NAMM 2019: Akai Professional Force Overview
Everything you’ve ever wanted in a standalone workhorse
In the release info for the Akai Professional Force Standalone Music Production/DJ Performance System, they’ve succinctly put “Play. Perform. Produce”. However, this belies the awesome power that lies within, which is combined with an intuitive tactile interface that allows your creativity to roam freely. All the while its rugged design and portability means that taking your ideas from studio to stage – and back again – is as seamless as can be.
Akai Pro, we applaud you!
Getting down to business
First of all, let’s point of that Force is standalone, there’s no computer required. At your disposal is 16GB of on-board storage with over 10GB of sound content included. There is a full-size SD card slot along with a pair of USB 3.0 for lightning fast connectivity for pen drives or additional MIDI controllers. Finally, there’s a user expandable 2.5-inch SATA driver connector for (SSD or HDD). No matter where you are, all you need is Force and you’re good to go.
Tactile control from top to bottom
The Akai Pro Force is more than just a dazzling array of pretty lights, it is as functional and user-friendly as they come. The 7-inch full-colour capacitive multi-touch display (say that in a hurry) allows you to control a wide range of features. At your fingertips you can launch clips, browse sounds, edit MIDI data, tweak samples, apply FX, shape synth sounds – and everything in between. Brightly lit without overpowering the sense, the screen is perfect for those who like their visual cues at the ready.
When it comes to matrix pad controls, is there anyone with a pedigree like Akai – MPC anyone? Triggering scenes/clips, laying things out using the step sequencer, and finger drumming to your heart’s content using MPC 16 Pad Mode is the stuff of dreams. Using the expandable 8x8 clip launch matrix you can tap in note data and customize the RGB backlighting to suit your tastes.
Making adjustments on the fly couldn’t be smoother thanks to the 360-degree rotary encoders with OLED feedback. Akai Pro put the power in your hands by allowing you to customize controls to attenuate any assignable parameters. Everything is ergonomically designed to ensure that the link between brain and body is as natural-feeling as possible to remove any obstacles from your creative flow.
As noted above, there’s a wealth of options when it comes to loading in samples from USB drives, SD Cards, and hard drives. There’s even a pair of XLR/1/4-inch combo inputs with phantom power for capturing everything from vocals and miked up acoustic instruments to electric instruments.
When it comes to outputs, Akai Pro has gone above and beyond to cover all bases. You can route your audio via a pair of stereo 1/4-inch outputs, which you can select using the user interface within Force. The headphone output allows you to audition clips/scenes during performances. Taking note of the many pieces of modular kit available, there are four independent CV/Gate outputs. Finally, Akai haven’t forgotten about your MIDI gear either, there’s MIDI In/Out/Thru ports to play with too.
Kicking back and doing your thing
Sometimes it is just nice to come home from work, put the day to one side and play about with some music for the craic. No expectations, no demands, no one to impress. Just you and your tunes. The Force is perfect for playing around with ideas and thanks to the delightfully easy interface, you can while away the hours in bliss.
Nevertheless, when inspiration strikes and you want to get serious, there is enough firepower within to satisfy the most demanding of knob fiddlers. When putting together a mix you can seamlessly import stems, loops and one-shots to use in Force’s 8x8 clip matric, which you can loop and trigger freely. Re-tuning and time-stretching multiple stems allows you to create epic mashups, whilst the master BPM sync ensures that you won’t miss a beat. XYFX control via the multi-touch display allows you to impose filters, modulation and beat effects to individual tracks or several outputs simultaneously for true expressive control.
Leading with a clip-centric workflow, there a multiple Modes available that cover Plugin Tracks, MPC-style Drum tracks, Audio tracks, Keygroup tracks, MIDI tracks and CV tracks. Define clip types and then do with them what you will via step sequencing, finger drumming and note data. Four synth engines from AIR Music Technology offer a mesmerising range of sounds to explore. From dirty basslines to elegant piano emulation, there are dozens of presets to get you up and running with filters, oscillators and waveforms aplenty.
Power to Produce
As well as playing around with ideas and boasting the ability to pull off DJ sets with ease, the Akai Pro Force has production capabilities by the bucketload. From sampling to editing, looping to mixing, you can quite literally go from tapping out a beat to finalising a polished track without using any other gear. As we said, you can use Force as a completely standalone all-in-one music production system.
Why are you still here? Go and get one! No in all seriousness, the Akai Pro Force is solidly built, plays well with others, you can take it anywhere, and it comes with an eye-watering amount of sounds from content providers including SampleTools by CR2, MSX Audio and Sample Magic. There are 248 Kits, 16 Demo Projects, over 2500 loops, and over 500 Patterns. Akai Pro don’t mess about when it comes to pads, as we all know, and it as you’ve read already, it can do everything from bedroom mixing to club-based DJing to complete studio production workstation. Don’t ask it to make the dinner though. Can’t do that. Yet.
Check out our other Akai gear over at the Dawsons’ website.
Check out our new releases as they drop in our What’s New section, which we update daily!