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Native Instruments Maschine 3 & Komplete Kontrol 2

Controller Instruments
Published December 2017
By Simon Sherbourne

Native Instruments Maschine 3 & Komplete Kontrol 2

Are the Maschine 3 and Komplete Kontrol 2 enough to keep NI at the top of the integrated controller/software game?

New versions of NI’s flagship controllers bring the onboard display features of the Maschine Studio to both the Maschine and the Komplete Kontrol S-series (KKS) keyboards, offer multiple usability enhancements, and bring them up to date with the latest Maschine software workflows.

The new controllers share a number of features and the keyboard can now work closely with Maschine software, so we’ve reviewed them together. However, the keyboard shouldn’t be confused as a Maschine controller: it’s primarily a master keyboard and plug-in instrument workstation. I’ll look at them separately, but note similarities and differences as we go.

First Impressions

The new Maschine is a sleek, solid wedge, with simple, straight edges that free up surface area to accommodate the larger screens and extra buttons. The unfussy lines, surface finish and backlit button legending create a definite Push 2-like impression, which is to say classy and modern.

To summarise what’s changed for skim-readers, the new hardware squeezes in bigger, better pads, more dedicated function and mode buttons, big colour displays, touch-sensitive encoders, a unique multi-directional push encoder, a touch strip, and a built-in audio interface.

A mains adaptor is supplied in the box, but both the Maschine 3 and KKS keyboard can run from USB power. As with Push, a mains power connection makes the screens brighter, but (unlike Push) they’re perfectly usable without it, and in fact I hardly ever plugged in.

Finger Food

The all-important pads have been significantly enlarged, leaving just a sliver of a space between them. All labelling has been moved on to the pads themselves to facilitate this. The span between the centres of the pads has been kept the same, so it should feel completely natural moving from the earlier models. Impressively, the response seems to be completely even across the whole area of each pad, so you can take full advantage of the new size. This makes the pads forgiving of sloppy accuracy, but more importantly you can play rolls, triplets and fast 16ths with multiple fingers on a single pad.

These are the first pads I’ve used that compete with those on the latest generation of Akai MPCs and controllers. They don’t have quite the same velvety texture, but they match the sensitivity and even response,...

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Published December 2017