MPC sequencing vs Elektron sequencing

tried to search for existing posts regarding the topic but couldn’t find any – feel free to delete this if i’m just bad at searching.

so i have several Elektron boxes and am very familiar with how sequencing works in the Elektron world. i’ve eyed some MPCs from time to time but have never really dug into how MPC sequencing works, and what the strengths and weaknesses are compared to Elektron. i’m specifically interested in the latest MPC operating system that’s found on the MPC Live, MPC One etc, but also the latest JJOS with, say, the MPC 1000.

some things that i’m especially interested in:
how does parameter modulation work: can all parameters be modulated, is there a limit on the amount, are modulations tied to steps? is there something like scale? or trig repeat? can each track have a custom length? is there something like conditional steps? does midi sequencing have similar restrictions as with Elektron (only 4-note polyphony, no note-specific timing in chords)?

for people who’ve used both, which do you feel is more powerful? any differences you can think of are appreciated!

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I’'ll try to answer some of your questions from memory (had an mpc live for a while) but im not an avid mpc head.

It is more akin to how you modulate a parameter in a DAW. You link it to a Q-knob and record a movement, or you change it in the notes view or step sequencer view.

You can set the length of each pattern to odd numbers (up to 999) and there’s also ways to specify the time signature. As far as I know theres no way to set the scale though (as in, half speed, 2/3, etc).

MPC is - as far as I know - the device that first came up with this sequencing functionality. But it’s something you play in live by holding a dedicated button and a pad. MPC doesnt really do “trig locks”.

Yep

Nope, don’t think so

Nope. You get as much polyphony as the device can handle. You actually get a little note view thats similar to a piano roll in a DAW.

The MPC live/x/one is more suited for linear song writing, people who like to live record most of their sequences, people who want barely any limitations and are okay with more menu diving as a result.

The elektrons are much more limited but as a result theres also a lot less “overhead”. It is much easier to quickly throw a loop together, add per step modulation, experiment. Theyre not as “all-in-one” as the new MPCs but they feel more focused and have more depth at what theyre designed to do.

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Tracks can be different lengths but can’t be set to a odd number of steps. Only multiples of 2. I think you can do 3 steps, but not 5,7,9 etc

I asked in another thread. Sounds like there’s a long winded workaround, but it doesn’t sound intuitive.

That aside, I have both and love both for different reasons.

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Not a direct response to your specific questions but I’d say the current Mpc’s are really good at doing all the housekeeping/prep stuff but really boring (compared to Elektron) at doing anything non standard or spontaneous. All that functionality on the Mpc seems a great resource but they seriously lack the fluidity of Elektron’s sequencing and sampling interactions.

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On the MPC live there is no trig conditions but there is a random feature that allows the amount of random you want to introduce to your sequence and humanization. Also MPC just introduced p-locking L, it’s not as intuitive as Elektron but is a really nice feature.

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thanks for the input everyone!

what’s the exact workflow for adding modulation to a parameter? for an Elektron box it would be 1) open the page with the parameter 2) press and hold a step 3) turn parameter knob. what’s the equivalent with an MPC?

i’d be interested to learn how this changes things!

i know it might be hard to pinpoint, but what do you think might be the cause for this?


Loopop explains this in detail.
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“2 hours ago” wow, what a timing for that video to come out!

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I just found samples and sequencing felt really static and predictable, compared to an OT and DT. There was never an element of surprise. Elektron gear feels like exploration and they foster new ways of working and thinking. I still think of the OT like it’s a mysterious Alien artefact or technology. I could happily use an Mpc just to make loops to feed an OT/DT. I just no longer have the inclination to use one to make full tracks, and I’m traditionally a 1 box/workstation type of musician. I did enjoy the Live’s UI though and would happily use a decent touch screen on an Elektron product.

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imo it’s miles easier to finish a song on an MPC than the octatrack. Not cause the octatrack is hard but because it’s a step sequencer with 4 bar patterns. With an MPC you can create and label all your song sections as sequences before you even start, set 8-16 bars, record a midi keyboard easily, build drum kits rapidly, more ram, more fx, recording CCs, I could go on and on. I love my octatrack and as fun as going mad with p-locks can be the MPC is by far and away the more musical box. Don’t fall into the ‘weird is better’ trap cause it’s super obvious which one is weirder.

tl;dr I love my octatrack dearly but logically speaking I’d be far better of with an MPC, even if it can’t do a lot of what OT does

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chiming in on the state of MPC1000 JJOS (probably don’t need a whole lot of discussion on this, it’s a solid machine but definitely dated by some standards)
I don’t know anything about the newer MPCs.

as I see it, it’s super geared toward recording everything live (optionally with quantization).
There technically are grid/step editing modes, but not geared toward sequence creation (ok for tweaking things post-recording)

Recording isn’t a unified thing with playback like on Elektron; it’s a distinct internal mode, where you can’t do things such as seamlessly changing sequences after recording (the sequencer must be stopped to exit the record mode).

Nothing is step-based, unless you consider 96 divisions per quarter note to be steps… Virtually no limit on what notes can be sequenced where, unlike Elektron where even with micro timing, you’re on 4 notes per quarter note (unless you play some games with track scale, but there’s a trade off there)

Nothing is locked to 4/4; you can have arbitrary meters and bars, but it cant differ by track. You can chain patterns in song mode, but there are limitations (again, it’s a distinct mode, not the unified workflow Elektron has. Sometimes the best thing is to export the song as one giant sequence when you’re done)
There’s some support for playing 2 simultaneous sequences, which might open up some options, but I’ve never used that.

“P-locking” is limited at best. You can automate a few parameters like pitch, velocity, pan, a filter depth I think? But not arbitrary parameters, and it’s not a fluid thing. (you’re either editing note by note, or fiddling with a Q-link slider). Some parameters are also per-note, not continuous real-time.

So the Elektron is much more flexible and unified at a high level, but the MPC is in some ways more free in the nitty-gritty. The Elektron sequencer is, after all, a 64-step sequence sort of faking polyphony. The MPC is effectively a continuous piano roll, no limits.

I couldn’t personally make music without my MPC in some capacity, but that’s just me.

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It’s interesting that P-locking is so limited in the MPC software (if that’s correct above)…

You can P-Lock per step on Maschine with any parameter other than changing the sound but nobody seems to realize that.

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Maybe it’s the Workflow, maybe it’s the FX, maybe it’s the Flexibility, but the modern line of MPC products gives me very much a “this is a complete DAW” vibe.

And while that is super cool and it will certainly push competitors to offer more in their products, it also makes me just look at my actual DAW and realize that the main difference is touch screen / all-in-one vs mouse&keyboard / needs peripherals (midi/audio).

I had my first success making music on the MPC workflow. So I’m not discounting it. But it has evolved to be more DAW like, and so have I. I’m not interested in ditching Ableton for it, or using both.

Whereas Elektron gives me an alternative method of creation that invites discovery and exploration.

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Just watched this and to be honest it put me off MPC for life. Everything seems so convoluted compared to Elektron gear. So I’ll be sticking to Elektron for pure creation and live work, and using a DAW for actually arranging/mixing/mastering a finished song. The only feature that looked amazing from Loopop’s video was the multi sampling external gear thingy.

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I feel like a big reason it feels convoluted is the amount of different screens you navigate. Each screen also has its own ‘logic’ with buttons or knobs located at various locations.

As a result jumping around different menus (which you have to do continuously) is pretty high on information you have to process. Most DAWs even have a more consistent set of screens/menus to navigate, and of course due to the size of a computer screen, you usually only have a couple of them as opposed to over a dozen.

I think they went in and designed the menus to be visually appealing but didn’t really think about things being presented in a visually consistent way.

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I believe anguslocke is referring to the MPC 1000 with jjos. The latest MPCs have robust automation capabilities, whether you’re using the software or hardware. You can automate virtually any effect or synth plugin parameter using either the step sequencer or in real-time using the q-links.

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I totally understand, it’s not for everyone. It does feel a bit like Jekyll and Hyde when using both MPC and an Elektron box together. I do like the contrast. Personally I don’t get too complicated on the MPC though, I use it mainly as a drum machine and a “chop box”. Nothing beats the MPC Live for chopping samples. The OT does hold its own but having that jumbo screen for fine editing tips the scales towards the MPC.

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I understand what OT brings to the table, especially in departments of sound desing, playability and fun and in what way is better than a plugin sampler and working in a DAW. But, i dont understand these new AKAIs… (never owned one); besides od finger druming, what MPC One brings… to one that already owns OT and a laptop+daw combo?

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Nothing really, the laptop fills that gap and then some. Laptops do have their frustrations compared to a single purpose unit though.

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Probably off topic but I never understood this assumption. I have been using Ableton Live for 15 years and I still love it very, very much.