AKAI is best known for its sampling and sequencing hardware, but it has made significant progress in the software side of the business in the last decade, bringing its beat-making devices to just about any platform you choose. The MPC software program is the company’s leading recording, and sequencing tool – essentially a DAW in AKAI’s style – and MPC Beats is the entry-level version, which has many of the same features as the MPC software is also absolutely free to use. You also don’t have to use AKAI controllers if you don’t want to; it works with any MIDI input.
Let’s start with the limits of this free version, which you can install on your Mac or PC. Up to eight MIDI tracks, two stereo audio tracks for recording, four transmit channels, and eight sub-mix channels are available. The AIR FX package of insert effects and the AIR Bassline, Tube Line, and Tube Synth plugins are also included. The entire MPC software, which costs roughly £193, includes 128 MIDI, audio channels, and other enhancements. However, as many seasoned producers will tell, having certain constraints can be beneficial. Having fewer tracks to work with can help you focus your thoughts and encourage you to accomplish more with less. Of course, if you want, you may always upgrade.
Once you get started – various templates take advantage of the DAW’s multiple GB of sample content – you won’t believe this is an entry-level tool. Of course, it’s built around the concept of AKAI’s 16-pad sequencers, and it follows a precise workflow as a result. Anyone who has used Logic for an extended period will know the piano roll, sample editor, and other features but will need to shift to a more pad-oriented approach to programming.
If you’re new to MPC software or just starting, the interface is incredibly customizable, and with a bit of practice, you’ll be able to navigate your way around. Various view modes are available on the toolbar to help you get the most out of operations like sequencing, pad mixing, sample editing, and program editing. The windowing system allows different parameters and tools to be displayed in different areas. Subtle visual cues in menus sometimes access these, and there’s a lot to choose from, so you’ll require some time to get your bearings.
Once you’ve done that, dragging samples onto pads, utilizing Q-Link controllers (where available), sample editing with the full range of commands available, recording audio, loading plugins, adding FX, and mixing is far more powerful than you might imagine. AKAI seems to have included a lot of the capabilities from the full-fat edition while limiting the track amount. In addition, you may export not only audio and MIDI files but also proprietary AKAI project files for use with MPC devices and Ableton Live settings.
This DAW may initially appear intimidating to someone new to programming and production. There’s a lot of functionality here, and it’s a lot different from GarageBand, for example. It is a powerful MIDI-producing tool that builds on AKAI’s extensive experience in professional audio creation. You will have to try this software atleast once as it’s free and works with whatever MIDI device you want to add (there are many ready-supported and mapped models to select from). It indeed has great MIDI programming and performance tools, and it could help you become a great MPC player.