Help get this topic noticed by sharing it on Twitter, Facebook, or email.
I’m happy

AKAI MPX8 - Not as bad as reviews make it out to be!

I'm sure many of us current and in some cases, unfortunately, former owners of the MPX8 have come across the very many bad reviews about the MPX8 that exists online. Based on my generally pleasant experience using it for the first time for a gig (I perform electronic music and I'm triggering various drums/FX one shots and a few drum loops), I've decided to post my thoughts about the MPX8 and even include some tips and tricks to help anyone who might be having problems or even for future owners who are thinking of picking an MPX8 up.

The first problem I came across was the infamous Invalid File Error problem when using your own samples loaded on an SD card. Using the File Conversion Utility that AKAI provides was part of the problem. The solution: Use the free Audacity program to edit and export all of your samples instead. Just skip the File Conversion Utility altogether to avoid wasting time and feeling frustrated (like I did/was).

The second problem I faced was there was weird buzzing sound after playing certain samples. It sounded more like a machine gun firing to be honest. The solution: DO NOT have silence in the beginning or at the end of your samples. Edit any silence out using Audacity or your DAW. In Audacity I believe under Tools/Macros there is an option to Truncate Silence which might work well for this purpose. Another user here mentioned hearing other weird metallic noises from his user samples. Somebody on this forum offered the solution of using the Remove DC offset function in Audacity to eliminate the noise problem.

The third problem I had was the fact that the samples take a while to load. The solution: Use Mono samples instead of Stereo ones. Mono files are smaller and therefore will load faster. You can get away with maybe 1 or 2 samples in Stereo if you absolutely need them to be in Stereo, which is what I'm doing now. But 98% of my samples are in Mono and they do the job just fine. Super happy that my User kits no longer take too long to load, which makes me more confident to use the MPX8 in a live situation. There's a really great macro in Audacity under Tools/Macros called "Mix Stereo Down to Mono" for this purpose.

Another key part in reducing load times is by keeping your samples as short as they can be, 4 seconds max is best. If you have long loops, you can simply export a single bar (which will most likely be 4 seconds or less) of that loop and use the Loop mode on the MPX8 to make it loop.

I would recommend using a better quality USB power adapter for the MPX8. The one that's supplied is really quite cheap and causes a slight "hum" in my experience.

Since I wanted easy control of the MPX8's volume, I've connected it to my mixer. I don't like the button format to control volume, would much rather have preferred the volume mapped to the MPX8's dial instead. Much easier to do fade in/outs with a mixer knob too.

Things I'm grateful for: First and foremost, the MPX8 is super affordable. Pretty much anyone can afford one. I love its size and form factor and the fact that it is lightweight. It's pretty simple to operate as well. I love that it does exactly what I need it to do, nothing more and nothing less. I just needed a device to play back and loop my custom samples. The MPX8 definitely does this very well.

MIDI In/Out is really great. I'm actually using an external controller to control the MPX8 as opposed to drumming with my fingers. I know that a lot of people are complaining that there should at least be an option to turn off the velocity on the MPX8. I don't use the built in pads anyway so this isn't an issue for me.

Things I'm not happy about: The File Conversion Utility and the MPX8 Editor! Both of these apps are super buggy and unreliable. The MPX8 Editor doesn't even launch most of the time... I tried deleting the info.plist file as a workaround which worked the first time... other times I've had to restart the MPX8 Editor until it finally decides to launch itself. I've already mentioned how the File Conversion Utility should just be ignored altogether. I'm really not sure why AKAI still hasn't addressed these issues and released an update for both apps. It's not good at all on their part since this makes using the MPX8 a real pain. Several people online I've seen have sold their MPX8 as a result, and this isn't a good thing at all for AKAI.

I also wish that switching kits could have been done with a button instead of the dial. The dial is quite sensitive and you have to turn it really slowly to go to the next kit. On a live gig, you don't really have the time to be moving slowly... a simple button press should be able to get you there.

The MIDI implementation could have been way better, there's so much potential there, especially since they've provided both MIDI In/Out. A simple Program Change function would have been cool. Also, I would have liked to be able to control the parameters like Level, Tuning and Panning with an external MIDI fader as well.

All in all, I'm very happy with the MPX8 and there simply isn't anything out there that exists that does what it does at this price point. Yes, there are a few features I would have liked to have seen but it's a little hard considering the MPX8 costs a mere $99. I'm mostly curious to see how it holds up after several hours of use on my live gigs. For something that costs $99 I'm not too optimistic, but I am hopeful. And I'm also hoping that AKAI will continue to improve the MPX8 with firmware updates. And for the love of God, PLEASE update the MPX8 software!