Following Akai’s announcement of the new standalone MPC models – MPC X and MPC Live – they’ve also released some videos.
Sound on Sound has a walkthrough:
And there’s the requisite promo film from Akai:
It’s important to note that adding standalone mode here doesn’t mean taking away anything from the computer/hardware combo. The software on the standalone MPCs is identical to what was previously available via the controller — even besting it, thanks to the MPC 2.0 software launch. Plugged into your computer, you get all the advantages you’re used to. You can add plug-ins, control MIDI on the device over USB, and drag and drop materials back to your DAW. But untethered, you can work without a computer – which also means less complexity and stability hassles in live setups.
People evidently thought I was suggesting tossing your laptop in a bin. Far from it: I think the real story here is that your computer does what it’s best at (like hosting plug-ins, handling arrangement duties, and showing things on a big display), while avoiding the situation where it can become awkward (certain live setups, or on the go, or when you want to focus on a music workflow without distractions).
The other interesting story here is the new approach to clip launching in the MPC 2.0 software. Despite the comparisons to Ableton Live, it’d be a stretch to imagine this as a real Ableton alternative – Ableton Live’s software is a complete DAW built around the clip model.
That said, I can imagine a big use case of people who have gotten used to pattern launching because Ableton is their main DAW, finding this comfortable when they’re playing onstage.
Frankly, there are also plenty of producers and DJs I know who avoid live sets because they haven’t had a rig they felt comfortable with. Setting up Ableton as their live gig tool might be daunting.
Reaching another use case, there are MPC users who are comfortable with that tool for production, and even are happy to use it for end-to-end track creation. Those folks are likely to be excited about the ability to use Audio Tracks. Now, if you do all your vocals and arrangement in Cubase, I don’t know that this is really for you. But for the drum machine-focused workflow, where someone just wants to add some vocals and do all the rest of their song writing on the MPC, this could fit.
For their part, Native Instruments are also adjusting their approach to arrangement workflows on Maschine; I’ll cover that in a separate story.
Akai are also meeting artists in a series called “standalone challenge” – one clearly geared at the US market, with some Grammy-winning legends: