Maschine users, you get a little freebie in the 2.6.8 update Native Instruments quietly released this week – a new bass synth. Ready for some acid?

First, if you missed 2.6.6, that added drag-and-drop musical exploration in “Ideas View” – the non-linear arrangement tools that will feel welcoming if you’re used to Ableton Live and the like.

2.6.8 has two banner features. One is an isomorphic keyboard layout for Maschine Jam – basically, the ability to easily play melodic parts on the Jam hardware. (The “isomorphic” bit means that you can find chords easily by moving your hands around, even without a previous instrumental or theory background.) And the other big one, for everyone, is a new Bass Synth.

The Bass Synth isn’t an SH-101 or TB-303 clone, but it is inspired by various useful bass synthesizers and designed for easy use. Now, I’m a big fan of synths that use simple controls. Far from limiting your options, I think they encourage you to dial in sounds you love and push a bit against limits, focusing on listening with your ears rather than getting stuck thinking about parameters.

And sure enough, this one is fun to play with. Adjust the shape (from sine to saw), plus the filter and envelope, and you get heavy sub bass lines, tasty acid, and other basics. Here’s a look at those parameters:

The less-obvious one is glide. Hidden on page two, you’ll find a parameter that shifts glide on or off. Obviously, this needs to be on before glide works – including the glide time parameter on the first page. On Maschine Jam, the top row of the piano roll corresponds to per-step glide controls. On other hardware, or with your mouse, you can modulate the Glide parameter on the second page to add glide on particular steps (or leave it on) – just remember this is also going to be dependent on the length of your steps, plus the Decay parameter for the sound.

The Bass Synth is good fun – and maybe a reminder to explore other synths in Maschine, too. And there’s plenty you can try here:

  • Try some presets in the Browser.Select: All Sounds > Bass Synth. There are some great sounds, revealing this instrument’s hidden range, and they’re a good starting point for tweaking and experimentation.
  • Make acid basslines by turning up resonance and adjusting envelope and filter.
  • Create sub bass by adjusting octave down.
  • Use this as a melodic synth in higher ranges – and think SH-101 style, adjusting the oscillator shape.
  • Set mod amount to the middle of the range, and create accents with the JAM accent controls or by playing higher volumes.

And yeah – hardware, software? Why not both? This should go nicely with Roland’s TB-03 (or new SH-01A) or, for that matter, our own grimy MeeBlip, and of course you can either sync Maschine with external hardware or use it as a sequencer. (Plus, since the main gripe about laptops I hear is reliability, if you play live with hardware/software hybrids, what you get is all important redundancy – if anything breaks or luggage gets lost or anything horrible like that, you can still play.)

There are a number of fixes in this release, too; NI unusually quick to ship fixes on Maschine for its software and hardware.

2.6.6 contained a huge set of fixes, so if you’re behind on updating, it’s worth doing.

  • thundercat

    NI have lost their damn minds… why are they focussing on this when many other things in the software have been waiting for so so long. Especially after all their open letter carry on promising this and that… what about:
    – real time time stretch (they created Kontaktt didn’t they FFS…???!)
    – a way to input an automation curve or a simple straight line of automation
    – proper automation tracks in general
    – song mode that was promised when the Jam came out
    – ability to split patterns (something that used to be possible in 1.8 now removed sighhhhhh)
    – audio tracks
    – integration with Traktor/Stems lololol

    Only conclusion is that they are waiting to sell another major update with some more hardware. If it wasn’t for their Komplete integration I think it is hard to argue they have much to offer that Ableton doesn’t these days. Also even Beatmaker 3 on iPad has realtime TS and audio tracks.
    /rant over

    • wesen3000

      I think this goodie probably comes from a separate developer, rather than the team working on the UI and workflow improvements. On the forum, NI hinted at the beta program when asked about realtime and song mode, which is promising 🙂

    • Some features are actually coming from hackdays, etc. Not sure if this was a hackday feature.

      But look at it this way — the kinds of things you’re describing tend to be long-term projects. So, basically, we could be here complaining about getting *nothing* in Maschine whatsoever while we wait for those kinds of big updates.

      Instead, we have something that’s quite a lot of fun to play with now, in a free update. I can’t really complain about that.

      Major engineering projects are slow. I’d fault NI, but this is true industry-wide in musical instruments. (It’s also true in software fields that are much less fun – and that have higher pay rates.)

      So generally, I think the trend of developers taking a day now and then for hackday projects, and delivering cool stuff when it’s done rather than forcing users to wait and then *pay* for those features, is pretty obviously good.

      I do also agree with most of your feature requests above. 😉

    • Dubby Labby

      Song mode and some improvements about how it integrates with Traktor could be the key to future or the most dissapointing update forever lol

    • matt

      It’s just a point release though. Typically those are mainly for bug fixes so I think the fact that there are two solid updates (particularly happy to have the isomorphic layout update, as that is one of my favorite aspects of playing on a Push) is pretty solid of NI.

  • Holmes

    I’m really glad to see this emerge, as it’s exactly what I requested in an email to NI – built-in bass synth. I’m looking forward to checking it out. It could potentially create a quicker workflow for simple synths. And of course the next step would be to create an integrated poly and so on.

  • im 14

    Signs of continued development in Maschine are good, however the hardware is getting a little long in the tooth. I’d like a thinner, lighter Mikro, with a colour screen (like the OP-1 has).

  • heinrich zwahlen

    I like the new features but will second thundercut’s comment on the urgency of adding some of the functionality he lists:
    Real time time stretch.
    Song mode and preferably also a way to record a performance with scenes in idea view over to the arrangement.
    Improved automation drawing and editing tools urgently needed.
    And some kind of an audio track object would finally make Maschine also a self contained production instrument!

    As far as them adding more simple synths, i can see the marketing value and the appeal of the the simplicity but with Komplete integrating so well i don’t really see myself using these instruments so much.

  • how do you do it all from the hardware? Thats why I use maschine