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