Maschine’s still not exactly a DAW – but it doesn’t lock you into cookie-cutter arrangement any longer. And that’s good news whether you’re eyeing the new standalone Maschine+ or you’re an ongoing user of Maschine software.

The new feature is called Clips, added in addition to Patterns. There’s a full explanation in the manual, but that’s a density level that I think exceeds most of our brainpower right now.

Here’s the idea:

Ye Olde Maschine Way of Doing Thingf with Patternf: Maschine’s a drum machine, right? So Patterns are locked to a fixed position in a Scene, and Scenes to the Song. Change a Pattern once, and it changes everywhere. That works well for drum patterns with fixed rhythmic lengths.

You can choose “make unique” on the Pattern so you can make variations. But that’s it.

The problem is, maybe you’ve got a vocal, or a transition, or a one shot, and you don’t want it locked to that particular place. (Vocals are especially frustrating this way.)

The Bright, New Maschine Way of Doing Things With Clips: Now with Clips you can position blocks of notes and audio anywhere you want on the timeline. (The “clip” name is a bit of a misnomer – it’s what a lot of DAWs call Regions. But whatever.)

Each Clip is edited separately. And it it can be in a section, outside a section, sprawling across Sections… and moved anywhere you want on the timeline.

You can make Clips from scratch, or convert from Patterns. And you basically can work with Clips like Maschine is a DAW with Regions, or switch between Patterns and Clips freely. Now is the point you probably want to read the manual.

And here’s a video:

As they put it, “you can also use Clips to augment and alter your existing Scenes and Patterns to bring more liveliness and variation to your arrangement.” Well yeah, and also bring less “being annoyed at Maschine” to those times you wanted to add material that didn’t fit in a scene.

It’s good this came out last week – as it happens, I was co-organizing an event between Vladivostok and Berlin as someone was both singing praises and cursing Akai hardware. Now Akai has a big Force update, a salvo from their standalone hardware which finally has something to compete with in the form of Maschine+. But more on that separately.

We do indeed have a horse race.

Meanwhile, NI are also answering frequently asked questions about Maschine+:

To your frequently asked questions – yes, you can actually run Reaktor ensembles and Kontakt patches, provided you have desktop licenses of those two. I’m getting into details on that. No, you can’t run anything like Reaktor Blocks though – not yet. (You want to nag them on that? I can nag them on that, too.)

But ask away, as now I have some time in the studio to go deeper with this – now with the Clips update, which makes the whole thing way more flexible and means you aren’t so limited to bar-by-bar, pattern-based, beat-based music, and can have some stuff that sprawls out more.