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The cut-down sibling of Native Instruments’ full-size Maschine, Maschine Mikro represents quite exceptional value - particularly when you take into account that it comes complete with its own powerful step-sequencing DAW, as well as a 6GB sample library and copies of Komplete Elements and the acclaimed Massive synth.
The Maschine software also comes in AU, RTAS and VST plug-in formats, so that you can access the included content via a plug-in in your DAW; but the software also acts as a plug-in host itself, meaning that you can access all your third-party effects and sound sources from within it. Pretty clever stuff!
Being almost exactly the same width as a 13-inch laptop, the supremely portable Maschine Mikro controller is beautifully built and impressively solid, so you feel instantly reassured that it’s not going to fall apart the minute you start pounding on the pads.
The only real downside is the interface, which isn’t as intuitive as that of its larger brother - this is largely due to Maschine Mikro’s reliance on a single LCD screen rather than a pair of them, and far fewer controls.
Maschine Mikro isn’t just a superb performer as a standalone package, but thanks to the bundled Controller Editor application, it can also easily be configured to work as a generic control surface for your software of choice.
As hardware controllers go, its lack of encoders and sliders does let it down a little - regardless, the playability of the pads make it an ideal choice for inputting drums, so when judged on its ability to carry out that task alone, the mighty Mikro is a winner.