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AKAI Professional iMPC iOS App Review

akai impc review

Review Preface:

Akai Professional is a pro-audio brand that has a significant historical interest invested in synthesised instruments and how technology can empower a user to vent musical creativity in a simple yet structured environment. The Music Production Centre, commonly referred to the 'MPC', has been around for longer than the digital audio workstation (DAW), and today we will be reviewing it's transition onto the screen of an iPad. As the complimentary hardware, the 'MPC Fly', is not currently available it will be reviewed without this.


Install and Application Function:

The install process for the iMPC is straightforward and hardly testing, the only notable occurrence is the sheer length of time it takes to get onto your iPad because all those lossless samples it comes with total a heavyweight 296mb. What is quite good is that even when you open the App for the first time, the load time is really very short; much less than what a standalone MPC unit would perform at. At a glance the graphical user interface is the same as what you would find on an MPC1000 machine but with a few things missing like obvious mixer functions, four separate pad banks and REC gain.


With regards to the other app functions there is a separate user interface for 'Mixer', 'FX' and 'Sampler' which is fairly basic and not at all in the same style that you would find on an original unit. It is confusing why AKAI would have gone to such lengths to preserve the vintage look of the iMPC but then update the separate functions with a modernesque interface where at the top there is a creatively disturbing live feed. As this constantly changes to make you fully aware of who has just posted the latest iMPC mix to SoundCloud, it feels so unnecessary and contrary to what the MPC line was produced to do - empower the user; not compare. Also, with many other applications, they make use the accelerometer to gauge the velocity and change the output transients accordingly; the iMPC does not have this and the output velocity setting appears to be at 127. I really wish this was a practical feature but I expect that it was programmed this way to entice people to buy the complimentary MPC Fly interface. The final note here will be that there is no Audiobus support so you can't integrate the iMPC functionality across into other Apps so this unit is designed, at the moment, to be completely standalone even though it still does have some of the great functions of the MPC like time correction.


Sound Quality:

Overall the sound quality is really very good for each sample bank, this however has been let down by how you should navigate between these during production. For example, the sequence/select 'scrubber' wheel is clunky and the sequence edit/change feature isn't a fast way to navigate through sets because it has a small button which opens a scrolling window that takes a few tries to select, and then you have to click done to confirm the selection. If you were to use this App during a live performance there is a chance that you may click the wrong selection in haste of the moment. After trying almost all the sets I do have to say that they appear to be well put together and, if you so wish, you can edit the pads to an individual sample selection. Additionally, you do have the ability to create your own custom sets and this could prove to be a lifeline if you only want to use a sixteen sample set and the sound 'variation' (commonly referred to as modulation) slider changes the sound smoothly and with ease. Likewise, I have not encountered any errors when recording sets or overdubs and you get out what you put in. To conclude, the sound sets that you are provided with are sensibly programmed and include a huge variety of samples to play with so it is possible that you will be playing with this for hours; and investing time in music is never a bad thing.


Review Conclusion:

It is quite clear that the iMPC App has been created with the intention of making some additional money from the release of the iMPC interface as it isn't just a translated extension, it offers the functionality that this App lacks. I would imagine that when this App is paired with an MPC Fly then you would have everything that you could want. Unfortunately the case stands that you shouldn't need this to reasonably create and produce music and the GUI is reasonable but does have some issues that could be ironed out to have an emphasis on continuity. I cannot fault the sound with this app, apart from the fact that velocity cannot be controlled from the accelerometer, and I think that the samples put together are sensibly placed. If the user so chooses you do have the ability to create a fully functional set from the endless lossless samples that the iMPC comes with, however this App lacks the critical Audiobus functionality. Overall the price that AKAI are currently charging is reasonable and the App performs its basic intent and therefore The Pro Audio Web Blog awards the AKAI iMPC a 2.5 out of 5 rating.


Edd Harris

US RRP: $4.99 | UK RRP: £4.99

Editors Rating:

Edd Harris - 18th April 2013

Two and a Half Star Award
AKAI Professional iMPC
2.5/5 stars
It is quite clear that the iMPC App has been created with the intention of making some additional money from the release of the iMPC interface as it isn\'t just a translated extension, it offers the functionality that this App lacks. I would imagine that when this App is paired with an MPC Fly then you would have everything that you could want.