Last year, we reviewed Akai’s iMPC, a five-dollar app that did a great job capturing the feel and flavor of their iconic MPC series in iPad format. While we were duly impressed with the overall product and its performance potential, the overall experience left us wanting more in several areas. Fortunately for everyone, Akai listened closely to its users and last summer, with the help of their software collaborator Retronyms, they unleashed the iMPC Pro. It not only addresses the composing and editing issues of its little brother, but adds a slew of new functions that make iMPC Pro a true mobile music production player.
For starters, you can now create full songs and even perform them on the fly, thanks to iMPC Pro’s ability to assign patterns to the four banks of 16 pads. Arranging patterns into a song is a straightforward process that consists of dragging them into a vertical playlist, not unlike Korg’s Gadget app.
As for editing your patterns, the timeline tool will be immediately approachable by anyone familiar with Live’s drum editing functions. This is a very good thing, since it means that working with Akai’s timeline editor is an absolute breeze, with 15 simultaneous drums visible at all times and a pinch-resizable view that lets you zero in on individual measures for whipping up detailed fills. Frankly, iMPC Pro’s approach to coding grooves is right up there with most DAWs and, to be candid, more flexible than that of a hardware MPC.
iMPC Pro’s new performance features are fairly extensive. In addition to the classic MPC tools like slider control over filter, tuning, decay, and velocity/volume, there’s a big X/Y area on the main screen that lets you process the entire mix with everything from classic filter effects to exotic stuttering tools akin to iZotope’s Stutter Edit. Hitting this area with two fingers engages a nifty tape-stop effect that will be a hit on the trap and hip-hop scenes. For those who really want to dig into the performance side, the “3D Perform” mode lets you assign the slider effects to the iPad’s accelerometer, so you can tilt it to manipulate the various parameters.
The mixer functions have been dramatically improved as well. The stereo master bus now includes compression and gain that give the final output a punchy, polished sound. There’s also a new feature, humorously named “Turbo Duck,” specifically for making sidechain effects a painless process for both newcomers and pros. In addition to the master effects, there are three internal send effects—reverb, delay and chorus/flanging—which all sound a lot better than the usual me-too fare often found on iOS synths and groove apps. There’s also a fourth send available specifically for InterApp-friendly software, which is a nice touch.
Speaking of InterApp compatibility, iMPC Pro can sample audio from other compatible apps. You can also grab audio from the iPad’s mic or line input, or use a virtual turntable to grab tracks from your iTunes collection and play or scratch them straight into the app. From there, you can visually edit the samples or even slice them REX-style and assign slices to the pads.
iMPC Pro has come a long way since the original iMPC app, and frankly it was worth the wait. I had a blast taking it to coffee shops and dentist appointments and am really happy that it’s now in my iOS toolkit. If you liked the original, you definitely need to upgrade.
Full-featured implementation of original MPC. Intuitive editing and song arranging. Tons of real-time performance effects, including accelerometer-enhanced modes. Integrated sidechain ducking. Excellent mixing. InterApp compatibility for sampling and effects sends.
Not WIST compatible.
If you like the original iMPC app, you’ll be in heaven.