The history of drum machine can be traced back to the 1930s; yet, the development of a MIDI sequencer only started in the late ’80s. Akai had pioneered the production of MPC—which is originally called MIDI Production Center—when it produced the MIDI sequencer based on the design by Roger Linn in 1988. Akai has produced various MIDI sequencer models that have become very popular.
Ever since MPC sampling was introduced to music producers, songwriters, and arrangers, it brought an unprecedented creative explosion in the music industry. AKAI Music Production Center has changed music production more than 30 years ago and continues to be relevant up to this day.
The MPC sampler has become an important tool for producing music and was the reason for some of the most successful pop and hip hop albums in the world. Imagine the songs that you can create, having all the elements you need for a studio production integrated into a small playable desktop instrument. However, there are thousands in the market today, and it is difficult to easily choose one even if you have an unlimited budget.
At present, however, there are thousands of models of samplers out on the market today. Hence, if you intend to produce your own beats and record your music with the use of samplers, you definitely need to be guided in the buying process. To facilitate the buying process for you, we have delineated here the best and most popular MPCs on the market today:
Before getting out the credit card and buying the first thing you see on the store or from an online site, take a moment to see what makes a perfect MPC for sampling.
Analog vs Digital
Choosing between using analog and digital will depend on individual preference, skill, and experience. The very first MPC was designed as an analog standalone drum machine, but through the decades, it has evolved into something more with additional features using digital technology. It provided a mechanism or music production system where creativity knows no bounds. It has given people more unique choices of producing music.
Beginners are recommended to go with a digital set up as it offers user-friendly interface and features, which will give them a polished studio music production result even if they created the music inside their own rooms at home. No one needs to be tech-savvy to be able to operate these machines.
Before checking other features, make sure the MPC sampler can accept an audio signal digitally by way of SD cards, synthesizer, recorder, or from the Internet. This way, you can access a huge library of beats and tracks that you can easily tweak and blend with other filters or lay effects on it.
Check the integration capability of the MPC sampler so that it can be connected to other audio devices, including DAW or Digital Audio Workstation, on computer, tablets, or smartphones. While the MPC sampler can work as a standalone unit, the possibilities are endless when you connect it to these digital devices. Most musicians would start creating the basic framework of their music on the MPC and then transfer it to the laptop and polish it using DAW.
While it is good to have all the buttons, pads, and other essential knobs on the MPC sampler, it is also best to have a simple workflow. If it is too complicated, a beginner would have a difficult time learning the machine. Even professional musicians would get annoyed if it needs too much pressing or clicking to have alternative uses for each button.
If you just want it permanently in your studio, disregard this section, but if you plan to move it around, make sure to choose something that is lightweight. The good thing for traveling musicians or DJs is that the latest versions of MPC samplers are more compact and smaller than their predecessors.
The Most Highly Recommended MPC for Sampling
Last update on 2020-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
1) Akai Professional MPC X
The Akai Professional MPC X is one of the best—if not the best—MPC models on the market today. It provides you with a 10.1″ high-resolution standalone MPC. It also features an internal memory with a robust 16 GB of storage and 10 GB of pre-installed content. Moreover, it also comes with 2 GB of RAM and is equipped with a slot for SD card. Out of the box, you’ll get a power adapter, software download card, USB cable, safety manual, and quick start guide.
The good thing about the Akai MPC X is its multi-touch display. With this multi-touch display, you won’t be needing a PC to operate this MPC. Furthermore, it is perfectly compatible with Mac OS X, 10.5 or newer and Windows 8.1. It also comes with two USB-A 3.0 slots allowing you to operate external drives. It is also perfectly compatible with MPC 2.0 software.
This MPC allows you to effortlessly move from a veritable standalone into a formidable high-powered MIDI controller. It likewise comes with pre-installed ten gigs of awesome sounds. Moreover, it comes with 16 Q-Link GUI knobs with various inputs for line, mic, instrument, phone, and six I/O ports for MIDI together with 63 function buttons.
The Akai MPC X comes with 2.5 SATA power connectors for inserting SSD or HDD. It is also equipped with 8 GHz quad-core processor. Moreover, it likewise offers 16 RGB pads that are pace and pressure sensitive and very responsive. So basically, this one is a complete package for those who are looking for an MPC.
2) Pioneer DJ DJS-1000
Key Features: Standalone, 7” LCD Touch Screen, 16 Performance Pads, 2,500 samples, 64-step, and 16-pattern sequencer, USB, MIDI I/O.
The DJS-1000 is a standalone DJ sampler and sequencer with 16 multicolored velocity sensitive RGB backlit performance pads on the center of the console for live finger drumming, triggering some loops, and assigning samples for recording. There is the pitch fader on the side with the nudge button instead of a job wheel for beat matching along with Tempo select, which offers four-pitch ranges to choose from and Tempo reset button to switch back to default setting. At the bottom of the console, you will find the 16 step sequencer buttons along with scene jump and pattern buttons for tweaking and creating melodic patterns from 16 notes up to 64 notes. To make it easier for a musician to navigate through all that functions as well as integrate with other audio files, there is the 7” touchscreen on the top center of the console. You can easily go to all the menus and settings of the sampler just by touching each folder or icon. Even adjusting levels on the sound that you are creating can be done through the screen. Opening, saving, and deleting audio files can also be accomplished through the touch screen monitor.
Hooking up to other digital devices such as laptops or mixers is easy through the USB jack or load sound samples through a thumb drive. Connectivity will never be a problem as they have several jacks and ports, including MIDI In/Out, RCS outputs, inputs, and headphones with its own volume knob for editing.
3) Elektron Digitakt
Key Features: 8-voice drum kit, 8 audio tracks, 8 MIDI tracks, 64MB sample memory, 128 patterns, 1GB internal storage, Drum Machine, Groove Sequencer, and Sampler.
The Swedish manufacturer comes out with its first all-digital sampling machine and MIDI sequencer with a very attractive price tag. The Digitakt machine is sample-based only and has no synth engine incorporated in it. It comes with 8 audio internal tracks and MIDI tracks with filtering effects, including Amp and LFO. One noticeable difference of the Digitakt from other MPC samplers is that it has no velocity-sensitive RGB performance pads. Still, those two rows of plastic buttons give a vintage-vibe similar to a computer keyboard. There is a small OLED window screen to monitor, adjust levels, and recording options. You can adjust the settings by pressing dedicated buttons for sampling, tempo, and patterns underneath the screen with a Yes/No button for those menus. For Electron MPC users, it is an improved screen as compared to its predecessors.
A project can use 128 patterns placed in two banks with 8-voice drum kit and 8 MIDI tracks. The maximum sampling time is 33 seconds, and it can sample itself internally. The box machine is smaller and more compact than previous Electron samplers. Be reminded that even if it has stereo input jacks on the side, the samples are in mono, which is saved to its 1GB internal storage. The downside is that it has no SD card or USB input port, and all the files can be loaded only through a computer with compatible DAW software. Original sounds remain available because it uses a non-destructive system of handling sounds which means the sounds assigned to each pattern are copied only and not directly edited. This Digitakt sampler was rated for 50 million presses for its extremely durable buttons.
4) Native Instruments Maschine Mikro MK2
The Native Instruments Maschine Mikro MK2 is an MPC that is incredibly user-friendly. You can use this sampler in learning the rudiments of creating beats, as well as you can use it in a live setting. It comes with 6 GB of sounds. It also includes a wide variety of basses, drum kits, synths, and acoustic instruments. Moreover, it comes with Maschine 1.8 software that includes pitch shift and time stretch capability.
With this MPC, you can readily control and sequence all your external hardware instruments. The software is downloadable from its website as well as its different NI software and plugins. Aside from that, it also comes with multicolored pads that let you readily assign colors to sounds, patterns, groups, and scenes.
The Maschine Mikro is surely a very compact system that combines perfectly both hardware and software. You can add novel dimensions to your every project using the MASCHINE Mikro’s intuitive workflow. Moreover, you can easily update its software online; hence, you can be very sure that you have a highly enhanced system to work with. This MPC is surely a perfect choice for those who want to try their hands on producing and recording their own beats and music using samplers.
5) Roland SP-404A Rhythmic Effects Linear Wave Sampler
Key Features: Portable and Battery powered, Built-in Mic, a 16-step sequencer that can be triggered by the TR-8, SD Card with over 100 stereo samples by Loopmasters, 29 DSP effects with delay, voice, filter, subsonic, etc.
Roland comes out with a standalone portable sampler which can be integrated with AIRA TR-8, Roland’s iconic groove machine, which is good news for its loyal users. It offers a fast workflow with 16-bit linear sampling, 29 onboard DSP effects, and pattern sequencer along with 12 performance pads that are not velocity-sensitive. You need to adjust the velocity level of each pad manually.
It has 10 banks in total by using the shift button you can get to all the subcategories of each button. At the back of the MPC sampler is the Line out jack, which is the main output that goes to the speakers, Line In jack for sampling, and the MIDI In jack. Any audio sound from regular turntables or other digital devices such as iPads or smartphones can be recorded into the machine. In front of the machine, there is the Mic In jack, a dedicated control level knob as well as headphone jack.
Instead of using compact flash, the 404-A uses SD card, which is way faster when adding, deleting, and saving. The huge collection of over 100 samples and effects from the Loopmasters is one great plus.
6) Akai Professional MPC Studio
The Akai Professional MPC Studio can be considered as one of the best MPCs based on reviews and feedback from many of its users. Its 16 backlit pads are pressure-and-velocity sensitive allowing you to be very creative and expressive in inputting your music. Equipped with 4 Q-link knobs, this MPC is known for its being touch sensitive. You can easily adjust the parameters of its effects, its levels, etc. Its dimensions are very lean, lightweight, and very compact. It also comes with an aluminum dial and scroll wheel. With these features, it is undoubtedly very convenient to transport anywhere.
The most sterling feature of this MPC is its workflow. It comes with an overdub mode that permits you to build a sequence within a particular loop. Thus, you can input a number of instruments whenever you loop it back.
There are many other unique features that you can get from this MPC. First, its swing is surely well-known and had been used in myriads of recordings. It is easy to temper. You can either calm it or make it sound aggressive. Another unique feature of Akai MPC software is its capability of loading VST plugins. You can easily access your VST instruments by simply going to the sequence’s instrument section. There, you can select the MPC plugin or MIDI.
With Akai Prof MPC Studio, you have two sets of instruments to select from. First, you got the MPC 60 collection samples with kick drums and high hats from that period; you also have the “Bank” consisting of a collection of samples that include violins, guitars, drums, and mixes of different instruments. Choosing Akai Professional MPC Studio is surely a wise choice.
7) Korg Volca Sample
The brand Korg is known to produce excellent products, and thus, we can also expect that the Korg Volca Sample is of sterling quality. It has adapted a range of technology from more expensive samplers. As such, it is a mixture of the best parts and features of various MPCs. Furthermore, it comes with 100 pre-loaded samples with the addition of a built-in speaker. With the Volca Sample, you can surely create an awesome groove anywhere you want to.
The Volca Sample comes with a swing function that generates incredible grooves. It also comes with a reverse function to let you play back samples. It is equipped with motion sequencer that records and plays back up to around 11 parameters. Its active step and Step/Jump functions also allow you to remove and insert steps. With its analog isolator, you can significantly expand sound possibilities. It also has a reverb-per-part-song mode that allows for more dynamism during your performance.
8) Akai Professional MPD218
The Akai Professional MPD218 is surely one MPC that is very portable. You can easily use it for various drum controllers. You can also integrate it with iOS and DAWs platforms. Moreover, it features some innovative improvements from older models. It did away, however, with the old-style gray pads, replacing them with fat MPC style pads. This innovation surely looks awesome.
Akai Professional MPD218 comes with 16 pads equipped with backlit LED response. This feature makes it great to tinker with and affords you a great feel. Moreover, this one is perfectly compatible with operating systems like Windows 7,8,10, Vista, and XP. You can likewise use it with Mac OS X 10.4.11. It also comes with 16 fat and thick backlit MPC pads with 48 assignable pads that are accessible via three banks. It has 6 control knobs with 18 assignable knobs accessible via three banks.
Akai Professional MPD218 is also equipped with USB slots for connecting to computer. It doesn’t, however, require an AC adapter. It also comes with free software titles like those of the Ableton Live Lite, SONiVOX Big Bang Cinematic Percussion and Universal drums, and Akai Pro MPC.
The Akai provides a full-level control. Thus, when it is turned on, all its pads send 127 velocity values in total. The velocity is surely excellent.
The built of this MPC is pretty much sturdy although it is encased in a plastic case. It is easy to use by simply plugging it using a cable to play with it immediately. All in all, this MPC drum machines belongs to the best class of MPCs.
Last update on 2020-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API