Sonic LAB Review: Akai MPX8 Sample Player

Small, simple pad sample player      23/09/13

   QuickTime (MP4)  | iOS MP4
8:52 mins    

When first announced, the Akai MPX8 caused a bit of a stir, but as is often the case these days, the long lag between announce and release means that it got a bit lost in all the other stuff that came out in between.

But actually the MPX8 is an interesting idea - a simple sample playback device using SD card as memory.

With 8 velocity and pressure sensitive pads, it's a familiar concept - USB powered - it comes with a USB power supply and MIDI adapter cables, it is not necessary to have the MPX8 hooked up to a computer to function.

Connections

  • Audio L+R on 1/4 jacks
  • minijack headphone out
  • MIDI I/O on minijacks with adapters
  • USB Power/connectivity input
  • SD Card Slot

Pads

Perfectly usable, there is enough mass to the MPX8 to make it feel like you are hitting something without fear of it sliding around, though not up to the full MPC type pads on higher end Akai hardware, you can play with reasonable sensitivity though but there is no velocity switching or any other fancy playback to give you sample variation on multiple triggered sounds.

Sounds

Comes with twenty on board sounds to get you going with 8 internal kit memories - a few kicks, snares, claps and hats, plus the obligatory "Yo" and "Hey!" vocal samples, I suspect this primarily is just to prove it works without having to load any of your own samples.

Parameters:

Tune (-4/+4)

Rev (0-10) single, fixed reverb type

Trigger - 1 Shot- plays sample start to finish, Hold - for as long as you hold the pad

Loop - loops until you hit the pad again

Level - (0-10)

Panning (-4/+4)

MIDI Note - 0-127 both transmit and receive value

RAM SD cards can be up to 32GB and can load samples of up 30MB, so you have plenty of sample RAM to play with.

Thats 5 minutes mono 48kHz or around 2.5 minutes stereo. You can mix and match sample rates of 11.025kHz, 22.050kHz, 32kHz, 44.1kHz and 48kHz WAV files. Mono or stereo interleaved.

With up to  99 kit slots on the card, loading is done by selecting one of the e kits (i kits are internal) and is reasonably fast, though not lightning quick, so you'll need to prepare a few anecdotes for the audience.

MIDI/Editor

MPX8 comes with a Mac/PC editor which makes it easy to edit and save kits to the SD card - which you would plug into your computer then transfer to the MPX8 physically. An unexpected bonus is that the pads transmit polyphonic aftertouch for additional control, MIDI notes are set for each pad for transmit and receive and work over MIDI ports and USB over MIDI if you have it plugged into the  computer.

Conclusion

Simple, easy to use, just works. The ability to play back long samples or tempo looped sections means it's pretty flexible for such a simple device, with plenty of sample RAM to fill. Can see it fitting into all kinds of applications, theatre sound, live performance, radio jingles, and my favourite - fairground announcement samples "hold tight!" "Here we go!" etc.

At the price, it's hard to complain, obviously the next step would be on board sampling, but that would complicate the interface and price - £79/$99/€89

Available now.

 

 




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