Native Instruments first changed the beat making game when it introduced Maschine, their flagship software/hardware combo because of its ease of use and overall solid product. They then moved onto Maschine MK2 and Mikro, and finally to the current Maschine Studio.
The best is – you can still use the new version 2 software even if you own Maschine MK1 or MK2!
And now they’ve done it again with version 2.2, which changes the game once again.
This Isn’t A Normal Update
It’s surprising that they even named it version 2.2 because usually those types of updates are solely for bug fixes and the like, but this definitely is much more than that.
I have been using the MK1 for a few years now and even though Maschine Studio looks amazing, I’m still very much more comfortable with the MK1 (plus my bank account still looks good). When I first got version 2 of the software, it looked good but I wasn’t overly impressed. Maybe it was because I was so used to version 1.8 or that version 2 still had some bugs to fix, but whatever the reason may be, I didn’t look into the new version much.
With this latest update, I just knew I had to check it out.
The main reason for this update, however, is that NI wants it to integrate with their new Kontrol S series of keyboards. Because of that, they have added some really nice features, and the most notable (and awesome) is the scales and chords.
To access the scales and chords, you need to lock into Pad Mode, then select Keyboard. You will then see:
- Type (Major, Minor, etc)
- Chord (Mode, Type)
Under Chord Mode, you can set it to off, and that way you will be able to play your sounds scaled, with the program showing you the root note all the way up. If you set Chord Mode to Harmony, this is where the magic starts to happen.
Let’s say you know nothing about playing a keyboard. I’m sort of like that, even though I have a keyboard, I’m not a keyboard genius. So with the Harmony setting, what Maschine does is it plays the corresponding keys for you. If you have it at Harmony and the chord type to Major, all you have to do is play one pad and you will see the other pads that make a Major note light up.
To make things even more interesting, NI has gone and added “Chord Set” which takes this cool feature to another level. Basically, it does what Harmony does, but it combines the sounds onto one pad. This means if you hit one pad, it will play an entire chord set together.
So basically, Maschine picks up the slack if you can’t play any type of keyboard, allowing you to make some really nice tracks in just a few minutes.
Scales And Chords To Help You Learn
In the past, the only way you could come up with chords on your own was to actually play them. You could practice, or you could add each note of a chord individually, but it was too time consuming. With these new features, all your troubles are taken away.
But the biggest thing that’s so good about it is that it’s helping you learn. When you record a chord set, you just have to look in the Pad Mode view of the Maschine software and it will show you which notes are recorded. This is a great way to learn for yourself what keys to play on a keyboard. How cool is that?
Native Instruments has also added a fully functional Arpeggiator, by way of the Note Repeat function. To access it, stay in Pad Mode, then press Note Repeat. This will bring up the Arpeggiator, which takes everything and makes it even sweeter.
Basically, you can play any number of notes and Maschine will turn them into a melodic pattern. This means you can get polyphonic performances from pressing just one key, and it will always be in tune. The Arpeggiator gives you total control of how it functions, so there’s always something you can tweak.
My Final Opinion
I think Maschine’s 2.2 update will greatly help anyone. Besides the scales, chords, and arpeggiator, if you have Maschine Studio, it now gives you touch-sensitive knobs, which will help a lot when navigating.
Also, as I mentioned earlier, it fully integrates with the Kontrol S series keyboards. Either way, if you have the MK1, MK2, Mikro, or Studio, this update is sure to change your beats and change the beat game, trust me.
So far, I have tried the chords with both instruments and samples, and it just rocks. I used a bassline and played it with the Harmony setting at Major, and I was able to come up with a really gutter sounding loop, so I left it in and now my beat sounds dope.
It’s definitely worth a look!