Basically everyone in the music world right now is trying to break away from the PC. It’s not that DAWs and VSTs don’t have their place. But there’s a growing desire to put actual hardware in front of people and all the better if that hardware works just the same even when your computer is shut down. This poses a challenge for companies like Native Instruments that have built an empire around making music on a computer. So it did the obvious thing: It built a computer. And then stuck it inside the chassis of it’s well regarded Maschine controllers.
Physically the Maschine+ is basically indistinguishable from the Maschine MkIII. There’s the same set of 16 large pads on the front, eight encoders for tweaking parameters, two reasonably large color screens and a host of navigation and transport controls. But under the hood is a completely different beast. The + has a quad-core processor and 4GB of RAM inside which allows it to run a selection of Native Instruments plugins even when it’s not connected to a computer. (Though, it can still operate as a controller for the Maschine software when plugged in.)
The same workflow from that desktop app is carried over to the standalone groovebox, so you should be able to seamlessly bounce back and forth between the two depending on your mood. When in standalone mode the Maschine+ will be able to run a whole bunch of plugins from the Komplete library, including softsynths like EDM stalwart Massive, FM8, Monark and Prism. Plus a sampler, 8GB of preloaded sounds (plus expansion packs) and 35 built in effects including the excellent Raum reverb plugin.
Unsurprisingly, all of this doesn’t come cheap. When it hits store shelves on October 1st it’s expected to cost $1,399 / €1,299. We’ll obviously have to wait to get our hands on one to see if Native Instruments has successfully captured the power and allure of its software instruments in a hardware device. But, regardless, I wholly endorse this trend towards unplugged music making.