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Native Instruments Maschine 1.5 Review

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Overview's very own D. Ponte takes the Maschine 1.5 MIDI production controller for a spin to give you a full written review. This high powered device is designed to be the main component of any studio system providing professional quality outstanding versatility. Full Written Review INSIDE.

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Staff Review

Maschine 1.5 Product Review for

By D. Ponte

Let me preface this review by saying that I have in no way, shape, or form received any

audio production or engineering training in my lifetime. I am a sports and online media expert

who listens to as much hip hop as most loyal members and that is the kind of

perspective you’re going to get in this review. In some ways a fresh, unblemished diagnosis

that might offer more value to a reader than one from an audio production specialist. Let’s see.

The Maschine 1.5 Groove Production Studio by Native Instruments is drum machine hardware

fused with an intuitive software program. It makes the bold claim of being the complete

workstation that combines highly sensitive pads and dials with a powerful sequencing, sampling

and effects software. It meets this claim. This used in conjunction with a vast library of sounds to

play with is appealing to a “noob” like me.

It comes inside of a box that is about the same size of a blu ray player and the main hardware

is about the width and length of a Trapper Keeper. I thought it would be heavier based on

the pictures I’ve seen but it is actually lighter than most laptops, making it easy to transport.

Plugging the USB input into your computer and setting up the software is an easy process and

the hardware lights up like a tree on Christmas Eve. In fact, I got the same feeling that a child

would on Christmas morning when I first launched it. I’d recommend running Windows XP or 7

or a newer Mac with this software to optimize its capabilities.

The pad is what I was most excited to play with and one thing that I noticed right away was

that there are midi in and outputs in the back of the unit that enable it to be used live as well

as the obvious sound manipulating and recording purposes. The basic pad mode that allows

you to either just trigger a note of a sample or play the sample/instrument in sequence using all

of its 16 pads. You can change the sound using the tempo swing or volume knobs in addition

to controlling the sounds with its FX feature. I had trouble using this initially but eventually

got the hang of it. By using the left and right arrows on the top of the unit, it’s easy to step

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through 8 attributes of the selected pad at a time. Generally, the controls are very simple and

laid out intuitively. The way the pad lights up Is in concordance with the order of how you’d

create an individual pattern or song - Very helpful. One advantage was that everything can be

manipulated on your computer screen or the unit. After the first few uses I relied on the software

since I was more comfortable but eventually I got used to managing with the hardware as it’s

more efficient that way.

The basic hierarchy or song creation is in groups and scenes. This was somewhat confusing

to me initially as I had difficulty organizing the order of the sounds and samples. After some

practice and some time on the Maschine forums, I discovered a method that I felt comfortable

with. A random note is that deleting the last note created can easily be executed by using

the “shift undo” feature on the pad.

I’m fascinated by how the best of the best hip hop producers use samples when creating songs

and I immediately wanted to take a stab at his. I used Rush’s Tom Sawyer signature guitar

riff and also the vocals “Feel the Break , Feel the Break, Feeeeel the Break” from Sublimes

Santeria track in separate songs. I was easily able to infuse my own hip hop bass, drum, and a

snare to these samples and it’s just a blast messing around like this. The majority of capabilities

I found to be weak or difficult to use turned out to be oversights or standard beginner problems

on my part, partly because I tried to do too much too early. The forums and the YouTube

instructional videos were instrumental in my learning process and in the general adoption of

the product. Native Instruments customer service was very helpful during the entire learning


My overall assessment of Native Instruments Maschine 1.5 is that it’s an incredible machine

that can either provide hours of entertainment or be used in a setting to record music with the

intention of making money on it. Certainly if you plan to use this professionally there is other

equipment that you’ll want but if you could only buy one product that could cover all the bases,

this will get the job done for you. If you’re a beginner like me, who wants to see how he/she can

hang utilizing robust production equipment, I’d also recommend picking this up. As with most

things, you’ll need to be dedicated and diligent in your approach to learning this instrument as

you would with any instrument. As comprehensive as it is, nothing this detailed can be mastered

in a week. However, all it may take is one hour before you are addicted.



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