Akai released the much anticipated iMPC app for iPad at the end of 2012. It was fun but limited, a bit of a toy. Last summer iMPC Pro appeared with a new UI and better features.
The opening page shows a series of 3.5” floppy graphics. Each floppy is a complete demo, click to load and although the styles might be a bit “cheesy corporate” they do show the main features off. So, load a floppy you’ll reach the Main section and see the pads.
16 of them with three more pages adding up to 64 and a set of touch performance controls to the left. A two finger gesture tape stop, lo-pass-hi-pass filter and more. All quick and intuitive. Just playing through the pads, there’s plenty of high quality sounds available, the pads respond quickly and when you hit record they record accurately with good quantize functions to put set your playing right. And it’s loud, louder than Native Instruments’ iMaschine, which enhances the overall impression of quality.
The whole app is split into five sections: Main, Program, Mixer, Timeline and Song.
The program section is where you can access controls for individual pads: amplitude, filter settings, effects and sample editing features. All this works pretty intuitively and I only got stuck once or twice to find functions I needed. Editing samples is basic and straightforward as is importing your own samples. iMPC is also a proper sampler, it will sample incoming audio from the internal microphone, direct line in or from your iTunes library.
The mixer section offers a decent mixer section with 3 band EQ aswell as reverb, delay and chorus sends on each track, with an FX edit page, and master effects too. The FX are decent too, but the track routing is a one of the mysteries you need to unravel.
The timeline section is a basic piano roll, which is assigned to a pad in the song section.
Finally, the song section contains a further 64 pads, each of which contain a piano roll, plus master settings like tempo/tap tempo, time signature etc., and so represents a section of the song. Improvising song structure is really straightforward but, again, it took a while to understand programming the individual pads.
I found the iMPC Pro mostly straightforward to use, and plenty of fun. The overall sound is very clean and loud but I think it misses options to degrade the sound in a classic MPC kind of way. Playability is good as well as the song page for live work. In terms of connectivity iMPC pro is strangely limited. It supports Apple’s Inter App Audio but not Audiobus. It will talk to some Akai MPC/MPDs but not others. It does support the co-developer, Retronym’s, Tabletop App.
Sound design is excellent, with an extensive Richard Devine designed library, covering drums, instruments and special FX as well as a function to upload kits to and download kits from a user database. Much of the functionality of the MPC is in there as well as some neat touch features. It is well laid out and I believe complete tracks could be produced within. The only issues I have with this are that navigation can sometimes be difficult, but improves with practice, the lack of Audiobus compatibility is an issue when working with other apps and the aforementioned sound is not quite an MPC.
– Good value
– Pristine sound and good playability
– Lack of vintage MPC sound emulation