Exploring Akai MPC
Future Music|Autumn 2021
Leo Maymind takes a detailed look at an iconic groovebox whose influence helped shape modern hip-hop and much more besides
Leo Maymind

Akai MPCs have been a mainstay in so many genres, it’s difficult to keep count. Though the MPC has shifted shapes over the years, the iconic four-by-four grid is still recognizable a mile away. The MPC line lost a lot of folks when they switched over to a controller-based platform in 2014 with the launch of MPC Touch, but thankfully they redeemed themselves in 2017 with the release of the brand new MPC Live hardware, an updated version of their iconic beat machine that, unlike the previous Touch version, was capable of working both in standalone form and as a controller with the included MPC software, when hooked up to a computer via USB.

The lineup has grown since then to include the flagship MPC X, which has a plethora of ins and outs and also a lot of hands-on control, as the X comes standard with 16 Q link knobs and a whole lot of buttons. Also available is the MPC Live II, which follows the same form factor of the original MPC Live, though it also adds a built-in battery pack and speakers that are capable of subbing in for your studio monitors in a last-minute jam situation. Three sets of stereo outputs, CV/Gate outputs, and both USB A and B ports make the Live II quite a fully-featured studio machine.

Into this lineup, Akai recently announced yet another version of the MPC, this time called the MPC One, the smallest of the new versions of MPCs and the most affordable of this new lineup of MPCs yet. While the MPC One doesn’t have quite the extensive I/O (only stereo ins and outs) as the flagship MPC X or Live II, it still comes with the same 7-inch touchscreen and runs the exact same software as the larger siblings. The MPC One is making quite a splash with beatmakers of all stripes and it’s not hard to see why given its lower price tag.

What’s most exciting is that Akai have not rested on their laurels since releasing this new MPC lineup, as the software side of the MPC lineup has been continually updated since its first release in 2017. The most recent update was 2.10 and this included a plethora of new features that added even more functionality to the MPC range. In this Producer’s Guide, we’re going to dig into some of those new features and explore some tips to keeping you focused when you are exploring the vast universe that is the MPC landscape. Let’s get started...

10 ways to get more out of your MPC hardware

These tips and shortcuts will have you flying around your MPC, expert and novice alike

1 Maximum connections

One of the most significant changes in the 2.10 OS update from Akai that was recently released is the ability to use an external audio interface instead of the built-in I/O on your MPC. This is especially impactful for MPC One owners, who previously were left with just a single stereo out (if they were using Standalone mode; more on Controller mode later). Now with OS 2.10, any Linux Class Compliant audio device that runs at 44.1k will work with the MPC. To change the audio device, go to Preferences by hitting the Menu button twice (or shift tapping it) and scroll down to Audio Device. If a device is connected, you should see it in the dropdown list. Selecting 32 inputs and outputs will slightly increase CPU usage but may be worth it for those complex studio setups where you have a lot of gear you’d like access to quickly, all from within the MPC.

2 Stay organised

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