When Native Instruments first introduced iMaschine a while back, I found it compelling, but wanted to see how the product evolved before rendering a verdict. Now that version 1.2 is out, a slew of feature requests have been addressed and the app has really come into its own as both a standalone product and companion to NI’s full Maschine software/hardware package.
The idea behind iMaschine is that of a 21st-century groove-based four-track. Each of iMachine’s tracks can be configured as either a 16-pad drum machine, a two-octave sampler, or an audio recorder. If you want to use it like an old-school cassette four-track to record live instruments and overdubs, you can. If you’re creating hip-hop and want a pair of MPC-style drum machines plus two tracks for vocals, that’s also possible. This approach makes iMaschine quite flexible for a variety of mobile production tasks.
The app’s engine is strictly sample-based, with no synthesis tools beyond its DJ-style mixer effects, which include filtering, lo-fi, delay, chorus, and flanging. The included sample library covers a fair amount of ground, with modern and relevant samples throughout. These can be used with either the sampler or the drum machine, which makes both instrument types more powerful than you might expect. What’s more, you can record original audio into the sampler, as well as grab samples from your iTunes music library (lawyer sold separately).
Sample editing is strictly basic, with parameters for sample start, end, tuning, volume, pan, and a nifty extra which can add glide to any sample. But that’s it, as there are no envelopes or synth-style filters.
Making grooves with iMaschine is a breeze. Pattern length can range from one to 32 measures and quantization is baked right in, as long as you work in 4/4 time. Once a sequence is recorded, there’s not much editing, though. It would’ve been nice to have even simple event editing, but hey, that’s what version 2.0 is for, right?
Version 1.2 now includes a lot of essential iOS amenities, like Inter-app audio, Audiobus integration and of course, SoundCloud uploading. An especially nice touch is the ability to export your grooves to the desktop in both Maschine-compatible format and discrete audio tracks for use in other DAWs.
Another impressive feature is full compatibility with both iPhone and iPad devices in a single app. This means that iMaschine works beautifully on either iOS platform, with intelligent user interface tweaks to make it equally intuitive and useful—even on my small and aging iPhone 4S.
All in all, iMaschine is a bargain for a mere five bucks. If you’re looking for an on-the-go sketchbook to pass the time on the bus, it’s another quintessential iOS addition. And if you’re already a Maschine user, it’s an absolute must-have.
Four tracks can be configured as any combination of drum machines, samplers, or audio tracks. Integrated sampling from iTunes library or microphone. Intuitive interface. Realtime X/Y effects for individual tracks. Can Export data to your desktop for use with Maschine or as discrete audio tracks. Compatible with both iPad and iPhone (iOS 7 or higher).
No synthesizer-like tools other than sample editing and effects. No song construction tools. Time signature is 4/4 only.
A must-have for current Maschine users.
$4.99 | native-instruments.com