Native Instruments just released version 2.0 of its beat production software Maschine, and alongside it, Maschine Studio, a hot new hardware controller. As its name implies, this is some serious music machinery.
The key advantage to the Maschine ecosystem, as with other Native Instruments products, is that it's a focused approach. Unlike humungous digital production suites like Pro Tools, Maschine is all about producing beats (or as NI would have it, "Grooves"). Part of what makes this focused approach so successful is that the company makes its own hardware to go with the software. It's no surprise that NI competitor Ableton has veered in the direction as well, producing hardware for its extremely popular Live software.
The new Maschine Studio is supposed to replace the existing Maschine with a bigger, more-playable controller for the software. The $US1000 kit is loaded with pads and knobs as well as a dual-colour display, which all work together so that you can keep your eyes and brain on the surface and the music rather than on your computer.
As for the software, according to NI, version 2.0 has been rewritten "from the ground up." Important under-the-hood improvements include an entirely new audio engine as well as multi-core support, which, as Create Digital Music points out, is long overdue for a piece of music production software. On the screen, you'll be looking at a tweaked UI, with new features to make arranging different parts easier. For existing users the new software will come with a $US100 upgrade fee. There's a ton of new details, though, and we recommend heading over the CDM for the full skinny.
The overhauled Maschine software and hardware look like a powerful team. We'll have to wait and see if it's the real deal when they drop November 1st. [Native Instruments]