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This latest incarnation of the hardware sequencer has some prestigious forbears. The front panel of the Akai MPC 3000 bears the signature of Roger Linn who was the original proponent of the drum machine over a decade ago. Japanese manufacturers often seem to be more interested in functionality rather than usability, which is great for those who find the process of learning powerful but difficult systems pleasurable in some strange way.
Akai obviously realised that Roger Linn could bring the very valuable feature of ease of use to their equipment and so they put him on the payroll. This was a very sensible thing to do, and the partnership has borne fruit of a very high quality. The forerunner to the MPC 3000 was the MPC 60 drum sampler/rhythm programmer which was a powerful piece of equipment that I never felt achieved the reputation it deserved in this country. There was also the ASQ 10 which contained the sequencing part of the MPC 60 without the drum sampling facilities, otherwise the software was identical.
I owned an ASQ 10 myself for a time, and now I kick myself that I let it go. At the time I was seduced by computer sequencing and I didn’t have the foresight to realise that I could have run both types of MIDI sequencer side by side and had the best of both worlds. The Akai units are particularly good for drum programming, as you might expect, and computer sequencers find it hard to keep up. I found only two drawbacks to the ASQ 10 (after the software had reached a mature version), one of which was that it frequently had to take time out at length to 'analyse the sequence’.
The MPC 3000 uses a faster processor so this isn’t a problem. I’ll mention the other drawback later since it is retained in the MPC 3000, but I will say that I now find it less of a problem and more a part of the character of the machine.