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iMaschine, the iOS drum machine, is back in a new version. Now in mini, pocket-able form, you get arrangement and live play features from the desktop edition. For iPhone 6s/6s Plus owners, it also responds to 3D touch.

I always keep sketchpads around – literal sketchpads, of the pencil and paper variety. So when software is described as a “sketchpad,” I take that seriously.

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I already was a great fan of iMaschine – even when, cough, some CDM readers disagreed (which you’re welcome to do). That’s for two simple reasons. One, it’s stupidly simple to grab some samples and throw them on pads, particularly once NI finally added proper in and out points. Two, it’s pretty easy to dump those sets back into Maschine on desktop. (It’s a shame, in fact, that Ableton Live doesn’t have a similar satellite, especially with its new Simpler.)

I’ve spent the past week with iMaschine 2. It does everything iMaschine 1 did, but now adds some very nice features for pocket use.

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Step Mode. Here’s the big one. You now get step-sequencing of each pad, which saves you clumsy finger drumming exercises and allows you to easily see your sequence on the pads. It’s nothing revolutionary, but for some I imagine this could move iMaschine from the “interesting” corner to “must-have.”

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Arranger. At last, you can use loops and scenes in a desktop-style arrangement view. I’m not certain you’d want to really make a serious track this way, but it’s at least refreshing to have easy access to some basic variations, so you aren’t just staring at the same loop.

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Scale, chord, arpeggiator. So far, I’m actually using these more on mobile than on desktop. On desktop, after all, you have more controllers, actual MIDI keyboards, and so on. But on your phone, the ability to get scales and chords under your fingertips is absolutely invaluable. It also makes loads of sense to have a 4×4 grid, since even on a big phone that’s what fits reasonably.

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Color coding. Yay! Actually, this I didn’t use much, which is why I’m completely lazy and copying NI’s screen grabs. On the other hand, I could see this being very useful in color-coding prior to Maschine, so since I’m even lazier on desktop, I can now fiddle with this while I’m waiting around with my iPhone.

3D touch. Apple has made a big deal of 3D Touch – the ability to press harder on the surface of your iPhone 6s/6s Plus and get continuous pressure or unlock a contextual menu and other functionality. The “right-click”-style feature is now throughout iMaschine 2.

It’s cool, though some functions are more useful than others. There’s now a shortcut to record samples from the main icon. The problem is, that will open a new project; I found it easier just to launch iMaschine on its own and add samples to an existing project.

In arrangement, 3D touch is great: you can mute pads, erase notes, and best of all, enter Step Mode quickly.

If you’re imagining 3D touch will allow you to add velocity-sensitive pads to the iPhone, well, not exactly. Because of the way the API works, you can’t hit a pad harder or software, unfortunately. What you can do is unlock a new Note Repeat feature: select “3D,” and the rate changes depending on how hard you press your finger against the screen. It requires a little practice, but it is fun. And all of this means iMaschine is the first app for my new iPhone 6s that actually has me using 3D touch. (ROLI slightly pre-empted NI earlier this week with a performance controller.)

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Cheaper pricing. US$4.99 instead of the usual $9.99 for a limited time. As usual, there’s no upgrade pricing – blame Apple – but come on, a $5 upgrade is cheaper than lunch around NI’s offices (unless a single Döner satisfies you). Also, NI has quietly made all 36 iMaschine expansion packs available for a buck until the beginning of December. Now, I’m actually happy to keep sampling weird clinks of beer glasses and whatnot, but some of you I assume will find this useful.

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Yes, this is fun in practice. This week proved a perfect illustration of how important having a pocket drum machine can be. I was the closing act of a TEDx conference staged by the European Space Agency. I wanted to incorporate some samples of talks. I simply sat in the audience with iMaschine 2 and rode the “threshold” control to quickly grab some audio snippets during rehearsal. I had a pair of headphones on so tweaked the samples on the phone, then in a few spare seconds before going on, dumped the project into Maschine on desktop and pulled them into an Ableton set. (Video and music from this will come later.)

I also sketched out a goofy track lying in bed. This is stuff you simply wouldn’t want to do with a laptop or other hardware. And with used and refurbished iPhone prices not terribly high, it’s again a win not just for NI but for Apple phones over their Android counterparts (at least for now).

It is simply wonderful to work with this on an iPhone then come home to a selection of project starters on Maschine back on your Mac or PC.

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Still a lot of things on my wishlist… I’m aware NI probably doesn’t want to cannibalize their more lucrative desktop software with the iOS version, but there are a lot of things I miss. More effects would be nice (like Maschine’s excellent reverbs). The internal mic on the iPhone works well, but the absence of external hardware support seems like a huge omission. The absence of MIDI is especially disappointing for mobile producers. At the very least, it’d be awfully fun to get MIDI clock from desktop to mobile. Alternatively, Ableton’s terrific wireless Link technology would be perfect here – I’d love to trigger some extra, impromptu sounds on my phone or tablet next to a full desktop rig. I hope the “not invented here” syndrome doesn’t stop NI from embracing what appears at first to be a really great SDK. On the other hand, none of this is stopping me from having fun with this app. Yes, yes, there are other apps that arguably do more – but none, I find, is as quick and efficient as iMaschine, and the desktop integration features to me are a winner.

More:

www.native-instruments.com/imaschine2

https://youtu.be/XllIqoyc6P8

  • I just don’t get it. Why does it have to be a new, separate app? Why can it not be an update to the existing app? This is the same as with Beatmaker, just with a less steep price increase. Not that I am interested (mainly because the workflow is only seamless to Maschine, but not when you use Logic or Live), but it feels like a sour apple to bite into.

    • Ben Hovey

      Cause it’s dope, adds worthy new features, and it’s well worth the 6 bucks for it and EVERY expansion!! Great value to me!

    • Will

      How else is NI expected to fund the development of the upgrade? If it were a desktop app and they released a 2.0, we’d all expect to pay for an upgrade, right? Apple doesn’t allow paid app upgrades so the only way to recoup expenses is to release it as a new app.

    • Because this effectively *is* how Apple forces developers to do updates. Total outlay at this point is something like 15 bucks for a pretty vast app.

      In fact, if you are a Maschine user, I think the additional 99 cents means the expansions then can be loaded into Maschine desktop, too.

      Also, it’s hardly much investment of time to use a 4×4 grid sequencer. 😉 You can export to audio and bring that into the other tools you’re describing. It’s just something convenient to throw in your pocket. Elastic Drums is a different animal; it’s a synth. And… yes, I’m not quite sure what the problem is. So don’t use it, then. 😉

    • foljs

      “””I just don’t get it. Why does it have to be a new, separate app? Why can it not be an update to the existing app? “””

      Because the whole of its development is to make MONEY off of it?

      NI is not a charity you know…

  • I just don’t get it. Why does it have to be a new, separate app? Why can it not be an update to the existing app? This is the same as with Beatmaker, just with a less steep price increase. Not that I am interested (mainly because the workflow is only seamless to Maschine, but not when you use Logic or Live), but it feels like a sour apple to bite into.

    Edit: I am interested, in principle. I just find it hard to spread out across so many apps and platforms. I already have hard times focusing enough on my Analog Rytm… And then comes Elastic Drums, Figure, GarageBand, the Analog Four, Pro 2… It’s too much, even though each machine and every app are exciting by themselves…

    • Ben Hovey

      Cause it’s dope, adds worthy new features, and it’s well worth the 6 bucks for it and EVERY expansion!! Great value to me!

    • Will

      How else is NI expected to fund the development of the upgrade? If it were a desktop app and they released a 2.0, we’d all expect to pay for an upgrade, right? Apple doesn’t allow paid app upgrades so the only way to recoup expenses is to release it as a new app.

    • Because this effectively *is* how Apple forces developers to do updates. Total outlay at this point is something like 15 bucks for a pretty vast app.

      In fact, if you are a Maschine user, I think the additional 99 cents means the expansions then can be loaded into Maschine desktop, too.

      Also, it’s hardly much investment of time to use a 4×4 grid sequencer. 😉 You can export to audio and bring that into the other tools you’re describing. It’s just something convenient to throw in your pocket. Elastic Drums is a different animal; it’s a synth. And… yes, I’m not quite sure what the problem is. So don’t use it, then. 😉

    • foljs

      “””I just don’t get it. Why does it have to be a new, separate app? Why can it not be an update to the existing app? “””

      Because the whole of its development is to make MONEY off of it?

      NI is not a charity you know…

  • Will

    I’ll probably skip the v2. I think iMaschine is one of the slickest little all-in-one quicky beatmaking apps on the app store and the sample library is boss. But since I don’t own a Maschine and iMaschine doesn’t support MIDI, things never really get beyond quicky beatmaking.

  • Will

    I’ll probably skip the v2. I think iMaschine is one of the slickest little all-in-one quicky beatmaking apps on the app store and the sample library is boss. But since I don’t own a Maschine and iMaschine doesn’t support MIDI, things never really get beyond quicky beatmaking.

  • Redoom

    They could have easily funded it by including midi, ACP, V2 features, much smaller IAP discount, and sold it for 20.00. From the get go it was a steal at 5.00

  • Redoom

    They could have easily funded it by including midi, ACP, V2 features, much smaller IAP discount, and sold it for 20.00. From the get go it was a steal at 5.00

  • richard conrad

    ao is it worth scrapping and deleting the imicachine version 1and getting version 2? can my purchases in imaschine get applied to version 2 if i buy it ?

    • CoolD

      Richard, for an additional $1 you will get whatever expansions you purchased in imaschine 1 plus every other available expansion (36 total)!

  • richard conrad

    ao is it worth scrapping and deleting the imicachine version 1and getting version 2? can my purchases in imaschine get applied to version 2 if i buy it ?

    • CoolD

      Richard, for an additional $1 you will get whatever expansions you purchased in imaschine 1 plus every other available expansion (36 total)!

  • Fayek Helmi

    As a producer who is trying to create an all hardware/ipad music production setup, imaschine 2 sounds like a great app especially for sampling and chopping, but the lack of midi (even clock sync!!) is what is ruining it for me. Its exactly loke impc pro, i bought that and had fun until i tried to make it part of a bigger setup. Quickly realizing its an all in one box or its nothing. I dont need an all in one box. Though that 6$ is a sweet deal for all those sample libraries. Might get it JUSTfor that.

  • Fayek Helmi

    As a producer who is trying to create an all hardware/ipad music production setup, imaschine 2 sounds like a great app especially for sampling and chopping, but the lack of midi (even clock sync!!) is what is ruining it for me. Its exactly loke impc pro, i bought that and had fun until i tried to make it part of a bigger setup. Quickly realizing its an all in one box or its nothing. I dont need an all in one box. Though that 6$ is a sweet deal for all those sample libraries. Might get it JUSTfor that.

  • heinrichz

    got it! a very powerful, well designed app staying faithful to the Maschine philosophy of minimalism and workflow. the new additions take it to another level of usefulness to sketch out track ideas and step sequencing makes a lot of sense when using tiny iphone pads.
    I’m playing this on my ipad air 2 and it’s a lot of fun…most be even better on the ipad pro.

  • heinrichz

    got it! a very powerful, well designed app staying faithful to the Maschine philosophy of minimalism and workflow. the new additions take it to another level of usefulness to sketch out track ideas and step sequencing makes a lot of sense when using tiny iphone pads.
    I’m playing this on my ipad air 2 and it’s a lot of fun…most be even better on the ipad pro.

  • RAW

    I’ve not used imaschine and don’t own (or intend to own) maschine and only recently (like 2 weeks) started making music with iPad, working previously on Mac with Live, so intrigued how useful this is. It looks great for making stuff on the fly but can WAVs of individual tracks / channels be rendered or can audio be otherwise routed to other apps on iPad e.g via audiobus?

  • RAW

    I’ve not used imaschine and don’t own (or intend to own) maschine and only recently (like 2 weeks) started making music with iPad, working previously on Mac with Live, so intrigued how useful this is. It looks great for making stuff on the fly but can WAVs of individual tracks / channels be rendered or can audio be otherwise routed to other apps on iPad e.g via audiobus?

  • I know my first post sounded like some stupid naysayer. But I am not. Yes, I agree with all your replies about what’s cool with iMaschine 2, why NI need to earn money off the efforts they would put in any product, and how much easier it would be if Apple allowed to issue upgrades for existing apps and charge for them. And yes, 5$ is still a great price. I knew all of this before; and more often than not I have used these kind of reasons to make a point against other people that would want “everything for free”.

    It’s just still a great pain in the neck that the workflow stays bumpy at best, unless you go all in with the Maschine desktop app (either standalone or as plug-in with other DAWs). Yes, it’s a great, little tool to lay out some beats, sketch a couple ideas etc. And you would certainly yield very different results than from using Figure or Elastic Drums or Beatmaker or GarageBand. It’s just… oh, well, I guess, I just shut up.

  • I know my first post sounded like some stupid naysayer. But I am not. Yes, I agree with all your replies about what’s cool with iMaschine 2, why NI need to earn money off the efforts they would put in any product, and how much easier it would be if Apple allowed to issue upgrades for existing apps and charge for them. And yes, 5$ is still a great price. I knew all of this before; and more often than not I have used these kind of reasons to make a point against other people that would want “everything for free”.

    It’s just still a great pain in the neck that the workflow stays bumpy at best, unless you go all in with the Maschine desktop app (either standalone or as plug-in with other DAWs). Yes, it’s a great, little tool to lay out some beats, sketch a couple ideas etc. And you would certainly yield very different results than from using Figure or Elastic Drums or Beatmaker or GarageBand. It’s just… oh, well, I guess, I just shut up.

  • Gabriel Rey-Goodlatte

    Would the method for loading in your own samples just be to put them on iTunes playlists? That actually seems like a nice way of organizing samples, especially because a sample can exist on more than one playlist (so it’s almost like a tagging system).

  • Gabriel Rey-Goodlatte

    Would the method for loading in your own samples just be to put them on iTunes playlists? That actually seems like a nice way of organizing samples, especially because a sample can exist on more than one playlist (so it’s almost like a tagging system).

  • Gabriel Rey-Goodlatte

    Just tried it out. Awesome. The addition of step mode basically makes this the app I’ve always wanted. It may lure me into buying maschine (though I wish I could just get the software without the hardware). I do wish there were a way of editing the whole pattern on one screen (a 16×16 grid). My phone is big enough that it would work. Would speed up workflow a lot not having to switch between pads.

  • Gabriel Rey-Goodlatte

    Just tried it out. Awesome. The addition of step mode basically makes this the app I’ve always wanted. It may lure me into buying maschine (though I wish I could just get the software without the hardware). I do wish there were a way of editing the whole pattern on one screen (a 16×16 grid). My phone is big enough that it would work. Would speed up workflow a lot not having to switch between pads.

  • It’s a lot of fun, but it ignores all audio interfaces plugged to the iPad (even docks!).

    • Dubby Labby

      Sadly no surprise on this. Maybe NI is going to update the mikro with ipad support… Or even the F1 with ipad support (for their apps of course)

  • It’s a lot of fun, but it ignores all audio interfaces plugged to the iPad (even docks!).

    • Dubby Labby

      Sadly no surprise on this. Maybe NI is going to update the mikro with ipad support… Or even the F1 with ipad support (for their apps of course)

  • Séamus Bradd

    What I really wish is that NI allowed you to hook your Maschine controller up to this. Having a Maschine controller and an iPad would be an incredibly cool little live setup.

    • Dubby Labby

      You could do it… With impc pro, bm2… :/

  • Séamus Bradd

    What I really wish is that NI allowed you to hook your Maschine controller up to this. Having a Maschine controller and an iPad would be an incredibly cool little live setup.

    • Dubby Labby

      You could do it… With impc pro, bm2… :/

  • Marine Herald

    L O L “I always keep sketchpads around – literal sketchpads, of the pencil and paper variety. So when software is described as a “sketchpad,” I take that seriously.”

    BREATHTAKING

  • Marine Herald

    L O L “I always keep sketchpads around – literal sketchpads, of the pencil and paper variety. So when software is described as a “sketchpad,” I take that seriously.”

    BREATHTAKING

  • Justin Michaud

    so bullshit that they made this a separate app and not an upgrade to imaschine 1

  • Justin Michaud

    so bullshit that they made this a separate app and not an upgrade to imaschine 1