Akai MPX8 SD Sample Player Review

At the 2013 NAMM ShowAkai Professional introduced the MPX8 SD sample launcher with MPC pads. Using a standard SD card, users can load virtually samples onto MPX8 and then assign them to any of the unit’s eight backlit velocity- and pressure-sensitive pads.

In this video review of the Akai MPX8, Nick Batt of sonicstate takes a look the new sample playback instrument. 


  • Add sound samples via standard SD card (sold separately)
  • 8 velocity-sensitive and pressure-sensitive pads
  • Drag-and-drop sample editor for Mac and PC included
  • Built-in library of popular sounds, samples, and bumps
  • Tune, add reverb, save sample sets for easy recall
  • USB MIDI plus standard MIDI inputs and outputs
  • 1/8″ headphone output and balanced 1/4″ outputs

The Akai MPX8 has a street price of about $99.

If you’ve used the Akai MPX8, let us know what you think of it!

17 thoughts on “Akai MPX8 SD Sample Player Review

  1. Sure would be nice to use this for risers and long atmospheric backgrounds, but at 2.5 minutes per page, it’s a deal breaker for me. Maybe an update could help.

  2. At first I thought “what’s the point?” but thinking about it, this would be a good addition to an Electronic drum kit, which I have. The stock sounds in my module are a bit crap, but it has Midi out, so this might be a good addition.

    1. I picked one up to make up for the shoty sound in my drum brain(newer Simmons POS), my live setup is a Novation Ultranova, a Xiosynth, two drum pads (that are now triggering this), and a 22″kick and a 21″ kick both set up as floor toms. I love this thing!

  3. I’d call this a winner, because it shares the general slot occupied by Kaoss pads and similar devices. Its hard to imagine NOT wanting one if you are into a serious multi-box approach to begin with. Nick’s right, its the first (non-MPC) hardware sampler to appear in a while. That’s almost a Korg-like zig to the left, refreshing and useful. Aside from feeling like it deserves about 10 minutes of stereo sampling time, the design is solid. I’m impressed with how humbly elegant it feels in use. Nice work.

  4. I use an MPC 2500, and have been into Akai since the late 80’s.
    Wouldn’t it be good if they made a box like this with 8 outputs. That would be stunning a stronger case and wow.

    1. You won’t see this greatly enhanced with more outputs or the like; they won’t hurt their price point structure that way and I’m okay with it. We could see a slightly beefed-up v.2 if this one is a hit, but not more than that. If it keeps Akai’s staff well-fed for doing quality work, good. I have to say that the Akai gear I’ve played has felt uniformly solid. When Nick hits a pad, the unit doesn’t CLACK. Hell, I’m 33% sold right there. I’ll bet more than a few Akai and E-mu-related staffers laugh madly at modern options like cheap PRAM and SD cards after all of the growing pains they endured early in the sampling wars. Getting a usable chunk of Akai for $99 makes it a stocking stuffer.

  5. From a small hands-on post I made on another forum…

    Bought one of these on a whim yesterday. Pissed all the guys off at the Guitar Center who kept telling me “Dude those things are so cool man!”…My response: It’s Akai garbage.

    Anyways, it’s big and plastic feeling with a super low resolution looking display. It almost feels like a toy. Screen is bright at least and has good contrast. It takes an 1/8th headphone jack which is a little too noisy for my taste, but at least it is on the front of the device. Full standard midi connections are delivered by these little 1/8th connector dongles with female midi ports on the end. I can see these getting lost, but as you’ll read later, these are the secret weapon in this device’s limited arsenal.

    A usb power adapter is included, thankfully, but why the fuck isn’t this thing battery powered? This alone will prevent most people from ever connecting to their ipad via a camera connection kit. What a lost opportunity.

    Pads are velocity sensitive. They light up, which seems lame but is actually useful to see whether a sample is loaded on a pad or not. The color also indicates the trigger mode. I like the pads. The remind me of the Akai XR20 pads which I always loved. It is pretty easy to finger drum with these.

    Functions on the device itself allow for editing kits, but strangely enough, only if you have a “kit file” already created on the card. The only way to create a kit file is to use the downloadable PC software to write a new kit to your memory card. This is one of those areas where I wonder if Akai employees ever use their own software. This is not explained in the manual and is only discovered after trial and error. So anyone attempting to create kits from the device is going to be completely confused and probably think the device only supports editing of the 8 kits that are shipped on the device. You can create 80 kits on the card through the PC software.

    It is important to note that nothing actually worked from the PC-editing side until I stopped using long file names. The manual states that the reason to use e PC-editing tool is because it works with long file names. But it doesn’t. Or the device doesn’t. But something doesn’t actually work until you bit the bullet and shorten those names down.

    According to th manual the device only works with16-bit. I don’t know if this means it doesnt work with 8-bit or not. I plan to try that later on. However, the device works great with 16-bit wav files.

    So what does this thing actually do? On the surface, not much. It plays samples, sending the sound out through two quarter inch audio cables. For most people that’s anout all they will do.

    Where the device begins to shine is when you connect the MPX8 through an audio/midi interface to an application like Tabletop on the ipad. It took me about 5 min to initially set up. Then I was off and running, sequencing the MPX8’s pads from a Tabletop device and running the audio from the MPX8 back into Tabletop’s recording tools. There you can add effects, mangle the audio using beatslicer or perform a number of other functions.

    On its own, this thing is about as interesting as a tin can. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with even a rudimentary interest in beatmaking since you can effectively get an actual mpc for only an extra bill these days. However, if you’ve already got an ipad, this thing acts like a secret weapon when combined with a full featured daw-like environment such as Tabletop.

    1. Okay, that’s an honest review. Sounds like it has a couple of flaws that make it feel less portable, but not a total loss for a home rig at all. File handling within the editor needs streamlining and I’d be boned since I use a Mac. I’m still going to respect it for being inviting if you want to hot-rod some samples and treat it like a third hand or a special effects toy box. I use a NanoPad at times, so I see this as a smart upgrade to that idea.

  6. For years I’ve wanted a sampler small enough to build into a guitar, so for me this thing is a jackpot. For battery power I simply bought a USB external battery with a 2A output (I had one with 1A but it wouldn’t cut it) Obviously that doesn’t put me into the category of typical consumers though

    1. I love seeing guys like you come along and suggest a cool, non-typical approach. It inspires people more than you sometimes realize, including the designers. What is e-music gear FOR besides turning it sideways when you can and amusing everyone, including yourself? You just reinforce my view that the MPX8 is great for filling a small void between more traditional options. Think of the evil fun you could have by creating a couple of kits of “Family Guy” quotes or a sample of a giant pad that took 5 synths to create. Yeah, it can fly.

  7. Anyone have any info on whether or not I can use a Yamaha drum pad to trigger a sound? I’m using a DTXpress 2 brain, but I really don’t want to lug around a laptop to be able to trigger a sample. I’m assuming you can because of the MIDI port but has anyone actually done this successfully?

  8. I got one about three days ago. I was first just looking for a small and sturdy midi pad controller to play with my maschine software at work at break time.

    The sample player side was not was i was looking for but i was enthousiastic about the possibility. So here is what i think of it as of today.

    Midi out from usb is not bad at all, its far from the quality of my Maschine, Padkontrol or HPD-15, but still much better than a out of the box, no pad upgrade, MPD24 or MPD26.

    The free electrical outlet to usb adapter is nice to have, the midi in and out with the included 1/8 jak to five pin midi is great to, cant beleive they were free, kind of rare now day, and for that price!

    LCD screen is easy on the eyes.

    Looks pretty sturdy, yet its very compact and the SD card slot feels great and solid.

    Kind of hard to consistently hit between velocity 50 and 80, it seems to jump from around fifty to around 80 all the time (i play a lot of finger percussion like darbuka, precision in velocity is quite important for me), i suspect i will get use to it as i play more with it. Would love to compare it with a lpd8 to feel the difference. It is still sensitive enough to make drum roll with my fingers, that is already pretty good.

    Anyhow, it is still a bummer that it feels so inconsistant, but as i purchased it just for break time, im still happy with that. But yes, fixed velocity would be a must for anyone going on stage with this unit.

    It feels like the response is somewhat better when triggering its own kits than thru midi.

    I had no problem loading sample with long name of around 15 letters, so the 8 letters thing is not a problem after all. BUT, the manual say, the mpx8 will recognise up to 512 samples. I have not tryied to dump more than that on the SD card but, why supporting up to 32 gig card if the unit cant recognise more than 512 sample?

    Making your own kit from the unit is an absolute nightmare, no way you will ever want to scroll with that tiny plastic button to find a sample in a bunch of samples, all mixed up in the first level of the SD card. You have to make your kits from a computer and just select them, but then, its the same problem of having a kit load on its own if you stop on it. That is plain weird, its virtually impossible to scroll past the first 20 kits without loading one accidentally, imagine going for kit number 89. :dog:

    Loading can indeed be very long at times!

    The headphone audio out is a bit of a downer, when i use my AKG 240 its fine (600 ohm resistance), but when i use earbuds there is a very very loud noise wich is ridiculous, it make it unusable, wich bring the fact that there is NO global output volume, only a per sample volume, that kind of weird also.

    Even if it seems i fund more down side to it, i really enjoy it for its portability and computer free side. I fund the sample player great for the loop option, i hooked it to my wavedrum aux in and jamed along loops i was triggering from it, That was awesome!!!!! And AWAY FROM MY MOUSE AND COMPUTER!!! :tu:

    I dont regret my purchased, 99$ is fine for the fun i have with it. I mean, i got way more disapointed with softwares and hardwares that costed me way way more money than this.

    Progamming kits from the computer is a breeze and ajusting the few parameters you can play with from the unit is very straightforward.

    I mean, its a 99$ toy for grownups that will get you countless hours of fun, if fun is what your looking for. But as is, with the actual limitations on having no fixed velocity option and slow loading time, plus the inconsistant midi out, this is not anything near a serious compagnion for the studio or a live gig.

  9. I am trying to load backing tracks in wav form but it’s saying the file is too large. Anyone know the limit?

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