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#506020 - 06/25/22 03:39 PM Akai MPC Keys
Diki Offline


Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 13686
Loc: NW Florida
https://www.gearnews.com/akai-mpc-key-61-review/

Seems like a good mate for an arranger if you want some contemporary mojo in with your style workflow….
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An arranger is just a tool. What matters is what you build with it..!

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#506075 - 07/03/22 10:50 PM Re: Akai MPC Keys [Re: Diki]
Nick G Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/16/05
Posts: 1085
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
I have been following this a fair bit and watching all the videos as they come on youtube. I would like to give my rant on this if I may smile

*EDIT - I need to emphasis that what I am saying below is not based on the review in the link you have provided above, but more so of the demo videos on youtube...

It seems to be getting marketed as a "Workstation killer" yet it is still very much a "workstation", and the demonstrator does A LOT of "work" during a live recording / sequencing session... MOST of the stuff being demonstrated in the videos can already be achieved with other synths (and arrangers). I did say "most" not all... though I must admit the beautiful screen and ability to have multi touch makes it a breeze for sure - especially in that piano roll editor view!!

One of the opening statements in at least 2 of their videos say that apparently music producers want to move away from using Computers (DAW's) to produce music... really? I dont know where they are getting this from! I get it - for some people it is handy to have it all in one keyboard but nothing beats sitting at a desk using a computer with keyboard and mouse - dual monitors etc. Cant see that method being replaced any time soon..

There is also a lot of emphasis on how "nothing is buried in menus" anymore, and that there are no more "modes" (which is something that a lot of keyboard sales people go on about these days) yet while he is recording a sequence, he is doing a sh1t load of screen touching, editing and opening and closing of many windows etc. again there's A LOT of "work" going on...

Alot of keyboards have modes depending on what you are trying to achieve? (live arranger / performance playing, detailed sound editing, song sequencing etc) - there is nothing wrong with that?? it actually keeps things simple if you spend enough time initially to understand the architecture of the instrument's operating system.

It is also very disappointing and frustrated when the demonstrator gloats about how amazing and ground breaking it is to be able to "close or open the lid" of a piano on the touch screen... really??? Has he never seen or touched a Korg Kronos before?? They have been around for 10 years.

There are a lot of things left out of these demos that have also left me wondering - does the keyboard come pre loaded with loops? Not just drum loops, but bass loops, guitar strums, synth arps etc - and do they all respond to chord recognition? There has been very minimal use of the arpeggiator shown. how advanced and sophisticated is it? Does it come any where close to the Yamaha Motif / Montage range of sophistication?

What about all the wood wind / string / brass instruments etc - do they have articulations that can be triggered using switches or legato playing like DNC / Super Articulation etc?? how many velocity layers do the piano voices (and the Drum kits) actually have and so forth.. there's a lot to learn under the hood before being "Woo'd" by these flashy marketing videos and photos of the big bright screen.

It has a 4 operator FM synthesis onboard, lets not forget that the Yamaha Montage and MODX has 8 operators.

He also goes on about how you can cut and splice samples and how you can assign samples to the pads and keys - again - been done over and over by countless arranger keyboards and synths for years.

I'm really not trying to trash this instrument because it does seem (and sound) AMAZING... but im struggling to really understand how far ahead it actually is from other current workstations...


Edited by Nick G (07/03/22 11:24 PM)
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#506077 - 07/04/22 09:31 AM Re: Akai MPC Keys [Re: Diki]
Diki Offline


Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 13686
Loc: NW Florida
Well, I did say that this was something to ADD to an arranger rig, not substitute for it…

I think the main point is that there is a huge base of producers who are often keyboard players with an intimate knowledge of the MPC workflow and, with respect, that’s still one of the dominant hardware ways of quickly putting loops and beats together. So a keyboard that adds some basic sounds plus the groove/beat thing seems like it fills the hole in arranger design.

Can other things like Kronos or Montage do similar things, and perhaps have better ROM sounds on board? Perhaps, but if you are intimately familiar with MPC workflow (I’m not!) the speed at which you should be able to put beds together should outweigh any lack in the synth engine (which it is strongly hint that more are coming). Not to mention that the hardware is capable of modern computer load speeds, which is something still woefully lacking in current keyboard hardware.

For those willing to learn the MPC workflow (can’t say I’ve seen a demonstration yet that appears to be run by a real MPC guru) which for making beats and loops has stood the test of time and has a huge base of users, this seems to have no overlap with a TOTL arranger, which IMHO is a good thing! They each do a totally different thing, and do it very well. Put the two together, seems like you have most bases covered.

The product is in its infancy, I look forward to seeing what sound engines get added. As it’s basically a pretty modern PC under the hood, it seems to have a bright future.

Many of us are loathe to gig a computer setup with all its fragility and complexity around, and while you CAN do some pretty interesting beatboxing with things like Montage, the modernity of the I/O data pipeline puts this light years ahead of a Kronos or Montage.

But maybe the silver lining is that this product may FINALLY coax the big three to adopt modern chipsets and data transfer. A Kronos that could load up a few GB of loops and sounds as quickly as this can would be a far more usable piece of gear on a gig…
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An arranger is just a tool. What matters is what you build with it..!

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