Maschine Studio vs Mpc Renaissance: Can Akai keep up with Native Instruments?
For the record, I’m not a biased person. I love what Native Instruments has done with Maschine and I love what Akai has done with the Mpc Renaissance, but can Akai really comeback from the devastating blows they’ve suffered over the years? Can the Mpc Series keep up with Maschine?
This article is not about features, builds, workflow, sounds, real hiphop or your opinion on which is better. This is about competition, longevity and which flagship product will remain king in the end.
Please keep the “fan boy” mentality out of this
The Akai Legacy
Let’s start with the facts
Akai ‘was’ a force to reckon with. They’ve been known for leaving their mark in the industry dating back to the 60s. In my opinion, Akai began gaining ‘heavy’ traction with the release of their S- Series samplers (S612,S900 S950) those were game changers. Akai (at the time) didn’t even understand the full potential of their samplers. They were ahead of their time.
“The Mpc Takes The Stage”
1988 – The birth of a machine (no pun intended) that would change music production for YEARS to come – The Mpc 60. Most of the world was use to traditional drum machines like; the TR909/808 etc. Roger Linn brought the pain with the Mpc 60, Mpc 60 II and soon after, the Mpc 3000.
These units set the standard for drum machines in it’s day. Before it was adopted by hiphop producers it was used as a loop machine country artists. This allowed them to write without the need of a live drummer. Once it was adopted by urban producers and a few big studies, the popularity opened the gates and spread like wild fire.
Akai road the success to the bank dropping new Mpc models every few years. When it came to sampling drum machines, Akai had it locked DOWN!
What people loved about these units was the sound, build, quantize and sampling/chopping ability. Imo they owe the chopping credit to Propellerheads – RECYCLE. They set the bar for that.
So what went wrong?
“Akai’s Down Fall(s)”
They had a major flaw – SOFTWARE/QUALITY CONTROL
I don’t know if it’s a curse or just part of the “Akai Way”. They’ve always had horrible software and took forever to fix anything. Sometimes they’d release a brand new model before fixing the previous model’s bugs. Anyone remember the Mpc 1000? The 1000 and 2500 would have died if it weren’t for the JJOS.
Speaking of the Mpc 1000, how long did it take for them to fix the pads? Seriously, we were relying on 3rd party companies to cater to our needs. That’s a quality control issue, should have never been a continuous issue.
Things like this leave a bad taste in the mouths of clients.
They weren’t paying attention! Rather than focusing on where technology was moving, they focused on faster units, more ram, more space etc. Basically, supped up versions of what they already had
Then, there was the financial crisis, which set them back a bit. This allowed a competitor to come in and take the show.
Native Instruments Maschine
In 2008 I was offered a sound designing gig (with NI). Signed my NDA and was sent an outline of what would be the worlds next big flagship production tool – Maschine. When I saw Maschine’s outline, I was excited and told NI, “you need to make sure you get the pads right”
At this time, I didn’t know their angle. This wasn’t the 1st time a company mimicked the Mpc, but it was the 1st company to be successful at it.
“What Native Instruments Did Right”
They capitalized on Akai’s situation. They took everything that made the Mpc great and made it modern – That simple!
They did what Akai neglected to do, and bridged the gap and since Akai wasn’t responding, lots of industry professionals flocked.
“Akai Finally Fires Back With The Mpc Renaissance”
Wow, didn’t see this coming, but when I heard about it I expected to see a WAR. To me it was like seeing George Forman step back in the ring to show everyone who daddy was and why he’s still king – that didn’t happen
Akai had everything they needed to dominate, but failed to execute. NI has done everything. They’ve taken the guess work out of the equation, leaving a clear blueprint of what works, what doesn’t, what could/needs to be done.
Akai reverted back to it’s motto – not paying attention.
Akai Releases Renaissance – It’s a solid unit with a great build like the Mpc 3000, but hybrid (like a maschine). Seems good, but there are issues. It’s bug ridden! I know, nothing is perfect, but we’re talking about a company known for software issues. I expected a release with fewer bugs.
I expected them to show us “we’re different these days”
They saw what Maschine went through, they knew what to do, but didn’t. I remember seeing videos of Akai’s staff talking about how hard they worked on the pads, getting to trigger right etc. Um, Roger Linn gave you blueprint for that (Mpc 60/3000)! Maybe I’m missing something?
Marketing – Maschine Studio Vs Akai Mpc Ren
Now, lets look at how each company went about marketing their product.
“The Marketing Of Akai’s Mpc Renaissance”
Locked In Time – I believe they tried to capture the market of the old mpc heads. There’s nothing wrong with that, but failed to capture the new school.
Their Videos – (most) were filled with old school producers (legends): Who hadn’t been relevant in years, pushing a bug ridden product. The quality was professional (as expected), but the content was subpar at best. People want to see what the unit is capable of on a pro level, utilizing it’s features.
Pigeonholed Themselves – They stuck with the hiphop market. This is a problem because it’s not as diverse or big as the competitor’s. I don’t know how they planned on taking over by targeting 1 demographic.
Price Tag – If I remember, Mpc Ren was $1,200. Double what the competition was (at the time).
The Mpc Renaissance can now be found for $799 or less through this amazon link
Alternative Units – Akai released multiple Mpc’s – Ren, Studio and the mpc fly. It’s always good to reach the market at different price points, but I mean, didn’t these all come out relatively at the same time? I think they should have come out with the cheaper units 1st then lead into their flagship model. Or worked a more stable flagship then release the smaller units.
Expansion Sounds – I think this could be huge for them if done correctly.
“Marketing Of Maschine Studio”
Professionalism – Every video made for maschine was shot professionally. They made using maschine look fun, they made it look like the answer and it was.
Open Arms – NI didn’t pigeonhole themselves, they reached out to professionals in multiple genres of music as well as people who had an influence on the social media side of things.
Updates – NI setup marketing campaigns around their updates. If an update was on the way, they made sure there was buzz behind it. They also listened to their customers.
Fail Proof Plan– NI was already a strong company with a diverse audience. They are known for supplying music creators with some of the best sounds in the industry. Where there was a new sound library/plugin, there were more videos, because it all worked with maschine. If maschine were to fail, the sounds would still fly off the racks.
Modest Price Range – Maschine Mk2 was priced at $599. Maschine studio can be found
between $800-$1000 now $799. Most new Mpcs were a $1,000 and up (minus the mpc 500). They were the best bang for the buck.
Alternative Units – NI offered the mikro maschine after they saw success with their flagship. Akai took more of a shotgun approach imo.
Native Instruments has been leading the market with Maschine since 2009
Maschine Studio vs Mpc Renaissance
(The Numbers Don’t Lie)
Team Akai Pro – Finally, it looks like their getting things up to speed with the 1.5 release. They’ve tackled some important issues, users are finally getting updates and features they’ve been requesting.
- Not much traction/following – Not many contributors. I hardly see any tutorial sites dedicated to the Mpc Ren. This screenshot shows the number of YouTube queries shown for the “Mpc Renaissance” (as of 11.4.2013)
Team Native Instruments – Lights a fire on September 29th, building buzz around their update – Maschine Studio 2.0 with a YouTube video. They got the Maschine Studio into the hands of everyone they saw worthy. Bloggers, Vloggers, Industry Professionals, review sites etc.
They even had select individuals going from studio to studio to teach people how to use Maschine Studio. Then released it Nov 1st 2013. Some were able to get it a little earlier 🙂 – Their marketing was crazy
- Tons of followers, users… Just a big community with lots of 3rd party contributors willing to enhance maschine. This screenshot from YouTube shows the number of queries shown for “Maschine Studio” (as of 11.4.2013)
405,000 vs 71,500 – That’s a huge difference
People are on EDGE about Maschine. Seriously, there are more people searching for Maschine than the Akai’s Mpc. This is data pulled from “Exact” searches. Meaning people are searching for this phrase in it’s “exact” form 70,000+ times a month – that’s huge
Maschine trends better even without the release of studio as you can see from the data. “Maschine Studio” will easily reap the benefits of “maschine” as it’s the brand name of the product.
So, my question is, all bias opinions aside, where do you see Akai’s Mpc series heading? I love the company, but in order to win this or keep up they’re going have to step it up – What do you think?
June 1t7th (2015): Maschine studio, still sought after more than the Mpc Ren. Again, numbers don’t lie
as you can see Mpc Ren is trending done in June while Maschine Studio is rising. This data was pulled June displays June -14th – June 20th (partials) Click here to track
This data is averaged on a monthly basis. More people are searching for Maschine studio over the Mpc. Compare this with the search comps pulled in 2013 (up above).
Which Production Unit Do You Own?
I’m always interested in knowing which unit my readers own or are considering purchasing.
You can let me know on twitter
If you own (or are thinking of buying) a Maschine vote here
If you own (or are thinking of buying) a an Akai Mpc vote here
Maschine Studio Vs Mpc Ren Updates
People Still Prefer Maschine Studio Over The Mpc Ren
These are the numbers from October 2013 – May 24th 2014 and as you can see, the interest is heavily weighted for Maschine Studio. Why am I displaying this numbers? Because it gives a glimpse of where the market’s interest is. People search for gear when they’re considering purchasing it.
Mpc Renaissance Sound Expansions
I’ll admit, I’m not regular on the Akai Pro site, so I’m not sure when these expansions surfaced. I know a few were there last year, but I’m seeing some new ones (new to me)
- Elements Of House
- Elements Of Uk Dance
- Elements Of Dystopia
There are some others and I notice that Akai is promoting LoopMasters Sound Expansions. I don’t know if they are 3rd party created or in-house. Maybe the word LoopMasters is a sub-branding of their sound expansions?
Hopefully they add some audio demos because I see a few titles I’m interested in.
Maschine Studio Expansion Packs
As I’ve stated earlier in this post, Native Instruments made a wise move by allowing Maschine to accept plugins. Since the release of Maschine Studio, NI has released great supporting products that integrate nicely with maschine.
- Lucid Mission
- Arkane Attics
I’m not to excited with IMaschine, because there isn’t any Android support :(. Yes, I’m one of those droid guys. The expansions banks on the other hand, I’m all over them.
Maschine Studio Vs Mpc Renaissance Marketing Part 2
Both companies are utilizing video to the fullest. Before Akai was a little more focused on featuring older hiphop producers. Now, it looks as if they’re slowly incorporating a more diverse group of musicians/producer’s for their videos.
Still not as diverse as NI, but heading in the right direction.
Native Instruments creates videos around all of their products and because of their unique position, anything they market (sound wise) doubles as an expansion for the maschine.
Another thing I notice is with their videos is NI’s ability to display togetherness and ease of use. They show you how simple their products are to use and a little of the “how it all comes together”.
Take a look at their new I-Maschine videos
NI’s videos also go into a little back story of how the artist is using Maschine etc.
And again, they don’t pigeonhole themselves into one genre or demographic.
More updates coming soon
Mpc Ren Software Updates
1.7 Update: Early 2014 Akai brings 1.7 (beta) to Namm: Would have been nice to see something final, but at least they are keeping things in motion. It’ll definitely be on my radar.
1.8 Update: Most are sample editing/record updates.
- Color coded pads
- New F Key functions
- Jog wheel editing
- Maschine Style Pad copy chop.
- non destructive chopping
- Auto BPM calculation
1.8.1 Update: General bug fixes for previous update
- Alt loop and forward loop options
- Plugin Manager
- expansion manager
See full list of updates here
Maschine Studio Software Updates
Full update lists can be found here
MORE UPDATES COMING SOON