Mashine Mikro MK3: Making a Beat-First Look

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Native Instruments have been going from strength to strength with Maschine, which has been integral to their product line since its inception in 2009. It’s also been one of the most effective products at integrating their Komplete software eco-system. Last year, NI nailed it with new Maschine MK3, impressing beat makers the world over, which features, aside from all the usual Maschine goodness, a built-in 24 bit 96khz audio interface, making this one step closer to a stand-alone piece of kit.

This month NI have released an enormous amount of new hardware and software products, 19 to be precise, making it their biggest release ever. Part of this release is the Maschine Mikro MK3, replacing the Mk2 version released back in 2012.

The workflow of Maschine Mikro has been stripped back by design, to make it less about learning all the detailed aspects of the software and hardware, and more about working directly with the essential elements of what makes Maschine, Maschine. It’s fair to say that Maschine had a bit of an identity crisis for a while; on the one hand, you had users begging NI to make it more advanced and add more DAW like features. On the other, you had users asking NI to make it easier, make it simpler and focus on just the things that you need to make music quickly. Maschine Mikro caters to this user-group directly.

The hardware maintains a clear focus on the pads, which are the same full-sized velocity sensitive pads as the MASCHINE MK3 and they feel great. The four buttons that sit above the pads – PAD MODE, KEYBOARD, CHORDS and STEP – allow for quick changes in the behavior of your sounds. PAD MODE is for finger drumming and triggering any kind of sound, KEYBOARD MODE turns the Pads into a keyboard giving you 16 notes and they can be set to play any key or scale you like for easy melody creation. CHORD MODE is like keyboard mode except that one pad will trigger a chord, and STEP turns the pads into a step sequencer – a very fast and fun way of making drum arrangements.

The minimal design language of Maschine Mikro goes straight to the heart of its workflow,

perfect for users just wanting to arrange beats, melodies and chords, without distractions and complications. The small OLED display provides focused parameter information, and when used with the encoder and arrows it’s easy enough to navigate and edit instrument macros, as well as browse through the sample and instrument library.

The touch strip is another welcome addition, and allows you to get hands on with FX, pitch bend, and strumming notes simply by sliding along the strip with your fingers, making the Maschine more playable than ever. No doubt we’ll start to see more of the touch strip utilized in live performance scenarios in the near future.

Maschine Mikro also features all the usual suspects that people have come to expect from Maschine, Note Repeat, Arpeggio, pattern arrangements – it’s all there. However, the real power comes from its simplicity, maintaining focus on what makes Maschine great – Making music.

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