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MPC Live - Thoughts from users who have owned for a while?
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Author MPC Live - Thoughts from users who have owned for a while?
Mind Flayer
I'm really thinking about pulling the trigger on one of these. I have tried buying some used older MPCs, but all of them have had problems and have had to be returned. Also looking to get something that's portable, so the Live's ability to run on batteries is a real positive for me. I have an MPC500, which I actually love, save for the fact that it has a noisy output which basically renders it unusable for recording stuff. So, I've been looking at the Live and played one in the store this weekend. It felt really good. I was totally confused by the UI, but that's mainly because I didn't feel like figuring out in a store where I only had a few minutes to kill.

My main concern is general reliability and stability. Frankly, the current incarnation of Akai has a terrible reputation, which is the main thing making me hesitate to buy one of these. I just don't trust the company these days, and if you look on the guitar center website, you'll see a s**t-ton of used Lives for sale -- never a good sign.

If anybody who has owned one for more than a few weeks can share their experiences with this machine, I'd really appreciate it.
Koekepan
I observe that the Live/X have normalise on samples, but can you also normalise whole tracks?

It seems bizarre to think that the answer might be "no", but I can't find any confirmation of it online.
SmartBits
I have an X since December and bought an extra Live in March. I must say that I'm very much impressed with these machines. The X has become a central "hub" between my modular cases and the Live is for entertainment on the couch in the livingroom and rehearsals (and backup for the Live we use with our Depeche Mode tribute band where it is the machine everything depends upon). I went the MPC route because I was looking for a suitable replacement for my RS7000. I've tried the Octatrack and that was too complex for me and had limitations in the arrangement area that required workarounds from the start.
I've had an MPC-500 for some time, but programming on the two line display was a bit too tedious for me. Also, when I lent it to a friend who needed it for a live performance it malfunctioned during that set. The X and Live have been solid and user friendly. But I've also bought the MPC Live Bible, that helped a lot in getting my head around it. Well worth the money if you want to be up and running in no time.
Build quality on both my machines is excellent.
Lux A Turner
Mind Flayer wrote:
...I have an MPC500, which I actually love, save for the fact that it has a noisy output which basically renders it unusable for recording stuff...

Never been a big problem for me, but I appreciate it has been for some and I'm not a pro. There's a fairly recent (March 2018) thread on the MPC forums, about MPC500 noise. It basically recommends...
1. Using a good quality PSU
2. Replacing some caps
...to minimise the issue.
See: https://www.mpc-forums.com/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=185081
See also: https://www.mpc-forums.com/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=183490&p=1731157#p1731 157

Mind Flayer wrote:
...Frankly, the current incarnation of Akai has a terrible reputation...

Unfortunately Akai is now just a brand name that gets bought and sold every now and then. It's rarely good news for a brand when this happens (e.g. E-mu, Creative), the best thing to do is move on IMO.

No experience of the Live myself. I did think of buying one, but it lacks the simplicity of the 500 and some of the early YouTube reviews put me off.

Sorry for going OT, but hope some find the above links useful.
Klangzaun
I am using the MPC live since beginning of this year. I mainly use it for making samples, beats and sequencing. It works stable as Master and Slave. I have to admit that I am not sampling live (while performing). I use a Kenton 2000 Pro for sequencing my analog gear. I am focused on the things I want to do not on what is possible.

I is synced to my DAW and runs tight. It works well as master, too.

So far I faced one crash during the autosaving. It was not reproducable.

--

Normalizing a track is easy as you can bounce your tracks and normalize that wav within the MPC.
Mind Flayer
Thanks for the info, and the tips on the MPC500. I have been running it off of batteries and figured that might be part of the problem, so I have a new power supply on the way. Hopefully that will solve it; if not, I’ll look into the caps.
Diabolik!
i had one for a bit, but sold it to a friend because i'm not playing live shows at the moment. that said, it is great for that purpose. If you're playing actual songs live, and need to program lots of changes, sequences, backing tracks, etc, its absolutely invaluable. The interface on the machine is super easy to use, but you can also organize or write your tracks on the computer and load them into the machine if that is more your style. The visual feedback on stage is also a big help.

I'll definitely pick another one up if i get back into a more traditional band-type situation and need precise backing tracks. I was using the Octatrack for this purpose, but the Live is miles and away a better machine for this.
InnnerSight
I've had the Live for about a month and had no crashes. Currently I am more than happy with the purchase. I swapped from a Digitakt to this and it has been just as easy to use, possibly a little more immediate. The pads feel nice, the touch screen is ok (obviously a larger screen live the X would be better), I've left the protector that it came with on it and its still response, so I'm happy with that.

It looks a bit gawdy which the lite up pads, which is my only gripe, but its built very well.
thisoldhouse
I’ve had my mpc live since available in June 2017. I have had only 1 crash. It also at some point around a year stopped letting me save anything to the internal drive. It produces an error message when I try to do so. It’s a known issue among other users and there is a fix for it. But since you can not access the internal drive from a computer I don’t like saving to it anyways. I’m always fearful of drives failing so I exclusively use the sd card slot for my projects. Then it’s very easy to back up my work. I have had no other issues.

Filters sound very good, but it’s necesary to reduce the gain of samples quite a bit if you want to crank the resonance. But if you do this you can put res at full amount and it sounds so good, especially playing chords in a keygroup program (not a sample of a chord but holding down several keys) and having the the keyboard>filter parameter esp with some filter env control. Sounds really good.

Also chopping is so easy. It usually requires some fine tuning of start points after chopping but it is Very fast to make tons of chops. Another cool thing with chops is you can take like a hundred drum sounds and glue them together one after another in audacity or whatever daw and then export them as one file and the chop them non destructively in the mpc. Then you can large drum kits but they all point to only 1 file in memory so you don’t have to scroll through hundres of sounds in your mpc memory yet you have access to them as if they were individual files.

Another cool thing is if you do use a computer you can use your sound card as individual outs if you use mpc as plugin. Not something I ever thought I would do, but I realized I can makes beats wherever and then plug in to my computer set my mpc project to route the sounds through the 24 channels of my sound card and mix it down on my analogue mixer and re-record at same time to computer will I mix it live and jam my mixers eqs. The mpc supports up to 32 outs through usb.
Mind Flayer
Thanks for all the input. Re the MPC 500, I got an AC adapter (the one that MPC Stuff sells), and that seems to have solved the noise issue, so thanks for that tip!

Now that I have the MPC 500 working properly, I'm probably going to hold off on the Live for now. I know the MPC 500 isn't anywhere near the machine the Live is, but I'm not doing live shows and the 500 seems to fit my current needs.
DiscoDevil
I bought the LIVE and hated it. Terrible waste of what could have been a fantastic UI with that big screen. Different strokes.
thisoldhouse
DiscoDevil wrote:
I bought the LIVE and hated it. Terrible waste of what could have been a fantastic UI with that big screen. Different strokes.


Enlightening input.
Khyber Pass
I've had one for a couple of months. I also have a MPC2000XL and an MPC2500 with JJOS. I both love and hate this machine in pretty much equal amounts. I'm going back and forth on getting rid of it, but probably wont because of a few things.

The good first. It's an MPC and it does pretty much all the things you would expect. It goes a bit further by 1: Letting you record while playback is running, which means you can play to a drumloop, run samples through external FX etc. This is a game changer 2: Portability. It runs on a battery, good for around 5 hours which means you can now make beats on long bus rides etc. These are the reasons I might keep it.

The bad thing is the UI is terrible. By MPC standards at least. I do not believe any of the designers of this thing ever used any of the old machines. There are just so many terrible design decisions which seriously hampers workflow IMO. Good design featyres that the old ones have, and that should be easy to implement, are not here. I find myself going back to my old machines if I just want to chop up some drums or something like that. Also, it does not internally record polyphonic MIDI data in a single channel (I havent tried with an external controller). What the flying fuck. MPC used to stand for Midi Production Center. Talk about pissing all over the legacy.

If I were to sum up the difference between the live and the old machines it would be that, the old ones feel like real playable musical instruments. The live feels like a tablet, a soundcard and a (poorly) integrated midi interface, wrapped up in a box.

All that said, I might still keep the live. It performs most of the things I want from an MPC and some of it quite good. It's fun to use when you know what to expect, I just expected a lot more. Apart from the two good things I listed it feels like a step backwards. I could go on and on.
nectarios
Its the only thing that is not a computer and I would try and make a full track with.
We just use it for the live sets, it does what it says on the tin (hasn't crashed yet *knock on wood*) and the whole interface just makes sense to me.

I like it.
rean1mator
So are they ever going to implement disk streaming for long sample playback?

Been waiting for this feature before I throw down cash for one.
ziggomatic
rean1mator wrote:
So are they ever going to implement disk streaming for long sample playback?

Been waiting for this feature before I throw down cash for one.


How long is long? I regularly use multiple 10+ minute samples with no problems (successfully played a DJ set with only MPC Live & Modular).

The samples just load into memory when you open the project, very quick loading times. The only thing that takes a long while is when you save a project, it creates a new copy of all samples referenced (even if its already on the same drive), and re-writing long samples takes a bit of time.
rean1mator
Not talking about RAM/Memory. Talking about disk streaming. My understanding is a project with a high track count and a lot of samples will eat up your ram pretty quick. There's been talk for quite a time now about Akai supporting streaming straight from the disk and not having to load to memory every single sample.


ziggomatic wrote:
rean1mator wrote:
So are they ever going to implement disk streaming for long sample playback?

Been waiting for this feature before I throw down cash for one.


How long is long? I regularly use multiple 10+ minute samples with no problems (successfully played a DJ set with only MPC Live & Modular).

The samples just load into memory when you open the project, very quick loading times. The only thing that takes a long while is when you save a project, it creates a new copy of all samples referenced (even if its already on the same drive), and re-writing long samples takes a bit of time.
johny_gtr
nectarios wrote:
Its the only thing that is not a computer and I would try and make a full track with.
We just use it for the live sets, it does what it says on the tin (hasn't crashed yet *knock on wood*) and the whole interface just makes sense to me.

I like it.


Hello!

How good can you find this for:
1) playing sequences
2) playing backing tracks
during live show in the link with modular synths?

Is it easy to import midi sequences from PC(Ableton) to MPC Live?
Do you hear any sound quality difference between playing/recording audio tracks via laptop/DAW and MPC Live?
nectarios
johny_gtr wrote:
nectarios wrote:
Its the only thing that is not a computer and I would try and make a full track with.
We just use it for the live sets, it does what it says on the tin (hasn't crashed yet *knock on wood*) and the whole interface just makes sense to me.

I like it.


Hello!

How good can you find this for:
1) playing sequences
2) playing backing tracks
during live show in the link with modular synths?

Is it easy to import midi sequences from PC(Ableton) to MPC Live?
Do you hear any sound quality difference between playing/recording audio tracks via laptop/DAW and MPC Live?


1) Fine, it plays the sequences I program it to play.
2) It can't play long backing tracks, the onboard memory is too small, I just use it to trigger small loops and one shots.

Never tried importing MIDI sequences from the computer, I just program them in the MPC, its very easy and fast, probably easier and faster than finding out how to transfer MIDI files from the computer.
Nope, but then again I don't use a high quality AD/DA, I use a MOTU Ultralight mk3. But the output of MPC absolutely fine. I don't hear any colouration.
johny_gtr
nectarios wrote:
johny_gtr wrote:
nectarios wrote:
Its the only thing that is not a computer and I would try and make a full track with.
We just use it for the live sets, it does what it says on the tin (hasn't crashed yet *knock on wood*) and the whole interface just makes sense to me.

I like it.


Hello!

How good can you find this for:
1) playing sequences
2) playing backing tracks
during live show in the link with modular synths?

Is it easy to import midi sequences from PC(Ableton) to MPC Live?
Do you hear any sound quality difference between playing/recording audio tracks via laptop/DAW and MPC Live?


1) Fine, it plays the sequences I program it to play.
2) It can't play long backing tracks, the onboard memory is too small, I just use it to trigger small loops and one shots.

Never tried importing MIDI sequences from the computer, I just program them in the MPC, its very easy and fast, probably easier and faster than finding out how to transfer MIDI files from the computer.
Nope, but then again I don't use a high quality AD/DA, I use a MOTU Ultralight mk3. But the output of MPC absolutely fine. I don't hear any colouration.

Thank you.

About memory - I need to check this. It's very fun to have memory restrictions in 2018))
nectarios
johny_gtr wrote:
nectarios wrote:
johny_gtr wrote:
nectarios wrote:
Its the only thing that is not a computer and I would try and make a full track with.
We just use it for the live sets, it does what it says on the tin (hasn't crashed yet *knock on wood*) and the whole interface just makes sense to me.

I like it.


Hello!

How good can you find this for:
1) playing sequences
2) playing backing tracks
during live show in the link with modular synths?

Is it easy to import midi sequences from PC(Ableton) to MPC Live?
Do you hear any sound quality difference between playing/recording audio tracks via laptop/DAW and MPC Live?


1) Fine, it plays the sequences I program it to play.
2) It can't play long backing tracks, the onboard memory is too small, I just use it to trigger small loops and one shots.

Never tried importing MIDI sequences from the computer, I just program them in the MPC, its very easy and fast, probably easier and faster than finding out how to transfer MIDI files from the computer.
Nope, but then again I don't use a high quality AD/DA, I use a MOTU Ultralight mk3. But the output of MPC absolutely fine. I don't hear any colouration.

Thank you.

About memory - I need to check this. It's very fun to have memory restrictions in 2018))


Not really, but whatever floats people's boats.
I think small memory/lack of disk streaming, in 2018, is a bit of a joke, but the Octatrack is the other option and I am not spending another cent on Elektron products. I might buy a cheap mk1 if I see one.
DiscoDevil
The LIVE can open .mid files, NP.
ziggomatic
Mind Flayer wrote:
If anybody who has owned one for more than a few weeks can share their experiences with this machine, I'd really appreciate it.


I've owned the MPC Live for about 15 months now and actually just bought an MPC X as well. I've accomplished my goal of making music completely without a computer as a result of learning the MPC system, and i'm very happy with how things have been going.

I use the MPC for basically everything: Drum sampling, MIDI sequencing (external hardware synths & FX), modular sampling, Clip loop playback, etc. I got the X recently because I wanted the additional Audio, MIDI, and CV outs (which I am LOVING).

Learning the MPC was a whole new ball game for me coming over from traditional DAW's, its quite a bit different the way everything is nested with Sequences/Tracks/Programs. I quickly discovered the MPC Manual was very poorly written for someone completely new to understand. After reading the whole thing front to back and still scratching my head, I bought a tutorial set called "The MPC Bible" which has loads of hands on instructional tutorials, and thats what really got me going.

I do have some issues with the MPC, all are all bugs in the software which Akai has still yet to fully fix. The #1 issue for me was the timing issues when syncing the MPC to an external MIDI clock. When slaving to the Cirklon I could instantly hear the timing was all over the place with the drum patterns I had made. So I recorded a ton of clicks/beeps in testing and discovered the MPC had something like 17+ms of clock jitter, which made it completely unusable for real music production. This was a sad discovery but I still carried on with my MPC journey, and 7 months later Akai finally released an update that reduced the clock jitter down to 6ms, which is still bad but definitely usable. Getting the Cirklon and MPC working together in sync (along with multiple other synths) is still a bit of a tricky situation but I have figured out a couple good workable methods.

My favorite part of the MPC Live is by far the portability. The battery lasts for 4+ hours in my experience and I even have portable 19v lithium battery packs I can recharge from if I want to be totally off the grid for a while (camping trips :-). Working on the MPC when traveling/commuting is spectacular.

One important thing to share is I have never experienced a singe crash in the 15 months I have owned the MPC Live. I have also successfully performed live with the MPC & my eurorack modular system. I used the clip launch features to DJ a bunch of my tracks and play the modular over the top which worked really well. Never had an issue with long samples and memory limitations.

Hope this info helps at least a little bit!
wigwig
ziggomatic wrote:
Getting the Cirklon and MPC working together in sync (along with multiple other synths) is still a bit of a tricky situation but I have figured out a couple good workable methods.

I remember reading your posts about the timing/sync problems, so I'm curious about what you're doing now.
Can you say a bit about that?
Have you found a way reliably to sync the MPc to the Cirklon, or must the MPC be the master?
Panason
I can't imagine why you would want to use the MPC's sequencer if you have a Cirklon... seriously, i just don't get it
It is always better to drive everything from one sequencer in my experience... if you want tight pattern changes that is.
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