How good are the pads on MPC One? And advice needed for live setup

Hey folks. Beginner finger drummer here. I have just bought a Maschine Mikro Mk3, and the pads are indeed great to play with. But I am having trouble making a setup with it for live gigs.

I used a laptop as the center piece of my set to play mainly synths and samples. However, it once crashed during sound check, and that was quite a nightmare and has made me concerned about its stability ever since. After that, I tried to go DAWless with hardware synths and samplers and effects units and whatnot. And that was a very tiring, time-consuming and expensive experience. I don’t have infinite time and money to build a battle station and carry it with me everywhere.

So I plan to simply switch to a standalone multi sampler (DAW in a box) to perform with something like a MIDI keyboard, so I can play both synths and samples. And such devices on the market are basically MPC One, MPC Live and Maschine+. Maschine+ and MPC Live must be great, according to Robert’s review, but really pricey, of course. So I’m considering MPC One, whose physical user interface and price look good. And I have to mention that the retro edition of MPC One is, in my opinion, the best looking MPC since MPC Renaissance. So here are some problems:

  1. Do you think the sampler-instead-of-laptop plan makes sense? My currently beloved Maschine Mikro Mk3 will be redundant in a setup like this if I want to keep it both affordable and compact. Because every sampler mentioned already has 4x4 pads.

  2. I am not sure if MPC One’s pads are as good as MPC Live or Maschine. Has anyone compared those? I noticed the pads are considerably smaller. Would it be a problem for finger drumming?

  3. If MPC One’s pads are like meh, would MPC Live or Maschine+ be an overkill? Plus, I have not found a straightforward way to use MPC as purely a MIDI controller like Maschine’s MIDI mode. If it always has to go through the MPC software to work with drum software or DAWs, it would be a pain in the ass for me.

What do you think? Any advice or experience would be helpful. Thanks a lot!

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Hey I cannot help you out fully here because I never played an MPC one, but I just wanted to quickly drop a few thoughts in here that might help you in making your decision, or at least nuance things.

  • I played an original MPC Live years ago, which then responded very well. The new MPC Live II (which is being sold now) I have not played, but I actually did get a couple of messages from people who were not that satisfied with the pads. That does not mean a lot, since there are always a couple of bad apples out there, but all I’m saying is that with the MPC Live, there is still a chance of not getting a great device even after paying up :slight_smile:

  • On the other hand I heard a couple of people (I think @Lynnjamin who’s on these messageboards as well) talk about how they really liked playing their MPC one, so that’s sort of good news. Again, not a complete guarantee of anything but it’s something.

  • And then finally, instable laptops suck, but if you’re thinking about paying up for an MPC Live device, maybe also consider getting one of the cheaper new M1 macbooks. Those things seem to be very stable, way more reliable than windows machines if you’re talking audio, and the price is relatively low… If you just use them for playing music, you can probably even load your main drum kit sample libraries directly onto the SSD harddrive. So then it’s just a matter of plugging in your Maschine mikro, your audio interface and then you’re good to go. Those newer macs are power efficient too, so you can leave it running on battery for hours.

Just something to think about. I myself still have an older intel mac laptp, so until I switched over I cannot talk with 100% certainty about the performance, but from what I’m reading and seeing on the internet these new devices are great and great value for money as well.

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Thanks very much! Akai’s quality control seems concerning according to tour overall reviews. Getting a updated premium but low-quality product is not great news. Maybe I should seek a chance to try on an MPC One.

As for the M1, I have thought about getting one. It’s great to hear about positive reviews about it. My main concern are plugin compatibility and performance though, especially Ableton Live. I have heard the performance optimization of Ableton Live on M1 is not so impressive, even the latest native version. Maybe I can optimize my Live set though. Stability is the bottom line factor.

I also thought about getting a refurbished intel one from third party stores. But also concerned if the quality can be garanteed… Anyway, I’ll think about it. Thanks again!

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I am very satisfied with the pads and overall performance of the MPC One. The pads are a bit smaller than the rest of the MPCs, which I’ve never played on, so I can’t compare them, but I have no trouble. They are plenty big. There is a positive side to smaller pads, less travel distance, that might make up for the loss of pad surface real estate.
As far as playing it live, that’s pretty much all I use it for (although the audience at said live performances are usually just my irritated neighbors). Just plug the cables into your mixer and play. USB keyboard is instantly recognized and integrated. Hardware synths over midi or USB are no problem at all. I make a melodic backing track and then just finger drum the day away. If you decide to get one, and you get stuck figuring out the workflow, I can set you in the right direction for help.


Thanks a lot for the info! I have another minor question with MPC One though. How is its integration with DAW? Say if I want to use it with Ableton Live, do I have to use MPC software as plugin or something?

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It behaves with Ableton the way any pad controller would. No need for the MPC software as a plug-in. You just map whatever pad or knob you want to whatever parameter in Ableton and you go. It just doesn’t natively map itself to Ableton the way some controllers do.
If you ask me, I think the MPC is a refreshing break from the tyranny of the DAW. You can sit at a picnic table with the MPC and make a good old song with a gritty funky drum groove and just lose your cares during the creative phase. You can bring everything into Ableton later for refinement.
These are hard choices for finger drummers because we want our pad controllers to serve us in a way that is rather unique in music production right now. Folks are drawing in all their notes in a DAW, or using pads to tap out kit pieces one at a time for four bars and calling it a drum track. That isn’t groovy enough for me.

A little update here. I managed to get an MPC One to and try on it. The form factor is not a very big deal. I just had to adapt the finger moves according to the pad size. But I had a rather hard time with the pad sensitivity settings. Maybe because I have been used to the Maschine Mikro Mk3 pads, the default setting of MPC One made me very uncomfortable. After tweaking all the pad thresholds, pad sensitivity and response curves, it got better, but I have not yet got a completely satisfying setting. I believe it is possible to make it work well, because there are also some folks in the MPC forum who like how the pads perform. Maybe I was not too lazy to tweak it for too long…

And also I have not figured it out how to use MPC One without MPC software. When switching to controller mode (rather than standalone mode), it requires MPC software to send & receive data. Maybe I should just send MIDI through a MIDI track in standalone mode. That should make sense. Still some doubts here.

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Yes it’s true, the workflow is very complicated.

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My experience of MPC and MPK pads is that they are definitely inconsistent, not just across models, but also within the same model. I have a fantastic MPC Live Mk1 and MPC Touch, but my MPC One pads are much less sensitive. I had to return an MPC Live 2 Retro due to the centre of the pads being very insensitive. I have an MPK249 (same size pads as an MPC One, but previous ‘generation’) and these are the most sensitive Akai pads I have, but I have seen plenty of people bemoan the MPK pads!

My Akai Force pads are okay, but nothing special. The most sensitive pads I own are on my Maschine Micro 2 and Maschine Plus.

BTW if you are struggling with the workflow on the MPC, I have plenty of MPC tutorials online, just search for my username :slight_smile:


Hold up hold up. I have read multiple articles on the mpc-tutor website. Are you the same guy that made MPC Bible though?

Yes, I created all the mpc bibles and make most of the expansions


Oh Andy, I practically have every single tutoring thing you have published and I could do nothing before I got your tome and the help from the fantastic people of the forum. :grinning:


Amazing work. I cannot appreciate more!


Hello… I’m using the MPC X and I’m able to set the sensitivity of my pads to be as sensitive as needed. I’m pretty sure the live does the same thing if you want to check that out.

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Wow…. That’s incredible :muscle:t4:

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