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My Official NI Maschine Review - Will my MPC survive? Drum Machines & Samplers
Old 22nd December 2010
  #1
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My Official NI Maschine Review - Will my MPC survive?

First off, let me say that this is not an argument thread. This is not about which is better...MPC or Maschine. It's simply my take on which is better for me and what my feelings are about Maschine after well over 10 years with the MPC. I promised I'd write a review so here it goes....

A little history...I've used every MPC except the 60, 5000 and 500. It has been the heart and soul of my production studios since leaving tape machines and getting into MIDI. Hell, I even remember syncing it to studer/otari via SMPTE. (That was a pain in the ass at the time. ) Anyways, all this to say, there isn't much I don't know about the MPC and my account of Maschine vs the MPC in my workflow, can be taken with this history in mind and/or taken with a grain of salt.

I'll try to avoid going into the same blub you can get from the website, instead I'll touch on the features that really stand out to me. With that said....Let's get to it...

Used Buyer Warning

First let me say, that if you're planning on buying a Maschine, make sure it's a full version and not an EDU or NFR version. All work exactly the same but the EDU and NFR versions do not allow you to resell them. I say this, so if you're buying a used version, make sure it's not EDU or you will be buying a fancy doorstop. NI support will not help you but they will respond quickly. Thumbs up for that. thumbsup

When in doubt, just buy the full (NON-EDU/NFR) version. Most sellers say there is no difference and there isn't based on fuctionality but if someone sells you a used EDU/NFR Maschine that's already been registered...you're screwed. You can look at the serial number on the outside of the box to see if it's labled EDU or NFR. Just a free warning...

First Glance

My first impression taking Maschine out of the box was that it didn't seem cheap to me. It was much lighter than an MPC but didn't seem cheap. Setup was a breeze. It's usb powered so installation was very simple. No problems whatsoever. Just like any piece of software.

Once it was installed, it looked great in the lab. Lots of lights, knobs, dual screens and a very low profile. I'm no stranger to MIDI gear so I assumed this would be a simple transition to Maschine but I was wrong.

Software

Initially, I found myself using the software vs the controller. The layout of Maschine, is nothing like an MPC with the exception of the pads. I think it's best to say that if you think of it like an MPC, you will be sorely disappointed. It's not an MPC, not by a long shot. The MPC is very simple in it's approach where Maschine has so many features that it takes a bit of effort to find "what" it can do and then find "how" to do it in the software and on the controller.

For the most part, the software side of things is very simple. If you have any experience running soft synths/seqencers, you'll be making music the first day. It's laid out really nice...being able to access all samples and sounds from the Maschine library and my own HD, from a dedicated window on the left side of the screen, is simply beautiful! I can access instruments, kits, programs, FX or anything I want to bring into Maschine. For a long time MPC user...this is the sh*t!

Another feature that really stands out to me is the easy access to ALL a sounds parameters right in front of me. It's so easy. No click through page after page on a little screen. Everything from pitch, reverse, envelopes, FX, filters, etc. Also the type: One Shot...ADH or ADSR. BEAUTIFUL! It's just so simple and fast to tweek your samples and sounds. It's all right there in front of you.

The other big plus for me is the slice function. It's like recycle but built right into my sequencer. I just click the waveform icon on any sample I have loaded, hit the slice tab and bamm....it's already to go. I can adjust my slices, add more, whatever. It's everything I would expect, just easier to access. Which brings me to the last point of the software.

I love that it's really just one main page. My library of sounds, my scenes (song mode) and my sequencer. Everything I've highlighted is easily accessed from this main page. Everything is accessed by tabs and it's genius in it's simplicity and common sense approach to all the features a modern programmer would need.

Hardware

As I learned the software, I forced myself to learn it on the hardware. I knew that whatever I could do in the software I could do on the controller, so I began to make a point of switching my focus to the controller. This was a little tougher...just because of the amount of features in this one unit. But as you continue to work with Maschine, you find yourself automatically grabbing knobs and running the software from the controller just for ease of use. If I was just going to click a mouse all day, there are cheaper ways to achieve the same thing.

Once I really got rock'n and roll'n with the controller, I found myself creating tracks with the software minimized on my screen. I didn't really need to look at it to continue working smoothly. If fact, it wasen't until I could utilize the controller that I saw the true benefits to my workflow. Everything I've mentioned can be controlled easily from the controller. Much better than an MPC in terms of work flow and I'm still learning new things everyday. I can create faster, much faster. I can tweek sounds and samples on the fly and see how they work in the track without having to stop and tweek, process...blah, blah, blah. It really is amazing! And when doing it all from a hardware controller, it feels like exactly that...hardware.

One last big highlight for me, is the swing knob. It's great being able to change the swing on the fly.

The Pads

My biggest concern getting into Maschine was the pads. As many MPC users will tell you, the pads are essential to creating great grooves. At first, the pads feel obviously different than an MPC. The MPC has very firm pads and they can really take a beating. Maschine's pads are much softer but again, don't feel cheap. So the question is, are they as responsive as the MPC? To me, they are actually far superior to the pads of the MPC. WAY more responsive. In fact, playing with Maschine for awhile and then playing on the MPC was night and day. The softer and more responsive pads of Maschine made creating velocity variances on kicks, snares, congos, etc. a breeze. It's especially nice on high hats where I rarely max out velocities and instead try to play with a more natural and varying velocity throughout the high hat parts. The MPC can obviously pull it off but is much more likely to trigger double notes and I frequently find myself having to adjust velocities within PT to get the sound and feel I want. Maschine gets it right the first time and if need, adjusting velocities is a breeze as well.

How does it sound?

The stock sounds are ok. There's some good stuff in there but overall, I'd just say they are ok. I had to do lots of layering and tweeking with the raw drum sounds to really get the "punch" I was used to from the MPC. This disappointed me initially and I began to think that the MPC really did sound better. But the logic in that statement just didn't sit well with me. I mean, you're triggering samples...Maschine dosen't have a sound. So unless there is something special with the output of the MPC, there was something missing. I decided to load up the some of the drum samples from my personal library to give me a fair comparison. Once I did that, it was clear that the MPC does not have a "special fairy dust" or any other advantage when triggering samples. The logic is true...you're just triggering samples. There was really no audible difference to me. The drums "slap" coming from Maschine just as I would expect from the MPC. It really does come down to your source material. The stock drums in Maschine are just weak for the most part. You can get them to the "level" if you know what you're doing but importing my sample library gets me working right away, at the highest levels.

There's also nothing special about the MPC sequencer vs Maschine. I actually find my recent tracks more lively and natural but I think that has everything to do with the responsive pads and not the sequencer.

Drag and Drop Audio

Awesome! Works like a champ. Drag audio right into PT. Didn't think I would really use this but wow...it's great. Worth the price of admission! Nuff said!

Conclusion

As I've said, I'm still learning new things everyday and would not consider myself an expert on Maschine but my overall impression is that Maschine will replace my MPC simply because the more I use it, the more the thought of accomplishing the same thing on an MPC just seems archaic. As much as I love the MPC, it's just really hard to justify keeping something that is so limited in it's modern day approach to programming. I mean, 10-12 years ago...yeah...MPC was the top of the line. It's all you ever needed for programming drums. But, its neary 2011. Don't blame me...blame AKAI. They haven't even been able to get there own internal software right let alone making the bridge between hardware and software and that is what modern programming demands.

With Maschine, there is a bit of a learning curve so just be patient with it. If you have common sense in programming, you'll be zipping around it in no time. I hope some of you were able to find value in this post and for those that disagree...that's ok too. At the end of the day, it's whatever works for you but I will say this. Sometimes we get stuck in our ways and refuse to venture into new products and ultimately end up cheating ourselves. I did that with soft synths some time ago and spend 4-5 times that amount on romplers. Not that romplers are no good but I cheated myself out of some excellent software for a fraction of the price. With technology changing faster than we can purchase it, things become cheaper. Just because something doesn't cost an arm and a leg, dosen't mean that it's not a professional option.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #2
Gear Nut
 

Nice read. Being a user of 3000's, 2000xl's, 2000's, 1000's, I am also considering getting a machine just to beable to quickly go thru different sound banks. You said it sounds the same, but I imagine the inputs don't sound the same, due to various converter issues. I do wish they made the machine with heavier, nicer materials though, the lightweight plastic used feels sort of cheap. The one that ski beats has looks really nice though, nice color combination, less starship enterprise, more mpc like. I know aesthetics don't make better beats, but I still gotta like looking at it.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #3
Gear Addict
 

I'm selling my MPC4000 for Machine. I'm just tired of the bulk
Old 22nd December 2010
  #4
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Audio Child's Avatar
 

Thanks for sharing the info!

I was thinking of grabbing an mpc60 and a maschine eventually!
Cant lose that way!
Old 22nd December 2010
  #5
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Stoneface's Avatar
 

Thx guys! I may look at changing the look of Maschine but I'm ok for now. That would be cool though...as for selling the 4000. I would suggest you buy Maschine first and make sure it works for you. You may not have the same results that I have. In that case a 2500 would give you a much smaller footprint and is my favorite MPC by far.

MPC60 and Maschine...true slutz style.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #6
Lives for gear
good read i agree that maschine is simple and alot faster the the 1k.

but i disagree about the drum sounds the vinyl and urban drums are dope.


on the bad side the filters are weak but there is a good amount of fx and lfo's/envelope.

and with the comming vst support its a monster
Old 22nd December 2010
  #7
mp3
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Quote:
my overall impression is that Maschine will replace my MPC simply because the more I use it, the more the thought of accomplishing the same thing on an MPC just seems archaic. As much as I love the MPC, it's just really hard to justify keeping something that is so limited in it's modern day approach to programming.
...
Sometimes we get stuck in our ways and refuse to venture into new products and ultimately end up cheating ourselves.
JJOS negates this argument. The JJ machines are the only MPCs that's really a fair comparison to Maschine. I don't see ever parting with my 1k (unless its to move up to a 2500). And its not features, because a lot of what JJOS is about is workflow.

When speaking on the classic machines, the people who are diehards aren't really looking for what Maschine offers anyway so its really a moot point. They're looking for classic workflows and limitations (well either that or their homeboy told them that's what Premier and Dre use lol). They want archaic... Personally I don't want to be quite that limited (I've owned a 60mkII and a 3k and ended up selling them) but I don't think anybody is cheating themselves by sticking to a classic MPC.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #8
Lives for gear
 

I must admit that I am keeping my MPC3000 here on the studio desk as nostalgia more than anything. I run ableton live with controllers and really want to get machine. Its just my stubborn MPC side that won't let me. I am trying to go fully mouse free with ableton and the apc40 but its just not happening which annoys me. I guess i need to get hands on with maschine to see if i can truly go mouse free at the beginning of making a beat.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #9
mp3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkung View Post
I am trying to go fully mouse free with ableton and the apc40 but its just not happening which annoys me.
That's not gonna happen. There are too many functions that ableton has that you can't do from the APC. But you can increase the functionality of the APC: _Framework: APC 64-40
Old 22nd December 2010
  #10
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Stoneface's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jpeg View Post
good read i agree that maschine is simple and alot faster the the 1k.

but i disagree about the drum sounds the vinyl and urban drums are dope.


on the bad side the filters are weak but there is a good amount of fx and lfo's/envelope.

and with the comming vst support its a monster
Yeah, there's some good stuff in there...but out of 6GB...I'd have to say the totality of the sounds is just ok, to me. Can't wait for 1.6.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #11
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Stoneface's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mp3 View Post
JJOS negates this argument. The JJ machines are the only MPCs that's really a fair comparison to Maschine. I don't see ever parting with my 1k (unless its to move up to a 2500). And its not features, because a lot of what JJOS is about is workflow.

When speaking on the classic machines, the people who are diehards aren't really looking for what Maschine offers anyway so its really a moot point. They're looking for classic workflows and limitations (well either that or their homeboy told them that's what Premier and Dre use lol). They want archaic... Personally I don't want to be quite that limited (I've owned a 60mkII and a 3k and ended up selling them) but I don't think anybody is cheating themselves by sticking to a classic MPC.
I disagree...Someone else had to create an OS that increased workflow for the MPC and in my view, it's still no Maschine.

I never suggested that anyone is cheating themselves by sticking to an MPC. Use what works for you but don't be afraid to try new toys and technology. This IS Gearslutz afterall.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #12
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RonT's Avatar
 

All I use my MPC for is the roll function............Havn't loaded a sound into it in about 2 years...
Old 22nd December 2010
  #13
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Stoneface's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jkung View Post
I must admit that I am keeping my MPC3000 here on the studio desk as nostalgia more than anything. I run ableton live with controllers and really want to get machine. Its just my stubborn MPC side that won't let me. I am trying to go fully mouse free with ableton and the apc40 but its just not happening which annoys me. I guess i need to get hands on with maschine to see if i can truly go mouse free at the beginning of making a beat.
Yeah, Maschine is worth a try if you're looking to get away from the mouse. I feel you're MPC pain though...there's a 2500 I'd love to buy just because it's the coolest modded MPC I've ever seen. heh Need a vocal chain though so I'll have to show some restraint.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #14
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saintjoe's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoneface View Post
T..as for selling the 4000. I would suggest you buy Maschine first and make sure it works for you. You may not have the same results that I have.
yep, this is perfect advice, I tell people this all the time, the price to purchase Maschine vs purchasing an MPC or MV usually doesn't require the same "sell and buy" concept many of us have been used to for so long.

the fact is Maschine may just not be what some people want, and it would suck to have sold your main tool to find out the new tool isn't what you need.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saintjoe View Post
yep, this is perfect advice, I tell people this all the time, the price to purchase Maschine vs purchasing an MPC or MV usually doesn't require the same "sell and buy" concept many of us have been used to for so long.

the fact is Maschine may just not be what some people want, and it would suck to have sold your main tool to find out the new tool isn't what you need.

And the congregation said "Amen"...
Old 23rd December 2010
  #16
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PeeWeeGee's Avatar
 

I'm probably the LEAST qualified to have a meaningful opinion regarding the MPC, because I never could really make it fit into my workflow. But....

MASCHINE is a great addition to the studio. It doesn't hinder creativity and let's me get the basic ideas completed SO quickly that I'm able to go back and fine tune the song and structure BEFORE I start to get bored with hearing it. (I'm sure some of you know what I mean.)

I'm looking forward to 1.6 and hope they drop it during the holidays, so I can have more free time to experiment with it.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #17
Gear Addict
 

Great review. I grew up with hardware. My first sampler was the damn Gemini DS-1224! Added a Boss DR-550 to the mix... Then upgraded to a Roland MS-1 and Alesis SR-16, recording with a Fostex 4-track -- so I go back! I bought an MPC 2000 and Roland VS-880 in 1998, after saving all summer as a college freshman: so I go WAY back with hardware.. I gave up on music for about a decade and came back to FL Studio and Pro Tools in 2007, but it didn't feel right. Copped an MPC 2500, sold it and went back to software, and then copped a used MPC 2000 classic a few months ago. At first it was a lot of fun, but it is also frustrating as hell with the load times and whatnot after getting used to software. COming from where I come from, I just feel like I SHOULD be using hardware, but I don't know man. Maschine sounds pretty damn sweet.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #18
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atma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shobiz View Post
I'm selling my MPC4000 for Machine. I'm just tired of the bulk
what are you asking for it?
Old 23rd December 2010
  #19
Here for the gear
 

So pop me

Very interested in a Maschine, probably going to purchase on tomorrow. Looking through these posts, being just a hobbyist, I gotta say, at the price the Maschine sells for, seems like it might be worth hanging onto the thing you anticipate it replacing...There are always folks who will grab a used MPC, so it is not like they are going to depreciate rock hard. I started out looking at the Akai APC40, but was quickly steered to this....Looking forward to it.

As far as way back...DR-220E was my first drum machine...ACK!
Old 23rd December 2010
  #20
Gear Addict
 

Question: As for importing your own sounds from your HD... Is there a way to scroll through these with just the hardware without going through the tagging process or anything? i'd like to know.... Went through manual.... For instance, I've got a folder on my HD that has folders within that, labeled kicks, snares, etc.. Is there a way to browse through those folders on the hardware?????? right now my ONLY gripe and feature request about maschine... I wish you could peruse the folder structure of your HD on maschine, go into an HD mode or something instead of maaschine's stock sounds.... I love it and have had many people say my music has changed for the better for it, a lot of artists I've been working it call it the 'magic maschine'..... But before I got it I spent soooo long organizing my samples and drums bc battery used to be my main sampler wish I could go through the drums on my HD like I go through the stock drums on the Maschine... just hit load, then next, next, next while the track is playing to see which hit really sits the best... ?????? Any advice??
Edit: Mac btw.....
Old 23rd December 2010
  #21
Dor
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Dor's Avatar
You need to tag to browse on Maschine hardwaee. Can only browse audio files with audition using the software.

D
Old 23rd December 2010
  #22
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Stoneface's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dor View Post
You need to tag to browse on Maschine hardwaee. Can only browse audio files with audition using the software.

D
As far as I know, he's right. If someone knows a way, I'm all ears.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #23
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bonusbmusic's Avatar
 

id say emu Sp, but if its out of these two id go MPC all day and night. the classicness and simplicity is just for me
Old 23rd December 2010
  #24
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by F Major View Post
And the congregation said "Amen"...
Yep. It's one of those things where you have to establish why you would change what works for you for the new, unless it became absolutely necessary to keep up. there are times where you have to make that change. A Powermac G5 user who wants the latest VI's that cannot run efficiently on the G5 has to reconsider whether the comfortability of using the G5 and being limited to Leopard, etc is really worth it.

The same applies to the MPC vs Maschine. If the MPC series allows you to accomplish what you need it to accomplish and allow you to keep up, then it might be a little silly to let it go.

Maschine has a lot of power and in a competitive environment, power, speed and efficiency is critical. However, I don't think we are quite at the point where the MPC series is antiquated. However, those who are not adequately able to time the precise moment of transition from the old to the new may find themselves playing catch-up at exactly that time they are in need to deliver viable product.

So it is wise to keep an eye on products like Maschine. With the new update approaching, I'm definitely waiting for the feedback to discern if it's that time to make the move. For now though, the MPC 4000 is just fine by me (Although I'll probably pick Maschine up in a lil) !
Old 23rd December 2010
  #25
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F*ck it. I am getting one tomorrow. This thread has put me over the edge... I guess i will move the MPC to another production desk.

@SaintJoe- Cool videos homie. I especially like your organizational skillz. haha. How do you group your sounds now. After i get the Maschine, it looks like i have alot of sorting to do.

Anyone use it in Live? How do you integrate? Do you just drag audio loops into empty clips slots in Live? I think that is how i would start using it just for the straight forward integration of audio over midi. Or do you have it synced with Live so you can further edit your midi?
Old 23rd December 2010
  #26
Gear Nut
 

Machine

I got a question, coming from a 4k point of view,


how is the drum sample layering on machine? I think it's one of the strongest points of MPC's as far as making beats.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #27
Lives for gear
 

Hmmm....since it was your review and not a debate..I just deleted the entire post I had for you. Your review is a little misleading though. I will just point out that Maschine has tons of menus and pages to go through that are not better laid out than an MPC. As an example, using Maschine you have to go through 6 pages to adjust Envelopes, FIlters, etc using left/right cursor keys. On an MPC, you have sof taps that take you directly to these perimeters. I have more (such as not all aspects of the software can be accessed via hardware) but like I said, I just deleted them.

I think anyone wanting a great assessment on what Maschine is about should check out NI's User Forum especially the feature request threads which contains numerous requests that are unique but also requests to add basic functions found in similar products. You will still have fanboys there..but also plenty of info from non-fanboys.
Old 23rd December 2010
  #28
mp3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoneface View Post
I disagree...Someone else had to create an OS that increased workflow for the MPC
That's neither here nor there. The fact is that it exists and that's all that matters for the sake of this argument.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoneface View Post
and in my view, it's still no Maschine.
Neither is Maschine an MPC 1k with JJ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoneface View Post
I never suggested that anyone is cheating themselves by sticking to an MPC.
That's exactly what you suggested. I just quoted you. But I'm not here to argue. At the end of the day its your glass half empty (stuck in our ways) vs. my glass half full (comfortable and productive with our ways).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoneface View Post
Use what works for you but don't be afraid to try new toys and technology. This IS Gearslutz afterall.
Fair enough. Also don't feel a need to try new gear if what you have works for you. Its your music, after all. thumbsup
Old 23rd December 2010
  #29
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Stoneface's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jahrome View Post
Hmmm....since it was your review and not a debate..I just deleted the entire post I had for you. Your review is a little misleading though. I will just point out that Maschine has tons of menus and pages to go through that are not better laid out than an MPC. As an example, using Maschine you have to go through 6 pages to adjust Envelopes, FIlters, etc using left/right cursor keys. On an MPC, you have sof taps that take you directly to these perimeters. I have more (such as not all aspects of the software can be accessed via hardware) but like I said, I just deleted them.
I actually would rather you had posted them. Lots to learn on Maschine. As I said, I'm not an expert...this is more like my 30 day review. I don't however feel 6 pages of envelopes, filters, etc is misleading. It's AWESOME! And I don't leave my main page to access them. There's just so many options, you have to tab/click through them. I've actually thought of alot of other things that I like about it...like when I play kick, snr, hh at the same time, it tracks the midi seperately. On an MPC I'd have to go back later and seperate those tracks. I do wish it had flip screens...it's a little tough to see sometimes but it's usable.

I don't intend to take anyones comments for or against this review personal. It's just my take after a short time. Hopefully it will prove helpful to some and if nothing else hopefully it's at least an interesting read.
Old 24th December 2010
  #30
Gear Maniac
 
saintjoe's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eemo1 View Post
I got a question, coming from a 4k point of view,


how is the drum sample layering on machine? I think it's one of the strongest points of MPC's as far as making beats.
drum layering is nothing like on the mpc, it's something many of us have been asking and requesting for a while. They have announced pad linking in the next update, but still, general layering as in, layer 4 sounds on a pad, isn't as straight forward as it should be.

Right now, it's more like building a multi sample, you go into the mapping editor, etc, kinda like in Kontakt.

Anyone who tells you that the drum layering in Maschine is as quick and fast as it is on the MPC is lying, period lol.

For some that's a deal breaker, for others they just deal with it or find other ways to layer drums in Maschine.
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