MPC vs Software

Is the MPC better than using a computer to make beats?


When I first started producing, I had a Zoom RT Drum Machine and some sort of crappy sampler. Then I met Rob Knife and he had two huge 88 key keyboards hooked up to a computer. And that's when I went digital. I used my Mac and I traded in my equipment to Guitar Center for a copy of Reason. I eventually graduated up to Logic Pro and I went though an Oxygen 8, to a Korg PadKontrol before settling on an Axiom 61 so I could have a keyboard and pads to simulate and MPC.

But I never could shake the MPC.

I saw tons of videos on youtube of producers showing how fast they chopped a sample and turned it into a beat. The two main videos that left a huge impression on my were of Black Milk and Boon Doc. I felt there was something about the MPC that I was missing in my current digital workflow that was the key to helping me create better beats. I bought the MPC500 but I took it back 2 days later when I found out that it didn't have all the features an MPC1000 had.

So after much deliberation I bought an MPC2500 off eBay for $1,100.

It came with an 80 gig hard drive and 128mb of ram. Best part was, the previous owner threw away all their files and sound banks, but failed to empty the trash so all the sounds were still available. It took a painfully slow 3 hours to copy all 13 gigs of files from the 2500 to my laptop. So I was armed to the teeth... but I had no idea what I was doing.

So I spent the next two weeks reading the manual. I did not opt for the JJOS upgrades but I was using the free JJOS version 3.08. I bought the $40 training manual that came with actual files from MPC-Forums.com. After about a week of hopping back and forth between GTA4 and my MPC I eventually learned the basics. I skipped a lot of the pro level stuff and I was more concerned about how to arrange and chop. I was going to run all me effects and mixing and mastering through Logic. So once I got that down, I just started finding things to sample and chop. Ultimately I will play my own synth sequences and then chop them and use the MPC to arrange but I basically was trying to identify what the MPC had over software.

Initially I didn't think the MPC had any kind of advantage over the Computer. In fact I thought it was the other way around. So after about tow weeks I was ready to put this thing for sale back up on eBay. But after my 5th flip... I understood.

The MPC lets you mold arrangements way faster than a computer. As I tap the pads and come up with an arrangement pattern I can record that idea before I lose it which happens a lot on the PC. It made me think about arrangements in a different way than what I would on a computer. And the ability to create different beat arrangements using the same sound banks in literally seconds is crazy.

But in reality, everything I am doing on the MPC, I can do right in Logic.

I can chop a loop. I can time-stretch the loop. I can figure out the bpm or make it fit the time signature I am using by just hitting Command-T.

Logic doesn't have a Tap Tempo feature but the Command-T option is close.