Quick review of Neon Drive Expansion for Maschine

IMG_2971Native Instruments released a new expansion for Maschine today by the (as always awesome) name Neon Drive. Neon Drive promises ‘a cascade of lush chords, pads, enraptured melody, and distinct retro drums’ that will ‘teleport through 80s production techniques and arrive in the future’, and it certainly does not disappoint.

I’ve been dabbling in 80s pop sounds for a while now so getting this one was a no-brainer.

The first thing that struck me was the quality of the included drum kits and one shots. The kits and individual hits really brings back the 80s in style, while at the same time feeling fresh and up to date. My favourite so far is the Neon Lights kit.

Moving on to the instruments, those sounds really good too. I’m especially impressed by the basses and the pads, not so excited by the leads. Don’t get me wrong, the leads sound good too, but you can cook up most of them in Massive without too much tweaking.

In all I haven’t been this excited about a Machine expansion since Pulswerk came out like 2 years ago and I really recommend you checkout this one if you are into synthpop, and especially the 80s / early 90s sound.

Neon Drive comes with:

  • 8 projects
  • 40 Drum Kits
  • 297 Drum Samples
  • 359 Oneshot Samples
  • 268 Patterns

Leave a comment if you have any questions.

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Problems with the Maschine HW controller display

After upgrading to the MK2 of the Maschine controller about 2 years ago I soon ran into the issue of one of the displays flickering and ultimately ending up much dimmer than the other.

At that time I didn’t think too much about it but sent it back to the store for a replacement right away.

IMG_2935A couple of weeks ago I noticed that my replacement controller also started acting bad. The same problems with the display was happening on this unit.

Since I bought it in another country I figured I was out of luck and would have to simply use it with one display darker than the other.

Then something interesting happened. As I was drumming out a pattern and I hit the pad in the upper right, the display suddenly came back to full brightness.

Now whenever it drops in brightness I just tap the upper row of the pads a couple of times and it comes back up again. Probably there’s a loose connection in there somewhere so I’m going to open it up someday and poke around when I have the time.

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?

New Song (Cumulus 3 – The Quarters)

This is the 3rd track in the Cumulus series. As always this is coming from multiple live overdubs using my modular synth and NI’s maschine.

This is music for very late nights, dark rooms and headphones… or any other time and place of your choice of course.

(The Cumulus series is intended to work as a conceptual soundtrack to an abandoned, hulking and alien structure. Use of rich imagination and association is highly recommended!)

New Song (Cumulus 2 – The Bridge)

Part two in the tentatively named Cumulus series. Based entirely on the modular synth, with the exception of the kick drum. This track continues to explore the theme of sound textures started with the Cumulus 1, but this time with a higher tempo.

The track was recorded in 3 different layers, with no sequencing or MIDI. The clock came from Pamela ;-). The Morphing Terrarium was used as the primary sound source, except for some guest play from time to time by the Bubblesound VCOs. Only reverb was added as an effect while mixing the 3 layers. There are no other computer generated effects.

Of course, all 3 layers where recorded as 3 continues ‘live’ recordings, each track ‘over dubbing’ the previous ones.

Hope you like it!