One of the most fun aspects of Native Instrument’s Maschine is the sheer number of sounds and kits you get with your shiny new Maschine hardware.
The latest generation of Maschine (the MK 3 and the Maschine Plus) comes with an 8 GB sound library plus Komplete 13 Select which itself has an optional 50 GB of instruments and effects. That could be enough sounds to keep most people happy for a lifetime however if you are the kind of musician or producer who can never have enough ready to go sounds then Maschine Expansions were created with people like you in mind!
Maschine Expansions are curated collections of genre themed samples, loops, Maschine kits, synth presets, patterns and projects. If you’re making techno music of any kind then check out these 5 expansions:
- Dark Forge
- Dark Pressure
- Ignition Code
- Carbon Decay
Not only are Maschine Expansions a useful source of new sounds but by loading up the included Maschine projects and patterns you can see how professional producers and sound designers put together individual patterns and tracks to create loops complete songs.
There is now a huge selection of Maschine Expansions in the Native Instruments store covering most of the popular electronic music genres including house, trance, ambient and electronica, EDM and Hip hop to name just a few but for now let’s delve into the realms into techno.
The Pulswerk Expansion contains everything you need to start making quality techno in minutes. Install this expansion and fire it up any one of the 7 included projects and you will be rewarded with an impressively varied selection of sounds and presets with which you can begin to compose your next techno album, house record or dystopian sci-fi movie or video game soundtrack.
Sounds in the Pulswerk expansion come courtesy of sound designer Denis Gökdag and he has made excellent use of expensive outboard gear to ensure the included one shots and loops boast a pleasingly warm, deep and analog flavor.
There’s just the right amount of careful processing on most of these sounds to ensure they work together as a cohesive whole and it is super easy to lay the foundations of a techno track with the included kits and then take things further with your own preferred processing methods be that with Maschine’s built in effects or third party plugins.
In theory you could use these sounds in any genre of course but the focus here is clearly on the more moody and minimalistic end of the techno and house spectrums so do look elsewhere if you’re intending to write jolly jingles or cheerful pop songs.
Pulswerk is a great source of ready to use, punchy techno kick drums – of which you get 91 altogether – as well as a useful selection of one shots and hard hitting percussion sounds that could find a home pretty much any electronic music track.
In total you get 445 Drum Samples, 258 Loops, 354 One Shots, 50 Maschine Kits, 60 Massive Presets, 7 Maschine Projects and 215 patterns.
If you think that Pulswerks isn’t quite dark and moody enough for you then you should check out Dark Forge. Dark Forge is, at heart, a Berlin Techno inspired soundset so you can forget using these sounds for creating feel good chill out tracks or tropical house and instead focus on creating dark, dirty and relentlessly hypnotic tracks for secret warehouse parties and clubs like Berghain.
Overall, Dark Forge is a superb source of ready to use drum, bass and synth sounds infused with the vibe you need to quickly put together techno with plenty of attitude.
The included projects are all of a high quality and if you gravitate towards this kind of darker sound you are unlikely to be dissapointed. For beginner beat makers and producers there is a veritable treasure trove of ready constructed tracks and custom effect chains which you can study and pull apart to quickly learn how this kind of music is put together plus the 230 useful Maschine Drum Synth presets ensure you can always start new tracks with a minimum of sound design effort, should you be so inclined.
Grey Forge tops up your sound collection with 265 Drum Samples, 191 One Shots, 292 Construction Loops, 45 Maschine Kits, 230 Maschine Drum Synth Presets, 40 Massive presets, 9 Projects and 120+ Patterns.
Similar enough to Dark Forge to compliment it nicely, Dark Pressure is also geared towards the darker and moodier spectrum of techno, tech-house and minimal.
This expansion was produced by award winning British house music producer and DJ Steve Lawler so you are in effect getting access to a complete selection of ready to use sounds straight from a guy with years of experience in what makes a dance floor heave and sweat.
You do get less projects than with Dark Forge (5 compared to 11) but almost twice as many drum samples (520 compared to 265). Buy both expansions and you can mix and match the sounds to your heart’s content of course.
If you lean towards the sound of producers and DJs such as Carl Cox then the Ignition Code expansion pack has pretty much everything you need to get up and running creating those more groove focused main room and festival crowd pleasers very quickly.
The included Monark and Bass Synth presets help lay the foundations of a driving low-end while over 500 drum sounds and 200+high impact one shots and vocal shouts are more than enough for an entire album of floor fillers. I have particularly enjoyed using the included Ultra Spare project with its fantastic drum track and bass stabs – chuck some of your own samples and chord riffs on top of that and you have your next Beatport hit ready to go!
Ignition Code sorts you out with 518 drum samples, 214 one-shots & 22 loops, 50 Maschine kits, 21 Drum Synth Presets and 7 Projects.
Native Instruments suggest that Carbon Decay is geared towards Industrial and U.K. underground warehouse music but in truth whatever type of techno you might want to produce, Carbon Decay is a useful tool to have in your arsenal bursting as it is with quality sounds from the Berlin based sound design studio Iruppt.
The individual drum sounds are all on point with plenty of hard hitting kicks and skull cracking snares to pick and choose from and you get 729 construction loops which are infused with the sounds of pressed vinyl and samplers. There is everything here you need to create tracks that will have ravers stamping their feet until dawn.
As well as the included 49 Maschine kits you get some great analog-style basses and filthy synth sounds for Massive and Monark.
8 projects and 147 individual patterns ensure you can be up and running in minutes but you do only get 4 drum synth presets in total which is something of a missed opportunity although you can remedy that by picking up drum synth presets from another expansion pack on this list if you feel the need.
Are Maschine Expansions worth buying? In my opinion they are well worth the money especially if you are new to music production and beat making. A word of caution, however – I would argue that there is no need to buy every Maschine expansion – 2 or 3 expansions in the genre of your choice is going to give you enough sounds, presets and projects to work with and explore for a long time.
You really want to avoid ending up with lots of expansions that you never really find the time to use to their full potential.
Can Maschine Expansions be used without Maschine? Obviously if you have not got access to the Maschine hardware and software you will be unable to make use of any Maschine kits or projects. However, you can still use any samples in your own DAW or drm machine of choice and make use of the included Battery kits and Massive and Monarch presets if you have the necessary software.