Motu Machfive 3.0.2 : Stonking samples

9/12/2012 9:04:00 AM

To simply describe MOTU’s Mach- Five 3 music software as a sampler would do a considerable injustice to this amazingly versatile sound creation tool. Sure, it’s a plug-in with a stan­dalone option and, yes, it comes with a 45GB sample library, but it also draws on a host of synthesis options, including modules for analogue, FM, Wavetable and synth drums. Combine these with its silky smooth IRCAM time stretch algorithms, quirky granular treatments and rack effects, and you’ve got the makings of many lost weekends.

Description: MOTU Machfive 3.0.2
MOTU Machfive 3.0.2

In among those 45GB of sounds - which include the Biosphere’s atmospheric synths and the Universal collection of loops and standard-fare sounds - are some impressive sam­pled instruments. This weighty collec­tion of piano, bass, drums and guitar fill up four of the DVDs. To get MachFive 3 up and running, you need an iLok USB dongle. There isn’t one supplied, but you can use an old iLok and add the authorization to it after some online authentication.

The sample DVDs contains UFS-format sound banks and you simply copy them from disc, ideally to a fast external drive. Mach­Five 3 can be configured for multiple audio outputs and even surround formats up to 7.1. However, most people will use it in stereo, adding parts for different instruments, each with their own volume, pan, mute and solo controls, with effects options, too.

“It supports i92kHz/32-bit audio and is 64-bit savvy, so it can access as much RAM as you can afford for loading samples”

MachFive 3 supports 192 kHz/32-bit audio and is 64-bit savvy, so it can access as much RAM as you can afford for loading samples. But if you run a tight ship, you can conserve memory usage, as it supports disk streaming.

Description: MachFive 3 has numerous sound generation modules - here, different synth drums are easily mapped across the keyboard
MachFive 3 has numerous sound generation modules - here, different synth drums are easily mapped across the keyboard

If you choose something like the F Grand 278 piano, you just get the one patch to load, which is refreshing. This grand has a warmth and authenticity, and there are seven dials to tweak release, pedal and resonance volumes along with velocity customization and even key noises. Whatever sound you load into a selected part, it will show up in the larger main window, which has four tabs for info, edit, fix and event, the latter offer­ing scripting options. Here, some serious transformations can take place. Chorder, for instance, will deliver one-finger chords with presets such as Debusian, Film Noir and Jazz for Dummies, which are quite convincing.

With Telematic, not only do you get to enjoy strumming with one finger while making a chord with your left hand, but solos can be made more realistic in Legato mode incorporating hammer-on playing for notes within a specified range of each other. Slide mode makes the sound of a finger moving along a string in either direction by up to 20 semitones. Slide mode always froze on MachFive 3.0.2, but version 3.0.3 fixes this issue.

Overall, Telematic is impressive, as it features a broad range of sampled playing techniques, different pickup settings, as well as amp and pedal effects.

MOTU makes quite a noise about Mach- Five’s ability to import a range of popular file formats, including libraries from Native Instruments’ rival Kontakt sampler. However, there wasn’t much joy here, as Kontakt sound banks tend to be copy protected. A collection of Battery drum kits did load up.

Although MachFive 3 has a few rough edges, its sound creation credentials are exceptional. Given MOTU’s track record, refinements will surely be on the way.



$495 * Upgrade $214; Cross grade $340



Intel CPU * 2GB RAM * OS X 10.5.8 or higher


Comprehensive sound creation tool with scripting features plus AU, VST and RTAS plug-in support


iLok dongle not included; Scripting bugs




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