Akai’s MPC hardware was terrific in its day, launching whole genres of music. But today, software like Ableton Live (and FL Studio, and many others that function brilliantly with 4×4 sets of pads) give us the flexibility to make new kinds of music. So, even as the MPC hardware has continued to evolve, many of us want more.

Now you just need a hardware controller so you can use these applications musically. Akai’s own offering, the MPD16, got just about everything wrong, with (inexplicably) a lone fader, middling pad quality, and little to differentiate itself from competitors. M-Audio’s Trigger Finger offers more controls for less money, with faders and knobs, but many of us have been disappointed with the responsiveness of the pads across their surface area. I’m preparing a review now of the Korg kontrolPAD, and its pads basically blow the Trigger Finger away; with an onboard X/Y controller it’s the perfect compact controller. But nothing gives you the full array of controls and feel of the MPC.

Enter Akai’s MPD24. Now this finally looks serious: a more logical array of controls and what looks like a fantastic case.


Most importantly:

  1. Transport controls: Missing from its competitors, these are essentially to making the hardware the center of performance and production
  2. Retro library: Akai’s sample library of classic drum machines lets you actually play this out of the box via a Mac/PC plug-in. (Curious what that actually means, though, in terms of what samples they’ve included.)
  3. 360-degree knobs: Well, okay, some of you might prefer non-continuous encoders, but for the other half of you, this will make you happy.

It could finally bring MPC-style music making to the PC with all the feel of the original hardware. I don’t want to get my hopes up too high until I’ve tried it, but MPC lovers may finally have the gear they want. Someone out there is going to be running the MPD24 alongside Ableton Live 6 and doing things the first MPC users never dreamed of. Pricing/availability forthcoming. Stay tuned for more on this when it ships.

Akai MPD24 Product Page

  • http://web.mac.com/thompsotd/iWeb/ Tim Thompson

    Let's hear it for the half of us that prefers endless encoders!

  • Damon

    Surprised no one has yet invented encoders that can be switched between infinite and stoppie. Should be pretty basic technology.

  • http://www.sighup.ca Steve Hamann

    re: "software like Ableton Live give us the flexibility to make new kinds of music"

    What are these new kinds of music of which you speak? Of all the Live users I've encountered, I've yet to hear anything I'd call new. Lots of good stuff, sure, but nothing outside of conventions established in the last 20-50 years.

    So if you've got new kinds of music to point us to, I want to hear it.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Maybe that's hyperbolic on my part — I'm speaking to my own experience and the experience of other users, not necessarily thinking in broader terms. But to me, Live helps bring the timbral range and rhythmic devices of studio production to improvisation and live performance. This may not immediately sound different to a listener, but the experience of performing the music certainly is. I don't think I have enough perspective as a musician to say this goes beyond the conventions of the last 50 years. If you look back throughout history, even in eras of wild experimentation like the emergence of rock and roll, jazz, and experimental classical music, you usually find musicians are looking to make something that's new for them rather than new for the ages. (Unless they're Richard Wagner, and he was kind of insane. Not necessarily a likely role model. Nice operas, though.)

    See also: debate in separate post about Max/MSP.

    To me, if the tool means something to the musician, it doesn't matter whether anyone else thinks what they're doing is new. If they pick up the tuba and love that, more power to them. I certainly find there are things I can do with Live that I'd have difficulty doing in a real-time / improvisatory fashion with other devices, like the MPC.

  • Matt

    I like the endless encoders on the Elektron Machinedrum since they can be pushed in for, e.g., increased or decreased resolution. I'd like to see this design used more often.

  • http://www.geradorzero.com Fabio FZero

    What's wrong with Trigger Finger? I had a real MPC2000 for some years an think that absolutely everything on TF is better. The Alesis lacks real time controls (the XY pad simply doesn't cut it – I need knobs and faders) and has that horrible pinkish backlinght on the pads. The new MPD looks promising though.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    I love my Trigger Finger, but I love the performance of the pads on the Korg even more. I've been using the Trigger Finger for basic triggering and the Korg for drum programming as a result. Though I'm totally bummed that like the MPD16, the Korg doesn't have a mic stand attachment — only the Akai. I'm going to write up more on the Korg, hopefully by next week.

  • Mies van der Robot

    Akai got one big thing right with the MPD16: getting there first.

    They were way ahead of all these other contenders…the MPD16 was introduced 4 years ago at summer NAMM 2002, and with the MPD24 they're now on their second generation when everyone else is at most 16 months into their first. So saying it had "little to differentiate itself from competitors" is a bit unfair when for almost 3 years there were no competitors.

    No question, the MPD16 had its faults. But for a long time it was the only option for a compact pad controller. I learned to love it, warts and all, because even with its limitations it was better than using a keyboard controller for drum programming.

    It may be practically obsolete now (and indeed I'm currently debating whether to replace mine with a padKONTROL or an MPD24) but it deserves some respect for blazing the trail.

  • http://www.batmosphere.com David Battino

    @ Damon: Although I haven't tried it, EAW has a force-feedback knob that converts on the fly between endless, 7-to-5, and various kinds of detents.

    @ Fabio: Having played MPCs for a long time (I actually edited the help screens for the MPC60's version 3 upgrade so there'd be enough room in the ROM for the new features), I initially doubted whether the PadKontrol's X-Y pad would compensate for its lack of aftertouch. I quickly discovered all kinds on interesting new performance techniques. The Roll feature alone is magic. Check out how the Korg demonstrator giggles involuntarily in the video on Korg's site. (Okay, maybe he's biased, but I still dig the pad.)

  • http://www.myspace.com/arthurlewis Arthur

    Sweetwater has these listed, both online and in their Summer 2006 Gear Encyclopedia at $199.97.

  • maximillian

    I can confirm that the PadKontrol is light years ahead of the Trigger Finger (I have both). The TF does give out pressure control messages though which can be cool. As far as playing the pads goes, the Korg wins hands down.

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  • afiso

    And now the big question is, when will it be released!

  • http://none mark

    ok i have used 2 of these pad controllers and here is my opinion.

    i just went to the local store and i asked them to pull out the Korg Paddy and i think its not as good as i expected to be. and here is why

    i thought it was big in size. about as big as MPC like those akai's. and its big as

    regular printing paper which is 8 by 11 some .

    that makes the touch pad even smaller and the pads smaller too. not good at all. Sad

    i like the pads to big little bigger like the MPC

    now i will go check out MPD from akai which is a competitor of KORG pad.

    i am looking for more realistik MPC style PAD Controller than the more mobile and easy to carry around controller. b/c this is studio gear and i dont travel for music concerts Rolling Eyes lolz

    anyway. if you thought its bigger than printable paper size than its not. and that makes other features on it even smaller. so its not worth 200$.

    will see when they have MPC24 so i can tell how big is that.

    that is my review. so far. haven't tried it live or played with it.

    also people who are bragin' about the Flam and Roll and touch pad x-y effect thing is nothing.

    i own original KORG KAOSS mixer and its good but not for beats ok..

    plus u can do all that in new BATTERY 3 which is coming out in Nov 2006.

  • T

    I don't know what this guy is saying about the pads regarding the Trigger Finger and PadKontrol, I will give it to him about the "roll and flam" functions, but as for the pad feel…totally off. TF pads a lot closer to the MPC pads than the pads on the PadKontrol, velocity curve to modify the "hit" response. PadKontrol pads are soft and smaller than either MPC, MPD, or Trigger Finger. Not saying that that's good or bad, but if the comparsioin is regarding MPC like…PadKontrol has a differnet feel. If you like the feel of a MPC, then really your choices are the MPD or Trigger Finger.

  • http://jonbro.tk/blog Jonathan Brodsky

    just noticed that this is shipping now on audiomidi.com

  • Danny

    I ordered this thing from samash.com on Oct 8. and they still havent sent it to me. They said sorry for the inconvenience and that akai hasnt shipped them one yet since the order is not on hand. Samash has to order them from akai and then ship them to you, but its free shipping and not tax so im paying 199.99 and thats the final price. I hope i get it soon because im really anxious to know how goo it really is. This will be my first Akai product, i never owned a mpc. However i had a cheap boss dr 6 something drum machine. I hope i get it soon.

  • Dan

    This video has been up for a while:

    http://www.gearwire.com/akai-mpd24.html

    basically has all the info packed into a couple of minutes.

  • http://www.maketunes.com Matt

    I'm absolutely LOVIN the MPD24 so far, had it almost a week now :)

    I've posted an MPD24 review with lots of photos if you're in the mood for studio gadget drooling?

  • taz

    ANYONE, WILL THIS CONTROLLER WORK WITH MY FRUITY LOOPS SOFTWARE? LOOKS BLAZE!!! JUST WANT TO KNOW BEFORE I BUY IT.

  • Bizzerk

    i got the MPD24 the other day and im very disapointed

    1.endless encoders, whats the point of them if there not incremental/decremental? they just send absolute values, which makes them worse then 'stoppies' because now you'll have no indication where the parameters we'll jump(no markings). This was one of my buying points and the Product Manager (Glen Darcey) said it can do this.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKxJujHkBvc

    2.the pads cant be assigned to Midi CC, i thought that was standard the Trigger finger and padKontrol does it, even my Axiom61 pads can do it and i thought them pads was just thrown in, the Axiom61 pads actually have more functions then the MPD24 pads apart from notes and pressure[aftertouch] at the same time. Also you cant even assign the pressure to a Midi CC, so you cant make one the pressure on 1 pad control a parameter (eg volume, cut etc) and the pressure on another pad control another parameter.

    3.theres only 1 fixed velocity, at full level even my Axiom has more than that(low, moderate, full), then theres only 4 velocity curves including the default '/' curve, and you cant assign different velocity curves or velocity min+max levels to each pad…

    I could go on but im vex, i've been waiting for the MPD24 since june, wtf have Akai been doing all this time, its like they forgot to put in functions that should be just standard (and compared to competition).

    im sooo returning it

  • LL

    I'm thinking about buying one, but I wanted to know how you get other sounds for it.

  • JasonC

    I just got one as well, and I'm also dissappointed, but for a different reason. The "Akai Sample Library of classic drum machines" has been quietly replaced with Demo Version of BFD (called 'BFD Lite) that is SUPER WEAK.

    How they thought a demo of a drum vst could satisfactorily replace a nice sample library is beyond me. It's still listed that way on their website even (www.akaipro.com)

    ..anyway, yeah…I don't like thinking I'm getting something and then without warning get nothing, and a Drum VST demo is nothing but an advertisment IMHO.

  • Ajit

    Hi. I have just purchased a M-Audio Trigger Finger. I have no idea how to assign loops/samples to the different pads. Can anyone help me? Also is there a way you can save the pad settings (so that i dont have to edit the pads during a gig)??

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis Loveday

    Hi Ajit. Try the Forums.

  • Ak

    @ Ajit—

    Check the tutorials posted here, sure to help with what you need…
    http://www.futureproducers.com/forums/forumdispla

  • thumper

    pay no attention to bizzerk and the others. endless encoders at the bizness. why? switch VSTs, channel sets, or scenes, and the MIDI values wont jump when you come back and start tweaking knobs again, they just pick up where you left off… duhhh.

  • jus beats

    DOES THIS WORK WITH FRUITY LOOPS?

  • http://www.myspace.com/pitbullloverz.com Red

    I just got the MPD-24 and can't figure out how to put sounds in the pads and make beats. I have it hooked up to my laptop and all the cds are installed in my laptop. Please help me because no one at the store will.

  • rdfy

    The MPD24 has serious software issues. It may not work across across a range of OS platforms and support could be somewhat improved. When it does work, great, otherwise buyer beware…

  • benni6

    cant get transport controls to work w/ sonar

  • http://www.myspace.com/ktkktk k-tk

    ….and now, please, put an usb audio interface inside this baby!

  • kamal

    how quick and easy functions the assignment of a pad on the AKAI? does it work through a software editor? does it have a learn function? (something like: choose a pad/hit a key on a keyboard to assign a midi note/ move a controller to assign to a controller knob…?)

    thanks

  • Tray Styles

    hi i am about to get the akai mpd24 beatmaker and i am thirteen years old and i love music i and i liked music sents i was nine years old and i been rappin sents i was nin e years old so im getting the akai beatmaker and i am goin to rate it when i get it cause im going to mess around with it when i get it so i will see the results after so ill be on my way to be famous makin that money gwop and have big fame in the rap game so ill be cool if i like it so keep it cool and thats it my man holla at your boy at 301-248-4945 and ask for fred parker which is my brother and he will tell me that you called for me holla……………..3012484945 home

    cell 2025281920

  • sun tzu

    @Tray Styles:

    gimme an l.

    gimme an o.

    and another l.

    It's important you keep going to school, though. Listen?

  • Kevin

    Tray Styles, if you really had those phone numbers… you'd live in Southern Maryland… and I'd feel so sorry for you. That place is awful.

  • JM ONE

    Any part of maryland is awful, the best part of MD is Baltimore city, and sure its fun for like a month but even that place is shit.

  • http://JohnnyKwest.com Johnny Kwest

    The akai mpd 24 is great for beginners. If you have a program like Reason, you can map it to all your controls and it works awesome with ReDrum and Kong! If you need any more tips or tricks with Reason or the mpd hit me up!

    @jkwestmusic on twitttterrrr