It’s been almost a year to the date since I last owned a Maschine Studio, so I figured it was time to buy one again. 🙂 Ok, maybe it wasn’t for that reason alone. What led me back to this piece of gear, especially when I was planning on spending most of my time working on the new electribe?
Well, unfortunately, the electribe hasn’t quite worked out the way I had hoped. I’ve been having a ton of fun using it, don’t get me wrong, definitely not selling this one! But my intention from the get go had been to use it as a standalone box for doing live sets, and more and more it was looking like that might not be possible for a few reasons.
The biggest issue I was having was due to voice-stealing, hitting that 24 voice limit the electribe has. To be honest, I was concerned about this before I even bought the electribe, I know I tend to like richer soundscapes in my live sets. But I figured with careful programming and limiting myself to using only 8 parts at once, I could probably get by just fine. The Korg website also says that certain OSC types and effects might reduce the maximum voice count. But it doesn’t really tell you much more than that, so it’s hard to know exactly what to realistically expect without using it.
It turns out that in use it’s actually really easy to reduce the voice count with those features, and I started running into sounds dropping out or effects being cut off with only 5-6 parts playing at a time. Usually 3-4 simple drum parts, and 2-3 complex synths. Occasionally I’d have voices drop with only two parts playing, obviously some kind of bug going on when that happened. I was planning on keeping things minimal anyway, but that’s just a bit TOO minimal for the music I like to make. Shame really, as I was getting some really awesome sounds out of this little box, just not enough of them at once.
While that’s the main thing holding me back from using the electribe the way I wanted, there were a couple other small quirky bugs I’d occasionally run into. A few hard freezes requiring a power cycle to fix, some clicks in certain sounds almost like you get when samples have non-zero crossing points, and the master effect level occasionally jumping around for no reason (I wasn’t recording motion sequencing for it). And of course the obvious one where parts could be unmuted when you only selected them in some Trigger Pad modes. These were usually very rare, but still a little annoying for something I wanted to use live.
The good news is that other electribe owners had been in contact with Korg about these, and Korg had told them a new OS update is on the way shortly that will fix the bugs. In the end I decided to hold off on going much further with the electribe until the OS update is released and some of this stuff gets sorted. Like I said, I’m really enjoying using the box otherwise, and I didn’t want to end up in a position where I was just beyond frustrated and tempted to sell it.
You know how I can be 🙂
So for now I’ll just use it occasionally for synth parts and coming up with cool riffs, perhaps some solo drum machine duties, much lighter use that I know it can excel at. Of course that leaves me in the position of still not having a live set, and at the same time really not wanting to just work on single tracks in a DAW on the laptop. So I started relooking at what my groovebox options were, everything I had used in the past, and some other options I hadn’t yet explored like the Dave Smith gear or the Roland Aira range.
In the end, they all had certain limitations that I felt I didn’t want to work around at the moment, and more and more I kept remembering how impressed I was with the Maschine Studio. I said back in my original review of it that it was probably the best groovebox I’ve ever used, and I kept remembering how few limitations it had in terms of sound quality, the number of sounds you can use at once, and the way you chain endless effects. I hadn’t been happy that it was still something that was tied to the computer then, but I think more and more I’m coming to realize that for the kind of music I want to make, that’s probably an inevitability anyway.
So, once again the Maschine Studio found it’s way into my studio (err, what will become my studio anyway) and I’m already happily writing away on it. I still plan on creating and performing a live set using just the controller, and luckily my time away from it has given me a few new ideas on how to do this now that I own it again. I’ll share the specifics as I get further along.
In the meantime, I’m refreshing the Korg page daily waiting for that OS update to drop (errr… not really) and I can’t wait to get back on the little grey box once things are a little more settled down. I can’t wait for my monitors and the rest of my gear to get here either, I swear they shipped them on a sailboat or something….
That’s it for now, stayed tuned for more about the new live set, as well as further adventures setting up a studio in Luxembourg.
Peace and beats,