Roland DJ-808

Advances in technology have seen major changes to the way DJ’s present their performances. Turntables will probably always be a part of DJ culture, but smaller portable devices are now increasing in popularity in the form of controllers. In an unexpected collaboration, legendary music equipment giant Roland have linked with DJ industry leaders Serato to produce the DJ-808. It’s hard to distinguish which, if any of the two companies actually has dominance of the product, but both of their logos appear on it.

This controller combines the DJ mixing technology of Serato with the drum machine capabilities of the Roland TR-S.
The ability to add additional equipment to this unit increases the potential of the users creativity in their performance.

Official Serato product description:

Two players, one sound.
Welcome to a new era of DJ’ing. From Serato and Roland, the DJ-808 integrates software, hardware and the TR-S drum sequencer into a single instrument for the very first time.

Melding the power of Serato DJ with the genre-defining drum sounds and precision engineering of Roland, the DJ-808 will change the way you create music.
Read the full description here

Official Roland product description:

The first and only instrument for the Producer DJ.
The DJ-808 is a state-of-the-art DJ controller with a 4-channel mixer, built-in drum sequencing, vocal processing, and the deepest Serato DJ integration available. Going way beyond a typical DJ controller, the DJ-808 is an instrument, with a Roland “TR-S” drum machine that contains the world’s most iconic drum sounds and can even control the Serato Sampler within Serato DJ. The VT Voice Transformer can pitch your voice to match the key of your Serato DJ tracks, while two AIRA Link ports let you connect compatible synths and electronic gadgets, and produce a live remix, with just a simple USB cable. Sound quality is high-end and the hardware is built tough yet easy to carry—ready for inspired sets that push the boundaries of what it means to DJ.
Read the full description here

The 808-DJ controller was available for purchase from September 2016.

Visit the Roland official website here

Visit the Serato official website here

Akai MPC X & Akai MPC Live

Akai has historically been one of the most formative brands for production workstations, specifically their MPC range. Recently, many of the units introduced in that line have been products that require a computer to use. Now Akai are going back to their root format, announcing 2 brand new standalone controllers, no computer required: the MPC X & MPC Live, the latter being a portable unit.

Akai MPC X

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Official Akai Professional product description:

The Beast, Unleashed.
The X is a standalone MPC featuring a beautiful, full color 10.1” multi-touch screen, 16 amazingly responsive, velocity and pressure sensitive RGB pads and packs 16 gigs of internal storage. To make it a truly untethered, computer-free experience, the X also features two USB slots that can be used for MIDI controller connectivity. Rounding out the controls are dedicated menu buttons, a large master encoder knob and 16 touch-sensitive 360º assignable pots (Q-Links) with OLED displays, perfect for precisely automating individual parameters and delivering expressively nuanced recordings.

To Plug or Not to Plug.
Powering the mighty X is MPC 2.0, Akai Professional’s new update to the MPC software. Capable of running natively on the MPC X in standalone mode, MPC 2.0 can also be run from a Mac or PC with the X tethered to a computer. A number of major workflow enhancements have been added to 2.0, including: audio track recording, an improved time warp algorithm, refined Q-Link control, audio and MIDI drag and drop – all appearing on a new graphical interface. Future versions will support Ableton Link.

Infinite Sounds, Unlimited Inspiration.
The MPC has a well-earned reputation for sounds that hit hard and sound great, right out of the box. The X is no exception. Pre-installed with 10 gigs of world-class sounds, The Vault 2.0 features samples and kits from top-notch sound design companies including Capsun Audio, MVP Loops, CR2 Records, as well as our own radio-ready kits. Want to incorporate your own samples without tethering to a computer? The X features a 2.5” SATA drive connector providing more storage via external hard drive – SSD or HDD. Additionally, sounds can be accessed and added to the library using the built-in SD Card slot or the USB thumb drive.

Above and Beyond.
The MPC X has a number of additional features that make it the most powerful standalone music production tool to date. Onboard CV/Gate outputs enable the analog control of modular gear such as classic synths and drum machines. For the vinyl junkies, two RCA phono inputs with RIAA preamp have been included to ensure the right levels are coming into the X directly from your turntable. The joy of sampling vinyl is at the core of what made the classic MPC workflow legendary. We’re staying true to our roots while simultaneously improving the sound and stability of the sampling process.

The MPC X is the pinnacle of lengthy research and development, detailed feedback from our passionate user base and the merging of the best technologies from across our product line.

“In creating the concept for the MPC X we wanted to preserve the classic MPC feel and workflow that people love,” said Dan Gill, Product Manager for Akai Professional. “But we turned the idea on its head and incorporated the best of what a modern touch-screen interface can offer. What we have now is the most powerful MPC production experience ever.”

We proudly present the Music Production Center that embodies the past, present and future of beat-oriented production machines. The MPC X will be the centerpiece of studios worldwide for years to come.

Features:
Standalone MPC – no computer required
10.1″ high-resolution, adjustable, multi-touch display
Also acts as a control surface for MPC 2.0 software
Phono, instrument, mic and line inputs
8 Configurable CV/Gate outputs to integrate your modular setup
16 Q-Link knobs with graphical displays
2 MIDI Inputs and 4 MIDI Outputs
16GB of on-board storage (over 10GB of sound content included)
2GB of RAM
Full-size SD card slot
User-expandable 2.5” SATA drive connector (SSD or HDD)
2 USB-A 3.0 slots for thumb drives or MIDI controllers

Specs & Requirements:
Controller Mode: Windows 8.1 or newer
Controller Mode: Mac OS X 10.10.5 or newer
MPC 2.0: Minimum 2GB free disk space (20GB for all content), Minimum 4GB RAM (8GB recommended), Minimum Dual-core 2.5GHz CPU

Dimensions:
When display is flat: 87.3mm x 504.5mm x 424.4mm
When display is upright: 213.5mm x 504.5mm x 387.9mm
When display is flat: 3.4″ x 19.9″ x 16.7″
When display is upright: 8.4″ x 19.9″ x 15.3″
(Akai Professional)

Akai MPC Live

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Official Akai Professional product description:

Versatility is crucial for all producers. Being able to easily pivot from creator to performer means more people have the opportunity to see and hear your music. The new MPC Live makes the process of performing your studio inventions on stage incredibly seamless by combining the power of a production centerpiece with the portability and rugged design of an on stage workhorse.

At the heart of the new MPC Live is a beautiful, full color 7” multi-touch screen, four touch-capacitive Q-Link controls, a clickable master encoder knob and 16 amazingly responsive, velocity and pressure-sensitive RGB pads.

Weighing in at less than 6 pounds, the MPC Live ushers in a new era of ultra-portable production. Powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and packing 16 gigs of on-board storage, the MPC Live features numerous ways to take your beloved sample library and MPC sessions anywhere. Files can be accessed and transferred to the built on-board storage via the built-in SD card slot and/or two-port USB hub. If that’s not enough storage, the MPC Live also features a 2.5” SATA drive connector providing additional storage via installation of a fixed hard drive – SSD or HDD (sold separately). The same USB hub can also be used for MIDI controller connectivity.

Standalone? Check. Battery powered? Check. Contains massive amounts of internal storage? Check. Your creative flow now knows no borders and bounds.

To Plug or Not to Plug:
Powering Live is MPC 2.0, Akai Professional’s new update to the MPC software. Capable of running natively on the MPC Live in standalone mode, MPC 2.0 can also be run from a Mac or PC with the Live tethered to a computer. A number of major workflow enhancements have been added to 2.0, including: audio track recording, an improved time warp algorithm, refined Q-Link control, audio and MIDI drag and drop – all appearing on a new graphical interface. Future versions will support Ableton Link.

Infinite Sounds, Unlimited Inspiration:
The MPC has a well-earned reputation for sounds that hit hard and sound great, right out of the box. MPC Live is no exception. Pre-installed with 10 gigs of world-class sounds, The Vault 2.0 features samples and kits from top-notch sound design companies including Capsun Audio, MVP Loops, CR2 Records, as well as our own radio-ready kits. Want to incorporate your own samples without tethering to a computer? MPC Live features a 2.5” SATA drive connector providing more storage via external hard drive – SSD or HDD. Additionally, sounds can be accessed and added to the library using the built-in SD Card slot or the USB thumb drive.

“The MPC Live is an absolute beast. It truly represents a huge step forward in the product category,” said Dan Gill, Product Manager for Akai Professional. “MPC Live is the most powerful MPC we’ve made to date and yet it’s portable enough to take anywhere.”

Features:
Standalone MPC – no computer required
7” high-resolution multi-touch display
Internal, rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Also acts as a control surface for MPC 2.0 software
Phono, instrument, mic and line inputs
2 pairs of MIDI Inputs and Outputs
16GB of on-board storage (over 10 gigs of sound content included)
2GB of RAM
Full-size SD card slot
User-expandable 2.5” SATA drive connector (SSD or HDD)
2 USB-A 3.0 slots for thumb drives or MIDI controllers

Specs & Requirements:
Controller Mode: Windows 8.1 or newer
Controller Mode: Mac OS X 10.10.5 or newer
MPC 2.0: Minimum 2GB free disk space (20GB for all content), Minimum 4GB RAM (8GB recommended), Minimum Dual-core 2.5GHz CPU

Dimensions:
67.5mm x 410mm x 223mm
2.7″ x 16″ x 8.8″
(Akai Professional)

Both the MPC & MPC live will be available for purchase at some stage this year (2017).

Visit the official Akai Professional website here

Maschine Studio

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Maschine Studio

This music production hardware unit is manufactured by German company Native Instruments. It replaces the previous model, the Maschine MK2 & has recently had a software update with the Maschine 2.1. It was released for sale around November 2013 marketed as their “Flagship Groove Production Studio”.

Here’s an edited version of Native Instruments own product overview so you can get an idea of Machine Studio’s features:

“Create and perform rhythms, harmonies, and melodies faster than you ever thought possible. Maschine Studio’s workflow keeps you laser-focused on the quest for the perfect groove. Its pattern-based sequencer and high-performance sampler, exemplary drum synths, incredible suite of creative effects and pro instruments, and acclaimed sound library deliver ultimate production power.

Maschine Studio redefines hands-on control. Big, high-res color screens show waveforms, patterns, scenes, NI product visuals, and mixer and meter levels in full detail. Multi-color pads provide ultimate feel in the thick of the beat.

Eight display knobs, edit buttons, and a jog wheel with LED indicator provide complete tactile control of Maschine’s sequencer, instruments and effects. A dedicated level section delivers clear metering and monitoring. And a built-in stand delivers the perfect performance angle.

Beneath Maschine Studio’s advanced hardware is all-new software – exploding with cutting-edge technology.
Maschine 2.0 (now 2.1) delivers a spectacular, tag-based visual browser, unlimited groups and insert effects, sidechaining, and a sleek, intuitive mixer – all directly accessible from the hardware. Maschine 2.0 hosts any VST or AU plug-in and perfectly integrates into any studio setup as a plug-in in all major DAWs. The software also boasts full multi-core support for ultra-fast performance.

Get inspired by Maschine’s 8 GB library of production-ready sounds. Create your own drums with sonically-outstanding drum synths – a broad sweet spot makes it super-easy to dial in just the sound you’re looking for. Modulate 24 pro-quality studio effects directly from the hardware.”

If color co-ordination is an important factor, the Maschine Studio comes in either Black or White. It’s growing popularity amongst professional & hobbyist producers alike makes it a big rival to the Akai MPC range.
(Rich Unique)

View the full Maschine Studio overview @ Native Instruments here

Akai MPC Renaissance

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Akai MPC Renaissance

Akai’s own product description:
“Fusing Akai Professional’s legendary MPC layout and workflow with the power of your computer, MPC Renaissance is an unrivaled instrument for music production. The new flagship is a fully integrated hardware/software system: MPC Renaissance allows you to create using classic hardware controls and an integrated pop-up display, while its exclusive MPC Software empowers you with unprecedented, expandable production capabilities on your Mac or PC.”
(Courtesy of Akai Professional)

In September 2012 The Akai MPC Renaissance was officialy released to the public. The Renaissance is the first ever MPC to work with custom MPC Renaissance software on Apple Mac or Windows computers.

As already stated the MPC Renaissance uses a PC or Mac’s memory. The MPC Renaissance is the first MPC to take the power a Mac or Windows based computer and combine it with the dedicated MPC Software. All the typical features, feel and workflow of prior MPC’s are there without the limitations of standard installed product memory. Now you can have as much memory as your computer can take.

The LCD screen completely reflects everything that’s on the MPC software uploaded on your computer. The Akai Renaissance is also the first MPC to include back lit pads that change colors for velocity levels, sound groups and other functions.

The Renaissance physically has look of the MPC 3000, sharing its transport buttons, jog wheel and arm rest. The hardware’s LCD screen has the same look as the MPC’s 1000, 2500 and 5000 so you’ll feel at home as soon as you start using it if you’re familiar with previous models.

With so many other similar products on the market, Akai continue to update their technology to keep ahead of their rivals. This is necessary in order for them to remain industry standard with Hip Hop producers. The new features on this new MPC may even convince those loyal to older models to upgrade.
(Rashad Unique)

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View the Akai MPC Renaissance @ Akai Professional here

Akai MPC


Akai MPC 2000XL

Akai MPC

The Akai MPC is seen as the essential piece of equipment for hip hop production. MPC initially stood for Midi Production Center, but now MIDI has been replaced by Music. Designed by Roger Linn, an industrial music equipment designer & manufactured by giant Japanese electronic company Akai, the MPC range has easily won it’s way into hip hop production history.

The first model was the MPC 60, released in 1988 & was followed by the MPC 3000, MPC 2000, MPC200XL, MPC4000, MPC 2500 & the most recent, the MPC 5000 which came out in 2008. There are also two portable versions, the MPC 1000 & MPC 500.

The standard 16 drum pads have time & time again been used by the best known hip hop producers & bedroom enthusiasts alike, the most popular being the MPC 2000XL (by general concensus). Pete Rock is the producer that most recognise as being the most adept user of this drum machine/sampler.

Beacuse of the the popularity of this piece of equipment it has been copied in design numerous times, but the Akai MPC still remains industry standard.
(Rich Unique)


Akai MPC 5000

Akai MPC @ Akai professional: www.akaipro.com/mpc

E-mu SP 1200


E-mu SP 1200

The SP 1200 was THE drum machine & sampler combo of legendary status among old school rap and hip hop artists from the eighties and nineties. It is similar to today’s Akai MPC samplers – it is a sampler plus drum machine. It has limited sampling specs: 26.040 kHz and 12-bit resolution. However the dirtiness of that sound is great for hip hop and house music. Users say it sounds like “old vinyl”. It features groove quantizing and a disk drive for sample storage. As an upgraded version of the 1985 SP-12, the SP-1200 focused on its coolest feature – sampling. The preset drum sounds of the SP 12 were omitted, leaving room for up to 32 user samples of your own custom sampled and edited drum sounds.

Although this machine was originally released in 1987, E-mu has reissued them again and again due to popular demand. They continued producing them until they ran out of the SSM filter chips they used, around 1998. It was just too legendary to give up as it was THE beat machine for old-school hip hop!