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Native Instruments’ new Maschine MK3 has color screens and audio jacks

Native Instruments’ new Maschine MK3 has color screens and audio jacks


A massive hardware overhaul

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Native Instruments has announced a new version of production and performance system Maschine, as well as the next iteration of its Komplete Kontrol keyboard. The updates for both units were developed in tandem, meant to keep musicians in the groove without depending on outside hardware as much. For Maschine, these updates also mean a more optimized and tactile experience for programming and performing beats on the fly.

Both units have been given quite the overhaul, but excitement for the Maschine MK3 is palpable. Maschine quickly became a beat-making staple after its debut in 2009, featuring a physical interface recalling the Akai MPC that’s coupled with an integrated software production system. Since then, it’s received plenty of software updates, but only one hardware revision: 2012’s MK2.

At first glance, the most obvious difference with the MK3 is the visual layout: all the buttons are larger, there’s much less space between them, and there are even new functionality buttons plus a touch-reactive smart strip, which allows for pitch bending sounds or applying sound effects. The larger-sized pads are also more reactive than previous versions, making it easier for musicians to perform complex drum rolls and flams. (Finger drummers in particular should also be happy with both these adjustments.)

Reducing unused physical space also helps make room for two full-color hi-res screens at the top that allow for browsing libraries, previewing sounds, and more. The jog wheel has been replaced with a slightly slimmer four-directional push encoder that works for browsing, navigating, and adjusting levels and balance. Together, this creates a more dynamic interface that Native Instruments hopes will have you looking less at your computer screen and more hands-on with Maschine.

The MK3 now also features a built-in 96kHz / 24-bit audio interface, a one-fourth dynamic mic input, stereo headphone output, MIDI in and out, and perhaps most importantly, line outputs and inputs. Those line jacks are a big deal, as previous versions had plenty of MIDI connectivity but no audio I/O, meaning you couldn’t directly plug things like speakers or your headphones into the unit. Now you can.

As always, this version of Maschine comes with a hefty amount of samples. The MK3 comes with an 8GB Maschine library with samples, one-shots, presets, drum kits, and more, plus the 25GB Komplete 11 Select library collection (which retails separately for $199).

As far as updates go with the Komplete Kontrol MK2 keyboard, you’ll notice the same visual language changes in the hardware that appear on the Maschine MK3. There are two hi-res color screens, 17 additional function buttons, the four-directional push encoder, as well as the smart strip. Also added — ergonomic pitch and mod wheels.

The Komplete Kontrol MK2 keyboard has the same goal of staying hands-on with the hardware, and to aid that, it has enhanced DAW (digital audio workstation) and Maschine integration. There’s immediate access to mixing, editing, and navigation controls in programs like Ableton Live and Logic Pro X, with visual feedback and volume metering in the keyboard’s two displays. Support for Cubase and Nuendo is coming in a later software update. As with the original Komplete Kontrol keyboard, this isn’t just another USB MIDI controller, but a keyboard that has tight and intuitive integration with Native Instruments’ software, synths, and sample-based instruments.

The Maschine MK3 and Komplete Kontrol MK2 keyboards (available in 49 keys and 61 keys) will be available via Native Instruments and retailers on October 5th. They can be preordered today on the Native Instruments website. The Maschine MK3 is priced at $599, the Komplete Kontrol MK2 S49 is priced at $599, and the Komplete Kontrol MK2 S61 is priced at $699.

See additional specs and details on what’s new with the Maschine MK3 and Komplete Kontrol MK2 on Native Instruments’ website.