At the top of 2012 Akai Pro rattled the cages of MPC heads and Gear heads everywhere by introducing a rather controversial set of new products. They referred to them as the new line of MPCs. The acronym for MPC had changed from Music Production Center to Music Production Controller. At the site of that particular word “controller”, MPC heads and Akai Pro fan-boys around the world collectively cried foul. For the MPC heads, this was verification that the beloved MPC had officially been bastardized and the MPC that they’d all known and loved was officially dead and gone.
Somehow, looking toward the new line of MPC products there seems to be some exciting new ideas afoot. The MPC Fly, for instance, was introduced as “the first MPC designed specifically for iPad 2.” But the question remains, “can it really soar?”
Let’s take a look at new line of Music Production Controllers. The MPC Renaissance seems to be something sort of classic yet sort of new with its built in sound card, an abundance of I/O and it’s awe inspiring vintage modes that augment the sound quality so as to emulate vintage MPC sounds. The MPC Studio seems to be a more direct competitor of the Native Instrument Maschine with its small footprint and lack of I/O. However, the MPC Fly on the other hand is something all together new on the market. It’s a double-hinged controller / folio case for the iPad that sits upright, lies flat or closes for transport and comes complete with 16 backlit genuine MPC pads, MPC note repeat & MPC swing.
The MPC Fly is compatible with virtually any Core Midi app but it is designed from the ground up to work seamlessly with the MPC App which includes sequencing & sample editing, effects and EQ. The general premise is that you can create beats on the go and transfer to a Mac or PC for further development using the Akai MPC software which comes with the aforementioned bigger brother MPC’s, the Ren and the Studio. This is dope to say the least. I for one had my eye on the MPC Fly from the moment I found that it would make quick and easy work of integrating the MPC workflow into your on the go with the iPad routine.
On the downside however, my bubble was deflated when I learned that you can only sequence four tracks simultaneously with its built in four-track mixer. Crap! I was all in until I learned that bit of information. I even saw it (the four track sequencing deal) confirmed on Akai Pro’s Facebook page a few months back. This is a sobering realization. As an MPC user I am certain that I will not get much use out of only 4 tracks of sequencing. I’m sure there will be some resourceful beat maker on the go that will make this four track deal work for them but I for one am not with it. Although to be completely fair, the NI iMaschine app only does four tracks as well. Still, I cannot imagine this being very useful beyond basic sketches. I guess the cool thing is that you can indeed, at least according to Akai, output this project to the MPC software when you are ready to dive deeper into fleshing out the track.
Hmmm, with Apple’s all mighty powerful iPad processors (Dual-core Apple A5 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip to be exact) you’d think that the MPC app would be capable of more tracks. I mean really? At this moment, a company named Wave Machine Labs has a multi-track mixer recorder app for the iPad 2 with the ability to play 48 mono (24 tracks on iPad 1) or stereo 24bit/96 kHz tracks simultaneously, record up to 24 of those tracks simultaneously. So I’m guessing that Retronyms, Akai’s app developers, can dig deeper into the Apple SDK to make the MPC ipad app a bit more brawny and capable of at least 12 to 16 tracks. Yeah that’s right! 12 to 16 tracks, for us on the go beat making renaissance (pun intended) bboys.
However, as we move closer and closer into the fall of 2012 and the winter NAMM SHOW 2013 looms ahead, we’ve still not heard much about the actual factual release dates with the exception of Akai’s “Late Summer” & “Fall” canned answers. So, I think its only fair that we wait to see what the actually production units of the MPC Fly have to offer because at this very moment I am going to vote MPC FLY is not so fly with only four tracks.
In closing, although i think the “4 tracks deal” is a deal breaker for me, I am still very optimistic that Akai Pro was first to market with such a cool idea and I am cautiously optimistic that the MPC Fly will spread its wings and really fly with later iterations of the software.