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Author Topic: History of the AKAI MPC  (Read 118962 times)

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Offline chrisNova777

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Re: History of the AKAI MPC
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2015, 12:50:56 AM »

MPC60 1988

Created by Roger Linn. After the close of Linn Electronics, Roger Linn formed an alliance with Akai Corporation of Japan to design products similar to those of Linn Electronics. The first result of that collaboration was the Akai MPC60 MIDI Production Center, a full-featured sampling drum machine and MIDI sequencer released in 1988. Similar in concept to the Linn 9000, it featured a large 8 line LCD display, up to 26 seconds of 12 bit non-linear sampling at 40 kHz sampling rate, 16 simultaneous voices, 2 MIDI inputs and 4 MIDI outputs. In 1991, the MPC60 was succeeded by the MPC60-II, internally the same machine but with a headphone jack and a less expensive case design. Known for its warm sound and exceptional rhythmic feel, the MPC60 and MPC60-II live on today with the addition of the version 3.10 software upgrade and the Marion Systems SCSI hard disk interface, both sold by none other than Roger Linn Design.

MPC3000 1994

Released in 1994, the Akai MPC3000 MIDI Production Center improved upon the MPC60 by adding stereo sampling, 16 bit linear 44.1 kHz sampling up to nearly 6 minutes, effects, dynamic digital filters, 32 voices, multiple drum sets in memory, a SCSI port, and more. The MPC3000 is the last product of the Akai/Roger Linn collaboration. In 1997, Akai released the less expensive MPC2000. Although the MPC2000 draws substantially from Roger Linn’s MPC60and MPC3000 design ideas, Roger Linn was not involved in the design of the MPC2000.

MPC2000 1997

The MPC2000 is a professional and user-expandable 64-track sampler-sequencer workstation. Its sampler is like the S-2000 which comes with 2MB sample memory which can be expanded to 32MB. Sampling specs include a cd-quality 16-bit, 44.1 kHz sample rate in stereo or mono. All the necessary edit tools are here: tune, pitch shift, truncate, looping, key placement, velocity effects and more. Up to 32 voices of polyphony, complete MIDI implementation, a built-in disk drive and a SCSI interface prepare this sampler for any situation.

The sequencer is intuitive and fun to use. It will do notes as fast as 32nd notes and can record in real- or step-time. There are several sequence edit functions. Swing and quantizing functions also available. The MPC2000 is designed to be the centerpiece of your music production studio. It will transmit sync and MIDI information too. Individual tracks can be muted for building and changing your music live! The MPC series of sequencer samplers have long been the standard means of HipHop and TripHop music creation.

Akai MPC 2000 Sampler - Sequencer

MPC2000XL 1999

The MPC2000 XL adds several new features which include a Next Sequence key, four bank keys, Track Mute key, a hinged LCD, multi-program playback, device naming, MIDI soft thru, multi-track recording, time stretch, resampling (can down-convert samples to 22 kHz or 8-bit), simultaneous playback of a second sequence, and folder file management. The MPC2000 XL Studio Sampler version also adds an 8-out board and SMPTE board, and S/PDIF digital I/O built in. A standard MPC2000 XL can be upgraded to the Studio Sampler using the optional IB-M20T SMPTE board and Multi-8/DM Digital In/Out Board. There is also an MPC2000 XL Studio Plus model, which comes with all the expansion boards found in the Studio Sampler version as well as the EB16 SampleVerb Multi-Effects Processor Board option built-in. Each expansion board is about $250 ($350 for the SampleVerb board).

The MPC2000 and MPC2000 XL can be upgraded to include up to 8 outputs, digital I/O, 4 multi-effects processors, expanded filters, 8MB Flash ROM board, SMPTE board, MPC Sound Library, and alternate internal disk storage mediums can be added. The MPC2000 is a classic, and still perfect, entry level, studio quality sampler-sequencer that you can use to start making killer HipHop tracks just like the pros do! It has been used by Cirrus, Todd Terry, Underworld, Roni Size, A Guy Called Gerald, Freddy Fresh, Linkin Park, DJ Premier, Primo, Kanye West, DJ Shadow, Dr. Dre and Apollo 440.


MPC4000 2002

The Akai Professional MPC4000 Plus Music Production Center combines a 128-Track MIDI Sequencer and a 64-voice 24bit Stereo Digital Sampler, with 16 velocity and pressure sensitive rubber pads, providing rock solid sequencing and drum programming combined with extensive sampling facilities in one extremely powerful desktop unit.

Designed for professional audio production, the MPC4000 Plus offers all the advantages of dedicated hardware, features a large LCD plus the computer interface power of akSys PC/Mac control and networking software. And to make sure all this power runs smoothly, at the heart of the MPC4000 Plus is our new custom designed LSI sampling engine which, coupled with a high performance Intel™ Strong Arm CPU provides ultra fast audio processing.

More than just a sampling drum machine, for the first time, the MPC4000 Plus supports not only conventional Drum programs but also gives you the choice of selecting Keygroup programs allowing you to play 'conventional' multi-sampled sounds such as piano, bass, strings, synth, etc., from a keyboard just like our rack mount samplers. Furthermore, it is compatible with the largest variety of sound libraries: Akai S1000, S3000 and XL series, S5/S6000, Z4/Z8, MPC2000XL, MPC3000, Roland S700 series, and EMU 3 and 4 series.

Akai MPC4000 Plus 24-Bit, 96kHz Music Production Center (With IB-4ADT)

MPC1000 2004

The MPC1000 is the latest in a long line of sampling drum machines and sequencers from Akai. It has many of the features of the MPC2000 but adds six outputs as standard, built-in FX and the ability to upgrade the memory from 16MB to 128MB, four times that of the MPC2000. It is also a lot smaller so you can just pop it in your bag and head off to a gig. Another great thing about the MPC1000 is that it stores its data in the form of WAV file samples and MIDI file sequences on Standard Compact Flash Cards (up to 2GB), and samples and sequences can easily be dropped onto the card or backed up to Mac or PC via the USB port on the back of the MPC1000.

Cheaping out a little on some of the build quality - but not the sound quality - Akai have made the MPC more affordable. The MPC1000 combines a 64-Track MIDI Sequencer and a 32-voice Stereo Digital Sampler, with 16 velocity and pressure sensitive rubber pads. It's got built-in multi-effects, filters and can hold up to 99 Sequences and 20 Songs. There are two nifty Q-Link sliders for real-time performance control. There's 4-way sample layering and velocity switching per pad, built-in analog and digital I/Os, internal sounds in flash and it can resample its own output.

Cheaper, but not cheap - the MPC1000 now makes this do-it-all staple of Hip Hop, R&B, Rap and Techno easier to get your hands on!

Akai MPC1000 Music Production Center

MPC2500 2006

MPC2500 has set the industry benchmark for beat production. It features a 32-voice drum/phrase sampler with up to 128MB RAM and extensive editing capabilities. Designed for professional music-production environments as well as DJs and other live performers, MPC2500 features a time-tested drum-pad surface, twin on-board effects processors, four Q-Link controllers for real-time control, 10 analog outputs, and a S/PDIF digital output.
MPC2500 sports a 100,000-note, 64-track sequencer that can be assigned to four different MIDI outputs for a total of 64 independently addressable MIDI channels. Internal sounds reside in flash memory and can easily be swapped out via Compact Flash cards, an optional hard drive, or an optional CD-ROM drive. A CF card with preloaded sounds is included to get you started.

Akai MPC 2500 Music Production Center

MPC5000 2008

With a listed MSRP of $3,500, the MPC5000 was launched at the 2008 winter NAMM trade show. Its main innovations were an 8-track streaming hard disk recorder, a 20-voice, 3-oscillator virtual analog synthesizer with arpeggiator, a new sequencing engine with 960 ppq resolution, pad and track muting and mixing, 64 continuous sample tracks. It also has a new effect (FX) engine with 4 FX buses where 2 FX are available per bus, and is considered by Akai to be its flagship MPC.

In addition, the MPC5000 features a 64-voice drum/phrase sampler with 64MB memory, expandable up to 192MB. The display is 240x128, twice the size of the MPC2500 and MPC1000. Integrated Chop Shop 2.0 now supports stereo chops and Patched Phrases. It is also the first MPC to include Random and Cycle sample playback in addition to velocity Zone Play. As on the MPC4000, a turntable preamp is also included.

The MPC5000 lacks some of the sample editing capabilities of the older MPC4000, and also some of the hardware specs are lower than the MPC4000 (max. 192 MB RAM vs. the 4000's 512 MB, and slightly smaller screen), but with an updated and more stable operating system.[18] OS 2.0 added many new features including Keygroup's, the ability to load a entire folder without MPC programs, and many navigation shortcuts to boast. The MPC5000 using OS 2.0 now has the most features of any previous MPC to date, just above the MPC4000.

Akai MPC 5000 Music Production Center


Fusing Akai Professional’s legendary MPC layout and workflow with the power of your computer, MPC Renaissance is an unrivaled instrument for music production. The new flagship is a fully integrated hardware/software system: MPC Renaissance allows you to create using classic hardware controls and an integrated pop-up display, while its exclusive MPC Software empowers you with unprecedented, expandable production capabilities on your Mac or PC.

Offline foksadure

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Re: History of the AKAI MPC
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2020, 02:15:03 PM »

The Evolving Face of the MPC

March 26, 2017 Steve Catanzaro

From Then 'till Now

The first time I laid eyes on an MPC, the 60 was in1989 whilst I was working retail at an LA music shop. The first thing that grabbed me was the high price. The next stunning thing about it, apart from the industrial grade construction, beige color, and luxurious arm rest, was that it had no sounds in RAM. Everything had to be loaded from a floppy disc.

While my fellow salesmen and I wondered how we could possibly move a machine which cost more than twice the top offerings of Yamaha and Roland, and didn’t make a single sound when you turned on the power, sonic pioneers hands were already loading, slicing, and trimming their own samples, re-assigning them to the 16 pads and using the now legendary “MPC Feel” in the sequencer to reinvent music production.

Roger Linn

The MPC (Midi Production Controller) might best be thought of as a class of instrument, rather than a brand or model. Think of it like a piano; there are spinets, uprights and grands, Yamahas and Steinways, Nords and Korgs, but whether acoustic or electric, if they have a black and white keyboard, they are unmistakably pianos.

In the same way, any sample-based drum machine / sequencer with pads, from the Roland MV-8000, the Maschine, to the current Akai MPC Renaissance, are all variations on the original concept of Roger Linn. Rhythm machines of various types predate Linn, (think of the Roland CR-78 used by Phil Collins on “In The Air Tonight”) but when it comes to digital drum sampling, Roger Linn is clearly the Cristofori of the beat box. Linn was a guitar player and songwriter in the early 70’s. He toured with Leon Russell, and wrote Eric Clapton’s “Promises” and Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Quitting Time.” But, Linn says “I always had an interest in technology… I was always working on little gadgets.”

His first attempt at a drum machine came by hooking up an early Roland pre-programmed rhythm machine to a computer, so the musician could see on the monitor where the beats were positioned on the grid. After showing the early prototype to Stevie Wonder, he realized his machine was too visually oriented, and decided to work on instruments where “the feedback was something you could hear, instead of seeing.” In 1979, at the age of 24, he started Linn Electronics and brought out the LM-1 Drum Computer, with a retail price of $5000.

It was the first drum machine to use sampled sounds (although it didn’t have enough memory to include cymbals). Three years later he followed up the LM-1 with the LinnDrum, which was cheaper; it also had more memory so cymbal crashes were now included in the sound set. The company’s final project, the Linn 9000, was, by Linn’s own admission, a complex machine fraught with software and hardware problems, leading to the eventual demise of Linn Electronics in 1986.

    Prince had a special relationship with the original LM-1, using it to make the signature ‘knocking’ sound on ‘When Doves Cry’.

AKAI: The MPC 60

At the time Linn shut the doors at Linn Electronics, Akai was a decades-old Japanese consumer electronics company which specialized in gadgets for the home, tape machines, video recorders, and the like. Their recently opened “Akai Professional” division was making products geared for the recording studio and modern music production, including multi-track recorders, synths, and samplers.

The 12 bit S900 Sampler, released by Akai Professional in 1986, was a hit, so it was only natural they would be attracted to the man who introduced the world to the sampled drum machine. Linn, by his own admission “a terrible manager,” accepted the opportunity to work out his ideas under the umbrella of the well-established Akai Corporation.

The first fruit of the collaboration between Linn and Akai was the MPC 60, which debuted in 1988. The specs are laughably primitive by today’s computing standards; the 60 was a 12 bit, 40khz sampler. It shipped with 750 k of sample memory, which translates to just over 13 seconds of recording time. Sounds were loaded and saved via 3.5” floppy disk.

However, the 60 was a pro piece of kit. It had a full complement of sync options, including SMPTE, MTC, FSK24, and Midi Clock. It also had a stereo out, 8 assignable outs, 4 midi outs, and a send and return, all housed in a robust 24 lb unit with 16 high quality and expressive pads.

The 12 bit sampler, while short on specs was long on sound, and the truncation produced a lo-fi “crunch” of drum samples that spawned a whole generation of “bitcrusher” plug ins, trying to duplicate the classic sound heard on records by De La Soul and DJ Shadow.
The MPC Sequencer

As innovative as the sampler was, the sequencer was perhaps the most important feature of the MPC. With an internal clock of 96 pulses per quarter note (ppqn), Linn designed the sequencer to be as simple as possible, with the stated goal that the user could get a “groove” going quickly with little fuss.

“Some of the machines that came later that copied my ideas” said Linn “gave you all types of options, but a lot of times, people couldn’t figure it out.” Linn’s goal was simplicity and immediacy; since the rhythm track is the heart of all modern music, Linn says “it was set up so that right out of the box, you can push record and create something that really did groove, very very well.”

In 1991, the MPC 60 was followed up with the MPC 60 II, almost identical except with a plastic chassis replacing the metal one, and a headphone output.

The MPC 3000

The high water mark of Linn’s collaboration with Akai, the MPC 3000 improved on the 60 in almost every way. The sampling engine was upgraded to the still-in-use standard of 16 bit, 44.1 khz. Sample memory could be expanded up to 32 MB for over 6 minutes of mono sampling time. Other features included SCSI, which enabled the user to hook up an I-Omega Zip Drive for 100 MB of storage for sounds and sequences. It also offered a SPDIF digital input and an optional SMPTE card for syncing with tape machines or sequencers. Increased memory meant there were now 4 pad banks instead of 2, and 32 voice polyphony.
The MPC Sequencer

The 3000 carved out a space in music history that can hardly be quantified; it was (and still is, in some cases) the weapon of choice for the most influential producers in a wide range of genres, including Hip Hop, R&B, and House. Dr. Dre, DJ Quik, Puff Daddy, Jermaine Dupre, Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, Kenny Dope and Louie Vega (Masters at Work), Moodyman, etc lent to the instrument a mythical air, reflected by a steady rise in used prices so that it is not uncommon to pay up to $2500 for a well-cared-for unit.
The MPC Sequencer

Roger Linn was soon to leave Akai, and the company’s later products, including the MPC 2000 and 4000, saw significant changes in both the hardware capability and the sequencer functionality. But the Linn machines, the 60 and the 3000, retain a special place in production lore. Why?

Features of the Linn era machines

1. Tight Playback Timing – The Linn machines, even though miniscule processing stats by today’s standards, were nevertheless very good at providing rock-solid timing via a very good MIDI clock. In fact, many producers swear that the timing of the Linn machines is more steady and consistent than DAW’s hosted on powerful machines running Windows or Mac OS. The computers in the Linn machines, while small, were tasked with doing only one thing, i.e., timing, and they do it very well.

2. Swing and feel – Devotees ascribe to the Linn machines an almost magical “swing” feature. People unfamiliar with the MPC might believe that purchasing one of these units will give you the instant “boom bap” of Dr Dre, but there’s much more to it then applying swing percentages! Nevertheless, the “swing” features on Linn’s sequencers are one of the most appealing features. On his much talked about swing feature, Linn states “My implementation of swing has always been very simple: I merely delay the second 16th note within each 8th note. In other words, I delay all the even-numbered 16th notes within the beat (2, 4, 6, 8, etc.) In my products I describe the swing amount in terms of the ratio of time duration between the first and second 16th notes within each 8th note.”

This allows the user to dial in a feel for each individual part in the drum arrangement. The percentages go from 50% (i.e., a perfectly straight beat), to 66%, a very “swung” sound that is unnatural when compared to a real drummer, but became popular in many genres of electronica in the late 90’s. By playing with the ratios, a part might be given a 54% swing, which doesn’t sound like “jazz” but nevertheless loosens up the groove so it doesn’t sound so mechanical. A hi hat part at 61% sounds “loose” like a real player, particularly if attention is paid to dynamics via the pads. As Linn says, “Between 50% and around 70% are lots of wonderful little settings that, for a particular beat and tempo, can change a rigid beat into something that makes people move.” However, it should be noted that one of the most famous exponents of the MPC 3000, James Yancey aka J Dilla or Jay Dee, recorded his beats with the swing function “off,” relying on totally human feel.

3. Build Construction and Quality – As mentioned above, the MPC 60’s and 3000 are serious pieces of kit. They look and feel formidable, like they should be the center of a music production studio. There are generous interface and sync options, and some power users have solved memory limitations by installing their own CF memory card. Those who lament the build quality of recent gear, crying “they don’t make ‘em like that anymore” could certainly have the Linn era MPC’s in mind.

    J Dilla or Jay Dee, recorded his beats with the swing function “off,” relying on totally human feel.

Drawbacks of the Linn era machines

1. Syncing to DAW based systems. Peace is made in the kitchen by having only one chef. In the studio, having more than one master clock source is a recipe for disaster. DAW manufacturers, in a race to “one-up” each other by adding features, increased the resolution of their sequencers, first to 480 ppqn, topped by Logic Audio introducing a 960 ppqn clock. The Linn sequencer, at 96 ppqn, was coarse by comparison and yet, many producers felt they were getting a better feel and tightness from their old machines than from the new computer based DAW’s. Producers who wanted to lock their MPC’s, containing all the rhythmic elements of their productions, with their DAW’s, which contained vocals and live instruments, were up against numerous challenges; most DAW’s wanted to be the “clock master” and wanted the MPC’s to slave to the DAW. But, what did this do the internal timing of the MPC?

Ingenious (and complex) solutions were arrived at, and sync boxes by companies like Garfield, MOTU, Innerclock, and etc offered ways to get DAW’s, running at 960 ppqn, to sync to the MPC master, with it’s 96 ppqn resolution. Eventually, many a producer, frustrated with “geeking out” and trying to understand the ins and outs of sync and time code, just transferred the tracks from the MPC into the DAW the old fashioned way, by pushing “play” and letting the tracks record in real time. Producers trying to capture all 8 audio outs of the MPC in one pass, needed to invest in an audio interface with at least 8 inputs, and many producers went further and processed the tracks through mixing desks or outboard eq’s and compressors before actually hitting the DAW.

2. Data storage. Whether floppy disc or ZIP drive, the stability of the Linn era MPC’s is undone to some extent by the storage medium. Floppy discs are notoriously fragile and prone to erasure, and anyone who has ever heard the “Click of Death” from their 100mb Zip Drive knows there is simply no returning from an unbacked up Zip.
What Next?

The Linn era MPC’s are among the most influential and robust electronic instruments ever created, owning a place among the pantheon. Is it the right instrument for you, though?

Before pulling the trigger on a Linn era MPC, stay tuned for the next installments in this series.

In part 2, we cover the “midway” machines, the 2000 and the behemoth 4000.

In the final segment, we cover the “Nu-Kai” branded instruments by the current Akai Corporation, and take a look at the brand new MPC line, including the MPC X and the MPC Live.