MPC Live and MPC X Review

MPC Live and MPC X, both by made Akai Pro have been available in the market for some time now. In the past months, we did take a look at both units. Both devices show far the non-computer machines have developed these days. With an MPC Live or X, it is exceptionally agile and easy to produce songs without the need to use a computer-based DAW. These resulting productions are ready to mix and master.

MPC X is the battleship including extensive connectivity and the possibility of recording of audio tracks in your studio or when you perform live. MPC Live is the hands-on smaller device which can be used mobile to produce beats and works just fine in a studio or on live stage. Akai Pro did send both devices as a review copy with no strings attached.

Installation

You unpack the hardware connect it to power and start using it. As there is no MAC or PC required you are done with powering on the MPC. You do not have to install anything besides an updated firmware when it becomes available.

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Sound

MPC Live and MPC X are absolutely beat and song maker machines. Both let you perform with the support of a sampler workstation and more to produce a beat or song. All features required by the modern producer are included in those little devices, there is really no computer needed.

MPC X Rear Side

Both devices come with 10GB of radio-ready sounds from the leading sound design producer plus some additional Akai samples. In addition, you can obtain professional made MPC Expansion Packs for an additional fee.

MPC Expansion Packs.

The main focus of our attention is on UI, usability, and look & feel, supported by the touch screen. The sounds included are excellent, and you can add expansion packs or sample your own unique content with ease. The touch screen is crisp and pleasant to read. You want to invest time to record your own sounds. Shape the samples with your own selected effects and I promise you will have a blast using the MPC in your projects.

MPC Live Rear Side

MPC X and the Live are both standing for everything the MPC devices are known for by the professional music, producer, live performance and band industry. When you use an MPC, you do not need to run a DAW or computer at the same time. All that is required and needed is included in the MPC.

User interface & Usability

I did feel right at home when using the MPC Live and X. The machines have been my first approach to go entirely DAW less. DAW less means that you no longer depend on a computer and a digital audio workstation (DAW). I am coming from a computer and DAW when producing with the MPC devices I encountered a full-blown tool to create songs or perform live. Just with no need for my MAC and preferred DAW I was able to come up with new ideas, beats, and melody with ease. I started with the X and then went after two weeks of playing with the larger MPC to the Live. Switching to the Live was fine, I am however still unsure which of the two devices I will keep in the future.

You can also marry both worlds (DAW less and your MAC/PC) and use the MPC X or MPC Live as a controller to the MPC 2.0 software. You get the best of both worlds with the controller while staying in the box.

To see how easy the MPC controller is to use I did ask our youngest boy to take a look at the MPC X, I joined in two effects panels by Gamechanger Audio, namely the Plus Pedal and Plasma Padel. He came up with some impressive performances using the dance music templates mixed with some additional effect panels.

Compared with the compact MPC Live the MPC X comes with a full transport part with additional high-quality keys. The handles support you when you are writing or work on specific tracks as part of your song. With the MPC X, you can control pretty much all parameter of your sound shaping effects. With the MPC Live, you have to use some multi-function keys as it has fewer controllers available. In my experience, you get along with both devices quickly.

Both MPC X and MPC Live are exceptional samplers. You can capture your sounds from numerous sources and add them to your library. Using the USB drive and plugging in an internal drive you can pretty much use the entire content from your existing sample library. The sample can be diced, shaped, sliced and looped. You can use the sample as a loop, a key or pad. Keep in mind that the included effects and tools allow you to come up with a sound, tone, and vibe without the need to reach out to your DAW. When it comes to the effects you have access to a wide variety of tools, beyond the baseline of compressor, delay, distortion, EQ, and reverb. Akai did also add in recent firmware updates additional and new effects. With Release 2.4 (Released in early Q1 2019 – Full Release Notes here) the new 2.4 MPC firmware appended:

16 Classic FX from ProTools:

  • AIR Distortion: Instantly adds color to audio signals with multiple modes, and scalable amounts, of distortion
  • AIR Enhancer: Enhances the low and high broadband frequencies of an audio signal
  • AIR Ensemble: Applies fluid, shimmering modulation effects to the selected audio signal
  • AIR Filter Gate: Highly-acclaimed plug-in that chops an audio signal into staccato rhythmic patterns with variable filtering, amplitude, and panning
  • AIR Flanger: Applies a short modulating delay to the selected audio signal
  • AIR Freq Shift: Shifts the audio signal’s individual frequencies, creating a unique effect
  • AIR Fuzz-Wah: Adds color to an audio signal with various types, and varying amounts, of transistor-like distortion
  • AIR Kill EQ: Instantly mutes the Low, Mid or High broadband frequency range independently from an audio signal – a popular effect with DJs and is commonly heard in contemporary electronic music production
  • AIR Lo-Fi: Bit-crush, down-sample, clip and rectify the selected input signal
  • AIR Multi-Chorus: Applies a thick, complex Chorus effect to an audio signal
  • AIR Non-Linear Reverb: Applies a special gated or reversed Reverb effect to the audio signal, creating a synthetic, processed ambiance
  • AIR Phaser: Applies a phaser to an audio signal for that much sought-after “wooshy,” “squishy” sound
  • AIR Reverb: Applies Reverb to the audio signal, creating a sense of room or space – perfect for Effect Send inserts or Main Effects inserts
  • AIR Spring Reverb: A faithful emulation of the classic spring reverb sound
  • AIR Stereo Width: A useful plug-in that creates a wider stereo presence within the source audio
  • AIR Talkbox: Instantly add voice-like resonances to selected audio signals

12 All-New Plugins

  • AIR Channel Strip: Specially written for MPC this channel strip combines multiple sections with a super-fast interface for getting incredible results. The equalization section features a high-pass filter, low shelf, high shelf, and a fully parametric mid-band. The dynamics section includes AIR compressor and gate algorithms, which are perfect for achieving hard-hitting drum sounds.
  • AIR Compressor: A production mainstay. Use this Compressor to change the dynamic range of a signal by automatically reducing its gain if it exceeds a certain level.
  • AIR Delay: A classic stereo delay featuring a feedback path that has a filter within it to shape the tonality of the repeats. The Ratio and Width parameters enable you to a achieve a wide range of stereo delay effects.
  • AIR Diff Delay: Delay line effect that is synchronized to the session tempo and uses an adjustable amount of diffusion, thus emulating the dissipation of echoes in reverberant space.
  • AIR Filter: Applies a filter to an incoming audio signal and then applies a selectable type of distortion and reduction to the filtered signal.
  • AIR Maximizer: A limiter specifically developed for professional mastering.
  • AIR Noise Gate: A classic gate effect with a dedicated denoise section to achieve a smoother gate effect with less audible chatter.
  • AIR Para EQ: Four-band parametric equalizer with four independent EQ ranges.
  • AIR Pitch Shifter: Transpose the pitch of incoming audio; a range of pitch shifting algorithms gives you a variety of flavors to experiment with.
  • AIR Pumper: Pumper creates a rhythmic pumping effect, similar to that of sidechain compression, with an assignable speed, depth and envelope shape.
  • AIR Transient: Add more attack to drum sounds, reduce the level of reverb or increase the sustain level a bass guitar.
  • AIR Tube Drive: Emulates the sound of the signal being played through a mildly “overdriven” tube amp, creating a warm, smooth-sounding distortion.

The difference between MPC Live and MPC X is in its size, the MPC Live runs also on Battery, which make the device mobile. If you love to be productive while flying, in the tube or a cafe the mobility factor of the MPC LIve is key to your workflow. If you can have both I would see the MPC Live being used when you are traveling, hanging out in the garden. The MPC X is more geared for the use in the studio and on stage. Don’t get me wrong you can use the MPX Live in the studio and when performing Live as well. My guidance is to make the investment to own both.

Rating:  Five out of five stars

MPC Live and MPC X are both excellent beatmakers including a self-contained sampler, sequencer, arranger and an excellent touchscreen. The end user experience and usability of these devices stand out and make both devices a key tool when producing a new song/beat or performing live on stage.

MPC X and MPC LIve are both principal sample masher and assist you in your creative process. Both are accurately standalone MPC machines, with included memory, sound shaping tools and the MPC Live includes also a rechargeable battery.


Overall with the MPC Live and X you get your hands on a DAW device without the need to run a computer while performing. The MPC has you covered when it comes to sequencing your tracks and song, the fully grown sampler, recording and editing abilities can be all used intuitively through the easy to use interface.

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