When it comes to Akai MPCs, you really want to buy once and buy right!
Now, all of these models are serious contenders, as Akai is a serious brand with a long history of data to back it up.
I won't bore you with all of that... But what I will say is, some models will more suited for your intended use than others.
And again, you want to buy one based on your needs, rather than the one with the highest number of Amazon stars... big mistake.
Below, I have picked out the best, tried and tested AKAI MPCs for beginners based on a few different criterion:
- Best All-rounder
- Best budget-friendly
- Best premium pick
- Best for the beginner/intermediate who is also taking this seriously as a profession (I see you!)
- Best casual pick (you don't want to spend too much but don't want to go basic and wish you spend an extra buck)
- 1. Akai MPC One: Best All-Round Choice For Beginners
- 2. Akai MPC Studio: Best Budget-Friendly Pick
- 3. Akai MPC Live II: Best Premium Pick
- 4. Akai MPC X: Best Choice For Beginner/Intermediate Professionals
- 5. Akai Professional MPC Renaissance: Best If You Are On The Fence About Spending TOO Much But Want Something Solid For Years To Come...
Here they are:
1. Akai MPC One: Best All-Round Choice For Beginners
What We Like
- No Computer Required - Powerful Sampler, Beat Maker, Drum Machine and Desktop Controller with MPC2 Software for Mac and PC that uses the MPC legacy iconic workflow in a compact format
- Standalone Supercharged – Featuring WiFi & Bluetooth MIDI, 16 Velocity-Sensitive RGB MPC Pads, 7” Multi-Gesture Display, Touch
- All-in-One Device: Functions as a MIDI sequencer, sampler, and drum machine.
- Interactive 7-inch Touchscreen: Allows for easy sample editing and trimming.
- User-Friendly Navigation: Comes with dedicated knobs and touch-sensitive keys.
- Multiple Ports: Features all necessary connections for seamless integration into a creative setup.
- Storage and Sharing: Offers USB and SD card slots for saving and transferring music.
- Feature-Rich: Includes popular production techniques like Tape Stop effect, Note Repeat, and 16 Levels.
- Versatile: Can operate in standalone and controller modes.
- High Sequencing Capacity: Supports up to 128 tracks.
- Advanced Features: Offers real-time time-stretching and clip-launching.
- Compatibility: Pairs well with other synthesizers, drum machines, and sound generators.
- Quality Pads: Features 16 velocity- and pressure-sensitive pads for versatile programming.
- Bundled Plug-ins: Comes with Akai Professional's instrument plug-ins and AIR FX processors.
- Enhanced Version Available: The MPC One+ offers built-in Wi-Fi/Bluetooth and 16GB onboard storage.
The Akai MPC One is one of the best all-around choices for beginners. It provides a straightforward workflow and just enough features to get started without being overly complex.
The MPC One has 16 velocity and pressure-sensitive pads, built-in speakers, and a 7-inch multi-touch display.
It runs on Akai's MPC 2.0 software, which is intuitive for new users. There are also plenty of onboard sounds to get you going right away.
Around $700, the MPC One hits a sweet spot of affordability and quality for a starter MPC. It's a great way to dip your toes into standalone music production.
2. Akai MPC Studio: Best Budget-Friendly Pick
What We Like
- USB powered MIDI Controller - 8 banks of 16 RGB MPC Velocity & Pressure sensitive pads with Aftertouch ensure maximum expression to capture every detail of your performance
- Ribbon Touch Strip – Assign and control parameters like effects and note repeat within MPC Software for real time, tactile
What We Don't Like
- Slim and Sleek Design: Packs years of industry-standard workflows into a portable and stylish music controller.
- Lightweight: Weighs less than two pounds, making it super easy to carry around.
- Cost-Effective: Sits at an affordable middle ground between Akai’s software and hardware MPCs, offering great value for money.
- High Portability: Designed to fit easily in your laptop bag or case, so you can take your beat-creation studio wherever you go.
- Powerful Software: Comes bundled with MPC Software for Mac and PC, offering DAW-like advanced capabilities and a customizable workflow.
- Backlit Pads: Features 16 backlit velocity-sensitive MPC-style pads, ideal for finger drumming, sample triggering, and sequencing.
- Assignable Touchstrip: Comes with a touchstrip that you can assign for pitch bending, modulation, and other creative controls.
- Complete System: Combines Akai's renowned hands-on controls, the workflow preferred by top producers, and the flexibility of modern technology into one comprehensive package.
- Very basic MPC, there is better on the market for a little more.
If you want something even more budget-friendly, check out the Akai MPC Studio. This model strips things down to the basics, with 16 pads, 6 assignable knobs, and MPC Essentials software.
Since it's a controller instead of a standalone unit, you'll need a computer to run the software. But at around $200, the MPC Studio lets you get into the MPC workflow at a fraction of the cost.
It's a smart choice if you want to try things out or don't need advanced features yet.
3. Akai MPC Live II: Best Premium Pick
What We Like
- Beat Maker Essential – Standalone Mpc, Sampler, Drum Machine And Midi Controller (For The Included Mpc Software – Mac / Pc) With The Powerful Muticore System From The Mpc One And Mpc X
- Hear Every Detail Of Your Production – Built-In Stereo Studio Monitoring System Provides Studio Quality
What We Don't Like
- Built-in Speakers: Features a dual tweeter-woofer system for crystal-clear audio, letting you hear your creations in real-time.
- Portability: Comes with a rechargeable battery, making it an on-the-go music production powerhouse.
- Comprehensive Connectivity: Equipped with a plethora of ports like USB 3.0, 2x2 MIDI, CV/Gate, and 3 stereo outs. Plus, it has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for a wireless workflow.
- Classic MPC Workflow: Boasts key MPC features like 16 Levels, Note Repeat, Auto Sample, and more to streamline your creative process.
- Ableton Integration: Ready for seamless integration with Ableton, including tight syncing and easy project sharing capabilities.
- Powerful Software: The MPC2 software provides an all-in-one solution for every musical task, from composing to recording to mixing and mastering.
- Regular Updates: The platform is well-maintained, with consistent updates adding new features and improvements.
- Learning Curve: With its range of features and functionalities, beginners may find the device overwhelming initially.
- Price: High-quality music production tools often come with a higher price tag, making the device possibly unaffordable for some users.
On the higher end, the Akai MPC Live II brings standalone power plus touchscreen workflow. It's loaded with effects, sampling capabilities, and storage for expansion.
The Live II is an excellent choice if you want to start on a pro-level MPC you can grow into. At $1,300 it's an investment, but also Akai's most full-featured all-in-one production studio. From melodies to mixing, everything happens on the MPC.
If you can afford it, go for it! You won't be disappointed!
4. Akai MPC X: Best Choice For Beginner/Intermediate Professionals
What We Like
- Beat Maker Essential – Standalone flagship MPC, sampler, drum machine and MIDI controller (for the included MPC Software – Mac / PC) with the powerful MultiCore System
- Control Evolved – 16 MPC drum Pads, 16 touch-capacitive Q-Links with OLED displays, transport controls, full monitoring control and connectivity for
What We Don't Like
- It's a standalone device with almost no limitations, offering incredible flexibility.
- The dedicated touch interface elevates the hardware experience, making it intuitive and enjoyable to use.
- It boasts excellent pads that are both responsive and reliable.
- The chunky controls provide a tactile and satisfying feel when making adjustments.
- The clear metering ensures you can easily keep track of your levels and settings.
- It's a fantastic example of one-button-per-function design, simplifying your workflow.
- Many users find it to be an amazing piece of equipment, showcasing its quality.
- It offers an uncompromising spec in terms of onboard connections and storage capacity.
- The piano-based plugins included are excellent, adding to its versatility.
- This device can seamlessly fit into any musical environment, whether you're into beat-making, soundtrack production, or live performance.
- The pads tend to attract dust easily, requiring occasional cleaning.
- Some users wished for more inputs to expand their connectivity options.
- It lacks battery power, which means it needs to be plugged in during use.
- It's on the expensive side, which might not be suitable for budget-conscious musicians.
Serious beginners who want the ultimate standalone unit should look at the Akai MPC X. This flagship MPC offers immense creative possibilities with its large color touchscreen, 16 velocity-sensitive pads, and on-board audio interface.
There's a learning curve due to the depth of features on the MPC X. But it will let any beginner create professional-sounding tracks once mastered. The $2,000 price tag is steep, so it's best for those who know they want to fully immerse themselves in MPC production.
5. Akai Professional MPC Renaissance: Best If You Are On The Fence About Spending TOO Much But Want Something Solid For Years To Come...
The Akai Professional MPC Renaissance combines the classic MPC workflow with extensive production capabilities. Under the hood, there's a powerful sound engine that can handle complex arrangements and effects.
This is a great middle ground between the more affordable MPCs and the pricier flagship models. At around $500 it's reasonably priced, yet still offers many possibilities to explore as a beginner.
The Bottom Line
The MPC One, MPC Studio, MPC Live II, MPC X, and MPC Renaissance each bring something different to the table. Consider your budget, goals, and experience level when deciding. Any of these models can provide an excellent entry point into standalone or controller-based beatmaking with MPC.