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The Best MPC for Your Studio: Controllers and Alternatives

The Best MPC

Are you in the market for the best MPC drum machine but have no idea which one to select? We put together this guide to help you select the best drum machine in the market.

Whether you’re looking for the best MPC for beginners, the best MPC for sampling, or you’re just an avid fan of the Akai MPC pads’ swing and feel, there’s something for you in this article.

Below, you’ll find information to help pick the best product for you. We also wrote about alternatives that give the same timeless classic feel and flow of the MPC.

Plus, we’ve also reviewed a bunch of products with newer features to help you create beats in today’s new digital world of production.

High-End Pick
Akai Professional MPC
Portable Pick
Akai Professional MPC X
Classic 808s
Roland Aira T-R8Rhythm
Table of Contents

Best MPC Drum Machines

1. Akai Professional MPC X Standalone

Portable Pick

Akai 2

The Akai Professional MPC X is characteristic of the post-MPC Drum Machine age. It embodies the past, present, and future of beat oriented production machines.

The standalone Akai Professional MPC X unit offers a holistic maximum performance.

You can either use it with a computer or not. This means it can be alternated from being a formidable standalone to a high-powered MIDI controller.

Akai Professional MPC X comes with 16GB of internal storage, plus an impressive 10GB of different world-class sounds. It also has a multi-touch screen which offers you complete control.

You can chop samples, grab and pinch waveforms, add effects, and set controls all with your fingertips. It even features 2 USB slots for MIDI controller connectivity and also has a built-in SD card slot.

Pros 

  • Portable
  • Doesn’t require tethering it to a computer
  • User-friendly touch screen for easier navigation
  • Faste song sequencing
  • Beginner-friendly

Cons 

  • Limited storage space
  • Fairly difficult to turn a single sequence into a full song
  • Limited track uploading

2. Akai Professional MPC

High-End Pick

Akai 1

This Akai Proffesional MPC is a cutting-edge production unit that combines a variety of programs.

It has 128 track-sequencing capabilities, real-time stretching, clip launch functionality, and advanced MIDI editing capabilities.

This particular version has larger knobs and a larger master encoder wheel compared to other versions. It also has thicker MPC pads.

The workflow on this machine is generally good because once you understand it, you can start making music fast.

It just requires a driver installation for it to be used with a computer. The driver is freely accessible on the Akai website.

It has a large LCD screen which lets you make tracks without having to constantly look at your computer.

This instrument merges real MPC pads and iconic workflow with the same MPC software used by the MPC Renaissance to give you an integrated production solution.

Pros 

  • Easy editing
  • Easy-to-use programming
  • Affordable despite its high quality

Cons 

  • Complex software, especially for new users

The Best MPC Alternatives

1. Roland Aira T-R8Rhythm Performer

Classic 808 Style and Sound

Roland 1

This one belongs to the modern class of performance-ready instruments. It combines traditional TR-808 and TR-909 with more modern functions and features.

The T-R8 will enable you to play instruments and record steps in real-time. It has genre-defining sounds, classic effects, and live pattern manipulation.

This device also has pattern copy and pattern randomization tools to aid spontaneous creativity.

There are solid, intuitive performance controls. It has a 7-segment, 4-character LED display and 16 per-step pads with full-color LEDs.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with other features like a separate output for processing.

Pros 

  • Beginner-friendly
  • Easy to program
  • User-friendly interface

Cons 

  • Difficult for processing tracks
  • Fair durability
  • Expensive

2. Arturia Drum Brute Analog Drum Machine 

Affordable Vintage Pick

Arturia 2

This is an all-in-one, analog hardware drum machine.

One of its core functions is to create a combination of high performance and in-depth editing. It comes with a T-bar which prevents your instrument from accidentally disconnecting.

If you need guidance when you first use it, it comes with a full user manual that you can refer to.

One of its main features is to provide exceptional classic drum sounds.

  • It has a wide range of controls designed to allow for trying many new and unique sounds.
  • It also has a pattern looper that enables beat repeat functions.

This also comes with 17 true analog sounds, unique performance effects, and a modern step sequencer. It boasts state of the art connectivity. All sound parameters on this machine can be changed instantly.

The difference between this and the initial rhythm composers is it has audio specifications and a lower noise floor.

Pros 

  • Sounds are tweakable to suit your taste
  • Can be connected to almost any device
  • Easy to download
  • Beginner-friendly

Cons 

  • Average sound quality
  • New cables aren’t included
  • Turning knobs to adjust sound don’t actually turn

3. Native Instruments Maschine Mikro MK2 

Pad-Based Pick

Native 3

Native Instruments is particularly known for its software instruments that develop both software and hardware for audio creation, recording, and production.

The Native Instruments Maschine Mikro MK2 Groove Production Studiois the perfect too for getting into the world of beat-making.

You have hands-on control for beat production, sampling, and performance. You can also use it for a variety of programs, including live applications and finger drumming.

This instrument also has a fast tag-based browser that enables your creativity. It has a new scale and chord engine fully-integrated into the Maschine workflow.

Finally, it also allows you full keyboard functionality within the Maschine environment.

Pros 

  • Software and interface work well together
  • Versatile
  • Easy-to-use

Cons 

  • Downloading instructions are not very clear
  • You’ll need a bit of practice to use it efficiently

And the Winner is…

For us, the Akai Professional MPC X Standalone is the best Akai MPC in the market. You can operate it easily on the hardware unit via the touch screen.

The unit is very user-friendly and is the best MPC for a beginner.

If you’re still trying to get the hang of the best MPC studio instruments, then you’ll be able to navigate quickly. That’s why we think it’s very beginner-friendly.

Even if you start at a beginner level, you can also quickly advance to a professional level with this particular instrument.

Due to its standalone nature, it’s very portable as well. The prompts are intuitive so you can grow into a pro in no time!

High quality, trusted brands such as Native Instruments and Novation have now entered the market. Both are now at the top of the game when it come to pad-based drum machines.

MPC Buyer’s Guide

Choosing Your Drum Machine

Are you looking to chop up drums with the use of the best MPC pressure-sensitive pads and create natural drum patterns and flow?

If creating your own unique sound by uploading your own different sounds onto a machine interests you, then a pad-based sampling drum machine might be for you.

This way, you can manipulate the sound to suit your personal taste and add your own flavor to classic drum breaks. You can even sample sounds and textures for more layers and movement.

If you’re planning on moving it around, a smaller version might be the best option. However, larger units are better for performance but they take up a lot of space.

But if you’re a casual music player and not yet venturing into the big leagues, then a small version is ideal.

Analog or Digital?

This will depend on whether you’re traditional or contemporary in your music taste.

If you’re tech-savvy, then the digital MPC Drum Machine is the way to go. It’s the best MPC for you.

You’re a beginner? The digital version is highly recommended. It’s easier to navigate because of the user-friendly built-in features.

The best MPC was originally built as an analog standalone drum pad machine in the 80’s, and was heavily used by both hip hop and techno producers in the 90’s to deliver what some would say are the best tracks in dance and hip hop history.

A lot has changed in the studio since the golden days of the best MPC 60, and now producers and beat makers are creating complete masterpieces from the bedroom studios and laptops.

Akai has not fallen behind in this mass movement of producers previously creating tracks on the all-in-one analog drum machines like the best MPC 1000 and now producing on a lightweight, portable, pad-based midi controller.

Check out our complete reviews of the AKIA MPD range below which also include drum machines. These include the newest range of pad-based drum machines inspired by the original MPC range and have all the same old features.

Why The MPC Is The Best

The beauty of this product is you can pursue your passion in creating music without necessarily owning a studio. Just an MPC or an MPD (plus a laptop) is enough to produce an entire album from top to bottom.

Prior knowledge of music education is not mandatory, chopping up samples and layering beats is an art that can not be taught in school.

Never played a traditional musical instrument in your life? Worry not. You can still operate the best MPC Drum Machine.

Start creating beats within minutes of switching the machine on, uploading a sample pack and tapping out some new drum patterns.

MPC Complete Buyer’s Guide

The best MPC has claimed its place in the hall of fame. With its many styles and hit features, producers use its unique pressure-sensitive pads and swing to sample records from the 60’, 70’s and 80’s to transform create new tracks.

The best way to get started on any of the MPCs is to first create a drum beat with the pads, either from records that you have in your collection or a sample pack from your hard drive.

Additionally, you can set up a MIDI Keyboard to be able to operate the MPC’s preloaded sounds and play them out in chords.

To make life easier you can always get the best MPC version that comes with headphones and power supply chords. With the aid of a few online tutorials, you’ll be a pro in no time.

Best Sampling Drum Machine

If you’re more interested in live performances, then the digital version of the best MPC is a good choice because it comes with scenes.

What are scenes?

The best MPC helps you build or sketch an entire track. You can create scenes for your intro or main track, depending on your preference, with the best MPC.

Buying the right Drum Sampling Machine will let you:

  • Perform an array of beats and melodies to your musical satisfaction
  • Sample, time stretch, and edit your tracks
  • Create your own electronic and acoustic drum sounds in high quality
  • Have plug-ins that you’ll be able to tweak sounds with
  • Have a step sequencer for customizing your sounds to perfection
  • Tweak and change the volume
  • Have clip-based pattern sequencers that assist in unleashing your musical genius by getting your ideas to come together

How to Use Your New Sampling Drum Machine

The best results from your machine is determined by how much memory you need and what you’ll be using your machine for.

Memory refers to how many songs or tracks your machine can hold. If you’re planning on using it on stage you’ll need more memory for mixing and sampling your tracks.

This is another reason why producers are moving away from the original analog MPC and moving over to the best MPC Studio and MPD range, as all the memory is stored on your laptop.

Plus, the quick and easy editing abilities that it offers your laptop.

Best Akai MPC for Beginners

If you’re a beginner or just starting your music career, then the Akai MPC Machine might be the best machine for you.

Benefits of Using the Akai MPC for Beginners

  • Works well for either digital or analog studio setups
  • You don’t need a drum pad machine to make quality music, but it’ll elevate your songs, production-wise
  • Though typically favored by hip hop lovers, you can use it for any music genre

Prerequisites to Using These Products:

Register your product soon after purchase so that you can access the software you need to download and install onto the machine.

In the event that sound doesn’t come out after installation, you can just restart the computer. That usually does the trick.

Controversies Surrounding These Products

With any high-tech instruments, even if it’s the best MPC, there still are controversies. Let’s debunk them below.

  • They’re not only meant for the professional musical artists. — MYTH. Even at beginners can own one!
  • You don’t need prior experience to operate these products. — FACT. With practice, you’ll be a pro in no time!
  • They’re all expensive. — MYTH. We assure you that there is an instrument to suit every budget!

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About the author

Daniel Douglas

After becoming obsessed with the beats that were the soundtrack to his youth, Daniel became a student of hip hop, digging for vinyl records, looking for the perfect break. Before he got his hands on an MPC sampler, he would mash these records, beats, and breaks into mixtapes and live DJ sets.