An Early Look at Akai’s MPC Live

If Akai’s MPC X replaces your laptop and Maschine, the MPC Live is coming for Ableton Live.

With the leak that kept on giving, the second item from the MPC 2.0 family goes a bit sleeker, lighter and verges on familiar. Picking up directly where the MPC Touch left off, the MPC Live packs the power of an MPC with the 2.0 software in same compact size as a Maschine Mikro. Though a bit heavier than the initial touchscreen-focused MPC Touch, the limitations seen within the former hold no bearing on the Live.

If you found the endless amount of endless-encoders on the MPC X shifting towards overkill, the MPC LIve is the perfect answer to your laptop-free production solution. Everything that made the MPC X an incredible piece of gear is transmuted into this portable production system, making it possibly the most powerful mobile production tool ever.

Rather than doubling down on the same features of the MPC 2.0 firmware, I would recommend you check out our write-up on the MPC X here. What I will mention is some of the things that are noticeable absent from the Live:

  • Though the encoders are still here, there are four instead of 16, and gone with the the other 12 encoders are there OLED display counterparts.
  • There are no combo ports on the MPC Live, which XLR inputs are completely absent from the system.

Highlights:

The Good:
  • Truly Portable: Though the Live has all of the utilitarian capabilities of the X in a stripped back package, it lends itself to the world of performance and production on the go. Sure there is less of a bit of everything, but the creativity this can inspire is boundless. Not only can it be powered with a power supply, it has an internal rechargeable battery, something that is new to the MPC family.
  • WiFi is coming soon: Now this wasn’t included in the announcement for the X, so it is a curious inclusion into the Live. So even though we have no clue why WiFi will be included in the Live, it does give us hope for iOS compatibility!
  • Internal hard drive is perfect size: Where it makes no sense to me that there is only 16 gigs of onboard memory in the MPC X, this makes total sense to me for the Live. Yes, both models are fully-functional MPCs, the X lends itself to the thought of it as a studio piece while the Live is something that you can take with you and create anywhere. Though people will certainly find the internal hard drive size a limitation, it probably won’t happen anytime soon, people generally only put the most important items on their mobile devices, and I see no reason why producers wouldn’t do the same with their new MMPC (Mobile Music Production Center).
The Bad:
  • The screen is not physically adjustable: Ergonomics is a huge issue within the world of music production. There are companies that are completely devoted to making production desks, chairs and gear more comfortable for longer uses. What adds insult to this already egregious injury is the fact that the X has an adjustable touch screen.
  • Why does this not come with a bag or stand: Now, this may seem completely trivial to many people, but the lack of a bag that comes with, or at least is made for this specific piece of gear, is strange. With over a year worth of time to create a custom bag for this item due to it basically just being the pro version of the MPC Touch, there is no reason that the two items shouldn’t have launched together. Inversely, with the earlier point of the screen not being adjustable, why is there no stand for this to deal with that problem?
  • Is it REALLY worth it: Not to rain on Akai’s NAMM parade, but if a person really wants a portable MPC that is slightly stripped back there is another option and it’s currently on sale. Let’s just be honest, the MPC live, is a pro version of the MPC Touch, with some major portability upgrades, yet it’s still missing iOS support. So if I were making a comparison chart, the MPC Touch is to the MPC Live as the MPC Live is to the MPC X, which begs the question is the MPC Live really worth another $600 dollars if you really just want a portable MPC?

Can the MPC Live still replace your Laptop?

While I truly would say the MPC X is a full blown laptop killer in its own right, I wouldn’t necessarily say the same holds true for the Live, though in a performance setting I would completely stand by their statement. To see if it passes their Standalone Test check out their video with Grammy-winning producer Zaytoven below:

Features:

  • 7” Full-Color Multi-Touch Touchscreen
  • 16 RGB Backlit Thick Trigger Pads
  • 4 Touch-sensitive Q-link Encoders
  • 1 Endless Data
  • On-board Sequencer
  • Sampler
  • Looper
  • 2 ¼” Instrument Input
  • Stereo RCA Input (with Ground)
  • 6 ¼ Outputs
  • 1 ⅛” Headphone Output
  • 1 ¼” Headphone Output
  • 2 Footswitch Inputs
  • 2 MIDI In / 2 Midi Out
  • USB MIDI Enabled
  • 8 Configurable CV/Gate Outputs for Analog Synth Syncing
  • 16 GBs of Internal Memory
  • 2.5” SATA Drive Connector for Expandable Memory
  • SD Card Slot
  • 2 USB-A 3.0 Ports for Thumb Drives or MIDI Controller
  • 10 GBs of Included Content
  • Internal Rechargeable Battery
  • Ableton Link
  • WiFi Support Coming Soon

For a more hands-on look at MPCs new laptop-killer, check out Sound on Sound’s in-depth first look and analysis below: