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MPC Hardware and Keyboard Setup Monitor Controllers
Old 12th August 2018
  #1
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MPC Hardware and Keyboard Setup

I hate to admit it but I have been WAY out of the game for over 10 years. I still play drums and guitar but I used to own a studio, work on an SSL, have all the high end outboard gear and spend hours in the studio. I am getting back into wanting to create music vs just play guitar on its own and it seems the new trend is to sample everything and arrange. I read a piece where John Mayer records his guitars straight to the MPC. I have also seen him use his MPC as a sampler and record guitar licks, vox, then add other instruments and create songs. So I want this setup.

He uses the MPC Live and a small midi keyboard. This is probably the right setup but I have questions...

- MPC live vs X? X obviously has more but is it worth it for what I want to do?
- Midi Keyboard? I guess this doesnt matter but portable is nice. I think an MPC one is the best fit here.
- Does the keyboard control the MPC Live? Or do I need a computer to sync it all up? Does the MPC have sounds for the keyboard? I dont know how this works... I assume keyboard into computer w software, then export to MPC somehow?
- How much memory in in the MPC Live? I remember the old MPCs back in the 90s w discs but I assume you just use a USB harddrive now right?
- Can you arrange music easily?
- How easy is it to load samples like drums?
- Once a song is together, where do I bounce it out to? Or can this be done internally?
- If I have to use a computer, I dont use Mac anymore. I have PC so keep that in mind...


I really want to do basic things like come up w a guitar riff, record it over drums, add bass, some vox, keyboard or synth, mix and arrange, bounce out to an MP3. But I also want to keep in mind that I will expand in the future and dont want to miss out on features. Also want to keep all the files so I can pull up an old session and make changes.

I also have a Kemper for guitar so that will be an easy integration. I know these are basic questions but I have high expectations coming from my background. So I am starting from scratch here but that wont last long. Any help or insight would be great.
Old 12th August 2018
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cap217 View Post
I hate to admit it but I have been WAY out of the game for over 10 years.
Welcome back!

Quote:
- MPC live vs X? X obviously has more but is it worth it for what I want to do?
The X is $1000 more. If you want to plug your guitar directly in or want to use mics, the X offers a couple of mic preamps whereas the Live does not. (but you have a Kemper, so you're golden on guitar - I have one too. Love it)

If you think you love twisting knobs for onboard samples or automating external keyboards, then the Q link knobs on the X with the scribble strips look amazing. There's also CV outputs on the X.

I picked the live because it fits in a backpack - they X would just barely fit on my existing studio desk.

Quote:
- Midi Keyboard? I guess this doesnt matter but portable is nice. I think an MPC one is the best fit here.
Doesn't really matter. The MPC will provide USB power to an external MIDI controller which is cool. The Akai MIDI keyboards look very nice and there's some nifty MIDI learn tech on the MPC now that will help you integrate your MIDI keyboard controller.

Quote:
- Does the keyboard control the MPC Live? Or do I need a computer to sync it all up? Does the MPC have sounds for the keyboard? I dont know how this works... I assume keyboard into computer w software, then export to MPC somehow?
The keyboard will mainly be used for sending MIDI notes to the MPC and triggering samples on the MPC. But there's all kinds of MIDI stuff you can do that is too detailed to get into here.

The MPCs come with 10gigs of factory sounds. EDM, dance, hip-hop, etc, but mainly those genres. There are things called "Key Maps" which are programs with chromatic samples that are mapped across notes matching a keyboard. For example, there's some Moog samples, some pads, some pianos, etc. Your external keyboard will drive MIDI notes to trigger those sounds and the MPC will record/sequence your MIDI notes and play back the keymaps so you can hear them.

Your external keyboard doesn't need its own sounds. But one day you could get a used Virus and sequence multiple MIDI parts for example and have a pretty powerful sound generator.

Quote:
- How much memory in in the MPC Live? I remember the old MPCs back in the 90s w discs but I assume you just use a USB harddrive now right?
2G RAM total. But that's for the OS. The "effective working memory" for your samples is about 600/700MB. "Effective" because all samples are stored at 32 bits - even it your samples are 16 or 24 bit. So there is some wasted RAM. Still it's like 5x the Max you could get on an MPC in the past.

Quote:
- Can you arrange music easily?
Yes. It's quite easy once you watch some tutorial vids on Youtube. In fact, it's very quick to make arrangements and song arrangements once you get your main parts down.

Song Mode is nice for splicing together your separate sequences and making full song arrangements.

Quote:
- How easy is it to load samples like drums?
Easy. Complex key maps can be really tedious to make. Again, it comes with 10Gig of built in samples. You can make plenty of music with that and never have to load a sample if you don't want.

Quote:
- Once a song is together, where do I bounce it out to? Or can this be done internally?
You can bounce/mix down inside the MPC to mp3 or wav. Save that to a USB stick or attach to a computer with USB.

Quote:
- If I have to use a computer, I dont use Mac anymore. I have PC so keep that in mind...
I think the software is cross platform (I have a Mac, but I've heard that Windows needs a "newish" OS - look up the requirements)

Quote:
I really want to do basic things like come up w a guitar riff, record it over drums, add bass, some vox, keyboard or synth, mix and arrange, bounce out to an MP3. But I also want to keep in mind that I will expand in the future and dont want to miss out on features. Also want to keep all the files so I can pull up an old session and make changes.
Yeah, super easy to do. I've been using this box to write full songs for a while now. Helps me write different stuff.

Here's some examples to share with you since most of these have some guitar (I get to pimp my link for writing so much right? :-) These are made the way I think you'll be working so I thinks it's totally relevant) :

bran13 | Free Listening on SoundCloud Denver18, RedRocks, AmPulse, VerbSamples, Physical Earth. Some of these were built on the MPC and mixed on my DAW. Denver18 is all inside the MPC all stock samples included with the device.

Quote:
I also have a Kemper for guitar so that will be an easy integration. I know these are basic questions but I have high expectations coming from my background. So I am starting from scratch here but that wont last long. Any help or insight would be great.
You could probably even use your Kemper for some FX processing. The MPC internal effects are average. The Kempers FX are well above average.

Last edited by blewis_13; 12th August 2018 at 11:04 PM.. Reason: some adds some spelling
Old 12th August 2018
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cap217 View Post
Is this the right area?
The main MPC thread is here, but it's hundreds of pages long.


MPC live

Once you read my response and think you're headed in the right direction, I think you can dive into the main thread and get more out of it. The main thread does cover nearly a year and a half of OS upgrades, so one might get a little lost.
Old 12th August 2018
  #4
Lives for gear
 

Thanks for the detailed response. Very helpful and it’s nice to know that you use it like I intend to.

- Are you happy with this setup or would you recommend a different route?

- And you addressed the onboard memory but not the question about projects and saving them or what you need to store music. I guess I’m afraid of creating a song or session then bouncing down and then loosing that project to start a new one. Is it simply using an external hard drive?

- With live will I be missing out on guitar inputs that are useful? Acoustic and electric. I guess guitar is my main instrument so I don’t want to overlook that.

Last edited by cap217; 13th August 2018 at 02:59 AM..
Old 13th August 2018
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cap217 View Post
- Are you happy with this setup or would you recommend a different route?
I’m very happy with it.

Quote:
- And you addressed the onboard memory but not the question about projects and saving them or what you need to store music. I guess I’m afraid of creating a song or session then bouncing down and then loosing that project to start a new one. Is it simply using an external hard drive?
The best choice is buying an inexpensive SSD drive. Both the Live and the X have a connector and bay in the bottom. You’ll want to do this because:

1) there’s only about 3-4GB of space on the internal storage
2) and because if you hookup the MPC to your computer the SSD drive shows up as a mounted drive making it really easy to drag and drop files.

Quote:
- With live will I be missing out on guitar inputs that are useful? Acoustic and electric. I guess guitar is my main instrument so I don’t want to overlook that.
For electrics, you’re set with the Kemper. If you want to mic an acoustic, you need a pre. There’s a wide range of answers here. The X has more I/O and pres and - wait for it - a 1/4” headphone jack. My least favorite part of the Live is the 1/8” jack. :-)

That last part is hard to answer. If your acoustic has a pickup, you can get some decent results with the Kemper (that has some acoustic mic pre profiles.) but if you need a mic, you need a pre. So in that case either an X or you could go as low as a Live + $150 Mackie mixer with 2 mic pres.

The X because of size, is less portable and will probably be more of a central hub//permanent fixture on your desk.
Old 13th August 2018
  #6
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by blewis_13 View Post
I’m very happy with it.



The best choice is buying an inexpensive SSD drive. Both the Live and the X have a connector and bay in the bottom. You’ll want to do this because:

1) there’s only about 3-4GB of space on the internal storage
2) and because if you hookup the MPC to your computer the SSD drive shows up as a mounted drive making it really easy to drag and drop files.



For electrics, you’re set with the Kemper. If you want to mic an acoustic, you need a pre. There’s a wide range of answers here. The X has more I/O and pres and - wait for it - a 1/4” headphone jack. My least favorite part of the Live is the 1/8” jack. :-)

That last part is hard to answer. If your acoustic has a pickup, you can get some decent results with the Kemper (that has some acoustic mic pre profiles.) but if you need a mic, you need a pre. So in that case either an X or you could go as low as a Live + $150 Mackie mixer with 2 mic pres.

The X because of size, is less portable and will probably be more of a central hub//permanent fixture on your desk.

Thanks for all this. I am pretty set on getting this setup. I think getting the MPC Live, MPK mini, and something like a focusrite ISA pre is the way to go and have me covered on everything.
Old 13th August 2018
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Ordered it along with a big knob, desk, mpk mini, and a focusrite 6i6.
Old 14th August 2018
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by blewis_13 View Post
I’m very happy with it.



The best choice is buying an inexpensive SSD drive. Both the Live and the X have a connector and bay in the bottom. You’ll want to do this because:

1) there’s only about 3-4GB of space on the internal storage
2) and because if you hookup the MPC to your computer the SSD drive shows up as a mounted drive making it really easy to drag and drop files.



For electrics, you’re set with the Kemper. If you want to mic an acoustic, you need a pre. There’s a wide range of answers here. The X has more I/O and pres and - wait for it - a 1/4” headphone jack. My least favorite part of the Live is the 1/8” jack. :-)

That last part is hard to answer. If your acoustic has a pickup, you can get some decent results with the Kemper (that has some acoustic mic pre profiles.) but if you need a mic, you need a pre. So in that case either an X or you could go as low as a Live + $150 Mackie mixer with 2 mic pres.

The X because of size, is less portable and will probably be more of a central hub//permanent fixture on your desk.

Ok, got it and messed with it for a while. Some things are easy but a lot of features that I want to do, I am struggling to find how. Simple things too...

New projects, saving, where to save, etc...

But other things like if I like a sample or pad on a kit but want to merge a few kits into one custom program and then transpose some pads to make them all in the same key, how? Tons of questions, where is the best place to learn MPC use?
Old 14th August 2018
  #9
Gear Head
 

I have to say that the MPC Bible at MPC-Samples.com was a 100% valuable purchase - I have worked my way through much of it, and it really just lays out everything you need to learn. MPC X & MPC Live Tutorials, Sounds & Expansions

I was frustrated with my MPC-Live, because I made a lot of assumptions on how things "should" work from my years of using other gear - the MPC Bible helped gently retrain my brain.
Old 20th August 2018
  #10
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ppgwave View Post
I have to say that the MPC Bible at MPC-Samples.com was a 100% valuable purchase - I have worked my way through much of it, and it really just lays out everything you need to learn. MPC X & MPC Live Tutorials, Sounds & Expansions

I was frustrated with my MPC-Live, because I made a lot of assumptions on how things "should" work from my years of using other gear - the MPC Bible helped gently retrain my brain.
I should get it. I know... I posted a new thread with some things I am trying to figure out now. If you have a chance click over there and help me out. Thanks
Old 20th August 2018
  #11
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Praxisaxis's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cap217 View Post
Ok, got it and messed with it for a while. Some things are easy but a lot of features that I want to do, I am struggling to find how. Simple things too...

New projects, saving, where to save, etc...

But other things like if I like a sample or pad on a kit but want to merge a few kits into one custom program and then transpose some pads to make them all in the same key, how? Tons of questions, where is the best place to learn MPC use?
You will pick it up. Most importantly, learn the nomenclature: Project / Program / Sequence / Track / Sample

I'll give you some tips for the file structure. When you get your head around this everything else becomes easier:

Project = everything you're working on at the time. A "Project" is the project file itself + the project data folder. The project file and the folder are in the same place (wherever you are saving your project). This much is not entirely obvious when you start, because by default your project folder and its contents are hidden!! They are easy to unhide: in the browse menu there is an icon to the far right, next to the icons for file type. It is a folder with MPC written on it. This hides/unhides your project folder.

Your audio data (ie samples) are in that project folder, along with any other files the project uses, except for the project file itself.

Important: When you load samples into your RAM for the project you are working on, and then save that project, the MPC saves all the samples in RAM (ie any audio you have loaded) into your current project folder, regardless of where you originally loaded them from. This means you never worry about file locations - all the audio gets put in the project folder. This is quite neat and tidy, because the MPC puts everything in the one place. It also means you will end up duplicating a lot of media, but this is preferential to having a sprawling web of stuff and having unlinked audio (ie the way some DAWS and video editors deal with assets).

When you load a program into RAM (a set of mapped samples, think of like an "instrument"), and then save your project, the MPC saves that program (ie its file and all its audio) into your project folder. Again this is a neat solution, because if you make a great program in one project and want to use it in your next one, you can pull it in easily - no need to build the same programs again and again. But again it means file duplication (not really a big deal).

If you "save as" on the MPC, it will duplicate everything including all the audio.

Important: You should consider saving your projects to your own installed media (SD, SSD, thumb drive etc), rather than the internal drive. This is because when you plug in the MPC to a computer, the computer recognises your installed media, but cannot access the internal drive. So if you want to open a project in the software, or even just access a sample, this is straightforward if you've saved to your own media but impossible to access directly if it is on the internal drive.
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