Machinedrum: How necessary is plus drive?

I’m looking to purchase my first Machinedrum and I’m pretty certain that I want a UW because I’m interested in the ability to resample. That said, I’m curious if it makes sense to spend the extra money to get a UW+. I plan to use some samples in my productions as well but I wonder given how expensive units with a plus drive installed have become if it makes more sense to save a little extra money and buy a Machinedrum UW and a used Octatrack or Digitione to handle samples. OT and DT also have the bonus of easier sample management and new sequencer features. The downside in my eyes is having to learn another box to deal with samples and also potential issues introduced by having to sync multiple pieces of hardware.

ive got a MDUW without a plus drive and can happily live without it.

if you’re planning on using a bunch of prerecorded samples you might be satisfied though, as the memory is small and backing up/loading new ones can be a bit of a pain if you’re doing it regularly. for me the live sampling of both the internal sounds and external inputs is really where the UW machines shine, i don’t generally find the need to have sampled drums either than some 909 hits which can general be fit into small file sizes.

also don’t expect to get too far with longer melodic samples, they’ll eat up the memory very quickly. better to use short chord or vocal samples. longer stuff would be better done with an OT/DT.

this being said i hope you get a hold of this one, the MD is likely my favourite instrument ever!


The +drive has nice shortcuts on the MD, you can swap sample banks while playing. I think that’s super useful, but depends on the price. You can also stay in one project/sample bank. More restriction, more focus on the vast synth possibilities of the MD.

I’m with a non-plusdrive MDUW.

Curious – could you explain what happens if you switch sample banks while playing?
Does it also display a “Loading” dialog, and mute the tracks for a moment?

1 Like

You just press a button combo (don‘t remember which), the sequencer keeps playing, same pattern, same kits, no sync interruption but samples are silent for a moment, bang there are the new samples. Like replacing a sample slot in the OT, but for all samples at once. This feature is so elegant that I wonder why they didn‘t implement it for other machines…

I used it with standardized sample slots, A01-BD, A02-BD2, … for 3 kits A-C (48 slots). I then just switched between a bunch of those banks on stage, perfect.


Interesting. For non-plusdrive models, all the tracks will be silenced during sample load (from SDS dump), with a few notes sparsely being commited (sync is ok). The result is ~5 seconds of silence and can be considered “offline”.

1 Like

Happily worked on a non-+drive for 15 years. +drive is a nice bonus, not essential.

Though as said above I also don t recommend a UW as your main sampling instrument. Memory is too limited for that.

Sample management is a small aspect of what the plus drive offers. It’s more a workflow and organizational tool than it is about sample management.

The plus drive allows you to quickly switch between 128 snapshots which are entire instances of the MD. A snapshot points to banks, kits and patterns in addition to samples.

It’s easy to quickly come up with kits and banks of patterns and the plus drive enables you to switch between all these snapshots which can vary in scope from sound design to individual songs and entire live sets.

You could continuously read and dump SysEx but it’s more sensible to switch to another snapshot to work on other ideas. Or you could use Snapshots as alternate versions, backups and remixes of projects which opens up more possibilities. Beyond the convenience it opens up more possibilities.


+drive is key for me. It lets me have saved projects -
One for my live set, but then I can load a fresh snapshot when I want to jam and don’t have to worry about overwriting a pattern or a kit.

Plus the sample banks are full of samples from the previous owner, like 100 banks… so there’s another endless avenue for sound ideas in there.