Maschine vs Ableton Drum Rack
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  1. #1
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    Default Maschine vs Ableton Drum Rack

    So I own both ableton and maschine, I usually dabble in maschine while i do most of my drum patterns in ableton.

    I haven't been able to find what I like as an adavantage of maschine over ableton.

    The work flow is a little bit quicker but I feel that I sacrifice the ability to customize every drum hit.

    Has someone run into this same problem or am I not diving deep enough into maschine, at this point I don't know if its worth holding onto maschine...maybe it is just that ableton comes more naturally to me?

    Videos on incorporation of maschine with ableton would be helpful, i know I can route maschine in but outside of that what can I do that ableton can't? Or if the both can do the same thing what big advantages am I overlooking in maschine?

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    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rukks View Post
    if the(sic) both can do the same thing what big advantages am I overlooking in maschine?
    They're essentially both DAWs. The Maschine is very much more groove based, whereas Ableton can do more in terms of non-loop-based tracking/authoring. So, Live would be better for recording vocals or guitar, as examples. Live–thanks to session view–is already halfway between a groove box and a DAW that came out of the way you use tape machines (Logic, Pro Tools, Cubase, etc.), so if you like Live, I can see you just not liking Maschine. I like Maschine, but Live always seemed hokey and weird for production to me…never got good results with it, despite the insanely awesome midi effects that I haven't seen in anything else.

    The advantage of Maschine is the workflow of a groove box…that gives you 16 stereo channels and automatic sync with a DAW.

    It also comes with a decent number of samples and has some expansions that are kinda cool (I own Transistor Punch and Vintage heat; a friend owns True School).

    If you don't like that workflow, there's not a lot of an advantage to Maschine, but–in short–yes, you can do all the modulation and tweaking of your drums that you want. The Sampler device/instrument is pretty powerful compared to a lot of stuff I've seen…it just doesn't give much visual feedback. Again, that's in line with the hardware groove boxes that it's based on.

    I really like working that way. Everything I've done recently that's sounded halfway decent was done just using Sampler and some kind of audio (sometimes recorded off my iPhone or Logic's instruments…or some other random stuff) and tweaked and played in Maschine. But I can't play keyboard at all and really like working that way.

    <Ignore this if you don't care about the way I work.>

    I've had good results sampling/recording individual hits onto Maschine pads. It's not that common when I'll use 16 different chords for a pad sound…so I'll just record all the chords I want to use to little wav files (using either Logic or Maschine's sampling facility…kind of preferring Logic at this point) and put them on separate pads in the same group, assign them to the same choke group, and jam on them instead of actually playing the chords. Usually, I draw the chords using Logic's score editor…'cuz that's how my brain works.

    And I've started doing the same thing with synths…either raw sampled waveforms (Maschine comes with several), sounds out of Demos of real synths (Reason, Absynth, Massive), or Logic's instruments. Basically…making a multi-sampled instrument that can only play the 16 or so notes that I actually want to use in the song. Then, it's just a matter of jamming until I get loops I like, using awesome things like the note repeat and a real step sequencer.

    You could do the same thing in Ableton Live using a Drum Rack, but you'd either need a controller that let you do that kind of jamming (Akai makes several that are a good bit cheaper than Maschine) or a different way to play them……just load samplers into the cells of a drum rack. So, I could work about the same way in Ableton…but for some reason it makes more sense in Maschine, and I seem to enjoy it more……which is worth a lot.

    </Stop ignoring me>

    It's just a different way of working, and if it's not working for you…there's a lot of cool stuff that you could get with that money.
    Last edited by mostapha; 02-02-2012 at 08:46 AM.

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    Tech Mentor Tobes's Avatar
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    For a college project I'm currently using Maschine in Ableton. I'm using a APC40/Maschine setup however I'm going to try and use the MIDI mode in Maschine to replace the APC40... but I like faders so I don't think it will happen.

    The great thing about Maschine is I can change the output of a group and then route that into a separate channel in Ableton. So for me Maschine is all about the drums. So I can have 4 different drum groups in Maschine all routed into one channel in Ableton so I only need to mess with one fader and I can route it to effects etc. I love being expressive with my music so I love Ableton and clip launching. Maschine just makes it even more fun than having a midi keyboard in front of me.

    One thing I would like is Traktor integration. So I could have a Maschine deck or something that would allow me to route Traktor audio into Maschine so I could use VSTs. I'm curently using Ableton to bridge that gap but it would be nice if they just played well together.

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    Thanks mostapha, i know that you have been really into maschine so I'm glad to hear your opinion, I think I followed everything that you said.

    I haven't really gotten into sampling a whole lot on maschine but for what I do I could see it being huge, just need to take the time and be efficient at it.

    I think i follow what your saying about recording cords onto pads, maschine already sets up the pads for scales in keyboard mode correct? so your basically just going one above and putting chord hits instead of key hits on each pad?

    The expansions that you mentioned are for tweaking drums? I haven't heard of either but I will look into them. I use alot of lives effects, camel crusher, and decimort for my drum hits in ableton, and just getting the same quality out of maschine is not happening at this time, the sounds just sound flat. (just using the stock maschine samples)

    Finally, just a thought to possibly save you some time is to use the chord and scale features of live to create the samples quicker for your jam sessions of chords. It sounds like you have found a niche that suites you but sounds like a hell of alot of work, idk maybe im confused.

    @Tobes I used maschine to control session view of live and just bought a APC20 this week, do not sacrifice the faders on the APC, you will regret it. The setup for maschine to launch alot of samples just sucks...I was always losing track of where I was in a set or mashup.

    Edit: Mostapha you kind of sound like me as in you like creating a sound from another sample or from scratch, I've just gotten into lives sampler and the stuff you can create just gives so much satisfaction, im sure you tried it out but really dig deep and see if you can amaze yourself haha.

  6. #6
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rukks View Post
    I think i follow what your saying about recording cords onto pads, maschine already sets up the pads for scales in keyboard mode correct? so your basically just going one above and putting chord hits instead of key hits on each pad?
    Closest thing I've seen is this: http://bcove.me/elp6jaca

    I had been toying with the idea before and when I saw that, something just clicked in my head.

    There is a keyboard mode that works that way, yes, but I'm not a huge fan of it for 3 reasons:
    1. there's only 16 half-steps worth of range without shifting (which isn't implemented that well)
    2. there are a lot of notes that aren't in the scale you're using
    3. I still haven't taught myself things like "IV is on pad 6, V is on pad 8" and have to count out half-steps in my head every time I want to do something.


    I just use it for auditioning sounds at this point.

    It's a harder, longer, more bitchy way to basically just do Ableton's Chord and Scale MIDI effects, but I like it better for 2 big reasons:
    • Even with the MIDI effects, I suck at keyboard but am not completely clueless when it comes to chord progressions (melodies are another story).
    • I don't like anything about producing in Live except the MIDI effects.(obviously just a preference)


    Quote Originally Posted by Rukks View Post
    The expansions that you mentioned are for tweaking drums? I haven't heard of either but I will look into them. I use alot of lives effects, camel crusher, and decimort for my drum hits in ableton, and just getting the same quality out of maschine is not happening at this time, the sounds just sound flat. (just using the stock maschine samples)
    No, they're sample libraries. They also have groups and multi-fx busses and stuff, but they're basically just sample libraries. They sound fine to my ears, but so do the stock sounds.

    I'm not quite sure what you mean about Maschine sounding flat. That certainly has not been my experience. But I have a theory.

    Where are you setting your levels?

    NI makes it really hard to know where your levels are, and they make it really easy to distort everything on output…even with their ridiculously awesome super-high dynamic range that's basically the same as every other digital system.

    So, if you haven't turned down basically everything in Maschine, you're either clipping the shit out of your DAC or turning down Maschine's master…which is essentially putting a bit crusher as the last effect in your mix bus. Outputting separate channels to Ableton works a lot better, but it's still easy to either run things too hot or crush them down too far if you don't turn the individual sounds down.

    See if that helps at all. I tend to run my sounds a bit low and my groups at around -15 to -20…give or take depending on how loud the sounds are. I also have a free meter plugin (TT Dynamic Range Meter) that I probably use more than any other single effect just so I can see what my levels actually are.

    See if that helps.

    The one thing that confuses me about Maschine is the same thing that confuses me about all NI stuff: they seem to put no thought at all into gain staging. I can't think of a single reason why Maschine (which can normalize samples offline anyway and has a gain plugin) should have any level that you can set above 0…and they all go to +10. WTF? I realize it's not like they're actually wasting headroom (like in an analog system) but man it makes it easy to either clip your DAC or bit-crush your master.

    Some of NI's stuff is pretty good, even if I don't like it myself. But they make it really easy to make all their stuff sound like shit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rukks View Post
    Finally, just a thought to possibly save you some time is to use the chord and scale features of live to create the samples quicker for your jam sessions of chords. It sounds like you have found a niche that suites you but sounds like a hell of alot of work, idk maybe im confused.
    You're not confused. I don't have Live installed right now and don't have the disk space to spare (I use an SSD). But I've thought about it, especially considering that I actually own Live. The thing is that I really like working with hardware. Maschine seems close enough for now and gives more flexibility than, say, an MPC or an Octatrack. It feels like using Live that way would take me further away from the hardware experience again and instead of sitting on forums and procrastinating* I'd just never get past the same basic drum beat with placeholder samples like every time I've tried to do anything in Live.

    There's nothing wrong with Live. It's insanely powerful, and it's easier to get good results with than a lot of things because it lays a lot out for you to see (unlike anything NI makes)……but I can't stand working with it, and I can't even really describe why except that I hate the interface.

    I was just born too late. Hardware instruments (synths, groove boxes, drum machines) make way too much sense to me. Computers are awesome, and I actually don't have any preference at all (yet) for analog summing or big mixing desks compared to the way DAWs sound (I've used an SSL 4000, though very briefly, so that opinion is naive but probably not as much as you think)……and I sure as hell don't want to have to deal with tape. But something seriously needs to be done about the workflow.

    I look forward to the day when I don't have to have a fucking mouse anywhere in my home studio.

    And part of the reason I decided to switch away from Live is because both Logic and Pro Tools integrate better with the Avid Artist series control surfaces and the SSL Nucleus. They're not necessary for most people and are certainly overkill, but I'm getting to the point that I spend my time recording samples, playing with chord progressions, and making beats to play guitar or jam Maschine over………and then just never record or mix anything because by that point I want to throw my fucking mouse into a lake. The last thing I want to do is sit and listen critically to something I've made and associate feelings of frustration with my experience of creation.

    Please don't get down on Live or software just because of my hangups. I realize it's a personal thing, and I could probably work through it if I had to. There's no reason to copy/adopt my neuroses. But, that's why I like Maschine better than Live. It's close enough for now.

    (*): seriously, the only reason I'm awake is because I don't want to wake up at 3am and crash either at work or as soon as my girlfriend gets here for the weekend.
    Last edited by mostapha; 02-02-2012 at 08:44 PM.

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