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.


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: