My Fave 5: MPCs
Hey, you all knew this one was coming eventually. My favorite piece of hardware production gear (overall second only to Ableton!).....the thing that first fueled my addiction. The venerable, Akai MPC. Here is a look into my favorite 5!
1. Mpc Live
Pound for pound, this is the best MPC in my opinion. Multitrack recording, 2GB of ram, internal solid-state drive, USB connectivity, etc. Plus it's portable because of the on-board battery. This thing is a monster. I'm amazed every time I get into heavy production on it. I've actually recorded beats with hooks in this thing, bounced down, and never needed to retouch up in my DAW. I love my OG MPCs but the power and portability of it make it my favorite and the best. Built in effects suite puts it in its own class. The vintage emulations are also cool editions and the ability to connect a USB hub and control 100's of synths simultaneously is awesome. The Live II takes it up a notch even more because of the more streamlined workflow and onboard speaker. Bravo!
2. MPC 4000
The King! Sonically, still the best. 24/96 engine, 512 MB ram, 6 banks, dedicated buttons. This thing is and has always been a great production tool. The thing that keeps it from being the best is...the....workflow....I absolutely hate the workflow. Simple things like changing a sample's polyphony takes diving into a couple of menus. I hate and love using this thing, it's like that Alicias Keys song back in the day. Falling in and out of love every with every use. But the snappy sequencer, internal hard drive and the ability to use USB thumb drives on this thing is crazy for a machine built-in 2002! The sampler is robust and is actually the first MPC with a real full-fledged sampler on-board. Was the undisputed King until this last generation.
3. Mpc 5000
This beast is one of my favorites because it is the precursor to the Ren and X. It does a few things that cant be done on other MPCs prior to this one (editing samples while beats are playing, etc.) Just regular functions that I'm used to doing on my Live that I cant do on my 4000 or 2500. This thing was initially hampered by the crappy OS it was released with. It was later fixed and I can say with confidence that this is one of the best MPCs if you are actually using it and not just remembering the Just Blaze shade from back in the day. The audio tracks make this one great and the onboard synth is pretty decent too. Not really great programming but the presets are decent. This one is apart of the first generation that had input monitoring, along with the 1000 and 2500, so just give me this one and a synth and I can give you a masterpiece. I stayed away from this one for a while and now I am glad I made the plunge.
4. Mpc 2000
Not the best MPC but for sampling and editing it is my go-to. When I am creating sound sets, this is the one I am most confident in using to capture what I am looking for. I love how it sounds overdriven and just the sheer amount of hours I've put in on this bad boy and the 2000XL puts it on this list by default. I am actually one thing away from making mine full-blown, the almost impossible to find Flash Rom card. It is crazy to think about this was '97 and it was a flash ROM made for it. Even though I hate the fact that they kind of cheaped out on this one and made it so that every upgrade (Ram, EFX, 8outs, SMPTE, Flash) all had to be obtained individually and the 3000 had it mostly onboard. I still edit most precisely on this one because there is no room for error. This one gets regular use in my setup.
5. MPC 60 MKII
That crunch...that dirt...that feel. This is my first love. This one started this beat-making lust that I have. While my older bro was trying to teach me midi sequencing. I was digging in his crates, flipping samples. The prehistoric nature of editing samples on this thing has been a positive thing for me to this day. I learned to use an MPC 60ii back in 2000-01. The graphic display of the 2000/XL was already a mainstay. Luckily for me, I knew nothing of them. I hoped on 2 trains and 2 buses to get to my older brother's best friend's house to use this thing. I wish I knew back then how big of a role these things would play in my life. I would've dropped out of art school, saved up, and bought an MPC60 and never looked back. Took me years to master this thing due to part-time usage but I finally got it. The 5-sec cutoff made it so I had to be creative. The swingy sequencer made it so that I had to work it a bit to make early 2000s hip hop as opposed to the early 90s things it was legendary for helping create. I was blessed to have learned on this thing and am in the process of restoring my own.