Just Blaze Rips Akai and The MPC5000 A New One
Like any time a new MPC drops, there's a lot of hype surrounding the Akai's new MPC5000. Though to keep it all the way real, it's nowhere near the type of frenzy that producers were in when the original MPC 4000 hit the market. That said, I haven't had the chance to get my hands on one (thanks Akai), and after reading Just Blaze's review, geez I think I better wait till the fix the thing before I do so.
Taken directly from Just Blaze's blog . Warning: THIS POST IS KINDA LONG.
... Akai, you have 100% let me down for the first time with the MPC-5000. I really didn’t even expect much, once I realized that it was based on the 2500/1000 architecture and not the 4000 series. I looked at it more like hey, I need something for the house, it’s got a smaller footprint than the 4 (which I have no room for), and it’s got a synth in it. I guess it can’t be all that bad.
Now I know, whenever you are an early adopter, you are the beta tester, and the rest of the folks will go out and wait for version 2 or something.. I can deal with that. I’m a beta tester by nature. I love playing with things before they become commercially available.
My problem here is: THIS THING IS COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE AND SHOULD NOT BE! Some of the bugs in this thing are ATROCIOUS. This is coming from someone who was one of the SOLE CHAMPIONS of the 4000 when everyone ran out and bought them and started returning them because they just didn’t understand the machine. It was an all new design and they wouldn’t be able to pick it up and run like they did when they might have gone from the 60 to the 3000 to the 2000 and 2000xl. It was a new beast entirely and it had a bit of a learning curve, but once you got past that, there was almost nothing you couldn’t make it do. It had one or two bugs in it, but they were fairly quickly rectified, and once they were addressed, you really couldn’t find much fault with the machine. If you couldn’t use it, it was because you really didn’t want to, not because the machine was at fault.
The 5000 is NOT the successor to the 4000, and it should not be named as such. A 3500? Yes. (When it is actually fit to use) By naming this machine the 5000, you are inadvertently disrespecting YOURSELVES and what you created with the 4000.
I was going to save the rest for later, (I’m a little tied up with this T.I. record right now) but screw it. I’ll get into some of my issues and experience now.
YOU CANNOT TUNE AN ENTIRE PROGRAM AT ONCE?!?!
Look. I don’t care what you say there is no excuse for this.
You really want me to go sit there and go pad by pad by pad and tune each sample individually?
What if… you had a loop that you choppd up across 3 pad banks, and you only had to tune each one down by say +00.20.
You want me to to go and redundantly repeat this process across 48 pads?
(Via a scroll wheel that sometimes needs to be turned 3 “notches” before it realizes you are moving it, and then sometimes forgets it’s being turned. )
“Song Cry” by Jay-Z and myself consisted of 96 sample chops spread across….. 96 pads.
If I were to make a record like that now on this machine.. and I needed to slightly tune the entire sample set up just a few notches.. You want me to go and repeat that process 96 times? By the time I’m done with that.. * I’d probably not feel like making a beat anymore.. * (remember this asterisk)
You are taking AWAY from the creative process by putting the user through that. These machines are supposed to make things easier. And I don’t understand why a feature like that (that was in the 4k) is not in its “successor”
Hey.. so we have an MPC with a built in synthesizer? That’s great.
I can’t tell you how many times I have considered having a custom machine built with a Fantom/XV series jammed in there somehow just to make it one less machine to deal with.
So the beauty of having a setup like this should go a little something like this:
You have a nice skeleton you’ve put together, samples, drums, percussion, etc. And now it’s time for some overdubs.
You go to your synth section and scroll through sounds setting them aside as you come across the ones that fit the mood or feel of what you have going so far.
After you’ve got a few set aside you just get to work and go..right?
The 5k treats the synth tracks the same as it does program (sample playback) tracks. Not necessarily a bad thing and kinda makes sense until you realize..
YOU CAN ONLY HAVE 128 PROGRAMS IN THE MPC AT ONCE..
Now on one hand that isn’t an issue.
But here’s where the problem lies.
Akai has gone and given us hundreds upon hundreds of synth patches, which is great.
However since they are treated the same as samples, you cant access all of these sounds at once to find the ones that fit your track.
They need to be loaded from the hard drive.. one…by…one..
Get this: You can’t even PREVIEW them before you load them
So now.. you have to go to the “Basses” folder for example, then sit there, load a bass, play it, decide whether or not you like it, then if you don’tlike it, go to the program window.. then open ANOTHER window from within that window, and delete it.
Wash, rinse, and repeat, until you find a bass that you like.
Oh wait.. but sometimes you have to delete a synth program 4 times before it actually gets erased from your RAM. And some will not go away, AT ALL, no matter how many times you delete them.
So I said okay, I’m going to just sit here, deal with this and load a bunch of synths and pick ones that I like and make an autoload out of them. Actually let me hook the machine up to my computer and Ill move them all to the hard drive so I can make separate autoload folders since you can’t write to the internal flash memory that the synths are stored on.
Connecting the unit to a computer via USB only allows you to access the Compact Flash Card and the Hard Drive, not the internal flash memory.
So I really just have to sit there… sift through hundreds of sounds, load them, bang a few keys, decide then and there if like it and keep it.. and then after I have a few, save them to another folder on the hard drive so I can move all of these folders to an autoload folder eventually, without having more than say 100 of them, because remember you can’t have more than 128 programs at once.
Meanwhile I’m sitting there looking at my Fantom XR saying to myself, or I could just connect one midi cable, scroll though THOUSANDS of sounds, preview them on the fly, and be all set up and ready with a set of sounds…. in less than 5 minutes.
I could go on with this part, I won’t
Hey here’s one.. Producers, beatmakers, and users… You know how sometimes you’ll sample a ton of stuff and then want to spread it out across pads afterwards?
Well on the 4000 you could do this and as you went from pad to pad, the mpc would remember what sample you placed on the previous pad and when you went to the next pad it would place whatever sample came next in alphabetical order on that next pad. So if you had Sample 001 Sample 002 and Sample 003, and you place Sample 001 on Pad #1, and you went to Pad #2 and turned the scroll wheel, Sample 002 would assign to Pad #2, and so on.
Not on the “successor”…
Every time you go to assign a sample to a pad, it starts at whatever is the first sample in RAM.
But hey… if you have a few hundred samples in your ram already, that means that for every pad you go to assign a sample to, you are scrolling though a few hundred sounds just to get to the one you just sampled… and if you have say, 32 samples to spread across some pads.. Well hey.. you see where this is going.. see the asterisks above. It’s not tragic, just another thing that could be easily remedied with a little forward thinking and better programming.
So you know.. all that sampling I was just talking about doing?
I was doing all this on the 5k for one reason
IMPORTING FROM PREVIOUS MPCs IS BROKEN
Dude.. are you serious?
Apple computers are running Windows and OSX simultaneously through products like VMWare and Parallels..
Logic is opening Pro Tools Sessions via OMF and Digi Translator..
Mac Drive lets you use HFS formatted drives on Windows Computers..
I have Super Nintendo games on my iPhone.
Hell, there is Palm OS emulation on Windows Mobile.
Yet I can’t get my piece of Akai gear to import programs made from previous versions of Akai gear.. from the same product line?
Let me clarify:
I was able to import AKP’s made on the 4000, but as soon as I attempted to edit anything I imported (i.e. maybe just tune a 808 a bit to match something I’m working on) the pad would stop playing the sample, and would sporadically come back if i went into the sample edit page and exited it. This was the only fix I could come up with.
If I attempted to add a sound to this imported AKP program, welll… see above.
Next move was to try import a .PGM program.
Dead.. nothing.. nada.. zip
It did nothing.
Next step: Import a .PGM created in the 3rd party MPC Program Maker software
I went online and did some research and came across a forum (which I can’t find now) where a user called Akai support in reference to this and after some back and forth, he was told that the software would have to be rewritten and was indeed broken.
That’s all well and good, but DON’T ADVERTISE AND INCLUDE IN YOUR DOCUMENTATION THAT IT DOES SOMETHING IT DOES NOT ACTUALLY DO!
Tell us it’s been thought about, plotted, pending, planned, post-release in a soon to be released in an pivotal upgrade, which we should have been previously privy to before the pondered purchase was completed…
(Carlin-ites holla at me)
And I would have been fine with that.
And oh yeah.. for some reason, this folder that I copied over a bunch of 4k programs and samples to…
Whenever I try to access this folder, I literally have to wait like 3 minutes while the unit freezes and gets itself together to prepare itself to let you scroll through files (with the weirdo wheel, see above) that it can’t properly process anyway.
I don’t know if this is a drive format issue, a drive content issue, or bad OS programming that makes your unit sh*t itself, wipe, get a diaper, and pop 2 Immodium AD’s and then say “Okay I’ll give it a shot”
Oh mind you.. this all occurred while I was trying to come up with something for.. well an album that hasn’t been announced yet, but it’s pretty major. Folks who know my writing patterns know what that means.
There were a few other major issues I had, but It’s now 9:40 am and I need to get to mastering.
But oh yeah… when it was all said and done and I actually made beat I thought was halfway decent, and wanted to save the NEW programs I made from scratch after I gave up on importing and starting fresh. I went to the hard drive.. made a new folder, selected “Save Entire Memory”
My screen said:
“Cannot Find Device… Ok??”
With an Okay button at the bottom.. that never responded when I pressed the corresponding soft key.
To the less than technically inclined…
IT FORGOT WHERE MY HARD DRIVE WAS AND NO MATTER WHAT I DID IT WAS FROZEN.
IT FREEZES WHEN YOU TRY TO SAVE ENTIRE MEMORY??
WHAT IN THE …
WHATS THE POINT OF SAVING THEN???
I said ok.. maybe it needs to pop a few more Immodiums.. So i left it on overnight.
Came in the next day.. Said screen was still in the same state I left it.
I paid money for this thing..
I know people are probably like, “You don’t get these things for free??”
Te be honest, someone representing Akai recently did reach out in regards to doing some kind of deal in reference to the 5k, and I was considering doing it, but just hadn’t gotten around to entertaining it yet. I got the urge to mess with something new and went out and made an impulse buy of the 5000 and an MPK 49 controller because the synth thing got me a little excited.
I may have generated a few million dollars in my career, and the cash spent does not hurt me financially, but that doesn’t mean I have money to burn at the expense of bad engineering and a tad of false advertising.
I feel just as burnt as the dude who busts his back at a 9-5 just to save up enough money to go out and buy a piece of gear to pursue his dream, only to not have it work as it should.
There are some good things about this machine, and I will get into them at some point, but I really have to get to work.
And with all that said.. The MPK 49 is definitely the best standalone MIDI controller i have EVER used. I recommend it to anyone and everyone on the market for a controller. Hell, even if you aren’t on the market for one, buy one anyway. But in all honesty I also recommend that you don’t buy the MPC 5000 until they release the next operating system, IF IT address some of these issues, along with others I have read about.
There are other inconsistencies and issues I have, but I don’t want to get more worked up thinking about them again.. and I think anyone reading gets my point
Please don’t do this again Akai. As a fan, avid user, supporter, and friend. Don’t let the decline in hardware sales (or whatever is contributing to this) allow this to continue.. Quantity over Quality, Numbers over Blunders, Sales over Sincerity and Profits over Professionalism, it makes for Bad Business, Disgruntled Devotees, and Cold Hearted Customers who will Cease, Desist and Discontinue their Dilligent support of a Diluted brand. (Carlinites Unite!)
I don’t know man.. I know I sound crazy, but this really bothers me.
I wasn’t looking to have my socks blown off, just basic functionality.
I wonder who actually beta tests these things?
People in lab coats?
Do they seed them to a secret coaltion of producers?
This makes me angry.. and sad at the same time.
It’s now 10:30. I’m missing mastering.
I have to go.
Wait.. here’s a quote from their ads or propaganda or whatever..
“MPC5000’s virtual analog synth eliminates the need for users to deal with connecting external analog synth modules or working with buggy software synthesizers.”
A gun in your face and that’s the best you could come up with?
Buggy software synthesizers??
I don’t even want to do the comparison between working on something like this and say a Logic.
Because in all honesty I “feel better” working on an MP than a DAW.
But you can’t really sit there and try to go feature for feature ad throw cheap shots like that and expect people to not see through it. They do. Read the Forums.
If you can’t beat them.. join them. Make a virtual MP..
Oh wait.. someone already did.
Make your own.
I’ll help you design it.
Hell I’ll help you make the 5001 or something. Put on a white lab coat and everything.
I can’t tell you how to run your business, and in all honesty I know nothing about it.
But as an end user, I know what you are doing wrong in our eyes. And ultimately, if we are not happy…
ok I’m ranting for no reason now.
I really would though.