Rather than trying to top Maschine Studio, Native Instruments has gone for something leaner with the next addition to its groove production range, and has introduced Maschine Jam.
Designed to complement rather than replace other products in the Maschine range – there's no screen on this one, you'll notice - the emphasis with Jam is on capturing your moments of inspiration quickly and letting you develop them in a fast and fluid manner. As well as production, it can also be used for performance.
"Inspiration has always been the most energising, yet transient moment in the creative process," says Mate Galic, CTO of Native Instruments. "Maschine Jam narrows the gap between idea and execution and introduces an innovative piece of hardware that draws from the power of software in a deeply integrated way. It will stimulate more creative experimentation, drive quick results and deliver the flow of a truly tactile digital instrument for advanced track building and performance".
The principal work area is an 8x8 click-pad matrix that can used in several modes. In Step mode, the matrix becomes a multitrack step sequencer; Pad mode enables real-time note entry; and Piano Roll mode can be used for step sequencing melodies in a wide range of scales.
There's also the Variation Engine. Turn this on and beats and melodies are randomly generated based on customisable values. You can then modify these on the matrix and add feel with the humanizer.
As well as the matrix, you'll also find eight dual-touch smart strips that perform a variety of functions. You can map effects to them, for example, and use simultaneous finger gestures to edit sounds in real time. Multi-coloured LEDs mean you can keep track of settings, and the Notes feature means that it's even possible to use the strips to play melodies and chords. Parameter snapshots can be stored with the Lock function.
Maschine Jam works with the same Maschine 2 software as its siblings and comes with many of its sounds. It also ships with the Komplete 11 Select bundle, which includes the Massive and Monark synths, and the Maschine Drum Synth modules.
As well as being able to operate as a plugin, Maschine Jam can host them (it supports NKS-ready plugins) and the hardware can also work as a DAW controller when put into MIDI mode (an Ableton Live template is included).
Maschine Jam will cost £319/$399/€399 when it's released on 29 September, and you can pre-order it now from the Native Instruments website.