Tactile production never felt so good
Since their introduction in the late 1980s, Akai MPC Music Production Controllers elevated the creative potential of artists by giving them a complete studio in a single unit. Arguably, it was a right place/right time situation when the first in the family, the MPC 60, hit the shelves. Boasting superior sampling time/audio resolution against its competitors, the MPC 60 was adopted by many artists and producers, especially within the world of Hip Hop with notable outings on Warren G’s “Regulate”, DJ Shadow’s “Endtroducing” and DJ Premier who across virtually everything through the 90s.
Modern day options
As well as offering complete standalone workstation such as the Akai MPC X Music Production Controller, Akai Professional offer various models suited to the myriad situations that artists find themselves in. For instance, the MPC X is great in the studio but it’s unlikely that you’re going to want to take it out on tour and perform in clubs with.
Let’s take a look at some of the options available.
1. Akai MPC X Music Production Controller: Studio Centrepiece
We might as well kick off with the big boy that is the Akai MPC X Music Production Controller, which features pretty much everything bar the kitchen sink when it comes to music production capabilities. Boasting Akai’s MPC software, a whopping 50GB of premium virtual instruments/loops/sample data, an intuitive tactile control layout, 10-inch high-definition screen, and every connectivity option that you could desire, you’d be hard pressed to find a finer piece of kit.
Inheriting the sophisticated style of its predecessors, the MPC X adheres closely to the idea of removing obstacles to allow the creative process to flow without compromising on advanced features. Tapping out beats, slicing samples and so much more can be done via the 16 velocity- and pressure-sensitive, RGB-backlit pads that respond dutifully to every strike/stroke. The 16 touch-capacitive Q-Link controls offer 360-degree rotation for subtle attenuation, whilst dedicated function buttons are set up across the workspace for deep, user-defined navigation.
As noted above, the MPC X can be used in isolation but the range of connectivity options needs to be seen to be believed (check out the picture above), thus enabling you to put it at the heart of the most ambitious of studio setups. Integration with your DAW of choice is seamless and utilising the vast software arsenal included with each MPC X is a doddle (just remember to keep 50GB of space free to use it all).
2. Akai Force Music Production & DJ Performance System: Optimal Versatility
We took a deep dive into the Akai Force Music Production & DJ Performance System when it was released earlier this year. If you want to check that out, then jump to the article here.
Offering a more compact standalone workstation, the Akai Force is still an absolute beast in terms of functionality with everything needed to go from studio to stage without any fuss. It’s a Sampler/Sequencer/Editor/Performance Controller/Synth all rolled into one. Delegate and manipulate controls to your heart’s content with a 7-inch full-colour display to guide you in latency-free bliss.
As with the MPC X there are connections galore across mono/stereo outputs, CV/Gate outputs, MIDI connectivity and expandable memory via USB drives/SD Cards and external hard drives. As if all that wasn’t enough it even has Bluetooth connectivity to boot. From old school to new gear, any and every piece of kit in your studio setup is welcomed by the Force.
Thanks to its portable nature, the Akai Force is more viable option for those who want to take their studio on the road as opposed to the MPC X. However, the clip-centric workflow makes it adaptable for live performances too. Four synth engines designed by AIR Music Technology allow you to use the Force like a synth, giving rise to everything from filthy basslines to piano emulations that can all be played via the extensive control grid layout. Run everything from presets to filters, oscillators, and reconfigure waveforms until the cows come home.
3. Akai MPC Live Music Production Controller: Portable Powerhouse
Completing the list is the Akai MPC Live Music Production Controller, scaling down proportions even further for those on the move. It even boasts a rechargeable battery for those who quite literally want to continue making music on the move (I’m talking about Planes, Trains, and Automobiles).
From left to right you’ll find those ever faithful 16 RGB backlit velocity sensitive MPC controllers that encourage intuitive music creation. The 7-inch multi-touch high definition screen afford deep editing of parameters with user defined functions aplenty. 360-degree rotary encoders offer tactile control over level setting, stereo-panning and integrating VST effects. Sample edit is just as you’d expect it to be from Akai with chopping, slicing, trimming, and processing to the Nth degree.
As with others in the family, the MPC Live is equipped to handle things independently but is just as forthcoming when working alongside other gear. You’ll find audio options alongside Bluetooth, MIDI and USB with SD card slot for beefing up memory options. A suite of virtual instruments offers up a wealth of potential out of the box thanks to AIR Music Technology (a full list can be found via the Specs section on the product page). Just make sure that you have 25GB of space for it all!
Akai Firmware Updates
Akai are not ones to rest on their laurels and are constantly updating their firmware for their MPC devices to make their better, faster and more versatile to best meet the needs of today’s artist/producers. Not only that but they also include handy walkthrough guides in relation to each firmware update to keep you up to date. Thoughtful much?
Get in touch
Head to the Dawsons website to check out our range of gear from Akai, as well as our collection of Computer Music Gear, DJ Gear, Studio Equipment, Synthesizers, and Drum Machines. Alternatively, head to your local Dawsons Music Store where our instore specialists will be more than happy to help you out.
If you liked that then you might like this
For some inspiration check out our appropriately titled article “Introduction to Sampling“.
Jon is a multi-instrumentalist with a passion for inspiring others to get involved in making music. After spending many years playing venues here, there and – pretty much – everywhere, he joined the Dawsons’ Music Web Team before progressing into his current role managing the Dawsons Blog.