Recently, there has been a lot of (sometimes heated) argument over whether or not AKAI’s new MPC Touch holds its own against the more established NI Maschine mkII and Ableton Push. As the UK’s favourite, friendly music store, we’ve got quite a bit of experience of using all three units and so are well placed to shed some light on the situation!
First off, let’s look at the similarities. All three are essentially advanced controllers for their host application. Disconnected from your computer, they turn into paperweights. It’s easy to look at the luscious, high-resolution displays on the Maschine and Touch and think that there’s more going on inside the actual box than just relaying data between the blinky lights at your fingertips and the computer, but there really isn’t. Unfortunately many people who are new to the technology are lulled into thinking this by fancy demos on YouTube.
Secondly, all three units are built to last. The Touch, Push 2, and Maschine have very high quality fittings: the knobs and wheels are robust; the performance pads are sensitive and feel like they’re good take a hundred years of finger-bashing; and the cases are all solid enough for life on tour.
There’s not much point in going into the differences between the associated software for each of these units, as they all have their dedicated fans who can’t seem to live without them. Suffice to say that each unit comes with vast sample libraries with their own particular flavour, and all have unique workflow boons and quirks.
The MPC Touch is the only unit of the three to include audio interface functionality – in that once it’s connected to your computer, you can hook up your monitor speakers, headphones and line inputs directly to the Touch. The Push 2 and Maschine require a separate interface, and although that’s a great thing for people who already own a high quality audio interface, for those looking to take their first steps in producing music with a computer this is another sizeable expense to consider.
The other thing that differentiates the Touch from its rivals is that – and you could have guessed this one – it has a capacitive touch screen interface. Given the ubiquity of touch screens in modern tech, it’s surprising that so few affordable items in the audio tech world use them.
There are of course hundreds of other small control, performance, and superficial differences between the three units, but I think we can break it down quite simply…
- If you already use Ableton, buy a Push. It will really, really enhance your workflow.
- If you have experience with hardware samplers or MPCs, or are new to computer music making, buy an MPC Touch.
- If you want an expansive library of sounds and an intuitive controller to integrate into your current DAW, buy a Maschine.
Do you own any of these awesome music makers? Leave a comment with your recommendations!
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