Now that software increasingly comes with hardware, why not have it also run standalone? That has seemed inevitable for some time. Yet, for years, MPC fans have been without a standalone hardware option from Akai. Pioneer, Elektron, and others will sell you drum machine hardware that runs on its own, but not Akai. That seems set to change.
Now, multiple leaks from employees of dealers selling Akai hardware suggest standalone hardware is imminent. (Dealers have increasingly become a weak point in keeping upcoming hardware confidential – recent Roland announcements have demonstrated.) You might not even have to wait for January’s NAMM show, as sources say some of the gear is coming later this year.
Leaks report two new pieces of gear, MPC Live and MPC Eclipse.
This also appears to finally be the payoff for something Akai had said they were working on years ago. Akai publicly presented their cooperation with Microsoft on shipping embedded Windows-based machines. That’s mainly a development change; there seems to be no indication you’ll be able to substitute your own software. But it could mean more rapid development, and crucially, a seamless transition between desktop and standalone function.
Sure enough, leaked manuals suggest you’ll be able to use these boxes both in standalone and controller modes. That seems ideal. When you’re in the studio or working on a production with a computer, you’ll be able to use all your software arsenal for effects, mixing, arrangement, and mastering. But if you want to go live and ditch the computer, you can do that, too. Running on embedded Windows ought to then both cut development costs and make standalone and computer modes possible on a single product.
The obvious next question is, why haven’t Native Instruments done this with Maschine, Traktor, and other products? After all, NI was one of the first major developers to foresee the coming software revolution as being more convenient and more economical. I was just listening to founder Stephen Schmitt talk about how that came about. I wonder if a second revolution with hybrid hardware is about to happen – and if the company will miss the boat.
Leaked sources suggest a flagship at the $2000 price point, but a new version of what was the MPC Touch at just US$899. If that’s just a revised MPC Touch, it’s not news, but if these sources are to be believed, you’ll get standalone operation on that, too. And that’s a game changer, given that there’s currently nothing with computer-style workflows under a grand.
Meanwhile, also suggesting they’re trying to get rid of inventory of the original MPC Touch, Akai has slashed its prices to US$599, adding credence to the possibility you’ll get something soon.
You can read the full thread on German forum sequencer.de, with a somewhat astonishing amount of leaks coming from multiple sources. (Mixture of German and English. Some of this information is older, as it came from the original Microsoft announcement.)
Neue MPCs kommen (alles) [sequencer.de]
Anyway, I will now likely shut up as Akai have told me nothing (the only reason I can write this article), and hopefully bring you more information once it’s actually intentionally public.