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I've had my Force for about 8 months now. In that time Akai has changed a lot about this product. Mainly to me it was a product Akai themselves never new how to market exactly. It wasn't an MPC but it had MPC features that might draw in the MPC crowd but it's approach to recording and making music is far left from what the MPC's recording style is. I remember how this Sampler/Workstation/Grid Production/Stand Alone DAW drew people in but also shy'd them away from owning one because of not understanding how it actually worked or what it was. That sadly is still very much true to the point Akai even dropped the price on it from it's debut offering and instead raised the price of the MPC-X although the two share common features in some aspects.To get into it the Akai Force basically is a jack of all trades when it comes to recording. It's mainly a big sequencer that has MPC like capabilities to put it simply. You launch your sequences in what is referred to as "Clips" and organize your music as you wish for it to be performed. It also has a bonus feature of the "cross fader" that you can use to slide between parts of your track. Lets say on the tracks you set to the Left side of the fader you added in vocals or some sound effects and on the Right side of the fader you have the same track but it has no vocals or sound effects but instead a drum fill on the pattern. Well you can swap your fader back and fourth between the two tracks to give your track the flare it needs. It's just nice features that make the Force cool. The 64 pads are a plus when it comes to layout your samples. In 16 levels mode the advantage is that you get 16 pads set to velocity, 16 set to filter, 16 pads set to notes. So you pretty much get all the MPC 16 pad features except on one huge pad bank. Other notable features of the Force are the ability of storage space, the XLR's and CV and the touch knobs with display. All very nice features but the problem is the execution of all of these features. Akai made the FORCE fully stand alone. Which means you cannot use it with MPC software. Everything you do production wise will be stuck to you utilizing the Force only. Meanwhile the MPC's can use the 2.0 software which allows for an endless integration of your favorite DAW programs and a streamlined recording interface for your MPC that only highlights your MPC's abilities even further.The Force misses out on this as it has no program and no ability to be used as a DAW controller for the MPC 2.0 software so much of it is left on the table. Akai however does require you to use MPC 2.0 software that isn't included of course in order to download and manage samples paks on your Akai Force. There is no software from Akai that supports management of your downloads or Samples outside of MPC 2.0. and all the software that is offered is designed for use with the MPC and not the Force. So if you buy MPC 2.0 which costs quite a bit you can only use it to download and manage your FORCE samples.This isn't a problem that is complained about often because most people that own a Force also own one variation of the current MPC's so they already have the software. Only recently has Akai released their discount version of MPC 2.0 which they call Akai Beats software for free. This software lets you use to Expansion manager to manage your expansions on your Force but it is not publicly advertised that it can. This is either a plus or a negative depending on the type of Expansion you download for your Force because if it's in Akai only file format the Beats software cannot open it. You will need MPC 2.0 for that and most Expansions for the Force are designed for the MPC so they will be in the Akai file format. It's a big draw back to the force when you start to invest time in expanding it's sound capabilities. Postive things about the Force is that it is still part MPC and like the MPC family it receives the same updates and standalone "plug in" programs. Which are basically built in daw programs that allow you to customize your sounsd even further. This is a very neat feature of the Force but it's not unique to the Force as all the current MPC's share these features.The other aspect of the Akai Force is that aside from it's main recording method of using clips it is majorily an MPC that isn't an MPC. Everything else about the Force is the same programming you would find on the MPC. It does however require you to menu dive as you would on the MPC Live on occasion depending on what you're attempting to access. So the question comes down as to is it worth buying the FORCE over an MPC. The MPC offers so much of a better advantage because of the MPC 2.0 software and the Force lags behind because it lacks supportive software of it's own. It has a cumbersome expansion management system and while sharing MPC abilities it's less fluent than the MPC's are to use in certain cases.Akai has certainly made it a hard deal to figure out if the FORCE is worth buying over an MPC because there is too much similarity between them production wise but advantage wise the MPC offers better more convenient options. The Akai Force's usability is just going to come down to if you prefer it's Ableton Clip launching recording setup over Akai's MPC recording setup and if that difference is willing what you sacrifice in the convenience of using an MPC.As an owner of the FORCE I feel that it needs more work to establish it's own identity. If it had it's own dedicated software like MPC 2.0 but designed around the Forces interface instead it would be as equally powerful of a tool. Instead it's become an offshoot for MPC owners to buy when they want a change from the MPC's work flow but not so much of a change that they have to learn an entirely new system to use that's unfamiliar to them.
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