The MPC 2000. The 2000XL. The 500. These old Akai boxes inspired countless live sets – and many devoted fans still make them the centerpiece of their rigs.
But Akai abandoned the standalone hardware market for years. Native Instruments came along with Maschine, making the hardware just a controller for software running on a computer. And the MPC lost its place as the machine synonymous with the drum machine/sampler device.
Now, that looks set to change. Akai is back in the standalone hardware business with a new angle – get all the capabilities of a computer, running the same software, but without having to have a computer plugged in at all. And that goes up against Elektron’s own new standalone hardware – and Native Instruments’ own mature Maschine lineup back on the computer.
The toughest audience for the new MPC, then, has got to be those dedicated Akai MPC users. Ideally, you’d find some who are still using the older MPC onstage. And, ideally, they’d be German – well, partly because criticism sounds cooler than in English, and partly because of Germany’s wonderful culture of being honest, reflective, and articulate with opinions.
Berlin videojournalists did just that, and took the flagship Akai MPC X to the trio FJAAK (on Monkeytown Records). The result is exactly the sort of hands-on review I’d want to see – thorough, personal, musical.
They take a hard look at the “best-equipped MPC of all time.” (That sounds fair.) They express some reservations about all those expanded capabilities, but give the unit a great shakedown.
(Don’t worry – English subtitles.)
I think it’s nice to contrast this with the more limited approach (and smaller price and form factor) of the Elektron Digitakt.
For me, I’m still holding out for some quality time with the MPC Live, which seems to nicely bridge what you want in a standalone device with what you want in software (and works as conventional software/controller when your computer is connected). But the MPC X is big, beautiful, and a nice option if you’ve got the budget.