The Akai MPC sampler thread

I searched the forum months ago before purchasing and while trying to troubleshoot some issues but…didn’t find as much as I hoped for (at least not in one searchable location). It’s quite amazing how often MPCs are discussed here in other threads w/o existence of one like this.

So here it is!
I hope it will be a place to discuss our shared interest in the legendary sampler series. I expect some of you might wanna share your history with the machines, why you love em, and how you’re currently using them to make music.

Newer users, like me, might learn tips and tricks based on your experience or benefit from hearing feedback on specific models from musicians we trust.

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This guy has many good tips and workflows. Many years of experience with MPC machines as well.

I really enjoyed this one:

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yes!
feel like most of my beat making years have had an MPC in the studio.
usually, my records are all ableton… but ive always had a love of the mpc
just this week i put everything away, and started messing with beats on the MPC live.
im finding using the resampling type of sp404 method on it is amazing…
no sequencer…
just record your output and play pads…
so much fun!
with all the control/efx/massive hard drive
you can just endlessly combine sounds and end up with crazy shit.
i dropped a huge HD in there… and ALL the samples i own on the machine… on the couch chilling and chopping.
see what comes out

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I had an MPC 4000 about 15 years ago, it was a joy to use but massive and perhaps overkill at the time of use. Since then it has parted ways and I’m very curious about diving in for Live or One.

Tough choice between the two - the Live has a lot more going for it with it’s portability and HD space but One has size and layout format I’d gravitate to.

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I started with an MPC 500 almost 10 years ago, but only used it for MIDI sequencing. Then I got a 1000 with JJOS, but still only used it for MIDI sequencing. Those old MPCs were so great for that somehow. Last year I re-bought a 500, after a couple of years of taking a break from the devices. This time though, I finally got super deep into it :smiley:

I used it for sampling and made a proper album with it.

Just yesterday then, I sold the MPC 500 again, because I’ve got other samplers now which I want to explore.

… BUT! Of course I’m a fan of the MPCs and I’m still eyeing an MPC Live or X, although I find them to be quite huge on the desk. I’m just wondering about the workflow and the limitations, compared to the 500 and 1000. I know the modern MPCs offer a ton more, but what about the basic functionality, like track muting, song modes and other performance features? Ideally I’m looking for a MIDI “brain”, multi-track sequencer and audio recorder, sampler and jamming tool. So one devide that does it all. Haha!

Information ranges from “buggy and useless” to “godsent” online of course. But that was also the case with the old MPCs. I, for one, had never any issues with my two 500s for example.

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Long time MPC user here. I still have my 4000 but the MPC One is now the centerpiece. The 2.8 upgrade lets me connect 10 midi devices via a Mio 10x10 interface. I use it as a sequencer and only occasionally for sampling, though the autosampler is something I really should investigate. I tried the Live but found the form factor and control arrangement of the One to make more sense. Pads on one side of the screen was just weird ergonomically.

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it was your video that convinced me to pick up a 500 and not worry so much about all the bug complaints. so far so good!

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i’ll just start reposting my mpc love story from the sampler topic (just posted today), i’ll add some tricks i’m trying out on the mpc live in the next days :slight_smile:

my experience with samplers:
i started with an akai s950 (unexpanded) which i still have and will upgrade with usb drive and led display soon. probably the best one i ever used features wise if you don’t consider the ram limitations and clunkyness of the small old display. great features, multisampling, variable sampling rate!!! this is something i used a lot both to save memory and to process sound. the onboard filter is great as well, plus you get a nice bonus sine generator :slight_smile: the sound of this machine is so cool is almost unbelievable! despite (or thanks to) its 12 bits converters this spits out sounds that are almost solid matter! my drums never sounded so good as on the 950.

then i added an mpc 2000xl , great gear but with its limits re: multisampling and live performing, so i upgraded to an mpc4000. this was a real beauty. glorious machine with tons of modulations, i often used it as a synth multisampling simple waveforms and looping them as oscillators. great i\o’s (even mic in with phantom and phono preamp with ground). great visual feedback (piano roll like view of sequences! yesss!). cons: it was huge to bring on stage and prone to some malfunctions, had to repair it thrice. sold it in a bad financial moment, missed it a lot. then years later i bought an mpc500, it was nice but too toyish for my needs, so brought it back to the shop the day after and purchased a mpc1000. upgraded the pads, installed jjos2xl (great alternative firmware) and fell in love. the 1000 is a great little one: i did tons of live sets with the 1000 alone, or with it and a micromodular, or with it and another single multitimbral synth (blofeld, jv1080). jjos adds incredible value especially for performance, new clever ways to change patterns while playing etc… then i felt the need for bigger pads and swapped it for a 2500 (with the same jjos). same experience, better user interface, bigger and heavier. then sold it, bought maschine, loved it, then felt the need to get rid of computers for performing and go back to hardware only. tried the octatrack. loved it for its open-ended, experimental nature but had two issues: 1)i’m not really a fan of step sequencers (even advanced ones like elektron’s) 2)the sound of it is good when you go minimal, but mixing different busy tracks on it? gainstaging nightmare. overall i always found it sounded dull compared to what i used before. swapped it for a er-301\monome grid + ansible combo. dream come true. the er-301 is probably the best instrument i ever used, it sounds so much better than the octa and you can basically program it to do whatever you want with samples, live recording, synthesis, you name it. of course it lacks the sequencer, but you can build them inside it to suit your needs.
then felt the need to something a bit more physical and i was missing the mpc world. bougth an mpc live mk1. now i have the best of both worlds, crazy bizarre totally customizable on the 301 and mpc workflow optimized for the new millenium on the mpc live. the fact that you have so much ram on these newer mpcs means you can get creative throwing in entire songs, and then chopping only the parts you like and building programs out of them. i’ve chopped a shitload of my unreleased tracks. you know, often you have tracks with wonderful sounds and phrases but that don’t go anywhere musically, that’s perfect food for a modern sampler! plus the autosampler feature built in means i can conjure up a great patch on the modular, use a midi-cv interface and let the mpc sample it automatically (multisampling) and then play it like a poly synth!!!
the effects and instruments inside were a huge great surprise, they actually sound very good (where classic mpc’s effects were basic to say the best). i think there is still a lot of space for improvement (in the mixer section, in the sustain loop department, in the “next sequence” performance options etc…) but this time akai nailed it, the whole line is a great improvement on a classic machine!
the live and the x have phono preamps built in. i have tape machines, cassettes players and turntable hooked up to my main mixer and a dedicated out to the mpc so i’m always ready to sample and chop. sampler’s heaven, eventually! <3

(p.s.: some last considerations. the new mpc line feels a bit like working on a computer, or an ipad, with its touchscreen and advanced graphics. this is a pro but it lacks that aura of dedicated, ninja style unit that older mpc’s had (if you get what i mean). if i had the cash and space i would pair it with a 1000 with jjos2xl, for sure. they are different and differently inspiring. but: keep in mind both 1000 and 2500 have one big issue: all buttons are prone to die sooner or later, they are badly engineered and very fragile. if you use them a lot and perform a lot you’ll need to change them sooner or later. the mpc live rubberized buttons feel eternal in comparison. i’ve seen some users on mpc-forums did some mods to the buttons to have them more solid years ago. that was my only complain on the 1000\2500 line.)

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here a cpl tricks i posted on the mpc-forums for the current mpc line (live,x,one)
original post on mpc-forums.com

multilayered random chopped breaks

1)load up 4 different breakbeat samples
2)in sample edit use the “from bpm” to find their original bpm and the “match” to tune them to your sequence tempo (no warp is used here)
3)for each of them go into chop mode and make your chops (threshold, manual, region, bpm, whatever works best for you
4)at this point choose one of the sliced break samples,in the chop page hit shift and then CONVERT
5)convert to NEW DRUM PROGRAM USING SLICES and use the NON DESTRUCTIVE SLICES mode
6)now assign your newly created program to a track
7)go in program edit, first SAMPLE page of pgm edit and hit pad 1
8)below the waveform select the second layer
9)on the red bar above waveform click on the square icon on the left of the PAD parameter and select edit zones ALL then close
10)go to the SAMPLE parameter (remember, you are on layer 2 of pad 1) and assign your second breakbeat sample
11)IMPORTANT: go back to edit zones and select CURRENT then close
12)on the SLICE parameter (just below SAMPLE) choose the slice of the second breakbeat you want to assign to this pad (remember, even if layer 1 has slice 1 you can assign a different slice on layer 2, no limitations)
13)hit pad 2 select the slice number for layer 2, repeat for all 16 pads
14)now hit again pad 1, select the third layer and repeat steps from 9) to 13), than do the same with the 4th layer
15)to add extra diversity, on some layer of some pads reverse the slice or tune it up or down 12 or 7 semitones
16)now again go to edit zones and edit ALL pads then close
17)go to LFO MODULATION page and on the LAYER parameter select RAN (random), then back to edit zones and select CURRENT then close
18) you are READY TO ROCK! now each pad you hit will randomly trigger one of the 4 layers of your sliced breakbeats, and some of them will play reverse and some will be pitched up or down!

drummer arpeggiator - imrpoviser

chop up a breakbeat and make a program out of it. now click on the pencil in the Drum Program area (the pencil at the bottom right of the main screen) and edit midi map. use the Chromatic C1 preset.
you know that drum programs can only have Note Repeat, not the arpeggiator.
now go to another track and make it a midi track. go into track view and use the SEND field to send midi data to the chopped break drum program track. Use the PAD PERFORM button to select Notes, Chromatic and C as root key and select the C1 octave,exit pad perform, double click on the note repeat button to make it latch and click on the ARP button.
now select the type or arpeggiator you prefer, set velocity to FULL and flag “LATCH” option.
now press as many pads you want and watch your mpc becoming a drummer\improviser (works especially well if you choose random order in the arpeggiator and also if you have a multi layered chop program for your breakbeats, see the first part of the post).
super cool for live performances! you can also unflag LATCH in the arpeggiator to have it play only as long as you hold the pads.

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I started with the 500 too, really a limited machine so I jumped to the 1000. Back then I did not have a computer usable for music so JJos was a must so I could do everything from the mpc. I still have my mpc still use it almost daily but you really have to think about the reasons of using one nowadays.
In my situation, in a dawless setup it is my most beloved thing. After all it is a very advanced sequencer + sampler, it can control all your gear and be a source. An amazing thing indeed.
In a setup with a daw though all the sequencing and conveniently enough most probably sampling is transfered to the daw,so there’s only so much left to do with the good old mpc.
Now if we are talking about those news mpc, I’ve no idea. I think they even exist in vst form but oh well a totally different thing than the old ones.
Just my two cents, I love my 1k

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there are things in jjos2xl for the 1000 or 2500 that are still MORE advanced than the actual mpc line!

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Indeed but there are synths and fxs and ssd, etc on the new ones .
It’s not really a battle of futures for me. The workflow is really what moves me.
These new akai boxes are more or less a computer running there daw vst. Some people might have a use for that and would prefer it from a laptop and a controller for whatever reasons. I don’t.
Still a norns is more or less the same thing but it so much feels like an instrument and is my favorite box.

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MPC2500 with JJOS was the finest bit of kit I’ve ever owned, that plus a synth on the couch is probably the most productive I’ve ever been… can’t believe I got jaded and sold it :frowning:

Currently waiting on delivery of a MPC Live 2, with high hopes and constant reminders not to hype myself out of satisfaction.

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I don’t use my MPC1000 (with JJOS2XL) much these days but I’m glad I never sold it. I used to use it alongside a Shruthi-1 as my main setup for live jamming, and the Octatrack ended up being a better fit for that. But every time I dust it off, it’s very satisfying. There is nothing like getting in a pad-bashing trance, letting the micro-rhythms of a sliced loop guide your fingers.

Honestly my biggest obstacle with it is that I’m a very lazy sample librarian - psychological/discipline tips welcome there, lol.

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sí señor :slight_smile:
MPC 2000 / Echoplex

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Could you tell me more about these things? I unfortunately didn’t dive deep into the 1k with JJOS when Iowned it years ago.

Off the top of my head:

  • Assigning patterns (like phrases) to pads
  • Meta-pads that rotate between triggering other pads (which I think can be done randomly if you like)
  • Velocity -> start position
  • Switching effects as part of a sequence
  • MIDI control of every button on the UI
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I have been incorporating an mpc into my jam system. I play mainly guitar and have been using Ableton with a control pedal or a looping pedal rig. I had hopes of consolidating with the mpc as a live improvisation and jam tool. It is very fun, but has its own limitations. Summarizing:

1- you can mute midi channels and have their effects tail off. Cant do this with audio tracks. There are work arounds.

2-only one looper device.

3- system is unforgiving when hitting zero db. Hard to balance all the tracks in realtime while playing.

4- no footswitch for stop/start of play or record. Havent looked at the midi sheet yet to if a midi pedal would allow such control.

-sustain loops: a window opens where you can see the end of the loop and the beginning, graphically and move the parameters until you graphically see the loop closing! from my experience only native instruments kontakt has this!

-next sequence improvements: you can switch from one sequence to another in various ways, including one that is very similar to Ableton Live’s LEGATO mode on clips, if you switch mid-sequence, the new sequence will start metrically exactly where the old left… the most musical way to switch sequences live imho!

-various GUI improvements, especially the add of a graphical piano roll where you can see and do a lot.

-possibility to leave sequencer stopped, click rec or overdub and enter notes and rests with pads and cursor arrows, perfect if you are programming very intricated, complex and fast stuff like in IDM or breakcore…

i’m sure i’m forgetting something, long time i don’t have a jj equipped mpc anymore…

@LT6J yah i feel you, i’m not all about specs\features too, but what i was talking about are mostly lovely workflow enhancements. of course the new line is more powerful overall.
that said, while it is true that , as i stated in my comment, the new line lost that aura and seems a bit more like a daw on an ipad with integrated controller, once you start using it it’s just another mpc! and a damn good one too :slight_smile:
so good to have dedicated gear! pads are very high quality. while i’m not a fan of touch screens i must admit they are great for editing samples and audio recordings!
so, yes, different. not in a bad way :slight_smile: but, again, if i had the opportunity i’d buy another 1k to pair to the live right now :slight_smile:

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Wait?! Is that like Ableton Live’s clip launcher?