The MPC One offers the most affordable way into the latest generation of Akai's celebrated sampling workstation.
The MPC One seems to have triggered a swell of new interest in the MPC. It mainly repackages existing elements from the established MPC Live and X, but at a more affordable price. The appeal may also be that it looks like a traditional MPC such as the classic 2000. It also comes just a few months after Native Instruments didn't release a stand-alone Maschine, as had been anticipated, at a time when more and more people are looking to enjoy music production outside of their laptop.
While the One extends the MPCs into a lower price bracket, the range doesn't really follow the traditional Good, Better, Best template for a product range. Rather, each model suits particular needs. The chunky, top-of-the-range X is intended as a studio centrepiece, while the Live is all about portability. The One could be seen as a compromise of the two: it's very compact, in fact smaller and lighter than the Live, but crams in many more dedicated function and mode buttons (and some CV connections) like the X.
All the core MPC features are present on the One, but a number of economies have been made to hit that new price and size. Audio I/O is basic stereo, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are absent, and there are fewer storage options. I was disappointed that there's no internal battery power, which is such a compelling feature of the Live.
To recap, the current generation of stand-alone MPCs are multitrack workstations that offer sample-based drum kits and instruments, loop launchers, audio tracks, internal synths and MIDI/CV sequencing. They use a hybrid touch and hardware input system, which presents the same user interface whether you work with the internal stand-alone engine or control the MPC app/plug-in on your computer.
The MPC One has a 7-inch touch-screen like the Live. This takes up quite a chunk of the square front panel, showing how compact the device is. Like the other MPCs and the Force, the One is quite thick: the MPCs are essentially stand-alone ARM-based computers under the hood. In order to fit all the other controls in, the main trigger pads are a fair bit smaller than those on the Live or X.
Again like the Live, the One has four rotary encoders that can bank through parameters, and there's a master data encoder and increment/decrement buttons that will adjust whatever element you tap on the screen. The buttons are hard and click like on the X, and provide direct shortcuts to most of the many views, without needing to visit the main screen menu.
MPC projects have a particular structure and methodology that is consistent across all the models and the MPC software/plug-in. This has its roots in the earlier MPCs, and is quite different from, say, Ableton Live or NI Maschine (or indeed...