BY SCOTT WILSON, JAN 17 2019
Akai’s new sequencer and workstation even hosts its own plugins.
The $1,499 controller takes its cues from 2017’s standalone Akai MPC X, offering a system for making electronic music without a laptop. However, it replaces the traditional MPC pad layout for a grid of 64 pads better suited to sequencing and clip launching.
Sound design and track construction with the Force is aided by a 7″ touchscreen, similar to that found on the MPC X. It can be used to launch clips, browse your sounds, edit MIDI data, mix and tweak samples, all without the need for a mouse or external hard drive. There’s also an array of touch-sensitive knobs and transport buttons.
Force also comes with four standalone plugin instruments: a multi-engine synth called Hype; an emulator for vintage and analog sounds called Tubesynth; Bassline, a mono synth; and an electric piano plugin, Electric. Unfortunately it doesn’t run third-party plugins, but Akai is working on controller compatibility with Ableton Live.
On the back there’s a generous array of inputs and outputs, including the same CV connections found on the MPC X along with the typical connections for audio, MIDI, headphones, SD card and USB. It has 16GB of onboard memory, but you can connect an external hard drive with the SATA connector.
The dream of an all-in-one DAW-style experience without a laptop has been unrealized for some time, and the Force appears to be what some performers will have been waiting for. At $1,499, it’s only $100 or so more expensive than a copy of Live 10 with a Push controller, and cheaper than a new MacBook Pro. However, at this point in time, Live 10 arguably offers more flexibility and a better bundled collection of instruments and effects for that price. Whether producers will warm to it remains to be seen.
You can find out more about the Akai Force at the product’s website. It will be on show at NAMM 2019 and will be available in February.