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†††† Linn drew on his experience with sampled sounds and borrowed ideas from Sequential Circuits Studio 440 to come up with the MPC60, a powerful midi sequencer with sampling ability. The MPC60, released in 1991, had 16 velocity sensitive pads, 16bit Audio to Digital and Digital to Audio conversion, 16 voice polyphony and 2 midi inputs and 4 midi outputs. It also was fully synchronizable via MTC, SMPTE, Midi Clock, etc and 8 assignable outputs.

 

†††† The latest iteration, the MPC 5000, includes all of the above, has a 8 track hard disk recorder, a 20 voice, 3 oscillator virtual analog synth, 4 FX buses with 2 FX per bus, master compressor and equalizer, USB connectivity and 100,000 midi note capacity. Samples are streamed from the hard drive. The retail price is $2599.00.

 

†††† Ok, the above explains the features of an MPC but how does the thing work? Each of the 16 pads (click here for picture) can be programmed with a sample. It can be as simple as a snare or cymbal hit or as complicated as a whole musical sequence (loop). Once the samples are loaded, the pads can be played like a drum set or in a sequence while the midi recorder records the performance which can be output to up to 8 audio outputs. The midi data can also be output so that different midi instruments can be utilized.

 

†††† Many workstation keyboards, such as Rolandís Fantom line, include sampling pads on the keyboard as well as hard drives, midi programabiltiy and effects. This gives performers and studio musicians loads of possibilities when it comes to arranging and live performance.

 

†††† The Akai APC40 Ableton Software USB Controller accomplishes the same thing as an MPC but the sampling and playback duties are handled by the computer and Ableton's Live 8 software . Ableton's Live and Propellerhead's Reason have pretty much has cornered the market on groove/looping. Live incorporates audio (up to 32bit/192khz recording) and midi sequencing (960 ppg) and runs as a Rewire slave or master. It also uses VST and AU plug-ins and has 15GB of instruments including acoustic and electric pianos, guitars, bass, drums and orchestral instruments.

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†††† Thereís almost no way to really understand what an MPC (or APC) can do without playing around with them but hopefully, Iíve given you some idea of what can be accomplished. Go down to your local music store and ask the salesperson for a demonstration if youíre interested in this type of music production.

 

 

††††† Last month, one of the new products was an Akai APC40 Ableton Software USB Controller . It is a software/hardware combination that functions like an MPC or Music Production Center. I then realized that I hadnít done an article on MPCís and how they function. First we have to start with the history. The original was designed by Roger Linn, an accomplished guitarist and producer who was previously known for designing the first programmable, sound sampled drum machine, the LM-1 drum computer.†