Burns Easily in the Sun
Maschine 2.0: Worth the Cost?
Yes, very much so. In fact, $100 is more than generous.
After reading the scolding comments throughout the interwebz directed towards Native Instruments following the announcement of the paid upgrade to Maschine 2.0, I couldn't help but have a laugh at their expense. The reason: unlike those who were quick to crucify NI after receiving the news (the same people who say their gear is "broke" yet didn't read the manual), I took the time to actually read up on the upgrades before grabbing my torch and pitchfork...and came to the following conclusion: to call Maschine 2.0 a simple upgrade/update would be doing it a disservice. This is a fully-fledged new program that has not only been fleshed out from the ground up with a multitude of improvements, but includes a ton of useful additional content as well as instrument and plug-in modules that are well worth the cost of admission (and then some!).
Rather than list out all the new & amazing significant features of Maschine 2.0 (which you can view here, I'm simply going to list my Top 5 in a little piece I would like to call:
The Top 5 Things That Make Maschine 2.0 Fucking Awesome
1. Redesigned GUI. At long last, a simplified tag-based browser and fully functioning mixer! The icing on the cake: the visual output from each channel in the mixer (ex. the color of the gain reduction meter for a compressor or the color level meter bar for the channel strip) match the color of the pad on the Maschine hardware you're working in. It sounds like a rather dull addition, but it helps aid in quickly identifying what sound/sounds are within the channel. The one view show everything–groups, routings, etc. In general, everything has been laid out in a more intuitive manner.
2. Plugin Strips. Now when using plug-ins and instruments in Maschine 2.0, you're greeted by a "micro" version that immediately displays the essentials of the respective synth/instruments (i.e. macro controls in massive). This provides you with immediate visual feedback without occupying all of your screen real estate. And if you wish to see the entire plugin/instrument interface, a simple button click opens it right up.
3. 64bit/Multi-Core Support. No longer are you limited by the number of groups you can create or the number effects you can insert. CPU efficiency has increased dramatically, you'll be able to immediately see just how much "smoother" Maschine as a whole runs–and it can take all you can throw at it while maintaining an unfathomably low CPU hit. (Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I conducted this review based on stand-alone Maschine usage. I'll update the review once I've seen how the CPU load changes when Maschine is used as a plug-in within a DAW). I also opened up some old Maschine projects (which nearly maxed out the CPU) within Maschine 2.0 only to discover that the CPU hit went from 90% in Maschine 1.0 to about 10% in Maschine 2.0. Yes, you read that right.
4. New Drum Synth. I've never been one to be big on drum synthesis aside from creating a simple sub kick, but that will surely change. Maschine's drum synth appears to be inspired from the Battery 4 GUI (which is a good thing) and enables the user to create an entire kit of customized individual hits (kick, snare, hat, tom, perc, etc.) and edit them to taste so they sound as natural or as machine-made (awful pun not intended) as you want. I was honestly stunned by just how good the hits were sounding that I was messing about with after about an hour of use. Gone are the days of having to play a guessing game to determine what key your drum hit is in and then having to pitch it to the point where it no longer contains its "punch."
5. Cue Channel. Another boring yet essential feature that will surely excite the live performance crowd. Now you can cue channels, sounds, etc. so that you can more accurately preview and create on-the-fly when performing in a live environment. To be honest, I had avoided using Maschine as a live component for this very reason. However, I have no hesitancy now in trying to come up with creative ways to merge a Traktor set with a live Maschine performance.
I'm sure there will still be those who will continue to bitch, plead, moan and cry about how the evil NI is charging a price for something that many feel they're entitled to. If the Maschine 2.0 upgrade only contained minor fixes (ex. multi-core support, cue channel, etc.) I would probably hop on the hate bandwagon on a mission to tar and feather NI. However, this is not the case. For $100 you're getting essentially a brand new program that is loaded with new and improved features in addition to a new instrument (Drum Synth) as well as the inclusion of four (YES, four) significant, fully functional bonuses: Massive, Prism, Scarbee MK1, and the gorgeous Solid Bus Comp.
So, for $100 you get a feature rich piece of incredibly stable/efficient software, free synths + FX and a shitload of top-shelf samples. If this is considered evil and/or wrong, then call me Lucifer and let's sacrifice some goats.
You would be high on bath salts to not pickup this amazing upgrade.