Akai Force | Product Spotlight
We got hands on with the Akai Force standalone music production system.
Here are our first impressions…
Akai recently launched their new flagship music production system – the Akai Force.
It’s an all-in-one standalone system for studio and live performance use. It’s capable of everything from sequencing and arranging MIDI, it’s got several built-in virtual instruments and in true Akai style advanced sampling and recording capabilities.
The Akai Force only recently launched, however there have been multiple firmware updates each incorporating several improvements and user-requests. One of the latest additions being the ability to export Ableton Live Sets directly off the Akai Force. In terms of I/O the Akai Force has it all, from dual line/instrument/mic inputs with 48v phantom power, MIDI In, Out and Thru, multiple balanced audio outputs and even four CV/Gate outputs for controlling a modular synth.
The Akai Force is designed to be very intuitive if you’re coming from a clip-based DAW such as Ableton or Bitwig. It’s different to traditional AKAI MPCs whose focus is on sampling and drumming, which the Akai Force has however the pads are designed more with user feedback, clip launching, note input and sequencing.
The Akai Force uses clips in much the same was as something like Ableton, allowing you to trigger loops, samples alongside pre-arranged tracks or live audio input channels. You can record in audio clips or samples directly from the inputs on the back, load up and SD card and drag-and-drop or store your favourite samples on the internal 16GB of memory. If that’s not enough, there’s dock at the bottom for an extra hard drive and USB ports at the back of the unit to plug in more external hard drives.
The Akai Force features an incredibly intuitive multi-touch interface; however, the best part is that most of the essential functions are also available on hardware controls. I personally find touchscreens to be a bit finicky in performance environments, however having the options for editing finer details is amazing.
Personally, I’m not very comfortable behind an MPC, I’m way more at home behind a DAW. I find a lot of standalone sequencers and other similar products have a very steep learning curve. The thing that makes the Akai Force so much more intuitive is that it emulates the workflow of a DAW, allowing users like myself to find our feet quickly. There are some very helpful features such as snapping note input to specific scales, with various pad configurations to inspire different play styles.
The Akai Force is an incredibly powerful tool for studio use and live performance. Being able to create clips in my studio beforehand, load them up and maybe layer a hardware synth over the top – this is looking like a great centrepiece for my live setup.
The Akai Force exceeded my initial expectations after playing around with it. It’s built like an absolute tank and the system is so intuitive that within minutes – I was jamming. The screen is very responsive and offer incredibly deep control over your project settings and various other parameters, this makes using the system very easy to understand. There are even effects that make use of the touchscreen in an X/Y pad setup.
I’m not a huge fan of the matte black finish, these tend to gather dust quickly and the touchscreen is a bit of a fingerprint magnet. That being said, it’s still a very impressive system overall.
We recently caught up with Dave Skinz, the brand manager for Akai amongst other brands at Audiosure South Africa. He gave us some inside info on the new firmware updates and some other exciting products, check out our interview here: