GAS and Reflections on the new Maschine Studio

Maschine, the all-in-one but sadly not stand-alone beat production groove box from Native Instruments has just been updated to its third generation. For me Maschine has always held a very dear and special place. It was the first DAW (though some hesitate to call it that) I learned and it’s intuitive workflow continues to be one of the fastest and most inspiring ways of quickly sketching out ideas for new tracks.

When Maschine MK2 came out I didn’t hesitate for a second before buying it. Granted the number of new features were limited and the controller looked mostly the same in terms of layout. But the new color coded pads and the upgraded tactic feel of the buttons made a world of difference to me, especially when jamming live.

This time around though I’m a little bit more hesitant to jump the gun on the new Maschine Studio. Not for lack of new features or upgrades, the new Studio package looks amazing, but because I feel a little betrayed by NI’s launch tactics. I may be cynical and perhaps I’m wining, but to me it looks like the MK2 controller was released simply because NI wanted to keep the platform’s mindshare while the actual next gen (Studio) was being developed.

I say cynical because from a holistic perspective NI manages a complex ecosystem of controllers and software including the Traktor line of DJ interfaces and it’s very possible that NI wanted keep the Maschine family up to par with advances on other fronts. It could also be that they simply wanted to try out some of the new interface concept of the next gen on real users while developing the Studio controller.

I say wining because the MK2 did de facto deliver a lot of value for me and now I simply wish I had held out and waited another year for the even shinier new toy… On top of this NI has already announced that the new Maschine 2.0 software suit will be 100% compatible with all previous generations of Maschine.

Regardless, I don’t really see what I would do with 3 Maschine controllers so I can’t motivate buying the latest one just yet. And on that note I really wish NI would offer some kind of upgrade discount price for those of us who own the previous generations.

The steep increase in price compared to previous versions is most likely due to higher production costs and more expensive components, and those who complain seem to miss the fact that the old, full controller is also getting an upgrade but now represents the middle tear. Still, to take advantage of the benefits of the new HW based workflow the top line Studio controller is really the only way to go.

On a slightly tangential but related note I was also considering buying a Traktor Kontrol S4 and I was holding out for the MK2 versions released last week. Now the sudden jump in features for the new Maschine has got me wondering if NI is about to pull a similar trick with Traktor, dropping a new version that really pushes the envelope in about a year or so. Going the Serato / Pioneer way is an option. The DDJ-SX is a beautiful piece of gear, but staying in the NI family is tempting due to familiarity.

Anyways, random thoughts on a Friday evening.

What are your thoughts on the third generation Maschine controllers and the new Maschine 2.0 software?

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