AKAI MPC Touch Review [Hip Hop Production]

AKAI MPC Touch Review

What`s the first thing that`s on your mind, when we say AKAI MPC Touch? Electronic programming has made music not only super-available to every single audio enthusiast, but also opened a new dimension to artist`s creativity. Producers/beatmakers now only have to follow their hearts, and ears to make something  jump out distinctively. To do that, besides passion and knowledge, you need a proper tool. We surface-touched on this in our “Top 9 Hardware Drum Machines For Hip Hop” , today we will expand our view on a specific model. Yes, the title says it clearly, we are going deeper under the hood of AKAI MPC Touch.

The Commercial Picture

To know what`s the whole deal about anything and anybody, you need to start from the basic details. Let`s split this drummer up. If you never had a chance to inform yourself about it, here are the main features:

  • 7″ color multi-touch Display
  • 16 velocity-sensitive thick, fat MPC pads with RGB backlighting
  • 2-in/2-out audio interface
  • Step Sequencer with touch interface
  • XYFX control adds effects, adjusts sound dynamics in real time
  • Phrase Looper, enables connection of any instrument to create loops
  • Pad Mixer for setting levels, stereo panning and adding VST effects
  • Sample Edit control, for trimming, chopping and processing your samples
  • 4 new, performance-ready touch-sensitive controls
  • Data Encoder knob, for push-and-twist control of display parameters
  • Includes MPC software and over 20,000 sounds

And also some more specs too:

System Requirements

  • 4 GB RAM (8 GB recommended)
  • Dual-core processor, 2.5 GHz or better
  • Macintosh: OS X 10.9, 10.10, 10.11
  • Windows: Windows 8, Windows 10
  • 2 GB free disk space for basic installation, 20 GB free disk space for full content installation

That`s a promising box when you look at it from its first angles. But what`s actually hiding behind those polished cuts, we`re about to find out really soon. The next few chapters may not reveal indefinite truths. Because there`s no such a thing like it. It all depends on an artist`s taste and ultimate goal. But one thing is for sure. We will definitely bring up all the extremely useful dits to help you estimate your choices easier.

Sensitive Bridge Above The AKAI Waters

AKAI MPC Touch
MPC Touch Testing

Now, don`t get me wrong, this machine is heavy enough with its quality and professional enough for your advanced producer level. But our oath to keep things clear and real will not go under AKAI waters just like that. Re-discovering the drum-tools all over again is nothing new to us. This hybrid offers some attractive uniqueness that made its AKAI MPC Touch name very popular.

Its bridge patches the controller with app or plug-in making it a real nice portable little studio. His Touch given name extension expresses its brand-new composure: the touchscreen. 16-pad physical interface  lays just to the left from the touch. And that`s not the only thing that`s rubber-made. Other function buttons,  although not no much in number, still are enough for you to kick it in style.

The Back

Behind the sexy back are various ins and outs like power button, DC in, USB port, recording volume, two in and two audio outs, phone jack in, master volume knob and MIDI In and MIDI Out ports. What`s interesting about this rear panel is that the phone and MIDI ins and outs are 3.5mm jack made. This is something that will either disappoint or enlighten you. But seems like guys from AKAI wanted to make this little machine as portable at they could.

Touchy Much?

Now, how about a bit more on that touchy story. Main skill on a touchscreen interface is that it acts like your personal portable desktop/laptop screen. It connects via USB cable. Now, as cool as this sounds, there are a lot of counter-effects that guys from AKAI maybe didn`t count on right away. You can view your desktop on a small 7-inch AKAI MPC Touch screen, but the touch option doesn`t work in this mode.

But other cool feature, the more important one is that you can link any of your computer/laptop to the AKAI interface and extend the screen for full view and use. All the downsides will be slipped into the last chapter, for now we are still sticking to the offered AKAI MPC Touch powers.

User Interface Material And Make-Up

Sturdy full metal-case look is the first thing that will put another star on your impress meter when deciding to buy AKAI MPC Touch. And the beauty on top of that is a wonderful design made by playing with two main colors: red and black. Yes, it`s an eye-catcher. On the top of the UI, besides mentioned two defining features of MPC Touch, are dedicated buttons and knobs. It`s a dance between rubber and plastic, serving options for bank selections, note repeat service, erase and couple of more. Buttons have secondary action activation mode that`s triggered on the second button press. And that`s one of the baddest features here.

Touch`s screen start mode

 4×5 grid that`s a signature move for all MPC models. Main button serves as a taking you home” guide, driving you back to the starter level screen grid view. Double tap it and you`re in Track Mode where you can pick between different instruments. But comparing with other interfaces the AKAI MPC Touch showed its true shine here. Very snappy interface material, make-up and the most importantly its workflow promises easy professional work of art.

Organization

 Projects and tracks is a top-notch deal here. Or again it really seems so on the first touch. But if you`re a beginner, this my be a bit of a heavy curve to pass with learning. But again, with multiple-tasking comand kit like AKAI here, that lets you control MIDI, incoming and outgoing audio and the MPC software control by any of your DAW, there`s really not much to complain about here is it?

That Same Old Sampling Wizardry

The AKAI`s strongest superpower, sampling and with MPC Touch, they added a couple of new dope features like cutting and slicing in real time. Which makes this drum-machine one of the most wanted among beatmakers and the producers as you can make a drum kit in a time of a couple of minutes. And you can also edit notes directly from the screen, making all this a “on-the-fly” power studio machine.

Finally Touch-Zoomin The Bad Side

As promised, for the finishing touch, we must apply some critique programming so the guys from AKAI could make the next one way much better. And help us produce better logically. First few cons that I run up into are mostly dealing with AKAI`s Touch Interface Software. And the things that are (not) there. Like no browser search option. Or even more, the fact that when deciding to go solo in a full arrangement, creating different ideas, you will have to deal with that, that for each new one you have to open a whole new sequence. It puts a lot of nerve pressure for your creativity, making you switch your focus from arrangement to thinking about the technicalities like where did you put which track/idea.

Top Things Our Pro Users Didn`t Like

Getting further into the space of cons, there are couple of things real dedicated MPC Users didn`t like on AKAI MPC Touch. First off, the issue with the so called kick stand. It`s the plastic part that raises the MPC Touch to a more suitable angle so when you`re performing and finger-hitting the pads, it gives you more comfort. But it seems like it can`t be trusted so much. The lacking of durability really stands out here.

Second issue that maybe shouldn`t be that much big of a deal is the non-existing standalone function of the console. Well, I personally got used to the controller system, and am not the type of a live beatmaking producer. But if that`s your signature move, then definitely skip on this purchase right away.

The last thing that really any producer/dj/beatmaker notices first, because it kind of irritates your flow from the start, is that the master volume and record volume knobs are at the back of the hardware`s interface. Really not something that you want to let go un-noticed.  And I can`t put my logic mind into it, why did guys from AKAI did this? Your key thing when in your workflow, is that you have your main buttons right in front of your closest view horizon. Really bad move here.

 

Couple Of Other User Critic Notations

For the very end, here`s the list of a few things, more of a personal nature maybe that could bother you too. Keep testing the hardware and software goodies with us and write for any type of inquiry. Touching out!

AKAI MPC Touch
Running With Apple

AKAI MPC Touch User Cons:

 

  • learning curve
  • non-standalone type
  • software glitches
  • issues with installing some VSTs
  • lacking of some previous models buttons

 

The least thing we can do for you is give you this great video tutorial of AKAI MPC Touch to help you with the workflow or maybe a decision to bring this to your home studio for the first time. It`s your call. Dial away!

 

tanja cookbeat

Producer/Blogger/Music Critic

32-year-old self-taught artist (Hip Hop producer/dj, blogger/critic, quote writer/enthusiast photographer).... Certified Fitness Coach. Former Ryan Leslie`s "BPBC" member. Occasionally on a Composer Agreement with LA`s "Smash Haus Music Group". Owner of online personal label "CoCo Beatz Music Group". Certified Fitness Coach (has 17 years in recreational bodybuilding). Living for Hip Hop Culture.

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