MPCRenaissance_angle2_1200x750

Let’s get one thing straight: now that Akai has made the jump from hardware to hybrid hardware/software, the hardware they make is very, very good.

The MPC Studio is slim and messenger bag-friendly, when Native Instruments’ Maschine is big and luggable. The MPC Renaissance is more of a “throw it in your station wagon” affair, but it feels fantastic – the pads are brilliant.

The downside has been software. But Akai is making headway there. I’m not convinced the changes are going to make anyone switch, but I can imagine what Akai is delivering here should make existing users very happy, indeed.

mpcsoftware

As NI bundled Maschine with Massive, Akai also – via InMusic’s AIR – have a killer synth of their own, the lovely Hybrid 3. But while bundles are nice extras, I think the big news here is more mature functionality for the MPC software’s workflows.

Musically speaking, the best feature of all may be “Direct Record” mode. After all, the heritage of the MPC is all about sampling – it’s what made it so essential in music. Here, finally, we see looping as an essential feature, recording layers directly in real-time.

New in this release:

  • Real-time loop-style sample layering, “Direct Record” mode
    A new mixer architecture: better metering, better control (much-needed – and often-overlooked; mixing is an essential part of the drum machine/groove workstation)
    “Filter” the information displayed on the mixer for customized information views
    Audio export finally works as it should: export by program and track
    Expanded track automation, with visual feedback
    Better performance, with a multi-processor audio path
    Reworked browser with adjustable volume on sample auditioning (so you don’t scream “ow” any more)
    AAX plugin compatibility with Pro Tools 10 and 11
    More keyboard shortcuts

    There are various other enhancements and additional loop content. But I think it’s improving the mixer and adding sample recording – plus export – that really gets the most interesting. That export workflow is essential, as a lot of people working with this sort of software eventually drop clips in Ableton Live or another DAW to do their arrangement; drum machine workflows still work better for improvisation than they do finishing tracks for many users.

    Maschine is definitely the rival here. Its effects and content are terrific, the Maschine mkII remains a great middle-of-the-road compromise between size and usability, and it has some beautiful features for sound design and production that function seamlessly. Akai’s software also just can’t match it on looks – and that’s more than aesthetics; it impacts how you use the program. (It’s telling that Akai didn’t even bother including a screen shot in their press pack. Yes, the hardware looks great.)

    But Akai is starting to look like proper competition by improving their software. If you focus on the hardware and work with features like this new loop recording, it’s a contender.

    What’s interesting now is to see NI’s next move on Maschine – and on the Akai side, whether this can gain some traction. I know loads of people who still love their MPCs, but still haven’t found MPC software users; if you’re out there, please sound off and let us know how this works.

    Meanwhile, I know long-time MPC lovers still await dedicated hardware that doesn’t require a computer. (Rhythm Wolf doesn’t count.)

    We’ll be watching all of this, 4×4 pad lovers.

    Akai Downloads

    • Mutis Mayfield

      Interesting… I do the same with loopyhd and ipad synths/samplers/drum machines but ni e to see improvements in live looping realm.

      NI maybe should explore the remix decks secuencing and improve looping workflow (loop capture then move to remix decks is not the best IMHO but myabe I lost some features due I didn’t explore traktor so deep yet)

      Realtime scratchable grooveboxes is the new era (The Bridge and Ms. Pinky m4l were the antecedents…)
      Flyloops/livetronika is the idea, only if some company flood them with money to improve their stability and GUI (a bit more Aaron will be Bump!)
      Ableton maybe? Atomix? Steinberg?

    • I was among the first Maschine buyers in Bucharest when it first came out and I now own a second MK2 now with V2.

      I sold my first MK2 to buy a Ren. I returned because although the hardware was awesome, the MPC app was awful. I then got an MPC Studio and gave it one more try with MPC 1.6… Ended up selling it and returning to Maschine, alghough I loved the small controller AKAI had.

      BUT Having owned both, I really love what they’ve done with 1.7. It’s massive. They’ve rewritten the mixer routings. That was a big bummer for me. And they’ve added loads of new stuff. Of course, visually it doesn’t compare with Maschine. Maschine has a whole graphic design department which takes care of the UI.

      If I had to choose between MPC Ren & Maschine 1.8 I’d choose MPC because of the included IO on the back of the REN, but now with Maschine 2.0 and the new mixer & device racks… it’s a tough choice. Also NI will add Scales & ARP in November which was one of my biggest requests.

      We’ll see how it evolves. This competition means one thing. USERS WILL BENEFIT 😀
      I really look forward for a MK3 controller with included IO.

      • Ashley Scott

        haha funny, I find Maschine’s on-screen interface hard to read re. colours & font sizes. The on-device interface is not too bad though.

    • Mutis Mayfield

      Interesting… I do the same with loopyhd and ipad synths/samplers/drum machines but ni e to see improvements in live looping realm.

      NI maybe should explore the remix decks secuencing and improve looping workflow (loop capture then move to remix decks is not the best IMHO but myabe I lost some features due I didn’t explore traktor so deep yet)

      Realtime scratchable grooveboxes is the new era (The Bridge and Ms. Pinky m4l were the antecedents…)
      Flyloops/livetronika is the idea, only if some company flood them with money to improve their stability and GUI (a bit more Aaron will be Bump!)
      Ableton maybe? Atomix? Steinberg?

    • I was among the first Maschine buyers in Bucharest when it first came out and I now own a second MK2 now with V2.

      I sold my first MK2 to buy a Ren. I returned because although the hardware was awesome, the MPC app was awful. I then got an MPC Studio and gave it one more try with MPC 1.6… Ended up selling it and returning to Maschine, alghough I loved the small controller AKAI had.

      BUT Having owned both, I really love what they’ve done with 1.7. It’s massive. They’ve rewritten the mixer routings. That was a big bummer for me. And they’ve added loads of new stuff. Of course, visually it doesn’t compare with Maschine. Maschine has a whole graphic design department which takes care of the UI.

      If I had to choose between MPC Ren & Maschine 1.8 I’d choose MPC because of the included IO on the back of the REN, but now with Maschine 2.0 and the new mixer & device racks… it’s a tough choice. Also NI will add Scales & ARP in November which was one of my biggest requests.

      We’ll see how it evolves. This competition means one thing. USERS WILL BENEFIT 😀
      I really look forward for a MK3 controller with included IO.

      • Ashley Scott

        haha funny, I find Maschine’s on-screen interface hard to read re. colours & font sizes. The on-device interface is not too bad though.

    • Mutis Mayfield

      Interesting… I do the same with loopyhd and ipad synths/samplers/drum machines but ni e to see improvements in live looping realm.

      NI maybe should explore the remix decks secuencing and improve looping workflow (loop capture then move to remix decks is not the best IMHO but myabe I lost some features due I didn’t explore traktor so deep yet)

      Realtime scratchable grooveboxes is the new era (The Bridge and Ms. Pinky m4l were the antecedents…)
      Flyloops/livetronika is the idea, only if some company flood them with money to improve their stability and GUI (a bit more Aaron will be Bump!)
      Ableton maybe? Atomix? Steinberg?

    • I was among the first Maschine buyers in Bucharest when it first came out and I now own a second MK2 now with V2.

      I sold my first MK2 to buy a Ren. I returned because although the hardware was awesome, the MPC app was awful. I then got an MPC Studio and gave it one more try with MPC 1.6… Ended up selling it and returning to Maschine, alghough I loved the small controller AKAI had.

      BUT Having owned both, I really love what they’ve done with 1.7. It’s massive. They’ve rewritten the mixer routings. That was a big bummer for me. And they’ve added loads of new stuff. Of course, visually it doesn’t compare with Maschine. Maschine has a whole graphic design department which takes care of the UI.

      If I had to choose between MPC Ren & Maschine 1.8 I’d choose MPC because of the included IO on the back of the REN, but now with Maschine 2.0 and the new mixer & device racks… it’s a tough choice. Also NI will add Scales & ARP in November which was one of my biggest requests.

      We’ll see how it evolves. This competition means one thing. USERS WILL BENEFIT 😀
      I really look forward for a MK3 controller with included IO.

      • Ashley Scott

        haha funny, I find Maschine’s on-screen interface hard to read re. colours & font sizes. The on-device interface is not too bad though.

    • Ashley Scott

      Ok, 2 responses? I’m game: very preliminary but this is a good upgrade: I don’t actually care that much about mixer improvements as my Ren is strictly for studio use & I tend to record out into individual tracks in Tracktion or Reaper. But stability improvements ( yet to be verified) = good thing. The addition of hybrid is excellent – always have my doubts about Akai’s expansions & sound sets – they always just seem a little trancy? or something but it’s a nice synth.

      Akai’s harshest critics tend to be their own users. The corp also has a habit of foot-shooting in various ways (free pro tools but only for some customers lol) but I dont think they ever actually stopped making interesting stuff. Maybe the problem is/was focus (too many controller keyboards or Ableton clip launchers?) the future of their software mpcs will be interesting I think.

      ps. To whoever: Stop ddos-ing akaipro.com it’s just annoying 🙂

    • Ashley Scott

      Ok, 2 responses? I’m game: very preliminary but this is a good upgrade: I don’t actually care that much about mixer improvements as my Ren is strictly for studio use & I tend to record out into individual tracks in Tracktion or Reaper. But stability improvements ( yet to be verified) = good thing. The addition of hybrid is excellent – always have my doubts about Akai’s expansions & sound sets – they always just seem a little trancy? or something but it’s a nice synth.

      Akai’s harshest critics tend to be their own users. The corp also has a habit of foot-shooting in various ways (free pro tools but only for some customers lol) but I dont think they ever actually stopped making interesting stuff. Maybe the problem is/was focus (too many controller keyboards or Ableton clip launchers?) the future of their software mpcs will be interesting I think.

      ps. To whoever: Stop ddos-ing akaipro.com it’s just annoying 🙂

    • Ashley Scott

      Ok, 2 responses? I’m game: very preliminary but this is a good upgrade: I don’t actually care that much about mixer improvements as my Ren is strictly for studio use & I tend to record out into individual tracks in Tracktion or Reaper. But stability improvements ( yet to be verified) = good thing. The addition of hybrid is excellent – always have my doubts about Akai’s expansions & sound sets – they always just seem a little trancy? or something but it’s a nice synth.

      Akai’s harshest critics tend to be their own users. The corp also has a habit of foot-shooting in various ways (free pro tools but only for some customers lol) but I dont think they ever actually stopped making interesting stuff. Maybe the problem is/was focus (too many controller keyboards or Ableton clip launchers?) the future of their software mpcs will be interesting I think.

      ps. To whoever: Stop ddos-ing akaipro.com it’s just annoying 🙂

    • heinrichz

      Let’s not forget that Maschine is also an excellent Midi Controller, i can especially recommend looking at the new Ableton Template but of course you could also totally configure your own template by using the Controller Editor. Secondly the displays in Maschine Studio certainly go way beyond what Akai is doing and i can actually use the Studio to handle big mixes just by looking at the hardware. Lastly, for me personally the Maschine Pads are at least as good as the MPC pads. Clearily when it come to sound sesign NI rules with its instruments and the preset browsing is superior thanks to a costumizable tagging system.That’s not to say that NI does not still have a lot of work to do and they better stay busy on the software side as there are some important things to be added.

    • heinrichz

      Let’s not forget that Maschine is also an excellent Midi Controller, i can especially recommend looking at the new Ableton Template but of course you could also totally configure your own template by using the Controller Editor. Secondly the displays in Maschine Studio certainly go way beyond what Akai is doing and i can actually use the Studio to handle big mixes just by looking at the hardware. Lastly, for me personally the Maschine Pads are at least as good as the MPC pads. Clearily when it come to sound sesign NI rules with its instruments and the preset browsing is superior thanks to a costumizable tagging system.That’s not to say that NI does not still have a lot of work to do and they better stay busy on the software side as there are some important things to be added.

    • heinrichz

      Let’s not forget that Maschine is also an excellent Midi Controller, i can especially recommend looking at the new Ableton Template but of course you could also totally configure your own template by using the Controller Editor. Secondly the displays in Maschine Studio certainly go way beyond what Akai is doing and i can actually use the Studio to handle big mixes just by looking at the hardware. Lastly, for me personally the Maschine Pads are at least as good as the MPC pads. Clearily when it come to sound sesign NI rules with its instruments and the preset browsing is superior thanks to a costumizable tagging system.That’s not to say that NI does not still have a lot of work to do and they better stay busy on the software side as there are some important things to be added.

    • whiteblob

      always wanted an mpc but the old hardware was too much effort and seemed floored due to akais wanting to make it an all in one device like the 5000. I think the renaissance is getting there but i look forward to the hardware version that intends to run on windows 8. If they can improve this software and make it work on that platform (give or take a firmware update or two, coz you know they are always coming and needed) I think they could find the right formula.

      But keep plugging away akai this direction is the future of electronic music.

    • whiteblob

      always wanted an mpc but the old hardware was too much effort and seemed floored due to akais wanting to make it an all in one device like the 5000. I think the renaissance is getting there but i look forward to the hardware version that intends to run on windows 8. If they can improve this software and make it work on that platform (give or take a firmware update or two, coz you know they are always coming and needed) I think they could find the right formula.

      But keep plugging away akai this direction is the future of electronic music.

    • whiteblob

      always wanted an mpc but the old hardware was too much effort and seemed floored due to akais wanting to make it an all in one device like the 5000. I think the renaissance is getting there but i look forward to the hardware version that intends to run on windows 8. If they can improve this software and make it work on that platform (give or take a firmware update or two, coz you know they are always coming and needed) I think they could find the right formula.

      But keep plugging away akai this direction is the future of electronic music.

    • Stone

      Akai I will make it simple. The MPC 4000 arguably the best. Yet in the software version no
      BPM/Tune function. No cross fade looping.

    • Stone

      Akai I will make it simple. The MPC 4000 arguably the best. Yet in the software version no
      BPM/Tune function. No cross fade looping.

    • Stone

      Akai I will make it simple. The MPC 4000 arguably the best. Yet in the software version no
      BPM/Tune function. No cross fade looping.

    • roddrick king

      Hands down I love the mpc studio & software but It has crashed so many times. Its time to let go and try Mashine….

      I have done everything Akai text support suggested. – Ditch my project mix and got a focusrite pro 40. (It was time to let the project mix go anyways) Reinstalled my system back to MT.lion.

      Last night I was composing a really cool beat and bam crash again. I can maybe see if your pushing your system to the limits but in this case i wasn’t. Besides Quad Core 16 gigs I def shouldn’t be having issues not for something so simple.

      Same results since the day I got it. Akai must be losing a ton of money to their competitor. You can’t by a brand new mac and run the software without issues cause they don’t support it yet!!

      I can’t speak on PC computers cause i don’t have a PC.

      So tonight I purchased the mashine mikro. Things go great i’ll later invest into the Maschine studio.

      Akai has to many programs for their hardware. They should of made one software compatible with all of their hardware.

      Smart move on mashine!!!!

      I’m not trying to discourage anyone from buying Akai products but this is my experience with it.

      Mpc studio goes up on craiglist Tonight.

    • roddrick king

      Hands down I love the mpc studio & software but It has crashed so many times. Its time to let go and try Mashine….

      I have done everything Akai text support suggested. – Ditch my project mix and got a focusrite pro 40. (It was time to let the project mix go anyways) Reinstalled my system back to MT.lion.

      Last night I was composing a really cool beat and bam crash again. I can maybe see if your pushing your system to the limits but in this case i wasn’t. Besides Quad Core 16 gigs I def shouldn’t be having issues not for something so simple.

      Same results since the day I got it. Akai must be losing a ton of money to their competitor. You can’t by a brand new mac and run the software without issues cause they don’t support it yet!!

      I can’t speak on PC computers cause i don’t have a PC.

      So tonight I purchased the mashine mikro. Things go great i’ll later invest into the Maschine studio.

      Akai has to many programs for their hardware. They should of made one software compatible with all of their hardware.

      Smart move on mashine!!!!

      I’m not trying to discourage anyone from buying Akai products but this is my experience with it.

      Mpc studio goes up on craiglist Tonight.

    • roddrick king

      Hands down I love the mpc studio & software but It has crashed so many times. Its time to let go and try Mashine….

      I have done everything Akai text support suggested. – Ditch my project mix and got a focusrite pro 40. (It was time to let the project mix go anyways) Reinstalled my system back to MT.lion.

      Last night I was composing a really cool beat and bam crash again. I can maybe see if your pushing your system to the limits but in this case i wasn’t. Besides Quad Core 16 gigs I def shouldn’t be having issues not for something so simple.

      Same results since the day I got it. Akai must be losing a ton of money to their competitor. You can’t by a brand new mac and run the software without issues cause they don’t support it yet!!

      I can’t speak on PC computers cause i don’t have a PC.

      So tonight I purchased the mashine mikro. Things go great i’ll later invest into the Maschine studio.

      Akai has to many programs for their hardware. They should of made one software compatible with all of their hardware.

      Smart move on mashine!!!!

      I’m not trying to discourage anyone from buying Akai products but this is my experience with it.

      Mpc studio goes up on craiglist Tonight.

    • After I updated the program I’m unable to drag and drop songs (MP3/WAV) into the sample window!! Why? I hope I will be able to downgrade to 1.6, I’m very disappointed!

    • After I updated the program I’m unable to drag and drop songs (MP3/WAV) into the sample window!! Why? I hope I will be able to downgrade to 1.6, I’m very disappointed!

    • After I updated the program I’m unable to drag and drop songs (MP3/WAV) into the sample window!! Why? I hope I will be able to downgrade to 1.6, I’m very disappointed!