What can I expect from the MPC2000XL? What will it do for me? What will it not do for me?
I'm adding this section in hope of answering potential owners a few questions about the MPC and if it is what they are looking for. This information is based primarily on what people ask about the MPC2000XL an sometimes this is related to equipment many are familiar with.
What the MPC does or can do:
1. The MPC can replace your computer for sequencing. This is probably the primary reason for MPC purchase. Either people don't want to lug a computer system around for gigs, tired of dealing with persistent computer problems or trying to learn bloated and complex sequencing software. The midi spec (hence the data sent from sequencer to instrument) has not changed in some 14 years, so the underlying data handled by sequencers is virtually identical, only the interface has changed. You can control every aspect of any midi module or keyboard just like you can from the fanciest computer application.
2. The MPC is a "percussion sampler". It does not have it's own sounds but you load the sampler with whatever sounds you desire. You are not restricted to loading just percussion sounds, but be reminded that you have to handle them on the MPC's terms. Even though the sampler engine is based on the S2000 sampler, it is slightly modified to optimally handle percussion samples, therefore sampler features that are typically not used for percussion have not been included. These items are listed in what the MPC cannot do below.
3. It is very close to an all-in-one-box. It is possible to do complete compositions on just the MPC. Just remember this method will be sample based, and you will need something external to record it to like a tape deck.
4. More coming!
What the MPC cannot do:
1. No mouse. You can draw straight lines on a computer, but you cannot draw straight lines on the MPC. Many people enjoy the visual interface of the computer. The MPC has a visual interface, but it is not as encompassing as that of a 17" monitor screen. In one way you can view this as a good thing. I've found this forces you to "listen" to what you are doing instead of just "looking" at it.
2. Since the MPC is a percussion style sampler, some features of full fledged samplers are not included. No LFO's and no keygroups. Program files from other platforms (unless another model MPC such as MPC60) are incompatible with the MPC2000XL. However you can still usually import the sample itself and manually assign program settings. The envelopes are shortened from ADSR to just AR.
3. The MPC does not do dynamic time stretching. If you like to use computer applications like Sound Forge's Acid, you know this means. If you use phrase samples in the MPC, they do not automatically adjust their length to fit changed duration of bars. You can however readjust the samples manually whenever you change tempo. Dynamic time stretching is not yet a common feature found on budget samplers and will probably make it into future generations of MPC's.
4. The MPC is not a recording device. Once you create songs on the MPC, you have to use some other external recording device to record the music, like Akai's DPS12 or DSP16.
5. The MPC does not provide built-in sounds. It is a sampler. The joy of using a sampler is that the sounds can never get dated since you provide whatever sounds you like.
6. The MPC's sampling inputs do not provide a preamp, so to record from a microphone, you will need to preamp the signal from a mixer. If you are wanting to sample from turntables, you will need to run the signal through a phono preamp like a DJ mixer.