Is Maschine for me?
I’m growing frustrated with my Maschine mk3 and the Maschine Software, and want to share my experience. There are many people here that use and like the Maschine, and I’d like to contrast our experiences, in order to learn to use it properly, or make sure that the workflow is not for me.
When I started producing music ~3 years ago, I got a Digitakt. After a while, I wanted to try using the computer to make music, and I tried a lot of DAWs before finally buying Bitwig. Meanwhile, I bought some more hardware, including the Machine mk3. I basically bought it because, in a forum, many people were saying the Maschine is highly productive and helped to finish songs.
Although I like the hardware part of Maschine (the pads, the big screens…), I keep getting frustrated every time I try to use it, both with the Maschine software, or as a controller for Bitwig.
These are some of the things I think are contributing to this frustration. I'm talking about basic functionality: events, patterns, effects, arrangements… not comparing with Bitwig grid, sample slicing, or any other advanced feature:
- Contextual/interactive help: nonexistent, not even a message saying your copy command actually did something. Every time I try to use it, I end up looking for basic functionality tips in the 700 pages manual, which is quite dense as it mixes windows/macOS recipes with controller recipes.
- Intuitive behavior: I can do all basic operations in Bitwig (or Studio 5, or Ableton) without reading the manual or watching a video. Also, I remember most of the basic commands and shortcuts on an Elektron machine after using them a pair of times, because they are logical. I never can do this in Maschine, always got stuck.
- Wasted screens: you have not one but two big screens in the Maschine controller. Why the “Filter” word fills a whole screen, but we don’t get a graphic that shows the shape of the filter we are configuring? Even the tiny screen of the Microfreak does this. The same with any basic effect: compressor, reverb, delay…
- Expansions: Another thing that keeps puzzling me is the sample organization in the expansions. While I like the sounds and find them quite useful, there is a lack of good labeling and organization. For example, just now, I’ve loaded a group from the Halcyon Sky expansion. It has four piano-like chord samples. Well, I don’t know which chords are, because it is not labeled anywhere (just Piano1, Piano2, etc.), I even don’t know what the scale is in the whole melodic group. And there are only these four samples, so if, for example, I need a minor instead of a major, I can’t use them. It would be much better if the expansions were organized as useful sets, not as semifinished tracks.
- Software UI: you can’t change panel sizes, only show/hide them; the scrolling/zooming is much more inconvenient than in Bitwig… At this point, I really prefer to use Bitwig even with the mouse and keyboard, than Maschine.
So, what’s the problem? Is Maschine simply not for me? Should I put more effort into it, and then I will see its usefulness? Do you agree with these appreciations?
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