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Review: Goldbaby Dirt and Layers sample pack

Goldbaby Dirt and Layers

Goldbaby’s latest sample pack Dirt and Layers features a collection of samples to enhance your drum and percussion sounds by adding some dirt, layers & more.

The dirt category comprises 140 sounds, including vinyl and tape noise, digital hash, guitar amp and pedal hum and more.

The dirt sounds can add subtle or not so subtle texture to your individual instruments or whole mixes. Add some vinyl noise to give the impression that your instrument was sampled off vinyl. Add some tape noise to make your recordings sound like they were done on tape before noise reduction was invented. Use the damaged cassette noise to fake your cassette sampling skills.

No less than 830 drum layering sounds are found in the layers category. These include kick drum subs, snare top sounds, sucking sounds, transients, and more.

The drum layering sounds are a fantastic tool kit for augmenting and beefing up drum sounds. Give your drums more depth and texture by experimenting with different layers. Boost the bottom end of kicks with tuned subs or add a transient layer to help it cut through a mix. Crispen snares with various top layers or add body and substance using the sauce and body layers.

For instant gratification you can drop one of the 50 loops (REX) in your track to get the authentic, characteristic sounds of vinyl, dirt patterns, etc.

While the pack is clearly designed to enhance your drum sounds and add character to (any) audio, many of the sounds are also great for using as is, or as the basis for further processing. If you like your odd percussion sounds like me, you will be in for a treat. Transient clicks and kick subs are probably best used layered with existing drum sounds, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them any other way. Hugo also included things like synth fx, random noises and vocoder sounds, so you really have a good variety of sounds.

Maschine and Geist users will be happy to hear that Dirt and Layers includes browser integration for these instruments, so everything is nicely ordered/tagged and good to go right off the bat.

Check this nice video demonstrating how you can use these tools to layer sounds in Maschine.

So what do I think?

Product: Dirt and Layers by Goldbaby
Format: 970 wav samples (24-bit) / 50 REX loops
Price: $29 USD
Like: Excellent tools, top notch sound design, browser integration, Goldbaby quality
Don’t like: –
Verdict: 9/10

I think this is one of Goldbaby’s best sample packs to date. Hugo has always delivered work of the highest quality, but to me Dirt and Layers is a bit special, something like a treasure trove.

Making sure you have good quality source material to work with is really important, but there usually is room for improvement. Dirt and Layers is like a toolbox filled to the brim with the best tools for the job.

Depending on the vibe you are trying to create you will want to add some of those character noises, fatten up your drum sounds, or add some excitement with sound fx type samples. This pack has it all.

And if you like a more experimental sound, you’re going to be using these samples for a lot more than layering or simply adding character. Get your creative juices flowing!

More information: Goldbaby / Dirt and Layers

Review: Goldbaby’s Urban Cookbook Vol. 1

When you need some solid electronic drum sounds, Goldbaby’s sample packs are always a good place to turn to. With Goldbaby’s Urban Cookbook Vol. 1, Hugo once again provides quality sounds to help you cook up some delicious dishes, urban style.

Goldbaby's Urban Cookbook Vol 1

Want to cook up some delicious beats… well then you probably need my cookbook. The ingredients are full of saturated fat, MSG, a heap of sugar and are not suitable for a low cholesterol diet. The recipes are perfect for these dishes: Hip Hop, Dub Step, Drum & Bass, Breaks, Grime, Dance Hall, Electro… Although chefs making other dishes like: IDM, House and Techno will appreciate the varied high quality ingredients.

Punchy Kicks, Solid Snares, Hi Hats, Toms, Percussion, Claps, Cymbals, Layering tools, FX, Vinyl Hits, Chord Hits, Bass tools and Rex Loops… just over 1 GB of the freshest ingredients.

The sample pack includes various formats and comes with patches for most common samplers.

  • 3,398 samples (24-bit quality).
  • 200 REX loops.
  • 142 Maschine kits (plus 7 projects) and 13 instruments.
  • 49 presets + 145 kits for Geist.
  • 135 Battery 3 kits.
  • 136 Kontakt 4 kits.
  • 141 EXS24 patches for Logic (can also be imported in Kontakt, Ableton Live Sampler, Halion, etc.)
  • 50 Kong kits, 140 NN-XT patches and 9 Combinators for Reason 5 and above.

I checked out the Maschine version which also comes with the patches for Kontakt, Battery and EXS24. The Maschine kits are divided in folders – Combos (4), Drum Kits (52), FX (20), Hits & Chords (31), Percussion Kits (20), and Vox (15), and to help you find the right type of sound some of the kits are tagged in categories like analog, digital, sfx, etc.

The Kontakt instruments include bass, drum kits, FX, hits and chords, individual drums, layering tools, and vox. It may look like this is basically the same as the Maschine content but there are a bunch of different instruments in here (same for the EXS24 format which you can also load in Kontakt).

While browsing the different kits and instruments it struck me that Goldbaby’s samples always sound “fresh” and up-to-date. The Cookbook includes a fair share of sounds that are similar to the ones in other Goldbaby sample packs, but Hugo records all content for each sample library specifically for said library, which makes sense since Goldbaby’s studio equipment is regularly updated with new gear.

Besides all the kits and patches there is a lot more sample content than was used for the kits so there is a lot to explore, and swapping out sounds within kits is easy. In Maschine the kits come with some lovely patterns and the included projects are a nice bonus, as are the REX loops which feature various percussion loops, fx loops, grooves and more.

In all, this pack has lots of unique content with that vintage Goldbaby vibe. It’s kind of like crate digging without having to do all the hard work. Instant satisfaction!

Check below for an example of the type of thing you can cook up with Goldbaby’s ingredients. A few more demo mp3s can be found at the Urban Cookbook product page here.

So what do I think?

Product: Goldbaby’s Urban Cookbook Vol.1
Format: 24bit WAV, REX / Maschine, Geist, Kontakt, Battery & EXS24 / Reason ReFill
Price: $49 USD
Like: fantastic sounds, well done kits and patches, phat!
Don’t like: –
Verdict: 9/10

With Urban Cookbook Vol 1, Goldbaby does what Goldbaby does best: deliver quality drum sounds with a vintage feel. I think Hugo did a fantastic job with the kits. The combination of sounds in each kit is inspiring and everything is really well produced to get that typical fat, punchy, deep sound. I know a lot of thought went into creating and processing the samples and making sure the kits work well musically, and it shows.

The additional sounds are fantastic. Beautiful chords, guitar strums, useful sound fx, string type sounds. Just love it. Now don’t think this is construction kit type stuff, but these are just a bunch of lovely sounds to compliment the drum/percussion content. Signature Goldbaby.

After spending some good time with this new pack (and already using it in some projects), I think the Urban Cookbook may well be my favorite Goldbaby library to date. Go check it out!

More information: Goldbaby Productions / Urban Cookbook Vol 1

Review: Goldbaby Productions Tape Drum Machines Vol 3

Goldbaby Productions

The third volume in Goldbaby’s Tape Drum Machines series of sample libraries features the sounds of another dozen drum machines.

For those new to the concept, the Tape Drum Machines series combines vintage and modern drum machines with tape machines and analog tape effects.

This third volume in the series features nearly 3,500 samples (24bit) from a total of 12 drum machines, recorded with Otari and Rola reel-to-reel tape decks and a Hitachi cassette deck. Add a touch of tape simulation from Kush Audio’s UBK-Fatso and you get Tape Drum Machines Volume 3.

Goldbaby Tape Drum Machines Vol 3
Gear used for Tape Drum Machines Vol 3

Tape Drum Machines Vol 3 drum machines

  • Casio RZ-1 (238 samples), one of the first drum machines which featured sampling (0.8 sec at 20 kHz).
  • Kawai R-100 (132 samples), 24 12-bit sounds in 3 kits.
  • Kawai XD-5 (905 samples), features 256 waveforms, with up to 4 waveforms per drum sound. Has advanced options like envelopes, filters, delay, ringmod and more.
  • Korg DDM-110 Super Drums (83 samples), a total of nine (9!) 8-bit 15.6kHz samples in this lo-fi machine.
  • Korg DDM-220 Super Percussion (71 samples), lo-fi crunchy sounds like the DDM-110, but this time with Latin American percussion sounds.
  • MFB-522 (453 samples), analog drum sounds from Germany. Features step sequencer and lots of controls for editing the sounds.
  • M.P.C. Electronics DSM-1 (515 samples), single channel analog drum synth intended to be used with drum pads.
  • Roland Rhythm 55/TR-55 (276 samples), analog rhythm box with 10 sounds generated by tuned resonance type circuits and white noise.
  • Roland Rhythm Plus PB-300 (314 samples), analog rhythm machine with 8 sounds (apparently a bit of a mix of TR and CR machines).
  • Sakata DPM-48 (122 samples), digital drum machine with old school sounds (also manufactured under Jugg Box and Hammond brand names).
  • Yamaha ED10 (284 samples), electronic drum pad with an analog synthesizer which can produce a wide range of sounds (includes filter+mod, subsonic, click, noise, etc).
  • Yamaha RX21L (80 samples), features 16 latin drum/percussion samples, in full 12-bit glory.

The sample pack also comes with some patches for Battery and Guru, which is great if you use these instruments. However, samples are categorized in separate drum machine folders so it’s easy to browse the sounds.

The samples themselves have descriptive names indicating the type of sample and what gear was used. For example, RZ1_BDvinyl_7_x_Tape2.wav is vinyl basedrum sound #7 from the RZ1, recorded on the Otari MX5050 1/4 inch 2 track machine with the gain set for more saturation. The “x” denotes additional processing like the use of a filter or equalizer.

The analog machines – DSM-1, ED10, MFB-522, PB-300, and TR-55, have many sounds that were sampled multiple times for use of round robin (also indicated in the filenames). These variations will help you get more realistic results.

Alright, so what do these drum machine samples actually sound like? I made a few demo loops so you can get an idea. The first track is a combination of the loops, the individual ones follow (drum machines indicated in the track title).

All drum/percussion sounds in these loops were done with TDM Vol 3 only. I didn’t use much processing, just some compression and a tiny bit of reverb on some of the samples. For melodic content I used u-he ACE, Sonic Charge Synplant, and Daichi’s Synth1.

So what do I think?

Product: Goldbaby Productions Tape Drum Machines Vol 3
Format: 24bit wav, Battery+MIDI & Guru kits and bundles
Price: $29 USD

The third volume in the Tape Drum Machines series includes a huge variety of digital and analog drum machine samples. Not all of them are equally interesting to me though. I am not a fan of digital latin percussion drum machines so the DDM-220, and the particularly nasty sounding RX21L I could do without. Goldbaby’s tape treatment does add value but they’re just not the type of sounds I’m usually looking for. Luckily those only account for 150 out of 3,500 samples.

In general TDM Vol. 3 is a well balanced pack of electronic drum sounds; from the raw digital 12-bit orchestral hits of the R-100 to the warm synthetic analog sounds of the ED10 and MFB-522. My favorites are the RZ-1 – great for lo-fi hip hop beats, and the XD5 which has a surprising large amount of diverse sounds. I love the rough, saturated “tape2″ samples of this one.

TDM Vol. 3 meets the high quality I have come to expect from Goldbaby. If you are into drum machine sounds this one is a no-brainer if you ask me.

More information: Goldbaby / Tape Drum Machines Vol 3

Review: Goldbaby Productions When Alien Drum Robots Attack!

Goldbaby When Alien Drum Robots Attack!

After releasing three synthesizer based titles consecutively, Goldbaby returns with another drum sample library: When Alien Drum Robots Attack!

When Alien Drum Robots Attack! features a large number of high quality samples. Kind of what you would expect from a Goldbaby library. But this time it’s not just about classic drum machines, or tape, the UBK Fatso, or vinyl. It’s all that, and more:

WHAT WAS USED TO MAKE IT? Everything in Goldbaby’s studio and more! Using a studio full of vintage and new drum machines, samplers, synths, rack effects, vinyl, tape, real drums and perc, field recordings… this product will give you a huge palette of super solid drums and sweet FX.

When Alien Drum Robots Attack! features

  • 1,516 x 24 bit samples.
  • 60 REX loops, 40 Battery 3 kits, 40 Guru bundles.
  • 65 EXS-24 patches (are in all the format downloads except the Refill).
  • ReFill includes 40 combinators, 40 ReDrum patches, and 8 x NN-XT patches.

Here’s a little demonstration of some of the sounds from the included kits. In the video I am using the FXpansion Guru version which comes with 40 bundles; perfect for showing off what these Alien Drum Robots are up to.

So what do I think?

Product: When Alien Drum Robots Attack! by Goldbaby Productions
Format: 24bit WAV, ReFill, EXS-24/Guru/Battery 3
Price: $39 USD (includes all formats)

The title of this library might sound a little silly but it does describe the content pretty well. Robotic vocoder type sounds, fx from outer space, fat ready-to-rumble drum hits… the attack is on!

When Alien Drum Robots Attack! includes lots of unique material. The processed drum samples (including 808/909 UBK Fatso) sound fat in that familiar Goldbaby way, just the way I like them. The sound quality is outstanding as well, as per usual.

After various drum machine libraries featuring samples processed with things like tape, vinyl, and the UBK Fatso, Goldbaby once again manages to create something fresh and exciting from sound sources that one might think were long exhausted. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

More information: Goldbaby Productions / When Alien Drum Robots Attack!

Review: Goldbaby Productions The FatJuno-6

Goldbaby The FatJuno-6

The FatJuno-6 is the second sample library in which Goldbaby combines vintage synthesizer sounds with UBK Fatso processing.

The Juno-6 was the first in the Juno series of Synthesizers. Released in 1982 it has become a legend for its warm, full sound and lush analog chorus.

Initially this synth was going to be part of Fatso Synths Vol 2. However it became obvious early on that this synth, through the UBK Fatso, deserved its own product… I’m proud to present The FatJuno-6!

The FatJuno-6 includes 140 instrument patches in both Kontakt and EXS24 formats, each featuring the following categories: mono, poly, layered, raw, and single cycle oscillator. The Kontakt version (which I am using) also has some additional arp instruments and a few multis.

I’m not sure how different the instruments sound in each sampler, but I’m seeing many patches with identical names so I reckon those will be very similar to one another. Regardless, both formats make use of the same 1,630 24bit wav samples.

The FatJuno-6 Arp instrument Kontakt
The FatJuno-6 – Arp patch (with Poly Step script) in Kontakt

The Juno-6 is a six voice polyphonic synthesizer with digitally controlled analog oscillators — pulse, saw, and square + white noise and a square-wave subosc. With its analog filter and chorus this synth is capable of some incredibly fat poly-synth sounds (punchy bass sounds, warm lush pads).

This particular model does not have any patch memory or MIDI so sound patches needs to be (re)programmed every time you want to use them.

The FatJuno-6 samples folder shows that Goldbaby created close to 40 different patches for this sample library. These are all multi-sampled, except for the single cycle oscillator patches.

Before the sampled sounds were crafted into Kontakt/EXS24 instruments they were processed with the UBK Fatso. This is basically a tone-sweetening Empirical Labs EL7 Fatso Jr. (features harmonic generation+soft clipper, high frequency saturation, transformer & tape head emulation, and classic knee compression), modified by KuSh Audio to feature three new presets.

The nice thing about using a sampler like Kontakt is that you can do a lot more than just map these Juno-6 samples across the keyboard. Effects, modulation and scripts are used, and various parameters (filter, LFO, pitch, etc.) are assigned to the modwheel and velocity making the sounds dynamic and expressive.

The 140 instrument patches included in The FatJuno-6 offer a wide range of sounds, including drum sounds and sound effects. In Kontakt’s instrument edit mode you can explore the patches to see what is going on and modify the sounds to your liking.

So what do I think?

Product: The FatJuno-6 by Goldbaby Productions
Format: Kontakt/EXS24 (24bit wav)
Price: $49 USD

Goldbaby’s work continues to impress me. The FatJuno-6 includes a wide range of sounds in 140 well designed patches. Apparently some of the instruments with sustain loops were hard to get right because of the chorus effect, but I think they came out great as well.

You can really tell that a lot of work went into making this library — High quality multi-samples, creative & expressive instruments, instant usability, and most of all… a huge fat sound.

If you are looking for the sound of the Juno-6 this is the sample library to get.

More information: Goldbaby Productions

Mini-review: Goldbaby Productions MPC60 Vol 3

Goldbaby MPC60 Vol 3

Goldbaby Productions just released the third and final volume of its MPC60 series of sample libraries.

MPC60 Vol 3 features over 1,000 sounds sampled on a vintage Akai MPC-60 sampler.

This is the last in the MPC60 series of sample packs. It includes: Layered Drums, Vinyl Drums, Various Drum Machines, FX and even some synth sounds…. all sampled on the MPC60. Then captured as 24 bit wav files. These are some seriously solid samples dripping with the 60′s legendary sonic character.

Taking a look at the sound sources for volume 3 of the MPC60 series you may notice some familiar names like the Oberheim DMX, Emu Drumulator, Roland CR-78, MFB522, Vermona DRM and Linn LM-1 drum machines. It looks like Goldbaby went crate digging in his own sample collection!

The 1,053 wav samples are categorized in various folders for easy browsing. Besides the drum machine samples there is also a folder with layered drums. This is one of those tricks most hip hop producers will know about. Layering a drum hit will give you a fatter, bigger drum sound.

A “Vinyl” folder features even more drum samples, sampled from vinyl. I can’t tell you how these were done exactly but I know a lot of work went into creating them — think vintage equipment, tape, additional processing like the UBK Fatso, etc. — and it shows. These samples sound so good it’s ridiculous.

Production ready sounds aplenty, great authentic vibe. Although MPC60 Vol 3 features mostly drum sounds there are also some nice synth and effects samples.

Bass, blips and fx from a Yamaha CS-10, tons of processed vinyl effects, sweepy sounds from the Gakken SX-150, some crazy weird vox, various hits and stabs, and more, more, and even more!

MPC60 Vol 3 also comes with some kit patches in various formats (Battery 3, ReFill, iDrum, Guru) for instant satisfaction.

So what do I think?

Product: MPC60 Vol 3 by Goldbaby Productions
Format: 24bit/44KHz wav (+ Battery 3, Guru, iDrum, Refill)
Price: $24 USD (all formats included)

I wasn’t planning on doing another Goldbaby review for a while because I’m running out of things to say about these fantastic sample libraries. So here’s the bottom line: Goldbaby delivers, time after time.

MPC60 Vol 3 is a wonderful collection of high quality lo-fi (?!) samples. They sound absolutely outstanding and will do great in any production that needs to have that vintage sound. Hip Hop producers will love these.

More information: Goldbaby Productions

Review: Goldbaby Productions The CustomDMX

Goldbaby CustomDMX

After doing two synth sample libraries — FatsoSynths Vol 1 and Tape101 —, Goldbaby returns with another drum sample library: The CustomDMX.

Besides drum machines recorded on tape machines, sounds sampled on the vintage MPC60 and SP-1200, and drum machine sounds pressed on vinyl & played on various turntables, we now have new type of treatment: The DMX + Prommer.

The Oberheim DMX is a classic drum machine that uses sampled PCM (Pulse Code Modulated) audio for its sound source. To store the individual sounds it uses EPROMs (Eraseable Programmable Read-Only Memory). The chips on these EPROMs can be erased by exposing them to ultraviolet light and you can (re)program them with a PROM burner, also called a Prommer. You can watch a video of Goldbaby creating a custom EPROM here.

Goldbaby writes:

Countless hours were spent creating these 8 bit custom EPROMs. Then installing them in the DMX and recording the result . This was definitely a labour of love! Get hold of some really unique old school drum sounds.

The CustomDMX features

  • 1182 x 24 bit – one shot wav samples.
  • Plus the DMX groove templates!
  • Battery, Guru, Refill and Wav formats.

I had a go with the Battery version which also includes 15 kits to get you going right away.

The samples include drum machine sounds from various sources (DMX, 808, 909, Drumulator, Mbase, MXR, MicroTonic, and more…), sampled and processed in several ways. The DMX standard drums are available as raw samples, re-sampled ones and you get a folder of UBK Fatso goodness. There’s also a folder with various sounds like eastern percussion, SH-101 fx, sampled vinyl hits, etc.

The CustomDXM is available for purchase for $24 USD (includes all formats).

So what do I think?

As you would expect from an 8-bit drum machine, the CustomDMX samples have that same lovely lo-fi sound that the original ones have. The DMX was used by a lot of artists in the early 80′s so you might recognize its sounds from hit songs like Holiday by Madonna, Rockit by Herbie Hancock & Bill Laswell, and Prince’s Purple Rain, to name just a few.

Besides the DMX samples there are plenty of other sounds in this library. Goldbaby even included a bunch of vocoded sounds. Goldbaaaaybaaaaaiyah! This is another top notch sample library of sounds I don’t really need, but does one ever have enough unique drum sounds? I guess not!

What else can I say… Just head on over to the CustomDMX product page and listen to the demo mp3s, these sounds speak for themselves.

More information: Goldbaby Productions / The CustomDMX

Review: Native Instruments Maschine

Audio production software has come a long way. Where as in the past one would typically use a number of traditional instruments, synthesizers, drum machines, mixing panels, etc., software has opened the door for many home studio musicians to produce music on a budget.

Although you could easily get along using software exclusively, you may still want to use a controller when recording music, so you can actually “play it” instead of programming everything.

Native Instruments Maschine

Native Instruments has recently introduced Maschine, a powerful combination of software and hardware, or as they put it, a complete Groove Production Studio.

MASCHINE combines the flexibility of computer-based music production with the ease of a groove box into one powerful creative tool. Utilizing onboard samples or your own audio files, MASCHINE’s symbiosis of hardware and software not only ensures a fast and fun workflow, but lets you easily turn your ideas into professional productions.

So let’s take a looks at what this Maschine is all about!

Where’s the installation disk?

I generally don’t read manuals anyway, but Native Instruments doesn’t encourage me much either. I open the box and the first thing I see is this lovely control surface. All I can think is “hook it up man, let’s get going!”

I am a long time Windows user though, so I know better than to just hook up anything USB without checking for drivers first. The installation disc was all the way in the bottom of the box, so I almost missed it.

The installation of the drivers and Maschine software was a breeze; it just takes a while to copy all the content from the DVD. After authorizing Maschine in the Service Center, I figured it was a good idea to download the latest update as well. All set to go, let’s see what we have here!

The Hardware

16 pads, transport controls, LCD displays… The Maschine controller does a convincing MPC impersonation, doesn’t it?

Maschine Controller

The controller is quite compact and has a sturdy, high quality feel to it, even though it is only partly metal. Hooking it up to your computer with a USB cable, the Maschine controller powers up with its lovely backlit LEDs. Groovy! I know design is a matter of taste, but I feel NI did a smashing job with the looks of this thing.

The illuminated pads feel nice and responsive (velocity and aftertouch can be configured to your liking) and all of the 41 buttons are backlit. Great for working in a setup with little light, e.g. a live performance.

The controller features 11 endless rotary encoders, which have a smooth feel to them. The two LCD displays are clear and easy to read (as long as the angle is steep enough; the contrast can be adjusted) and have plenty of space to display the parameter pages.

Besides using the controller with the Maschine software, you can also control external MIDI hardware (via MIDI in/out on the back panel) and other software. The pads, knobs and buttons can all be customized with the included controller editor application.

The cool thing is that pretty much everything in Maschine can be done from this dedicated controller. You would almost forget that there is a piece of software doing all the actual work.

The Software

The Maschine software is basically an advanced pattern-based sequencer application which allows you to create patterns, group them, and arrange them in “scenes”. It can be used standalone or as a plug-in, so you can integrate it into your current setup.

Maschine software
Maschine software, a complete music production environment

Some key features of the Maschine software:

  • Browser – the browser provides an interface to all your projects, scenes, instruments, samples, effects, etc. Searching is easy with tag-based searches, key words, and attributes, quite much like KORE.
  • Sequencer & Arranger – the advanced sequencer, or pattern editor, features both step programming and real-time recording. 8 groups of 64 patterns each can be arranged in up to 64 scenes in the arranger section. The sequencer supports live automation for effects, sampler and mixer parameters.
  • Effects – there are 21 effects (or FX) which can be used as insert effects to each group, sound, or the master (in 2 FX slots). You can also create send effects and multi-effects, or route an effect to external gear.
  • Sampler (engine) – records both internal and external audio, audio editing & slicing, resampling, extensive playback features including various envelope and modulation options, and 8 individual stereo outputs (16 mono outs).

Maschine comes with a sound library featuring 5 GB content in 15,000 samples.
It includes 300 drum kits, 280 multi-sampled instruments, 400 sliced loops, 6,500 one shot samples, 100 FX presets and 55 FX chains. You’ll also get 50 projects which are a good way to explore what Maschine can do.

The included sounds were provided by numerous sound designers and artists, including Matthew Herbert, Montana B, Amon Tobin, Goldbaby, Denaun Porter, Sonic Specialists and many others.

The library features a good variety of sounds, mostly suitable for electronic music, i.e. urban, hip hop, R&B, techno, house, dubstep, etc.

Reader question: Torley wanted to know how much of the sample content is new material.

I asked Native Instruments and they told me that even though a few kits were taken from the Battery library, those were remastered through a special mastering setup of high-quality analog outboard gear. The vast majority of the library is brand spanking new material.

Besides using the sound library, you can also use your own samples in Maschine (currently only wav/aiff, but I think REX support will follow). In order to have them available for selection on the hardware controller you will need to import the samples into Maschine’s library (it will create a reference to the sample, not a local copy/move).

It is probably a good idea to tag your imported samples as well. It may take some time to do, but you will be able to find your samples much faster in future projects. If you are familiar with Kore, you will know the power of this type of browser system.

The Magic

However cool the controller might be, without the software you would only be able to use it as a regular MIDI controller. And although the sequencer works fine without the controller, it is when using the complete package that the magic happens.

Reader question: Benebomber wondered if working with Maschine is intuitive, more specifically when digging a bit deeper (e.g. recording your own samples or tweaking them).

I would definitely say it is. When I got the Maschine I opened the box, installed the software, hooked up the controller and a few minutes later I was creating beats. For more advanced things — like recording and editing your own samples — you might want to work on the screen, but you could also do it on the controller itself. Whatever fits your workflow best.
I personally prefer to use the menus on the controller and leave my computer keyboard and mouse alone as much as I can. Maschine is perfect for this.

Native Instruments has a number of excellent Maschine videos showcasing its features, including live recording, sampling, automation, and how to control Ableton Live. Here’s the Maschine introduction video.

An even better way to understand what Maschine is all about though is to actually get some hands-on experience with it. Maschine is just a lot more fun to work with than it is to write about it, so I would advise you to go check it out at your local music shop. You need to tap those pads, browse the sound library and play with some of the demo arrangements to see how you like it.

Maschine retails for an MSRP of $669 USD / 599 EUR, and is available from the NI Online Shop and dealers worldwide.

So what do I think?

From the moment I held it in my hands I loved Maschine’s control surface. I really like the black finish and backlit pads & buttons, and overall it feels like a quality piece of hardware. I’m a bit of a compulsive tapper — tapping beats on my desk all day long — so I am not surprised that I enjoy using these pads to record my beats a lot more than having to construct them with my computer mouse.

Working with the controller is a delight. Incidentally I would have to look something up, but most of the time I could find everything right away, which is telling of Maschine’s intuitiveness. I like the Maschine controller so much that I find myself using it in MIDI mode with other virtual instruments and effects as well.

Maschine’s software is deep, offering much more than the simple pattern-based sequencer it might appear to be. You have detailed control over your sequences, and a vast amount of quality effects and modulations are available, as well as a quality sound library and extensive editing features.

In standalone mode it basically provides you with all you need to create your music from scratch.

Of course, there is still room for improvement as well. I personally did not encounter any real problems, but it is good to know that Native Instruments is working on some important changes for the version 1.1 update, which should make a lot of people happy (e.g. MIDI in/out, REX support, better slicing options).

In short, Maschine is a powerful piece of software bundled with a superb controller. The two work together seamlessly and it truly feels like a proper instrument. Plus, it is tons of fun to work with!

Visit Native Instruments for more information.