There are those things in music making that are just pure joy. There’s finding a particularly nice groove or pattern, or getting that really juicy synth or effect parameter to morph just so. And there’s getting to use all those toys and external gear you really love.

So, while Maschine 2.6 is just a “point” release, I think it works out being one of the most welcome updates to come to Maschine’s loyal audience of groove makers yet. It gets at both these points. First, it inherits all the clever stuff added to Maschine Jam for adding variations and randomization and live improvisation. But now that works on any hardware, so if you prefer your 4×4 velocity-sensitive pads and don’t feel motivated to buy that new Jam grid hardware, you don’t have to. Second, it adds MIDI CC support for external gear – ’bout time – plus a whole bunch of external gear support right out of the box.

MIDI CC support is very, very cool. When I wrote about Akai’s standalone MPC introduction, a lot of you replied that what you most liked about Maschine was actually its computer integration. Many, many readers like a software drum machine precisely because it lives on a computer, inside your DAW, with all of your plug-ins.

Now, Maschine starts to look just as appealing for its support for external gear. Being able to send MIDI Control Change messages for manipulating parameters on external gear is overdue. But Native Instruments have given us a nice present by including pre-mapped parameters.

Of course, a lot of the appeal of external gear is being able to reach out and grab a knob or fader directly. But with MIDI CC presets included, you can also draw in or automate parameters, by name. (So you get “filter cutoff,” for instance, instead of “uh, what’s that MIDI CC number again where’s the MIDI implementation chart ugh?”)

And wow, NI have put in all our favorite stuff – including CDM’s very own MeeBlip triode and anode synths. Here’s the complete list (cue elevator music and a slow infomercial crawl animation):

Elektron Analog Heat
Jomox MBase 01
Jomox MBase 11
Jomox Airbase99
Jomox X-Base 09
Korg minilogue
Korg monologue
Korg Volca Bass
Korg Volca FM
Korg Volca Kick
Korg Volca Beats
Korg Volca Sample
Meeblip anode
Meeblip triode
MFB Tanzbär
MFB Tanzbär Lite
MFB Tanzmaus
Modal CRAFTsynth
Moog Little Phatty
Moog Minitaur
Moog Mother-32
Moog Sub37
Nord Lead 2
Novation Circuit Session
Novation Circuit Synth
Novation Circuit Drums
Prophet 6
Roland JP-08
Roland JU-06
Roland JX-03
Roland TB-03
Roland TB-3
Roland VP-03
Roland VT-03
Roland TR-09
Roland TR-8
Soulsby Atmegatron
Waldorf Pulse 2
Waldorf Pulse Plus
Waldorf Streichfett

It’s really lovely to see some more obscure boutique stuff among the big three Japanese brands, no?

And that means all of this hardware now behaves in your system as if it’s software, complete with parameter storage and recall and morphing. So this makes Maschine a really powerful hub for live performance, because it can be a home to all the presets for a string of different songs – and that’s a reason to take that computer onstage.

The other features in 2.6 standardize a bunch of features across the whole product range – so features exclusive to Maschine Jam now work with all previously released Maschine hardware, and visa versa.


Maschine Jam features now everywhere else

Maschine Jam brought a lot of subtle but really powerful functionality for composition and improvisation. Now these work with Maschine MK1 and MK2, Maschine Studio, and Maschine mikro MK1 and MK2.

Humanize and Randomize. The so-called “Variation Engine” now lets you automatically add more variety to percussion and melodic patterns programmatically – yeah, in case you aren’t really good enough at finger drumming, for instance.

Lock and morph. “Lock” is an even more interesting feature. You can store snapshots of parameters and then recall them, or morph between them over a number of beats or bars. If you’re thinking this could be really cool when combined with all the MIDI CC stuff above — yeah, absolutely.


Maschine features now available in Jam

Step support for notes, parameters. Maschine Jam is cool, but it was missing some significant functionality available when using other Maschine hardware. The step sequencer now has support for all note parameters (pitch, velocity, length, swing, and position), plus parameter access on each step (for plug-ins and other sound sources).

Fixed velocities. You can now set velocities on an individual step using one of 16 fixed levels on a grid – especially handy on Jam since it lacks velocity-sensitive pads.

Also, one subtle improvement for everyone: when you change scale, that setting will also be used for the next group.

Maschine 2.6 is a free update for existing users; you’ll get it in Native Access now.

  • KJ

    How external CC control managed to be avoided this long is amazing. Bought a Maschine 1 back in ’09 thinking it would be a no-brainer addition to the software shortly thereafter. My mistake…

    • I’m not shocked; it took until sometime last year for them to add support for monitoring in mono. The official documentation told you to use Guitar Rig to convert a mono audio input to stereo.

      • Right but — I think what’s useful here is that you get a whole bunch of reasons (with Lock, morphing, etc.) to use that MIDI CC … so it was worth the wait.

  • LeBlanc

    Pre mapped paramaters???? I want to map any midi cc to an encoder.. Is that not possible??

  • James

    So I’m unfamiliar with the mashine buy-in (aside from some blanket comparisons to push). Is the idea here that I can buy just their software for my own reasons, and map it to the controllers of my choosing, or does mashine still serve as the hub/dongle to the software?

    • LeBlanc

      You can’t map their sotware to another controller.. The software is tailor made for the Maschine controllers.
      For example, you CAN map controls (macro knobs) to midi external controllers but you can’t record them in de Maschine software..

      You can use the software without the controller, the controller doesn’t serve as a dongle.

      • MarleyMarx

        “For example, you CAN map controls (macro knobs) to midi external controllers but you can’t record them in de Maschine software..”

        So, what advantage does it have, if I can map macro knobs to external controllers, but not record them? I don’t understand the reasoning behind this?

        • LeBlanc

          I assume NI wants to force you to use the Maschine controller as it is a production system.

          I the Maschine software you map VST paramaters to macro knobs. With the Autowrite button you can record macro knob automation.

          You can map those macro knobs to an extenal midi controller via midi cc. But, like I said the sequencer doesn’t record that automation..

          Maybe they changed that in 2.6. But, I don’t think so..

          • Why I’m in love with Machine but also hate it! Don’t think it has changed in 2.6.

          • MarleyMarx

            They should change it. It’s just a nonsensical limitation.

  • Ha! This might be the one feature to nudge me over to Maschine again. I always loved the connection between iMaschine and Maschine on the desktop, but I just didn’t click with the Maschine workflow on the computer. Also, trying to get away from the screen and twiddling knobs on some “real” synths and record that as automation is so much more rewarding.

  • MarleyMarx

    Is it also possible to use an external Midi-Controller to control Maschine (or plugins in Maschine) parameters, e.g. Filter Cutoff? As far as I remember this wasn’t possible in earlier versions.

  • heinrich zwahlen

    Great update for all controllers and now i can rock my Meeblip feom Maschine!
    I hope time stretching will be next.

  • Does anyone know if lock & morph works with Mikro?

    • There is a section for creating a lock snapshot in the MKII manual, and it has a sub section: triggering lock snapshots via MIDI. The same section does not exist in the Mikro (MK 2) manual, but the option to trigger lock snapshots via MIDI is in the software, it just seems there is no way to actually make the snapshots. Couldn’t have been too hard to add to the Mikro controller NI, thanks a lot!

  • Mark Kunoff

    program change messages?