If you are a beatmaker, DJ, or music producer looking for an inspiring tool to add to your arsenal, Akai Force and Akai MPC Live are both viable options to look at. Before you read any further, you should know that these are both pricey, hybrid gadgets that are meant to work as standalone instruments. If you are looking for a simple MIDI controller with the sole purpose of controlling your laptop, take a look at the Akai MPD218 Pad Controller or Akai APC40 MKII instead.
In summary, both the Akai Force and the Akai MPC Live offer good value to add to your music-production workflow. Both come with their own onboard production software. The Akai MPC Live comes with more conventional MIDI capabilities, which the Force doesn't offer. But the latter is more expansive and offers a host of other features like Mic preamps and clip-launch-type keypads. Akai’s branding has evolved into the very personification of a drum machine over the years. These newer additions to the family stand testimony to the spirit of innovation that got this brand that status. The landscape of beat-making and music production continues to evolve at a high pace. So choosing the right tools can be a daunting process with all the options out there.
Here’s the lowdown on these two to help you gain some clarity.
An obvious competitor for Ableton's Push at first glance, the Akai Force is primarily a clip-launch controller. It aims to facilitate non-linear music composition and beat making.
While it doesn’t offer MIDI control in the traditional sense, its compatibility with Ableton Link integrates it seamlessly into your workflow. That being said, it works equally well as a standalone device as well. The Mic preamps complete with 48V phantom power are great for recording your own samples. It gives you a very convenient ‘all-in-one’ quality.
Akai MPC Live
True to its name, the Akai MPC Live comes across as an updated avatar of the legendary MPC drum machine. Use it as a standalone device with Akai’s own MPC software or with your computer via USB to control your DAW of preference.
Note: It includes no Mic preamps.
Build and Portability
The Akai Force comes with 64 back-lit RGB pads. These are velocity-sensitive and work well both as a clip launcher and for finger drumming. The velocity sensitivity has a deep curve which gives you a high degree of responsiveness. This captures the nuances of your performance well.
It is 2.85 inches high, 13.8 inches wide, 15.3 inches deep. And weighs in at 8.53 lbs.
Akai MPC Live
The touch screen on the MPC will make classic MPC users right at home. Scrolling and zooming through the patches and menus are a breeze.
A major plus with the MPC Live is battery-powered functionality, which runs up to 4 hours. This enables producing music on the go. For those Mondays where your studio walls are just not cutting it, head to the park with this for inspiration.
The MPC Live is 16.7 inches tall, 8.8 inches wide, 2.7 inches deep. It weighs in at 5.9 lbs.
- Two XLR combo inputs. You can plugin and record both instruments and microphones.
- Master outputs are standard stereo 1/4″ TRS.
- Additionally, you get two 1/4″ TRS individual outs, which you can assign to your requirements.
- Standard 1/4″ headphone out.
- The Force comes with three 1/8″ MIDI (In/Out/Thru) connections.
A debatable decision that has had many Akai fans somewhat befuddled. Most would have preferred standard MIDI connections.
- 1 x Type A and 1 x Type B.
- Four CV/Gate outs and an Ethernet connection. (The latter can be used for connecting to Ableton, for example).
Akai MPC Live
The Akai MPC has four inputs in total. A pair of 1/4” TRS inputs and two RCA inputs (1 stereo pair).
- Six 1/4” TRS outputs in total. One pair acts as master out while the other four are assignable.
- Headphone: One standard 1/8” output.
- Two 5-pin MIDI inputs
- Two 5-pin MIDI outputs
- Two USB type A ports.
- One USB type B port.
- The Akai Force retails at $1099
- The Akai MPC Live has been discontinued. But if you’re lucky, you can find the last ones available online for about $1099
(Please check your local dealer for details).
Here’s how the Akai Force and Akai MPC Live stack up against each other: