The Akai MPX8 is a portable sample player with decent playability and sound for a hundred bucks. The eight velocity sensitive pads have a decent feel given the MPX8 only weighs about a pound. Akai includes a USB cable for data and power connectivity and a 3.5mm MIDI in and out cable. The sound out of the MPX8 is about what you would expect for $99. For Sound Test 1 We plugged it into the Mackie and direct to our DAW without any processing and here’s a sample of a basic urban kit that gives you some feeling for the oomph. For Sound Test 2 we sweeted the mix with a little reverb and external processsing. This is a box that definitely needs a little help to make it shine.

Again, keep in mind the price point. We would not use the MPX8 for recording critical tracks. Instead, it would be handy in a live performance or broadcast situation where having a batch of samples, musical or otherwise, ready to go can come in handy. It’s easy to load sounds and different kits but the performance is slow. Turn the dial and wait. Turn the dial and wait. We updated the firmware which is supposed to improve performance but still found the MPX8 too slow to respond. So this would inhibit live performance beyond pre-configured kits. Akai includes a batch of loops and sounds for download that are a good starting point. There’s nothing special or new about the sounds but the quality and variety is pretty good and of course you can make your own samples. All sounds can be tuned and enhanced with the built-in reverb. It’s enough to make a batch of sounds more versatile but limited in scope. Turn it up or turn it down. Akai doesn’t include much in the way of built-in memory so an SD card is required to load samples. The included software to edit kits is straightforward. We recommend using the software instead of trying to edit kids using the slow responding dial and wobbly buttons on the MPX8. For $99 the Akai MPX8 is actually a fun portable sample player to have on hand. It’s a good entry level device for anyone new to sampling. Keep in mind, you still need to create and manage your samples on a computer. But, once you load them on the MPX8 you're good to go. Just power up and play or trigger via MIDI. Because of its size and decent sound don’t be surprised if you see these popping up in the studio and on stage. Visit Akai for more information and all the specs.