SONGWRITING TIP: Hip-hop Production (Maschine MK3 vs. Ableton Push 2)

This has been bugging me all night…..

I love hip-hop production, right? Ok. Well, I’ve found that even with the new version of Ableton Live (version 10), you still can’t use a generic MIDI controller (knobs) to “map” the start/end flags in Ableton, to “chop” samples with ease. Say you have an Ableton Drum Rack, and each of the pads uses a “Simpler” Instrument (Ableton’s built-in sample player/editor)….. while you can midi-map most Ableton functions to any MIDI controller, you can’t midi-map the “start/end flags” in Simpler, to easily chop samples.

This functionality is available from hardware, but only if you invest in Ableton’s “Push 2” ($799, including a much-stripped-down version of Ableton), or $1400 for the Push 2 plus Ableton 10 Suite (the full program).

See this video, at exact 5:42… to see the guy moving the “start/end flags”, and editing his hip-hop sample (the video should start at 5:42).

So I was thinking…. “wow, that’s a lot of money, just to be able to do that from hardware.”

Native Instruments’ Maschine has been able to do this from hardware, since 2009. The newest version of Maschine (MK3, with full-color screens, and no power supply needed) is even better. Not to mention you get about 6GB worth of sounds/instruments and drumkits, which absolutely destroy the sounds that come with Ableton Live (even the Suite version). Yes, Ableton is very tweakable and you can basically do anything you want with it, but you need a good collection of samples and sounds to get the most of it. Maschine provides you with excellent instruments PLUS a stripped-down version of Kontakt AND the full version of Massive…. so, really…. they take care of you. And the best part? Maschine MK3 is only $600 new.

Here’s a video showing how ridiculously easy it is to “chop” a sample, then duplicate it to different pads… all from the hardware. The most important part starts at 1:18, so hopefully the video will start then, below:

All things considered…. I don’t think anything can touch Maschine MK3, and the new 2.7.2 software, which allows for an Ableton-style “Session/Jam View”, and being able to do realtime time-stretching, using the “Audio” plugin. And lastly, Maschine MK3 has a built-in audio interface… line ins, line outs, headphone jack. And MIDI in/out. I don’t know… price-wise…. Maschine MK3 is just the cream of the crop. Plus, since you can use Maschine as a plugin inside your favorite DAW (for me, Reaper 5)… why use anything else, for hip-hop? The only thing that comes close is the Akai MPC Live… but that price is a bit on the high side, plus it’s still buggy.

$1400 for a controller (yes, Push 2 is pretty, but..) and a full version of Ableton Live 10… or $800 with the “Lite” version of Live 10…  (still $200 more than Maschine MK3)… I don’t know.

You look at bands like Chvrches, who use Maschine regularly in their music, and a band like London Grammar, who has used Maschine in their live performances, too… it seems like Native Instruments has gotten it right since day one, and it just keeps getting better and better.

Here’s hip-hop producer god Accurate, doing what he does best, on Maschine MK3.


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  1. John

    This is a dumb opinion, and I don’t say that often

    • ccaulder

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, John. If you say it’s a dumb opinion, then I guess it is.

  2. CowBoy

    I’m a cowboy.
    We cowboys liked this opinion and didn’t think it was dumb.
    On the contrary. Very helpful.

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