractical to expect current generation mobile hardware to be able to reproduce the full sonic range of their soft synths, it wouldn't have to. In fact, degrading the audio quality to allow users access to the full synth parameters without running up against the limitations of the device would also dissuade potential buyers from buying "just" the iPad FM8, or iMassive, or whatever. In a couple of hardware generations the mobile processors will have become fast enough to render the discussion moot anyway.
    2. What are the current users of NI products going to be most impressed with in an app store offering? A "good" sounding Korg, et al. or small third party dev synth that basically acts in isolation and merely outputs audio (or audio files, with some work) back into their DAW? Or a similarly priced NI offering that lets them sync/edit/audition/record patches for the synths they own and are already inclined to use, even if their changes/additions may require a more critical listen back at their workstation to observe the results of the patch in the context of the full audio engine/proper monitoring environment/etc.? And if changes need to be made? Well, now it's a lot easier to visually monitor and edit the synth's parameters on the dedicated smartphone/tablet app they just bought. "Audio copy and paste" (while it would be a welcome addition to  this app) would look old and busted in comparison to full mobile patch management.
    3. For potential customers, this is a HUGE value add. You're already spending hundreds/thousands on software or hardware/software solutions, what's 3 or 10 or 20 € for a capable mobile sketchpad and secondary controller for those functions that just didn't fit on the hardware, or are particularly relevant to that artist's workflow, or in the case of the Komplete components would be the primary dedicated controller(s), really.
    4. No one is doing this on a major scale. For anyone who's been creating and editing TouchOSC patches for years now (time flies), folks who have run up against the limitations of that platform and are learning/using Puredata and Max/MSP to roll custom MIDI/OSC interfaces, it's not acceptable for NI to say "That's really difficult, we're not sure if we can commit the necessary resources at this time." It's not that hard, many folks are doing it all on their own (with the help of our trusty friend Internet). A company that generates as much revenue as NI *must* have room in the budget for a team of capable ObjC and Java developers, and an equally capable team of UX/UI specialists and designers to create the interfaces.
    When it really comes down to it, I hope this app release is NI saying, in effect, "We're committed to our product line and our customers, we are investing in ideas that allow our products to play nice with rapidly evolving technologies, and we want to be at the forefront of that type of integration/product evolution because we don't want a repeat of the Kore debacle either."
    My fear is that they'll treat it more like sample packs: an easy way to milk a few more bucks out of customers without taking risks and adding new elements to the central product vision, which as a consequence require innovation, improvement, and most critically—and probably most costly—support.

  • Michael Coelho

    @Mike Fonte – Yes, you can sample from internal and external sources. If your on a Mac and have Soundflower installed, you can sample from the Internet directly into Machine where you can slice and dice to your hearts content.

  • @Sam Greene: You actually can open songs (projects) from the Maschine hardware. And they can be tagged as well.

  • I'm happy to say NI aren't getting one more cent out of me since they discontinued Kore.  That was the final straw for me.  I've no interest in Maschine anyway.  It doesn't inspire me in the slightest.

    Still dig your blog though  πŸ™‚

  • Peter Kirn

    Well, that's why I try to cover a lot of different stuff. πŸ˜‰

  • @substrain – do tell!  I asked on the ni boards and no one could (or bothered) to answer.

  • @Lee
    Don't be so dense, you could easily just plug the ipad in. Or NI could provide some sort of proprietary cable that plugs the machine into the ipad and also into a power outlet.

    "I also think people are underestimating the difference between an iPad and a computer. Maschine as it runs on the desktop is doing open-ended, CPU-intensive effects that would quickly overwhelm a mobile device"

    My ipad is easily more powerful than a MPC 2000 made in 1997. I don't understand why an optimized program can't be developed to essentially what a mpc does and include the hardware integration that the maschine provides. I think you're underestimating the computing power of the ipad, and overestimating the requirements of a simple DAW software. I don't want VST hosting, or sound synthesis. I just want the ipad to act as the brains to a Maschine for simple beat chopping. I'd like something that would allow me to make a project on the maschine desktop software and then port the song over to my ipad so that I can do portable live sets.

    There are already numerous mpc-like apps available for the ipad that essentially does what a mpc does, but none of them provide the hardware integration that the Maschine provides. [THIS] is what I want.

    I understand the computing power differences between my desktop and my ipad, but all I want is a [SUPER] stripped down version of the maschine desktop software on my ipad that preserves the maschine(MPC) workflow, similar to how garage band for ipad is a super stripped down version of it's desktop equivalent.

  • mrtn

    If i could plug the machine mikro into the ipad and use iMaschine the same way as on my mac, i´d buy it in a heartbeat, even if it would be a stripped down version. i just can´t understand whyy they didn´t come up with this, an iPad2 should be able to handle the LEDs and the display for a couple of ours.

  • Lee

    Come on guys… Maschine is very CPU intense… A stripped down version + controller? Seriously? And why would somebody need a GUI on a touchinterface from a tool that can be fully controlled from the controller?
    Labtop is portable enough and also enough powerful…

  • Jonah

    @Lee I would have been interested in a padless version too. I don't get why you're against controller integration on iOS. Forget iPad, think about ipod touch/iPhone. $200, 8gb of sample memory. JJOS can do more with less in terms of sequencing. Also, Version 5 of iOS on the touch is rumored to use the camera connection kit. The m-audio venom works with the camera connection kit, no reason NI couldn't do it.

    Supposedly, Maschine has great integration, so it would be no problem to use these sequences later when you hooked up a computer. I was really curious to finally try it with the mikro, but lack of MIDI kills it for me. I'm still skeptical of the comparisons to a MPC w/ JJOS and the demo videos make me even more so. I don't care about not looking at a screen/using a mouse or mapping every sample out to a pad so I can perform. I already use Kontakt and EXS24. I'd love to see an example of in depth MIDI sequencing. 

  • @ Trevor:
    I actually plug my Akai MPK mini with the usb adapter into my ipad2 and can drive BEATMAKER2 πŸ˜‰

  • Brian S

    Hilarious!  I will be able to run software from NI on my iOS device before I can browse their website!!!?!?!  Seriously, NI!  Ditch that buggy slow dinosaur of a site.  Put some of the old Kore people on it  πŸ˜‰

  • JT

    I bought Maschine, but I felt like sh!t because I own Kore and Kore/Komplete was ALWAYS advertised a unit to complement one another and now Komplete 8 doesn't even work with Kore…………[ I smell a class action lawsuit btw ]………… I love Maschine, but ONE MORE F**K UP LIKE THAT NATIVE INSTRUMENT AND THAT'S IT.
    p.s. N.I music equipment is for some a REAL CAREER…….f**king the workflow is just not cool……….D**KH**DS!!!!!!!
    N.I. Spending tally approx. $4000.00 about time to call it quits on spending witcha anyway.