Akai Professional MPC X by Chromalord
I ordered this from Sweetwater back in Feb, it finally got release 1st week of July. Mine is #111 .
It should be noted, I am neither any kind of Hip-hop OR Electronica composer. So things important to those programmers may not be vital to me.
IMO, this is one of the most beautiful pieces of hardware I have ever seen. The side panels are a thick dense rubber, amber in color. The surface is black, with a sturdy low-compression rest pad for the hands. The unit has a relatively low profile aside from the swivel color touch screen that is 9.5" X 6" in size: plenty large enough for any function. The screen has an adjustable support. The layout of both the images on the screen and the layout of the buttons and knobs is both logical and uncluttered, with plenty of room with folks with bigger hands. The quality of the hardware, sturdiness of all the controls are superb. The mini screens are well lit and legible. The 16-pad panel is perfect: perfect size, responsive (programmable too) back lit ( you can change the color scheme of each pad) and feel great. Transport controls look like they can take a lot of abuse.
The unit is extremely well thought out in this regard. There are front and rear panels full of plenty of jacks.
Front panel: (2) headphone jacks accommodate both MINI and TRS plugs, SD card slot, (2) footswitch jacks, (2) Instrument (TS) inputs.
Rear panel: (2) XLR inputs (with phantom) Stereo turntable + (2) TRS SAMPLE Inputs, Main outs+ 6 TRS individual outs. MIDI is (2) In, and (4) out, (8) Control voltage outs, (2) USB ports (1) USB instrument port.
for more info please see link.
First impressions, USAGE:
The unit is logically laid out with few quirks or strange language, The hierarchy is laid out well too. They kept the layout on the screen easy to read and un-cluttered, the screen responds well to touch ( much better than say, a Kronos) and the graphics are sharp and understated. The unit responds fast, getting around, audition sounds, sequencing, saving and loading all makes sense. Aside from some minor speed-bumps, I was creating and archiving drum kits and performances almost immediately.
Power and library:
The unit comes stock with TONS of sounds. 10-gig is a lot of drums! Plenty to get you started. My only gripe is that ALL of the demos ( of which there is an endless offering ) are Hip-Hop or Dance/House/Electronica by nature. This doesn't mean there are not standard drums sounds, there are; oodles. However, this IS a sampling unit and I intend to port-over my fav' drums from other media formats.
There are 8-banks(layers) of 16 pads in each, each pad can hold 2 samples, all within one program. You can run up to 4 FX per pad, and the FX library is commendable. All sequences can be automated on the fly, as well as step-sequenced and live playing. The pads can be set to be used as an instrument.
There are 16 soft knobs, all user-configurable, each having its own mini window. Those knobs are great for fast tweaking and also for seeing where current parameters values are at the moment.
The MPC with its enormous MIDI and USB implementation can easily function as a stand-alone production unit, capable of running a massive set-up, all without a computer.
You will want to format a flash drive and/or SD card, there is only 6 gig of available internal memory unless you wipe out the stock sounds ( which I don't recommend you doing).
I have never been a HUGE fan of Akai's general version of fidelity. I have always found it to be a bit brittle and hyped, say compared to Roland which sounds warmer to me. But since this unit is primarily aimed at the Hip-Hop community, the desire IS to be a bit on the raw side, and this unit does that very well.
My samples, compared to their original, lose a little bit of their imaging and organic quality. I understand this, its simply Akai's way. For the sake of the review, admittedly I'm being hyper-critical.The fidelity is much more "punchy" than say the Tempest which I found vague by comparison.
All of this may contradict my rating of 5 stars. I have 2 explanations to that: 1) This machine is true to its roots. (2) Had I given it a 4, that would have indicated I was only 80% happy with the way it sounds, as my opinion is that Im 94% satisfied, I rounded up to 5 stars, had they given me a range of 1-10, then I would have given it a 9.
[There is a GIANT quick-guide sheet that comes with the unit along with a fairly useless operational manual. You must download the full-version from their site.]
- Cant name songs. I have no explanation for this.
- Auditioning sounds does not always work smoothly
- "Mute-Target" is Akai's language of how to assign pads to cutoff the release of other pads ( eg: open and closed hi-hats)
While this is not a "bug" per say , there is nothing in the manual that indicates thats what this does.
- List Edit appears on the panel but does nothing (yet)
- Archiving is on the antiquated side.
I have only scratched the surface of what this wonderful machine does. If there is a better stand-alone unit, damned if I know what it is. IMO every composer should own one, be they pro or hobbyist: it IS that great!