Should You Get The Akai MPC Renaissance? Find Out Now

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    So what is this all about? Akai now has jumped into the controller market (after the MPD series) and have stepped their game up tremendously with the new Renaissance. Ever since Native Instruments released Maschine, everyone was thinking that it would be the Akai MPC and MPD killer - and with good reason. Maschine revolutionized the way we all make music. Now Akai has realized that in order to succeed they needed to compete, and that's exactly what the Renaissance does.

    What is the Renaissance?

    Older models of the MPC were traditionally looked at as beat-making machines. The great thing about the Renaissance is that it's not just for making beats - instead it's a full fledged music production system. From making beats to completing an entire song, you can do all of that with this machine and its software.

    The Controller

    For MPC users, the main feature was always the pads. Akai's pads on the MPC were always top notch and just felt good, enabling its users to bang out beats with ease and comfort. So that was the first thing that Akai made sure they did, was to bring in the same pads for the Renaissance. The layout is also very important as well because MPC users want the familiarity of the old gear and the same type of workflow as well.

    Akai has set up the Renaissance in such a way that anyone that has used any of the MPC's in the past can easily feel at home and get right down to business - making music.

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    There are 16 velocity-sensitive pads, 16 Q-Link controls, plus an adjustable backlit LCD screen. Classic MPC Note Repeat, MPC Swing, and the familiar MPC transport controls at the bottom right.

    The Software

    Ah yes, the software. You didn't think that the MPC Renaissance was just a box, did you? The software that accompanies it is where all of the action takes place. Just like Native Instruments has done with their Maschine controller, Akai has done with the Renaissance. But that's where the similarities end.

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    What you have is a completely different looking GUI than that of Maschine's. On the screen you can see the tracks for all the pads but also, they've ingeniously added the pads and Q-Link knobs! This is fantastic since you can see what you're doing if you don't want to look at the LCD screen on the controller. I know most people would prefer to look at the LCD screen since they're so used to using just the MPC box, but the option of looking at your computer screen will help greatly.

    Software Support

    Here's where things get interesting with the software. You have 64 tracks on the sequencer and look at the different formats that it supports:
    • WAV
    • MP3
    • AIFF
    • REX
    • SND
    If you're like to sample MP3 formats, for example, you no longer have to worry about bouncing it to WAV format. The software recognizes the MP3 format, which will save lots of time when you want to get that idea out of your head and onto the pads as quickly as possible.

    What's more, the MPC Renaissance also supports every MPC sample and sequence that has ever been done with any MPC. So basically, if you made tons of beats on an old MPC such as the MPC2000, you can easily dump that onto the Renaissance. Clearly, Akai has really put a lot of thought into this.

    Working with a DAW

    If you prefer to do all your tracks in your favorite DAW (Pro Tools, Logic, etc) then no problem. You can use the Renaissance as a stand-alone software application or as a plug-in inside your DAW. This is good if you want to keep everything the way you've always had it, and if you're more comfortable working inside your DAW, rather than relying solely on the MPC software.

    Vintage Mode

    What's interesting is that Akai has gone ahead and added a "Vintage Mode", which emulates that classic sound from the MPC3000, MPC60, and more. This will enable you to try and capture the same sound you would obtain from those classic machines, whether you've used them or not. For some people that are moving from let's say the MPC60 to the Renaissance, this will help them keep their favorite sound.

    Sampling

    One of the biggest features that I like is that when you want to sample from your turntable, and most Hip Hop producers still do that, you just connect your turntable's RCA cables directly into the MPC! How great is that? There's no need for an extra mixer, whether it be your DJ mixer or a multitrack mixer, none whatsoever. Just connect it and you'll be able to sample right away.

    This will help a great deal because not every producer is a DJ and not all of them have a full-on DJ setup of two turntables and a mixer. Plus, not everyone has a multitrack mixer that they can run their turntable through either. Some producers simply have a turntable that they connect to their stereo amplifier, for example. So having this feature on the Renaissance is HUGE for a lot of producers. Thumbs up to Akai for adding this to the MPC.

    ... And More

    The Renaissance comes with over 6 GB of sounds, which includes all of the sounds of the classic MPC3000. It supports up to 8 pad banks and has an integrated 4-channel audio interface with 2-port USB. There are 2 XLR combo inputs, RCA turntable input, 2 stereo 1/4" outputs, and S/PDIF I/O. One last thing - it's compatible with both Mac and PC.

    Conclusion

    If you're currently using an MPC and want to upgrade to something much better, more advanced, and software-based, the Renaissance is for you. Even if you've never used an MPC before, it's a great option. Native Instruments' Maschine is a great product as well, but if you're looking for something different, give the MPC Renaissance a try.



    Read the reviews on Amazon.

    More Information: Akai Pro
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2016
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