When Native Instruments released version 2.0 of their Maschine software, a lot of producers were hyped and ready to download and install it. I was one of them, and after setting everything up, I noticed one of the most used features, Group Polyphony – was gone.
We still don’t know why they removed this feature, but a lot of people are hoping that it comes back in future updates, since it’s a great feature that is simple to use, especially with sample-based beats.
But there is a workaround.
What Is Polyphony?
Polyphony is a property of musical instruments, and it allows you to play more than one note at a time. The first polyphonic synthesizer was built in the 1930s but didn’t gain popularity until the 1970s. In the 1980s, 16-voice polyphony was the standard, then it shot up to 64-voice in the 1990s, and grew from there.
This means that if you have a synthesizer, and you also have 88 fingers, you could play all the keys on an 88-key synth, all at once! Now, you may be asking yourself how is it possible for someone to play a synth with 128 polyphony, well, that’s easy. It doesn’t mean that you are playing them all at once, but you could be playing 10 at once, and the sound is still lingering or fading away with a decay, for example, as you’re playing the next set of 10 notes.
In Maschine 1.8, I always use the Group Polyphony because it’s so simple to use, and it’s very effective. Most of the time I have samples loaded up on many pads, and I want to play each one without the other pad interfering. This is where the polyphony comes into play.
I don’t want to play multiple pads at once, so by setting the polyphony of the entire group to “1”, it’s basically turning it into a monophonic group. Monophonic, of course, is the ability to play only one note at a time, and it’s also commonly referred to as “monosynth”. The reason why I only want the polyphony set to 1 is because with the samples I have, if they play together, the samples will clash and I won’t be able to create a nice pattern.
I racked my brain trying to figure out how to do this in Maschine 2.0, because now when you go to the Group tab, there is no option to set the polyphony. I don’t know why they removed it, but it’s just a pain to do the workaround, even though it’s simple. Here’s what you do:
Let’s say you have samples on all 16 pads of Group A. Press “select” and then choose “all”. This selects all of the pads in that group, and I think you have to do this with a lot of new things in Maschine 2.0, but I’m not entirely sure.
After you’ve selected all, make sure you have the “sound” tab selected. Now you will see the voice settings where you can change the polyphony to 1. That’s not all though, because you have to also assign the group of pads to a choke group.
Press “pad mode”, and you will see “choke group” as one of the options. In there, just choose the number “1” (it goes up to 8). What this does is it assigns all the pads (you don’t have to choose all the pads if you don’t want to) in that group to cut each other off. This is basically the same as setting polyphony to 1, but it’s not quite the same either. Instead of being a new way of doing it, it more or less seems like a workaround.
The problem with this method is that all your pads are still marked as selected. At this point, if you try to change the value of one of the pads, guess what? It will change the value of ALL the pads that you have selected! This is not good. It has its uses, but for the purpose of just having pads cut each other off, I think it’s a misstep on NI’s part.
To avoid this, after you’ve selected all the pads and changed the choke group, go back into the “select” tab, and press “none”. This will deselect all the pads and now you’re free to change the values of individual pads without affecting the others.
That’s all you need to do, but it just seems like it’s a few extra unnecessary steps, compared to how it was done in version 1.8. I’m sure once you get used to doing it this way, it won’t be a big bother to you, but for someone just getting started with version 2.0, it can be a big turn off. Good luck!