When you cross an Akai MPC with an APC controller, what do you get? Akai pro’s newest pad, fader, encoder, and sequencer MIDI controller, the Akai MPD232.
This pad controller is a mix and blend of some of Akai’s most famous music-producing technology and hardware designs that shaped the sounds of hip hop, house, and electronica for over 20 years and are still going strong today.
Wanting a mixture of controls over your DAW, VST, plugins, and drum libraries is essential for beatmakers who want to hone their craft.
If you find yourself getting lost or tripping over yourself with the new influx of 64-pad grid MIDI controllers on the market, then the more traditional use and layout of the MPD232 might be appealing to your fingertips and production style.
Let’s get started.
Akai MPD232 Review
- High-quality velocity-sensitive drum pads
- 16 X Fat RGB backlit pads
- Step sequencer
- 8 X Faders 8 X Rotary Encoders X 8 Buttons
- Exclusive Software Package
- Large (but lightweight)
- Loose fader caps
- No built-in metronome for sequence mode
Akai MPD232: Features and Overview
Akai MPC Pads
It’s unanimous that these are some of the best pads on the market today, and if you intend on finger banging beats like your name is Araabmuzik, then you need drum pads that can take a beating and, at the same time, be INVITING to your fingertips.
As Akai Pro like to call them, these 16 low profile, rubberized, grippy, velocity-sensitive, multicolor backlit RGB pads are FAT and make producing a pleasure. Producers can access up to 64 assigned drum pads over 4 pad banks on the MPD232.
Simply switch up and change your banks by choosing any of the 4 buttons located above the 16 pads. This can be done while finger drumming, recording, or step-sequencing out tracks and patterns on the fly.
Akai has kept the old-school feel and functions of the MPC at your fingertips on the MPD232. Located just below the 4 x 4 bank buttons are some of the cornerstones of the MPC, such as Note Repeat, Tap Tempo, 16 Level, and Full Level.
We’re not crazy about the positioning of the transport controls when it comes to the real estate and layout of the Akai MPD232. The stop, play, record, and sequence record buttons are WAY up the top left side of the MPD 232.
Most beat makers and users of the MCP and NI Maschine are used to these controls living on the machine’s bottom-left and right-hand corners.
This positioning makes for easy access and a more fluid workflow when arming and recording that first sound via the pads.
When it comes to the pads, some users mentioned and complained about double triggering and ghost notes sometimes being an issue with the MPD232 when playing more complex MIDI patterns.
There was an Akai representative who replied to one user’s comment by saying that this can sometimes be an issue with the MPD232 when the velocity setting are set to their maximum.
That means that Akai Professional is aware of this issue, and we’re hoping they’ll fix this bug in the next update (hopefully by the time you read this review).
MIDI Pad Controller
Akai boasts a massive 72 assignable controls on the MPD232 pad controller, but these are not accessible all at the same time. Unless you’re an octopus or a meth-induced gabba producer, having complete control over 8 faders, 8 rotary encoders, and 8 buttons per control bank is MORE THAN ENOUGH to get the job done.
The MPD 232 comes MIDI-mapped for all the major DAWs and does not require drivers, so just plug-and-play!
If you want to get more involved with the mapping, settings, and arrangement of the MIDI controls, then this can be done by loading presets or editing parameters and settings for each of the 72 controls and 16 pads from the Edit and Global option that are located under the LCD display.
Akai has kindly included a 64-part, 32-step sequencer into the design, controls, and built-in editing software of the MPD232. There are 3 different ways producers can approach creating and performing with the sequencer, and each style has a unique workflow and ability to craft out your tracks or play live to suit the individual.
If you look closely at the MPD232, you’ll notice a vertical strip of 16 buttons below the fader section of the controllers. This style of step sequencing has been taken from the drum sounds and grooveboxes of the 80s and 90s from classics like the TR-808 and 909.
So, once you have triggered a pad, then this particular sound can be sequenced on the neighboring horizontal 16 buttons, kicking off the step sequencing pattern. A typical house kick drum pattern would have a note pushed in at the buttons 1, 5, 9, and 13 to get that classic 4-to-the-floor thumping kick to start off your pattern.
Once you’re happy with the sequence of one particular sound, then just tap the next pad of choice and start to enter the next pattern of notes into a clear 16 or 4 bars in the horizontal sequencer mode.
If you’re finding your beats and loops too rigid, almost robotic, and lacking in movement, then you can access all of the quantize, swing, and BPM options from the LCD screen by using the navigation keys and dial.
Finger drummers and traditional hip-hop-styled beat makers can still adopt the power and functions of the 232’s step sequencer into their workflow.
Basically, just play your drums, synth, or sounds out on the 16 pads as per usual. This will create a pattern inside the step sequencer that you can now edit, solo, and manipulate from the 16-button horizontal step sequencer below the faders.
The Beat Makers Bundle
Akai also includes additional software for the MPD232 that allows you to go in and digitally add the note repeat function and create sequencers with the mouse.
We personally would not find ourselves going down this route very often. This type of programming can be done with your DAW of choice instead with the added benefit of familiarity with its functions and capabilities.
But hey, what kind of deal would this be if Akai didn’t throw in some extra goodies to get you on your way when you pop this package open?
So what is the box?
- Ableton Live Lite (more info)
- Akai MPC Essentials (more info)
- Sonivox Big Bang Cinematic Percussion
- Sonivox Drums
Pretty good value if you ask us.
Technology and the hardware that allows you to control and create great music from your computer are getting better and more affordable each year.
So if you’re looking to get some state-of-the-art pads, faders, and encoders into your studio, then the Akai MPD232 is a great addition that’s NOT going to break the bank.
If you’re all about the pads and you intend to travel the globe with your MIDI pad controller, you can also check out the little brothers of the MPD range:
The MPD 218 pad controller is shipped with the same high-quality RGB, velocity responsive pads, plus 6 knobs to get your groove on. All from the comfort of your backpack!
Both of these are great controllers that can help you push your production skills to the next level and kill hours of time getting lost in the wonderful land of music production.
- Best Ableton Push 2 Alternative: MPD 232 and 3 Other Options
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April 24, 2022 – updated article images
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