Akai MPD24 pad controller
Ever since I got a bit more interested in percussion I quickly learned that a keyboard, be it a computer or electronic one, isn’t very well suited for drumming. A PC keyboard lacks velocity sensitivity, so everything you hit will sound the same. And banging the keys of my Casio keyboard didn’t quite appeal to me either; I’m sure it can take some beating, but actually banging on the keys?
Luckily for me Akai Professional were in the middle to launch a new line of products so I was able to pick this one up with a nice discount. I don’t believe new is always better, and although the new devices do provide some extra features (arpeggiator for example, key repeat, etc.) its simply stuff I don’t need; I have my soft synths to cover all of that.
Legendary MPC pads
Akai became well known with its so called MPC series. This is a collection of drum machines which you can use to build, program and setup your own percussion sets which you can then use with whatever you’re doing.
But because not everyone needs a full blown drum computer Akai have also released a range of dedicated MIDI controllers; the same MPC hardware but without all the electronics.
Percussion wherever you need it
The first thing you’ll notice about the MPD24 is that its very well equipped. Its fully USB powered which makes it very versatile to use, it provides 2 standard (non-USB) MIDI ports so you can hookup any legacy devices as well, and it supports several DAW environments right out of the box. From Cubase and Reason right to Ableton Live.
The MPD24 is fully customizable. Anything you want to sent out can be customized. For example; by default Ableton Live doesn’t manage to pick up the transport controls on the MPD24. Changing the controls so that the transport doesn’t use MMC but CTRL (control messages) is quite easy, and all you need to get this critter fully ready for usage in Live.
And that’s not mentioning other options such as editing MIDI channels, pad sensitivity, and the way the pads are used.
For example; by default every pad triggers a different sound based on the force with which you hit it. You can also set it up so that it layers one sound across all 16 pads. Hitting pad 1 will play the sound softly and hitting pad 16 will play it at its maximum (velocity of 127).
If you’re looking for a good way to produce some good beats with your DAW then this is definitely something to look out for, even though it is dated.