Maschine+ experiences?

Does anyone here use a Maschine+? Would love to get some feedback on it, I’m seriously considering it as center/hub for a bunch of MIDI devices and using it’s built-in drumsynths. I couldn’t find an existing topic for it so figured I’d create one.

If you use one, what are the things you do and don’t like? And if you have experience with similar devices how does it compare for you?

I have been curious about this as well. I’m not quite seriously considering it, but I have been curious about how things are working out with Reaktor user library ensembles. Last I had checked, Blocks wasn’t working at all on it… anyone know if that is still the case?

I doubt Blocks will ever be supported. Its CPU/RAM limitations will keep some of the power hungry items off.

I have a Maschine+. It is a piece if gear I feel somewhat conflicted about. I love the hardware, how it feels and looks. The actual Maschine and how it is structured really wants you to stay on grid and make beat driven music. So if that is your thing, you might want to consider it. More free approaches can be done, but you have to work against the unit in many ways, which can be tiresome or rewarding, depending on how you see things.

For sequencing other gear, keep in mind that at the moment, there is no CC control. So you can only send note information.

Regarding software instruments, I don’t find the implementation of the available NI plugins very good. The screens don’t show you any information about how the instruments are layed out. You are just given a bunch of parameters that are often not clearly named. I believe the idea is to just load up presets and then fiddle with the values a bit. But making a patch from scratch is almost impossible. You have to know the plugin and its signal flow by heart and then still don’t get all the parameters of the software version.

Only the Moog emulation (I forgot the name) can be used rather easily, as it just has that classic signal flow. Everything else remains a mystery to me.

I was also hoping that you could e.g. make tiny helper plugins in Blocks to overcome the limitations of the software. And I would really like if NI added some of their studio fx to the Maschine+, as there e.g. is no ‘normal’ delay in the device at the moment. The most basic delay it has is always synced to the tempo and does not self oscillate.

So at the moment I am actually only using the filters and lofi fx in the unit.

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I would generally agree with the above but feel more positive about it

I think part of the skill with the maschine+ (at least for lines users) is developing a workflow that means you don’t come into contact with the huge amounts of native instruments loops and samples that are built into it!

some reaktor blocks do work on maschine+ although it seems almost random which do and don’t. I have some of the filters and wavefolders set up to use in a very simple manner. I haven’t built anything bigger than that as it I thought I would wait and see if support for user reaktor ensembles got better (or even vanished)

I had an optimised version of this running on maschine+ although some presets would max out the cpu: https://www.native-instruments.com/en/reaktor-community/reaktor-user-library/entry/show/9825/

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Interesting. How do you get the blocks in the M+?

just save it as an ensemble and stick it in whatever folder is the correct one on the maschine+ (I’m at work so can’t check)

as always when saving for maschine+ from reaktor you have to set meta Info to instrument (or effect if it is an effect) and set the ensemble to master in the snapshots section of the properties tab

One big problem with using reaktor ensembles is that dropdown menus and buttons don’t work (only dials) and you can’t load samples into an ensemble from the maschine+. this rules out converting a lot of the best stuff from the user library. setting up the order of controls is relatively easy thankfully

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Thank you! I will give it a try. I basically just want some simple tools like LFO controlled volume etc.

BTW, are you able to open projects created on the hardware with the software version? I just get an error every time.

Sorry I can’t tell you as I’ve never used the software version. I’ve never even installed it

Thanks for sharing your experiences with it!

Regarding CC control, AFAIK this works, and can also be automated just like for internal synths (see for example https://youtu.be/ysd8ajLRkUY?t=773).
It does touch on one thing though, which is how does it currently work for hardware synths for which there’s no out of the box mapping? Is the only way to create a mapping with the software on a computer? That would be quiet disappointing :frowning_face:

The screens for their built-in synths totally don’t make sense to me, what’s the point of having a static screenshot of an instrument? They should provide a meaningful UI instead.
I can understand this is probably because of the computer controller based heritage (the UI was on the computer screen), but I really hope they make improvements here. I’d expect those improvements to also be useful for when controlling the software, so at least they don’t need to create Maschine+ only functionality for this.

And your point about presets browsing + fiddling is also a bit of a “fear”, I’d just like to be able to easily create my own sounds, but of course NI lives of selling expansions, so it’s probably not in their interest.
Do these issues with creating sounds also apply to the drumsynths?

@shakey Are you using one as well? What do you mean exactly with regards to the workflow and not getting into contact with the built-in stuff?
Any real downside you have with it?

I am using it and so far I really like it. I’ve not had any of the crashes that some people have and my wants for it are fairly simple – play drums samples and very simple sampled instruments, simple sequencing of external synths recorded back into the maschine+ and being able to export stems at the end of it

when i first set up the maschine+ it really did seem like it might be too much a pipeline for native instruments content. It comes with an incredible amount of drum hits, drum kits, sampled instruments and presets for all the synths plus more huge expansion packs ready to download and vouchers for more that you can download from their website to get you used to their ecosystem. all of this is really brightly coloured and in your face

you can search purely by user added content though and this is a much more pleasant experience for me – I have a few gigs of drum samples on there which I have made into kits (which is easy enough), some reaktor stuff (mainly filters and wave folders as I don’t like the stock filter that much), a few dx synth patches I converted using the computer version of fm8 and a load of simple sample based instruments I made (setting these up is pretty quick too)

there are a few things in the native instruments content I have found that are useful for me. It’s good for electric pianos, organs and string synths

when it comes to making your own sounds it’s easy enough on the drum synths and the 303 type synth that goes with them and pretty easy on monark too. fm8 and massive don’t even have all the controls exposed so it’s fiddling with presets on those (although there are a lot of presets so there is a lot of bread and butter stuff if you can be bothered ploughing through them)

unlike the current mpc line there’s no autosampler so i used the one in the free mpc beats computer program to take the samples for the simple instruments I made. I have some nice ones based on madrona labs soft synths. I also recorded some feedback patches on my modular that sound pretty wild played back as polysamples

I bought a battery pack and ripcord so I can sit on the couch and play with what I have internally and then I connect it to hardware when I’m in the room with that stuff. It’s working well so far. tbh if you use one you could probably come up with a lot of very simple improvements that would make it better in just a couple of hours of use but I’m concentrating on what it does do rather than what it could as native instruments are very good at leaving obvious things undone

(that said I am hoping that better reaktor support might come purely on the basis that it will have to be improved so that they can flog stuff based on reaktor ensembles to maschine+ users)

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Thanks, this is very helpful!

There’s no way to delete factory content it seems, is that correct? As long as browsing user content is easy it doesn’t matter too much I guess.
I’ve also read conflicting opinions on browsing presets and sounds, which seems to only really be possible based on tags instead of directory structure. Seems a bit annoying to me, maybe it’s OK in practice?

Drum synths alone is all I need, so anything else is icing on the cake for me (assuming it sounds good) :slight_smile:
I’m using a nice hardware setup and have never used any of NI’s products/synths, so I don’t really miss them or mind if they don’t offer full control. It would of course be nicer if they had proper controls to build a sound from scratch but no reason to ignore the whole device because of that.

So the Reaktor filters sound (much) better to you? Did you create them yourself or were they shared by other users? Sounds like a good way to fix some shortcomings of the built-in synths.

O, one thing I wanted to check (couldn’t fine a clear image of how the different layers related to eachother) is that Maschine uses tracks containing patterns instead of patterns containing tracks like MPCs and Elektron boxes. Did I understand that correctly?

bit late to this but I only have a logged in lines account at work…

browsing native instruments content is done by category and tags. user content can be browsed by two level folder structure for samples which is what I do. you can also tag but have to use the software so I haven’t

There’s nothing wrong with the built in maschine+ filter but I like vibey filters (doepfer wasp is my hardware favourite) so I have some of the noisier reaktor filters with audio in and outs added to them. I haven’t built anything myself, just used what other people have done

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OK, perfect. Thanks for all the info so far. Guess I’m just going to give it a shot :slight_smile:

So I’ve been using the Maschine+ for a week and figured it would only be fair after asking all these questions to share my experiences as well.

For starters a thing that is seldomly mentioned (AFAIK only stimming mentioned it in his review) you cannot use the device without logging it into your NI account. It’s just a paperweight until you do so. IMHO this is unacceptable, there should be no reason for a musical device/instrument to be only usable until after connecting to a DRM service.
The same also goes for updates, you can only do those when logged in to your NI account, AFAIK there’s no way to update without it.

With that out of the way, using the Maschine+ has been one of the most conflicting experiences I’ve ever had :stuck_out_tongue:
First of all, the hardware feels very nice. I obviously can’t judge longterm reliability but everything about it feels very solid and nice in the hand, I really like it.

I also really, really like the workflow. I’ve used the Maschine+ for a week every day and every day I managed to make a track. This has been the most productive I have every been. Not only with regards to output but also with regards to the process, it really boosted my productivity with regards to going from a tiny idea to a more fleshed out song/track. Only in very few occasions I had to look up how to do something, most of the functionality was immediately obvious, unlike for example the Squarp Pyramid which for me ended up being a machine locked behind indecipherable/illogical button combinations.
Also because it uses real buttons and knobs instead of a touchscreen you can build up muscle memory, which is awesome.

I like to use composition (in the literal sense of combining separate pieces together to create something) instead of copying to build a track from smaller elements. The tracks with patterns approach, followed by scenes where you pick which pattern to use for which track and songs where you can place the scenes in whichever order you want to build up a linear song works perfectly for this, it allows for a very easy and fast workflow of composing/building up a song from individual elements and variations. Much better than the copying you have to do in devices that use a patterns with tracks approach, like the Elektrons and MPCs, where you have to make a copy of all the tracks for each pattern and if you then need to make a change to one track you have to copy it all over again.
It also allows for easy jamming without having to build a linear song as well.

With regards to playing/inputting your notes tbh I don’t have very complex requirements, I don’t really know much about music theory so the pads and the scales are perfect. The chords are kinda useless though, just a few options, no inversions, I didn’t use them at all, just used the pads in scale mode. Speaking of the pads: They are pretty much perfect. Their response is great, you can configure the color and they don’t blind you in the dark. One minor annoyance is that the shift functions offered by the pads often can only be read in the dark when you have something assigned to the pads so they are lit. When unlit it’s impossible to read what’s on there.

And finally the way you assign a chain of instruments/effects feels very natural. I haven’t really used a DAW in ages but it seems very similar to the horizontal chain of instruments you see in for example Ableton. You click on the + and add an instrument or effect, you select the instrument/effect to change its parameters. All super easy.

One more small thing, being also to connect the Maschine+ via USB to a computer and just have it show up as a disk is nice to see. I use Linux and often manufacturers for some reason have to reinvent the wheel and come up with their own proprietary crap which makes it unusable, luckily that’s not the case here.

Now on to the the not so positive stuff :stuck_out_tongue:

First of all, it’s horribly unstable/unfinished. On each of the 7 days I used it I had one or more issues/bugs. The main one being that none of the songs/projects I made work after loading the project again because most of the non-maschine instruments (Kontakt, Monark, etc) don’t load the sound you programmed. Even worse, sometimes they would create a (pretty loud) steady beeping tone which cannot be turned off apart from muting that track/instrument. Now supposedly this is caused by something something license, but that’s a horrible answer to give to your users. We buy a device/instrument that comes with a bunch of built-in instruments which don’t work because NI felt the need to DRM even these built in instruments!? That’s just a horrible approach and sounds like they care more about themselves/DRM than their users.
Also to be clear, I don’t have any related NI products in my account, so no Kontakt, Reaktor, anything, (I do have an old Traktor license, but I assume that’s not relevant in this context) so I assume this will happen to any user new to the NI ecosystem. It’s also reproducible in 2 minutes, so how they never noticed and fixed this is beyond me.
Apart from this bug I’ve had a bunch of other bugs as well, like the pads not responding, the tempo button getting stuck and getting some glitches in the sounds despite the load being very low.

Then we move on to the built-in instruments. The maschine ones are ok-ish, pretty basic, sound OKish, the bass synth is fine, the reverbs are kinda meh, the delay is OK-ish, nothing special and that’s fine.
The more fancy built-in instruments like Monark, Massive, FM8, etc are frankly useless as instruments. They are unfortunately mostly usable as preset-machines, most presets kind of sound the same btw, every 10 or so presets I was wondering if I got stuck in a loop, it all sounds very sameish. I have to be honest though, there is one preset I really like and that’s FM8’s atmopad :slight_smile: But 1 out of way too many isn’t a very good result.
Raum sounds pretty nice, but I’d like a higher quality more normal reverb as well.
The drumsynths do have quiet a bunch of options but I was frankly a bit disappointed with their (for me) usable range. I tried to make some minimal and more industrial techno kicks and that was sort of doable (the parameter names don’t always make sense here, which makes it more difficult than it needs to be, for example getting rid of the initial transient was totally non-obvious). I also had a hard time getting more hiphop 808ish sounds out of it. This was one of the main reasons I picked the Maschine+, since I’d like to synthesize my drums instead of using samples, so this was pretty disappointing :slightly_frowning_face:

Most of the instruments either lack controls for essential functionality or there are so many useless controls that paging through all of them to get to something useful just makes them unusable. No effort was spent in actually making these into instruments one can easily use and build a sound with on a standalone device. They should work on standardizing the interface and focusing it.
For example there are instruments that have several pages for reverb, delay, chorus, etc. They should just make usable reverb, delay, chorus devices available separately and remove all of these from the individual instruments, they just add noise there. Also the ordering and naming of parameters and their values is very inconsistent. It just shows that no effort was spent on making these instruments usable on a standalone device and it should’ve been. And I’m not even speaking of the graphical UI, just showing a static icon of which underlying synth is used is not a good use of these nice displays and robs the user of valuable feedback.

And there is some missing functionality like it being impossible (I think?) to show or edit automation. Velocity editing is sort-of possible but pretty annoying.

All in all I felt pretty conflicted but also clearly know that this device isn’t ready and needs quiet a bit more time in the oven to be, so I sent it back after this week of conflicting experiences. I’ll be following their firmware updates and depending on what changes I really hope I can revisit it in the future.

Sorry for the wall of text :stuck_out_tongue: I hope this helps others with making their decision if the Maschine+ is for them or not. If anyone has any questions just ask :slight_smile:

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This is sadly all too typical of NI as a company in general. You can bet it’ll take ages for the bugs to be ironed out. And it’s very likely the visual aspect and lack of screen usage (which I’ve been critical of on the Maschine MK3 already) and all the other things you mentionned will never be changed. Native Instrument is so obsessed with selling loads and loads of sample packs pretty much anything else is just an afterthought which you can tell by the fact all the good aspects you listed about your experience were already stuff that were in Maschine MK1.

They’re kind of an infuriating company really because they’ve got quite an incredible software offer, but it’s all hidden behind bloated interfaces, unreliable legacy code (Reaktor can still only use 1 core of your CPU!), half finished products, etc.

I also don’t think they’re as good with hardware as they pretend. I had issues with knobs being jumpy and moving on their own on both my Maschine and Komplete Keyboard which tells me all I need about how often these issues happen (I mean 2 out of 2 product is quite a statistic).

Maschine’s overall design is still great, the pads do feel great (although a bit hard) and there’s a lot to like about it, but as soon as you want to do things that are not preset based or that require some kind of UI other than endless page scrolling you either go back to the computer or end being cornered into NI’s limitations artificially kept that way only to sell branded content more easily.

I know I would definitely advise against bying any of their Hardware offer in the future. It’s good, but ultimately frustrating, just as you summed it up.

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New update is out, seems like they have addressed most of the technical issues and they added a new (poly) synth and some new functionality. Doesn’t sound too bad tbh.

On a personal note, I’ve noticed I really miss the Maschine+, something that doesn’t happen too often for me. The workflow was just so nice/seamless.
I tried a Force as an alternative but that was a horrible experience, most clunky workflow ever and as expected in several places quiet a crappy physical UX because of the touchscreen.
I’ll probably wait for another Maschine+ update and will consider trying it again :slight_smile:

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It seems a few retailers are selling them at 20% off right now, if this helps anyone who’s on the fence right now…

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Is there an idiot’s guide to converting Reaktor ensembles to work with Mashine+ anywhere? I tried following the guide below and saving the ensemble to “\user content\Reaktor” but nothing shows up.

We’re you using Reaktor 5 or 6 to set up these ensembles to open on M+?