Native Instruments Maschine Jam or Maschine MK2? In an already crowded market of controllers, it is difficult to know where to begin, let alone how to distinguish between two very similar models from the same brand. Let’s take a closer look at both models to see how they compare.
Before taking a closer look, it should be noted that both the Maschine Jam and Maschine MK2 both utilise Native Instruments’ bespoke and critically acclaimed Maschine software. The software is constantly evolving so you can be assured it will adapt to changes in technology, method and styles. The software is specially designed to allow users to create new content off the cuff to match the immediacy of the imagination. On both models, the gorgeous backlit buttons offer organic, smooth control. The flexibility of the software, working in tandem with the hardware, allows you to easily store, record and develop your tracks as and when you like. The software truly comes into its own here as it offers an organic way of noting and storing your music, almost like a scrapbook of ideas.
The Berlin-based brand Native Instruments were a late arrival to the world of grid controllers when they blasted onto the scene with the original Maschine. Now, with the Maschine Jam, they have updated the original model but have retained the features that made its predecessor so popular, namely its combination of a software interface and hardware controller. The user is able to create drum loops and plug-in synths. As a standalone controller, it is useful for quickly building tracks and pairs up as a trusty companion for the original controller.
The underlying reason for the popularity of the Maschine Jam has to be its easy to use interface, which has the ability to makes any user feel like a bone fide musician. The 8x8 multicolour click-pad matrix is visually arresting. Indeed its similarity to a set of paint draws the user in, enticing them to paint a sonic picture. There is no limit to the powerful step sequence on offer, allowing the user to create a rich tapestry of patterns and rhythms. The model is also brilliantly user-friendly with versatile connectivity. The model works through the software as a plug-in inside your DAW, or as an advanced MIDI controller.
The MK2 provides both a controller and optimum software, combining the power of a computer with the high-calibre features you would expect from a hardware groovebox. The design works as an all-out sequencer. It is designed to allow for full audio and midi sequencing that’s controlled from the Maschine Midi Controller and run from a computer. The MK2 also doubles up as a sampler, as it records directly into the software through an audio interface and provides an array of controls needed to slice and edit loops. These slices can then be spread over sixteen, highly sensitive backlit pads, which share the same exuberant aesthetic as the Maschine Jam. The MK2 offers a total of 128 pads worth of samples over 8 banks. If these features weren’t enough, the MK2 also provides acts as an effects generator, offering the opportunity to twist and enhance sequences using the model’s numerous knobs and pads. In a step up from the Maschine Jam, the MK2 offers interchangeable pads and faceplates. We like this subtle little update as it adds a customisable twist to the model, while also making it easier to remember where samples and sequences are placed.
Which is better?
As both models work to the same Maschine software, there is not much difference in the array of effects and features offered by both sets. For beginners, it could be argued that the Maschine Jam is an easier fit thanks to the easy setup offered by its powerful step sequencer. On an aesthetic level, however, the MK2 is far superior. Music should be colourful and vibrant, and the MK2, with its celebration of colour, typifies this spirit.