September 5, 2012

DJ Expo 2012: AKAI MPC Renaissance

We first saw the new line of AKAI MPC controllers at Winter NAMM 2012 earlier this year. The public has been waiting with bated breath to see if the MPC Renaissance will hold up to all the hype that has been surrounding it since January. With a definitive scheduled release date still up in the air, people are beginning to ask when the MPC Renaissance will be ready for them to start working with. In the meantime AKAI has been taking the MPC Renaissance to various tradeshows, corporate events, and to the studios of today’s top producers to get feedback and build media surrounding the MPC Renaissance. If this is your first time hearing about the MPC Renaissance then here is a quick overview of some of the features:

  • Fuses legendary MPC production with the processing power of your computer
  • Vintage Mode changes output sound character to MPC3000, MPC60 and more
  • 16 backlit genuine MPC pads, 16 Q-Link controls, and adjustable backlit LCD screen
  • Classic MPC Note Repeat, MPC Swing and MPC transport controls
  • MPC SOFTWARE for Mac or PC with 64-track sequencing capability
  • Two XLR-1/4” combo inputs and dedicated turntable input
  • Four-channel USB 2.0 audio interface and two-port USB 2.0 hub built in
  • Up to eight pad banks―more than any other MPC ever
  • Two MIDI inputs and four MIDI outputs
  • Stereo 1/4” out, stereo assignable mix 1/4” out & S/PDIF I/O


  • 64-track sequencing capability
  • Massive 6GB+ sound library, including all of the sounds of the classic MPC3000
  • Instant mapping and real-time adjustment of VST plug-ins
  • Record each track as an MPC drum program, Keygroup program or VST plug-in
  • Works alone as your main DAW or works seamlessly with your current studio as a VST/AU/RTAS plugin
  • Supports WAV, MP3, AIFF, REX and SND
  • Supports samples and sequences from any MPC ever made
  • Mac and PC-compatible

With the tech specs out of the way, let’s get down to how the Renaissance feels and why you should have it on your radar if you are considering picking up a controller for beat and sample production.

The pads on the MPC Renaissance feel great. It’s clear that AKAI kept the same feel that most MPC users are used to but with a bit tougher feel for those beat mashing producers. The knobs look as if they were ported directly over from the APC line of controllers which should make those familiar with AKAI products feel right at home. The heads up display (HUD) is a lot more functional than previous instances within the MPC line and is able to be angled up or laid flat exactly like the MPC 5000.

Beat Machine

The Akai MPC Renaissance updates the classic look and feel for the modern producer.

One of the main things to note here is that this is not a traditional MPC where you have all of the sounds built in.  You can not use this as a stand alone piece of hardware in a performance or production application. The Renaissance is a controller much in the same vein as the Native Instruments Maschine or a DJ controller where you must pair it with the included MPC Software or run as a VST in your own prefered DAW. With that said, there are a lot of applications that you can develop to make it a performance tool once you integrate it with your preferred software package or the included MPC Software.

The Renaissance is seemingly AKAI’s answer to the Native Instruments Maschine. The advantage that the Renaissance has over Maschine is that you have stereo inputs and outputs which makes the MPC Renaissance function as more of an interface than a traditional control surface. It takes all of the advantages of a traditional MPC and adds the functionality of a production controller that can work within a software package. The back boasts two combination XLR and ¼ inch inputs, two MIDI inputs, four MIDI outputs, as well as my favorite feature, a USB hub to connect other USB devices. So again while this is not designed to be a hardware based music production center (MPC), it does have some great features when it comes to using the MPC Renaissance as an audio interface for multiple applications.

The Akai MPC Renaissance gives you loads of inputs and outputs.

One of the other differences between this and Maschine is that it takes up more real estate but there is a reason for that. The Renaissance has more buttons and controls for transport, selecting banks of samples, and many of these functions are selectable without having to hold shift and change the functionality of a particular control. It’s set up for the user to keep their hands off the laptop/desktop and perform all of the functions straight off the MPC Renaissance. This seems like a plus for many users of previous MPC products like the MPC 1000 or MPC 3000. For those old school producers who just can not give up the classic sounds from previous MPC controllers, you are in luck! AKAI has included a Vintage Mode which allows you to pull up all those sounds and textures you have grown to love.

We got a chance to talk to Adam Go from AKAI Professional about the MPC Renaissance at DJ Expo 2012 in Atlantic City, NJ. He ran us through some of the basic features and functionality of the Renaissance which you can read below.

Hey everybody I’m Adam Go with AKAI Professional here to show you a little bit about our new MPC Renaissance. This is the latest and greatest in MPC (Music Production Center). It’s gonna be featured with our MPC Software. The software’s gonna come out of the box with 16 gigs of sample content including every sample we have ever released for every MPC we have ever made. All the vintage stuff from the old 60’s, 2000 XL, 3000, all the way up to our latest 5000 come right out of the box with our MPC Software. The MPC Renaissance here features 16 MPC style pads which light up, velocity sensitive LED’s on the pads there, and 16 cue fader knobs. All of the similar functions you are going to find on all the old school MPCs. So your MPC users are going to love this thing. Its going to be very familiar to you right out of the box. Familiar looking screen.

One of the awesome features this has is Vintage Mode. So all the guys that don’t want to get rid of their MPC 60 or their 3000, they’re going to be able to run this in vintage mode to get the samples to sound like the old school vintage. So you can give the old one away, hop into the new one, and have everything sounding the same. The software you can run as a VST instrument in your existing DAW program. So all you Logic guys, ProTools heads, Cubase guys, instead of dumping your tracks, wasting valuable time in the studio, you can run this as an instrument in your existing DAW setup. It’s going to be really cool for integrating into the modern studio.

In addition to that the Renaissance has 4 MIDI outputs, 2 MIDI inputs, its got XLR, ¼ inch combination input jacks to sample your own stuff directly into your computer with phantom power for your condenser mics. Its got two USB ports for additional ports or a hub in the back. We are really excited about this. Its going to be ready to ship really soon and I want to say list is going to be about $1299 in the stores. MPC Renaissance by AKAI Professional.

So what do you think? Would you pick this over the second generation Maschine? What do you think of production controllers that act as audio interfaces? What do you think of the MPC DAW?