TL;DR- Can I get nearly as in depth with improvisation on a Maschine as I could with an Elektron box?
For a long time, one thing I've missed about playing physical instruments is the ability to improvise. Not "clicking pre-written midi notes and samples in Ableton" improv, but the type where I can really make things up as I go along and change them on the fly.
I've been searching for some piece of software or hardware to accomplish that, but never really found any besides Elektrons, which are A) expensive, and B) Fairly limited in terms of the number of tracks and synths available.
I've also seen people claiming Maschine to be just as capable as an Elektron in terms of sequencing, but at the same time, I've also seem tons of people claim it's not very capable of producing full songs as much as sketches. Maybe I'm misinterpretting, and people are referring to its workflow as a traditional DAW, but I'd rather have some clarification before dropping $600: For what I'm interested in doing, does Maschine fit the bill?
For playing in beats and melodies live instead of clicking, Maschine is great. It handles loops and samplinng well and is much more capable of making a song "all in one box" than any Elektron box. I always found myself gravitating back to the mouse to tweak synth and fx settings though.
I mostly use it for drums and do t really use the comtroller anymore lol. You can use it to make entire songs fine, I just think the whole scenes/patterns thing is a bit awkward compared to most DAW timelines.
Elektron boxes have always just clicked with me. I figured out the Monomachine pretty easily, though it doesnt lend itself to a lot of live tweaking. The Analog 4 is probably my favorite instrument of all time. It just begs to be tweaked live. Overbridge is something to consider, but still kinda buggy for some people it seems, I have no issues with it. The A4 is a pretty capable drum synth and sequencer as well.
Maschine is 600 dollars. Another 300 puts you well into the range of a used MD, A4 or Octatrack.
Maschine is by far more flexible. It is fairly easy to assemble full tracks in it and trigger different scenes from your DAW. I've just played with the Rytm for an hour and I love it. I think stuff like parameter lock, sample lock, and polyrhythm give the Rytm an edge. It can be done inside Maschine, but perhaps not as conveniently. Same goes for retrig work.
However, where Maschine outshines any Elektron box is in its seemless resampling, slicing, and microediting.
The Octatrack is also very capable of doing this. If you're sample driven, this may be a better choice. It's a close call between the Octa and Maschine as far as re-sampling goes. Maschine, to me, has an edge in terms of better display ergonomics. Octa on sample and parameter lock, which is a killer app, and the scene slider.
If you want to be able to do everything it's clearly an edge towards Maschine (it's great as a synth controller, btw). If there is a specific workflow that suits you, you might be fine with the Octa or Rytm. If you're more sample driven, like to slice up beats, and de novo drum synthesis isn't important, go for the Octa. If you're mostly one hit driven (no loops or slicing) and fancy a super wicked fat drum synth, go for the Rytm.
Know, though, that the learning curve on the Octa is very steep. Of all the options listed, Maschine will be the most intuitive and versatile option. There is a learning curve there, too. With Maschine you get also a bunch of rather nice swag (Komplete select, which includes Maschine and Monark. I would suggest you at least consider Maschine Studio, if you're inclined to go that way.
All three are great. The abilities of Maschine are mostly determined by the VST/AU you use, and that may allow for sample lock and parameter lock function, albeit mostly via MIDI track implementations. if that's critical to your workflow, go with the Octa or Rytm.
Techno starts with a capital 'T', as in TB-303 and TR-808.
Learning to use Maschine efficiently w/o the computer monitor is PITA IMO. If that matters.
I also feel like Maschine is just a clever recreation of the same old, same old. Elektron has been developing a common ish set of of clever options/limitations and workflow over five commercially succesful grooveboxes. The A4, Octa and RYTM are modern classics. With the Mono and MD being a huge part of so much great music of the very recent past. So much glitch. So little time.