Akai's MPC One is a backpack beatmaker

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/01/16/akais-mpc-one-is-a-backpack.html


It should be noted that the original MPC was designed by the great Roger Linn. There are many people who still swear by their old MPC60s!


Not something I’d expected to see on BoingBoing, but nice all the same…

I’ve been noodling with bleepy boxes like these for a year or so now, my current favourite being the holiday present I bought myself - a Synthstrom Deluge…

It’s a beautiful box, all RGB pads - a bit esoteric in use, a lot of the functionality is hidden behind shortcuts and menus, but the synth engine, arranger and sample engine are great, and the isometric “keyboard” is a joy to use, even without velocity or pressure on the pads.

Akai do make good hardware though, I expect those pads to be lovely, and that screen is massive.

The GAS is real yo.

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Very cool, but why not wait for the secondary market? With a few exceptions, the value of most electronic instruments and controllers plummets like a new car driving off the lot. Why not let the first owner take that hit?

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When the MPC Live came out, I bought it for a backpack beatmaker… but it just wasn’t for me – the included clips were too long and I felt like I was assembling other peoples music. But I can see how people love it … it’s fun. This one runs the same software, so I suspect it’ll be really close.

One major thing the MPC One leaves out is a battery!! You’ll have to bring your own!

Besides the style, the Live was just too big for a backpack. And frankly, too heavy and the corners too sharp. Plus the knobs weren’t really protected. The one is about half the volume, but it is still about the same weight (4.7 lbs, a little more than a 2 liter bottle of soda), and still has those sharp corners.

Although they’re different instruments, I love the Teenage Engineering OP-1 and OP-Z … they disappear in to your backpack without noticing, and include long-lasting batteries. They don’t have the luscious screen of the MPC and they lack the velocity sensitivity, but they are far more portable and a whole lot of fun.

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Wait, why? Is it not digital, does it not have audio, is it not a worksation?

Another way to describe it is: a computer with a fixed set of hardware controllers and software you’re stuck with.

And you’re well advised to use a laptop or desktop to manage your samples otherwise you’ll soon go nuts with the tiny display.

I do understand that some people prefer zero-configuration hardware that comes with a limited feature set, a manual, and the promise of simplicity.

However, if it’s only the size you are concerned with, and already carry an iPad everywhere you go: the QuNeo is very light and thin. I got mine for €120 used on eBay.

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If one really wants DAWless and portable jamming, one should consider going the Dick Van Dyke route:


I stare at screens a lot.

I do not want to stare at a screen always to make music.

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No, I meant “why is it called DAW-less”, when it’s clearly a digital audio workstation.

It’s also not screen-less, it has a 7" touch screen.

But I get why people want would this.


It lacks the properties of a traditional workstation. Mainly that you can’t install and run multiple pieces of software simultaneously.

If you use it like we did in the old days, you’d never have more than 99 things to keep track of in it. You’d delete anything that isn’t important enough.

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Dude, you never heard the term workstation used for audio hardware that combines synth, seq and fx?

I never cared much for the Akai stuff back in the day, I preferred gear where one could change the filter after the sound was triggered. :grinning:

Sure, but those people are wrong. That’s been called a groovebox since I was but knee high to grasshopper.

The pads on them were good, until someone beats them and they start false triggering.

I preferred gear where one could change the filter after the sound was triggered.

Separate outputs is nice for that. But then who wants to carry a bag full of pedals with their all-in-one “workstation” ? Lugging pedals around is for guitarists.

Roland invented the term in 1996 with the MC303. Before that, nobody I know used the term groovebox for MPCs or similar stuff.

Separate outputs are not the best idea when all I want is a LFO or envelope to modify the filter.

But you seem to have a clear idea how things are and who should do what. I’m glad that I can pass for a guitarist if I need to, so I’m allowed to carry pedals and make my sound more interesting. :grinning:

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Some years back I had a MPC-1000 that I thought would be good to carry around. In the end it wasn’t for me.

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