Native Instruments Maschine MK3 Review – The Ultimate Drum Controller

Regardless of whether you’re an aspiring DJ who’s earning his living through live performances or a beginner musician in the making, you might want to check out Native Instruments’ Maschine MK3 drum controller.

First of all, let’s have a word about the brand itself. Native Instruments is a huge name in the music software & hardware industry, and they boast a huge array of premium-quality MIDI keyboards, DJ controllers, and drum machines.

The Maschine Mk3 drum controller is basically their flagship model, alongside the ultimate Komplete Kontrol S88 keyboard. In short words, this little ‘machine’ sports a variety of settings, modes, and effects, as well as a plethora of sounds for you to play with, compose, and actually make some world-class music. It’s performance-worthy, great for practicing, and absolutely ideal for putting creative ideas to life.

What really should be the main topic here is the fact that Native Instruments’ Maschine Mk3 drum controller is a professional drum controlling pad that is also very intuitive and friendly to beginners as well.

After much praise from dozens of satisfied musicians, we wanted to check out the extent of its brilliance in practice. Without any further ado, let’s see what Native Instruments’ Maschine Mk3 drum controller comes supplied with, is it worth the money, and at the end of the day, is it as good as people say. Let’s move on to the Native Instruments’ Maschine Mk3 drum controller review.

Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 Review

Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 Review

Top Features of the new Maschine Mk3:

  • 16 Ultra-responsive Big Performance Pads
  • Two high-res color screens
  • Studio-Grade Audio Interface
  • 25 GB KOMPLETE 11 SELECT library
  • 8 Touch Sensitive Knobs
  • Smart Strip for New Ways to Perform

First Look – Design:

Frankly, Native Instruments’ Maschine Mk3 drum controller is pretty small, although it’s relatively big in comparison to a standard drum controller. Its dimensions measure 11.85 inches by 12.6 inches by 1.61 inches, and it’s quite compact with approximately 4.85 pounds of weight.

What’s really important about the Mk3’s design is that it sports a set of really big pads. All of the controls and features are slightly oversized for easier use, which only affirms what we said earlier about it being great for beginner musicians, producers, and pretty much anyone who wants to program drum beats and loops.

Starting from the very top, we have the usual software controls – channel, plug-in, arranger, mixer, browser, sampling, and numerous other fine-tuning elements are sitting right next beside the large, backlit display. In fact, the display itself is so well-built that it probably deserves a special segment of its own; in short, it offers a clearly visible and approachable overview of all of the active and selectable settings.

What’s more, the main settings are underlined and colored in a very intuitive way, eliminating the need to constantly ‘hunt’ for the keys you need as you are getting accustomed to how the drum controller works.

Overall, the design of Native Instruments’ Maschine Mk3 drum controller is an almost-perfect 9 out of 10. The only thing that leaves some room for improvement is its weight; otherwise, it’s more than great as-is.

Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 Review 2
Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 Review 3


In terms of features it comes outfitted with, Native Instruments’ Maschine Mk3 drum controller is an absolute beast. It rocks integrated Native Instruments Massive™ software, a sampler, an arranger, a top-shelf mixer, various effects, and many other highly versatile features.

This drum controller also sports a huge ‘Komplete’ library that sports 25 gigabytes of professional-grade studio effects, which is just one of the reasons why the software was named as such.

This is, first and foremost, a controller worthy of a veteran as it boasts exceptional connectivity with two 0.25-inch TRS-line outputs, two 0.25-inch TRS inputs, a 0.25-inch dynamic-microphone input, a stereo out, one MIDI in, one MIDI out, and on top of it all, a footswitch.

All of the knobs on Native Instruments’ Maschine Mk3 drum controller are intuitive and touch-sensitive, not to mention customizable. You can easily tweak various parameters while searching for the most leisure, most convenient way to utilize the benefits it offers.

Last, but certainly not least, one of the things that we liked most about Native Instruments’ Maschine Mk3 drum controller is the fact that it also comes supplied with a rather unique complementary feature.

The bundle includes a Smart Strip feature that allows you to strum notes more easily, pitch-bend the noises like a sonic wizard, and put your creativity through a wholly different prism. In a nutshell, Maschine MK3 drum controller is worlds away from your average drum controller pad, and as far as features go, we rate it with 10 out of 10.

Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 backside

In Use:

What’s really phenomenal about this neat little drum controller is that it performs astoundingly well in every possible environment. Due to the fact that it rocks an intuitive design, it’s perfect for DJs and musicians in-the-making; it’s a professional console suitable for all kinds of studio work, but it’s also great for home practice.

Needless to say, it’s one of the finest drum controller pads that you can get for the money as an arranger or musician who wants to approach the songwriting process in the most versatile way possible, at least the drums.

The simple outline of the many features Native Instruments’ Maschine Mk3 drum controller comes supplied with allows you to perform live with it without having to batter down the steep learning curve most drum pads present as an obstacle.

All things considered, this is a well-rounded professional drum controlling console that reminds us why drum machines are slowly replacing the world of ‘analog’ drumming. Its performance has easily earned the perfect score of 10 out of 10, as we’re sure everyone who has ever used Native Instruments’ Maschine Mk3 drum controller will easily agree with.

When you purchase it, make sure you take the Udemy course of a complete guide to Machine MK3.

Video: Getting started with Maschine MK3 BY Jef Gibbons:


Excellent connectivity is probably the first thing that comes to mind when we think about the benefits Mk3 offers. It sports a phone out, two Line outs, microphone in, two Line ins, MIDI out, MIDI in, USB in, and a footswitch pedal input.

On top of that, the functionality and versatility of this drum controller are absolutely staggering. You’ll also be able to play around and experiment with hundreds and hundreds of voices, sounds, timbres, and effects, as the ‘Komplete’ library features twenty-five gigabytes of pure fun. 

A perfect addition to every home recording studio and DJ setup!


The only thing that we thought could be improved in regards to Maschine Mk3 is that the pads are quite huge this time around. In fact, the entire Mk3 series boasts bigger pads, which is not necessarily great for everyone.

People who were accustomed to the mid-sized pads of Mk2 might have a difficult time transitioning to the jumbo bums of the Mk3. However, if you’re new to Native Instruments’ controllers, you’ll probably find them as very easy to use and navigate.

Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 Mikro Review

Native Instruments Maschine Mikro Mk3 Drum Controller

Differences Between Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 vs Mikro Version

There’s the world’s worth of differences between Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 and the Mikro version, despite the fact that they both belong to the same line of drum controllers.

Aside from the fact that the Maschine Mikro costs several times less, it feels like this particular model is actually Mk3, but ‘chopped’ in half (or in thirds). While the Mk3 sports a massive ‘Komplete’ library worth 25 gigabytes of loops, effects, and sounds, the Mikro version sports a fragmented ‘Factory Selection’ that sports only 1.6 gigabytes.

What’s so great about both models is that they’re both powered by the same type of Maschine Software, which basically means that they’re (almost) equal in terms of power.

Obviously, the display of the Mikro version is significantly smaller and more compact; it’s perfect for accurate, focused browsing and monitoring a narrow selection of parameters while the Maschine Mk3 offers a great overview of all the features. Being a bigger console, it essentially is much easier to navigate as well.

Another huge difference between Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 and Mikro is in the sheer number of encoders they come supplied with. Basically, Mk3 features eight touch-sensitive knobs plus a four-directional push encoder whereas the Mikro version has a single multi-function encoder.

This does not necessarily affect the versatility of these drum controllers, but it does actually mean that Mk3 is superior as far as performance and ease of use go.

What most people adore about Mk3 is precisely what they dislike about the Mikro version; the former features three MIDI outs and one MIDI in while Mikro doesn’t come supplied with any sort of MIDI I/O. Furthermore, Mikro is not footswitch compatible whereas Maschine Mk3 is and comes supplied with one in the bundle.

Everything else is roughly the same in terms of DAW integration, the number of scenes-per-project, power infusion type, hardware style, and such.

Native Instruments Maschine mk3 vs Mikro
Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 Review drum controller


For more performance pads like the Maschine, check out the best MIDI controllers for Ableton.

Final Thoughts

Truth be told, Native Instruments is such a huge brand that most people put their expectations high in the first place whenever they launch a new release. We thought Maschine Mk3 will be a revolutionary, perhaps even a pioneering drum controller, and we weren’t off mark by one bit.

This remarkable drum controller packs a huge array of exquisite, state-of-the-art features and technologies, it’s insanely versatile, and it’s perfect for beginners and professionals alike. Not only do we recommend it, but we warmly encourage you to try it out.

Other drum gear:

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