It’s been over a decade since Native Instruments introduced the Maschine platform. The dedicated hardware-software combo was an instant hit with users looking for the tactile control of outboard gear with the flexibility (plugins) afforded by a desktop. While this approach made it popular, it soon led many want something ambitious: a standalone Maschine with the software built-in. It’s finally here, it’s called Maschine+, it costs $1,399 and it’s been on my desk for the last week or two. Is it the all-in-one music production hardware many people (myself included) seek? Maybe, but what I can say for sure is that it’s an impressive, if not a slightly expensive attempt at merging desktop functionality with groovebox-style usability.

For those unfamiliar with Maschine, it’s a little hard to explain what it is without underselling it. You could argue it’s desktop music-making software with a dedicated MIDI controller. But then there are plenty of software-specific controllers like Ableton’s Push or Korg’s MS 20 VST hardware. Maybe you could think of it as outboard gear, but with the UI running on a PC? But that doesn’t quite do the software side of it justice.