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AKAI MPC Comparison Chart

Updated 15 September 2022

I am a recent convert to the Akai MPC world. The advertising is flash with lots of trendy beat makers jumping up and down doing stuff. The information of the web was either basic guff or too advanced. After years of listening to beats and playing with MIDI, I too the plunge and ordered myself an MPC One. I can say that it is an amazing machine. I love my Akai MPC One. I have created a chart to compare the key features of the common AKAI MPCs available on the used market. The AKAI MPCs that I compare are the MPC1000, MPC2500, MPC5000, MPC One, and the MPC X.

AKAI MPC Comparison Chart

My Akai MPC Journey

I never really got into playing music. My piano skills are basic. I love Amiga tracker music but never worked out how to code a tracker song. That was then and everything has developed and tools have matured. I was looking for a sample based player and some form of MIDI control. The Akai MPC One comes with this functionality and more to start making music. Beats are the easiest and most advertised function of the MPC. It is more than that. It is also an easy to use MIDI controller and sequencer. There are also programmable sythesizers built in to manipulate and control The Akai MPC One is a very capable DAW-less machine.

I am interested in retro-computers and vintage hifi. eBay was one of the first marketplaces that I search for vintage MPC machines. Wow. I am gobsmacked by the level of interest and prices for vintage MPC machines. I knew that I was onto something. After a lot of searching around and dreaming of that vintage sound I bought a new machine. I feel that the price of a new MPC one is very reasonable. The MPC One does not feel like a crippled MPC X. The MPC One is a powerful machine that cover the DAW-less landscape.

I saw an old Akai advertisement showing the various MPC options. Due to its age, the modern MPC options were not shown. I have created my own MPC comparison chart. There is limited space on a chart such as mine and I couldn't list every MPC ever made. The Akai MPCs that I have listed are machines that I feel are comparable and of interest to me. I have listed three generations of Akai MPC machines. The Akai machines I compared are the MPC1000, MPC2500, MPC5000, MPC One, and MPC X. I didn't list the Akai MPC Live as I feel that this machine is priced at a premium to the market.

Akai MPC5000 Screenshots

Akai MPC5000 Screenshot VCO controls
Virtual Analog synthesizer with 20-voice polyphony
Akai MPC5000 Screenshot sequencer
Piano roll sequencer editing
Akai MPC5000 Screenshot tracking recording
8 track direct-to-disk recording
Akai MPC5000 Screenshot mixer
Track and pad mixer

Playing SoundFonts on the AKPI MPC

ConvertWithMoss screenshot

Here is a tricky question; How can one play SoundFonts on the Akai MPC One? The answer is that the Akai MPC One does not directly play SoundFonts. I tried to place .sf2 soundfonts into a directory and my MPC did not see the file in the file browser. The answer lies in converting .sf2 SoundFonts into Akai MPC keygroups.

It is with some luck that I have come across the ConvertWithMoss multisample conversion application. The ConvertWithMoss application runs on all of the major platforms and can readily convert .sf2 files into Akai MPC Keygroups. The application interface is very simple and easy to get the hang of. There is alo the excellent ConvertWithMoss Manual that explains the logic of the application in more detail. This application is released under LGPLv3 with the latest source code available on GitHub.

Akai MPC File Formats

.alsSequence exported to Ableton Live Set
.50sMPC5000 Program
.pgmMPC1000/MPC2500 Program (16bit only)
.seqMPC1000/MPC2500 sequence
.mpcpatternMPC track exported as a pattern
.mcnMPC MIDI control sceneXML
.xpaProject archive
.midMIDI file formatbinary
.sqxMIDI-like file formatbinary
.mp3Sound sample (compressed)binary
.wavSound sample (uncompressed)binary
.jpgMPC Expansion pack thumbnail (1000x1000px)binary
.xpmMPC Program settingsXML
Note   information supplied is guess work and subject to revision. Refer to Akai Professional for formal information on the file formats used.

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