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New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

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New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby Dave B » Sun Jun 18, 2017 3:00 pm

I was chatting to someone about this the other day and it's always interesting to get other perspectives. I know that the new MPC has been taken to some people's hearts in a flash, but I'm not so convinced and do wonder if Akai has seriously mis-judged the market..

Here's my thinking. The original MPC60 was a truly fantastic bit of kit. It came out at an interesting time when computer based sequencing was relatively new and people still needed a 'brain' for their hardware. And it fulfilled that job really well - lots of lovely midi ports to drive your kit, smpte for tape machines, sync fully implement (both sending and receiving), great sound and a sequencer that let you slice up bars and beats brilliantly. It was truly an epic box and was even better when the 3000 came out - such great sampling and the same features. Later models started to compromise a bit (but the 2500 kept multiple midi outs) until the later ones were really just trading on the name.

In the mean time, we all move to computer based sequencing in DAWs. Akai (such as they are these days) respond with 'pseudo' MPC devices as controllers for your PC.

Hmm ... not such a great move - the whole point of the MPC was it's ability to drive stuff. So a bit of an own goal I thought. YMMV.

So, with a flourish, the new MPC live is announced. It's hailed as a return to form and is very shiny. So I look at the specs. Single midi. ?huh?

How do Akai expect me to trigger a load of kit from it with just a single port? Why do they think that boutique devices like the Cirklon are selling well? Because they are the only modern devices which can do what we took for granted 20 years ago!

And if I were looking at a nice pad based system with a laptop, why would I want an MPC? It was pointed out that Maschine is an awesome system in the same space which is now pretty much the standard.

The original MPCs let me run a good sized number of devices with razor sharp and rock solid timing. I don't see the new one doing that. So ... what's it for? It can't compete with the modern competition and it can't compete with it's own history.

Am I wrong / missing something important here?

Thoughts?
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby Escapegoat » Sun Jun 18, 2017 8:37 pm

> Single midi. ?huh?
> Am I wrong / missing something important here?

Yes - the fact that it has 2 MIDI Outs (and 2 MIDI Ins).

If you want more the forthcoming X model has 4.

Next!
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby Dave B » Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:20 pm

I squat corrected - it does have 2. Still not enough. And the X - basically double the price just to be able to run a bunch of stuff from a hardware box? Sorry - still not seeing it ...
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby Escapegoat » Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:45 am

> 2. Still not enough

But that's 32 channels of external MIDI synthesis/ROMpler/whatever plus the polyphony of the internal samples and audio tracks.

For some people, it will be a DAW alternative when hooked up to a PC. For others it'll be a capable-enough standalone machine.

For you, it may not work (but not for any actual reason that you have specified).
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby feline1 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:43 am

Yeah, although their current top model still doesn't match the spec in some regards of the infamous Z4/Z8/MPC4000 machines of 2002!
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby wdsteele » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:47 pm

Well , I have taken the plunge having been a MPC2000 user in the past and Logic user today.
For me it addresses successfully the short comings of the 2000 and gives me everything else I longed after back then.
The audio tracks are excellent , loading/saving is fast and reliable , ample memory , beautiful pads, nice browser and 6-7 hrs battery usage.
Also a very desirable inclusion of soft synth and sounds.

However , after 1 week I returned for a replacement , the screen was getting ridiculously hot , was also flickering and would occasionally become unresponsive in some edit modes , although everything worked as should eventually and no crashes.

Anyway , having installed the version 2 software on my Mac and having spent lots of time using this without the hardware I seriously contemplated cancelling the replacement and getting a decent MPC pad controller to use along side the software ; but for my approach to music the hardware unit let's me compose without going anywhere near a PC and I had more fun in that single week creating drum kits and adding guitars and vocals all in a matter of a few minutes.
Family commitments don't allow so much time for music most days and this unit really has allowed me to get on with writing in a way that I've sorely missed since I waved bye to the MPC floppy drive frustrations.

Plan to mix and embellish in Logic but I have re- discovered my go to writing tool and thanks to the Akai team of boffins who made this a reality.

Absolutely love this thing !
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby ken long » Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:09 pm

Escapegoat wrote:> 2. Still not enough

But that's 32 channels of external MIDI synthesis/ROMpler/whatever plus the polyphony of the internal samples and audio tracks.

For some people, it will be a DAW alternative when hooked up to a PC. For others it'll be a capable-enough standalone machine.

For you, it may not work (but not for any actual reason that you have specified).

The MPC3000 has 4 MIDI OUTS , 2 IN. *That* was enough.
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby ken long » Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:11 pm

Remember, the Akai Pro line of samplers finished with the 4000 / Z4 / Z8. Some would argue it finished with Roger Linn leaving after the 3000.

Its been Numark since then. Do not confuse the two companies!
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby Escapegoat » Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:28 pm

ken long wrote:The MPC3000 has 4 MIDI OUTS , 2 IN. *That* was enough.

And you can have that with the X, the mains-only and bigger alternative. Which is actually more affordable than the 3000 was. Progress.

Look, it's very simple: you want battery power and low cost, the Live gives you 32 channels of MIDI. You want more channels? Then, like some of its predecessors, the MPC X has 64. Plus CV IO. And you get the dynamic labels for the Q-links which are super productive.

Every thread everywhere about the new MPCs is full of DAW converts preaching about how the world has changed, MPCs are dead, etc. But the pre orders were strong enough for Nukai to jack up the RRP by 20% days before release.

As the forumite says above, it's teething troubles with the hardware and firmware which are Nukai's real issues.
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby Dave B » Mon Jun 19, 2017 6:34 pm

Please don't get me wrong here : I'm not knocking it on principle. TBH, I _really_ wanted to love it as I've been looking at s/h MPCs now for a year or so and the idea of a new one (with modern support and repair services) would be ideal. It's just that it's not currently floating my boat. The X has great specs but looks like it's been styled by the same toddler who did Roland's recent offerings. And has a damned PSU, not a proper IEC socket!!

Part of me thinks that I should just go for a MPC2500. But then a part of me thinks I should just splurge on a Cirklon and a sampler..

I just think that these latest MPCs could well be the last ones built given the way that things are going. And if that's the case, surely building something that was pretty damned perfect would be the idea - something that doesn't compromise. Something to be the MPC's swansong. And I just don't see these as that.

Still - as with all things, YMMV
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby Scramble » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:59 am

I still miss my Oberheim MC3000 -- that had *8* MIDI Outs (and it wasn't even a sequencer, just a controller keyboard).
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby Zukan » Wed Jun 21, 2017 7:51 am

If you are using a hardware DAW at the centre of your music writing and mixing then two midi outs is a joke. Looks like we need some Function Junctions again huh?
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby Dave B » Wed Jun 21, 2017 8:05 am

Function Junction! Hadn't thought about one of those for years!

Apparently, Rick Wakeman is now hoarding any Sycologics that he and his tech come across on eBay....
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby Escapegoat » Wed Jun 21, 2017 9:14 am

Zukan wrote:If you are using a hardware DAW at the centre of your music writing and mixing then two midi outs is a joke.

Meh. 32 instruments is more than enough to get many tracks done, no? Smart use of velocity switching can get you further. And the most enduring music has been done with just a few instruments.

As Eno said: sometimes limitations are what drives creativity. See here: http://blog.andreaskoller.com/2013/05/b ... of-limits/

We all know that the almost limitless possibilties of computer DAWs mean that hundreds of tracks with thousands of VST permutations are are possible, but that's not necessarily A Good Thing.

(FWIW, I use an MV-8800 with just two MIDI outs, driving an Integra, Q+, D and TVS and I usually run out of ideas before I run out of channels.)
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby Dave B » Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:36 am

But that involves using thru or thru boxes. And that's always risky. We should be able to link up more than a couple of devices for really sharp timing.

This goes all the way back to the origins or midi - Dave Smith always wanted a star topology. Funny enough, now that we have single cable usb midi, if you're using a computer, you are back to a star on most modern devices.

As with all things, it's great that you are happy. Maybe it's just the heat making me grumpy, but I'm still not feeling the love. Meh ....

:)
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby wdsteele » Wed Jun 21, 2017 12:56 pm

I've always viewed the MPC's as top notch sampling drum machines and fair play to Akai for keeping that very much alive and modern.

It is a drum machine , sampler and pattern sequencer - it's not a DAW , but , amazingly for a drum machine , you can kind of use it as such.

Still , I guess a "Midi Production Center" as my old MPC 2000 was christened should cater for a shed load of external synths but not so sure the new LIve is targeting that so directly ; the larger X model will be a better fit.

I remember running a Korg MS2000R and a Yamaha Motif Rack from the MPC 2000 and both synths really sucked regards thier midi sync in arp mode ; after that I didn't rely too much on midi and much prefer to record whatever I'm doing as audio ; so for me the Live's audio tracks are a welcome addition - but it's still a drum machine to me !
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby Chevytraveller » Thu Jun 22, 2017 3:13 am

The most irritating part of this Akai release is the way the price has jumped by over £200 between it's announcement and arrival on our shores.. :protest:

The reality is that 2 MIDI outs(32 channels) will be enough for most users of this machine..(it was the same for the MPC2000 and MPC1000)
Akai are offering the MPC-X with the "Pro" number of 4 Outs(64 chans).

What would be interesting and very possible is that the OS could be updated to support class compliant MIDI interfaces via it's USB ports so more ports could be added for those who need them..

I've been a fan and user of MPCs since the MPC60 and ASQ10.. Akai definitely lost their way for a while after the Numark takeover and they became flakier and further from delivering a "proper" MPC
This MPC does(finally) appear to be the product of listening to the user base so definitely one to watch to see if this philosophy continues with future software releases..


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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby Zukan » Thu Jun 22, 2017 6:52 am

What you are forgetting is that the MPC 2k did not have a gazillion plugins to run.

Nowadays, if you have a hardware sequencer as your DAW, you need to run effects and any modulation in realtime and for that you need more midi outs. The same can be said for external synths etc. We don't bat an eyelid sticking effects as inserts in our DAW and no compunction in running a ton of VSTi's for various sounds. Two midi outs is nowhere enough for a DAW, for live DJ work, unless you fancy lugging a midi patchbay around with you or go back to daisy chaining.
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby Escapegoat » Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:04 am

Well, it's true that if you play out then you want it compact. The MPC X is definitely compact enough, but when one of the Akai developers stopped by with it a couple of months ago, it didn't seem designed for totting around.

I can't justify the MPC X price though, and I'm doing OK with two MIDI outs. For the MV, I have an 1U XRI 400 (£40!) for MIDI distribution and merging, and that's in an 8U rack at the small studio at the office.

I think that if the MPC Live's form factor and battery operation works for you, you will be motivated enough to make your music. Use the internal sounds and first synth on the chain for the most time-sensitive notes (fast attack instruments), and if it's necessary to use MIDI Thrus, use those for slower-attack sounds/pads, etc.

There are issues with timing on the MPC Live - some postings on GS talk about a 19ms round trip latency. I hope Nukai can fix them, and I'm cutting them some slack because it clearly took Roland quite a while for the MV to become properly usable (mine is on OS 3.something).

Mind you, if the QY700 (also with 2 MIDI Outs) had a better ROMpler engine, I'd still have that! :)
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby Dave B » Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:28 am

You're not selling it I'm afraid ;)

Surely the X should be built like a tank - as the originals were. In fact, when I got my '60 I was shocked as I didn't realise it was so damned big.

And, yes, let's hope they do sort out the timing - that's supposed to be another major factor in the MPC line.

And to think, I was being picky because they have wall warts! :bouncy:

I think that for my needs, I'll sit this one out and see if they follow it up. Hopefully, they'll learn and then genuinely produce an MPC for the 21st century. Here's to that!

:)
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby Zukan » Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:34 am

Escapegoat wrote:There are issues with timing on the MPC Live - some postings on GS talk about a 19ms round trip latency. I hope Nukai can fix them, and I'm cutting them some slack because it clearly took Roland quite a while for the MV to become properly usable (mine is on OS 3.something).

Mind you, if the QY700 (also with 2 MIDI Outs) had a better ROMpler engine, I'd still have that! :)

Again? Man, can't they nail that?

I agree on the QY700, one of the best. The MC80 was also a beast but died a death , as with most of Roland's wonderful technologies.
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby wdsteele » Thu Jun 22, 2017 2:27 pm

Haven't seen the GS posts , but , some users have neglected to top and tail their samples - they are hearing a few ms of silence when they trigger.

There are also possible user errors around the velocity and sensitivity settings on the pads ; that can feel a bit like latency sometimes.I had to play about with these to get them feeling right for me.

I think if the LIve is used in controller mode there will be the usual complexity around audio interface settings.I'm not feeling anything untoward on a late 2014 MacBook Air but I have mostly been using stand alone mode.

I have the Live driving a Pigtronix looper and there are no issues - feels the same as Logic which was providing Midi Clock up to now .

I heard some people complaining about the available RAM being less than advertised , but , you need to purge unused samples as you go along .

The new audio track function saves every take in your project sample pool so the unused ones will also need purged to free up RAM , not just your core samples.

Only regrets , I miss the original Akai colour scheme and the portability means I can't hide it from my wife for much longer !
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Jun 22, 2017 2:43 pm

Dave B wrote:But that involves using thru or thru boxes. And that's always risky. We should be able to link up more than a couple of devices for really sharp timing.

Agreed - when I first started with MIDI I also assumed that two MIDI outs meant I could connect 32 devices.

In theory yes, but in practice once you start using MIDI controllers to add expression things start to go out of kilter, and heaven help you if you want to send some sysex to one of your MIDI synths :headbang:

I decided a long time ago that having a dedicated MIDI out for each synth was the only forward for tight & reliable communications


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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby Adam Inglis » Sat Jun 24, 2017 9:49 am

Martin Walker wrote:I decided a long time ago that having a dedicated MIDI out for each synth was the only forward for tight & reliable communications

.. and, I would add, another dedicated midi line for purely clocking purposes!!

Dave, that reference to Dave Smith wanting a midi star arrangement originally, I hadn't heard that before.
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Re: New MPC Live - fatal mistake?

Postby Dave B » Sat Jun 24, 2017 12:38 pm

Adam, it's been mentioned a few times over the years. Apparently, DS wanted a star and it was the Roland bods who wanted to add the 'thru' port to allow chaining. The star makes sense. In some ways, a single midi lead using all 5 pins for in and out would make life very simple. But we'd still have had expander boxes I think.
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