Akai Pro Force Promises Standalone Live-Inspired Workflow

Ahead of the 2019 NAMM Show, Akai Professional has introduced the standalone Force music production/DJ performance device, with clip launching, step sequencing, sampling, synths and a 7-inch multi-touch display.

It also of MIDI In/Out/Thru and CV/Gate connectivity for working with modular and analog gear.

Force is designed for users that want to a clip-centric workflow, but work free from being connected to a computer. Akai says that “Force is the first standalone music production device that truly captures the modern clip-based workflow.”

The Akai Force features an 8×8 RGB clip launch matrix, a 7-inch full-color touch-capacitive multitouch display, 8 touch-sensitive knobs with graphical OLED displays, two audio inputs, four audio outputs, MIDI and CV I/O.

Additional features include time stretching/pitch-shifting in real time, a comprehensive set of on-board effects by AIR Music Technology, plus the TubeSynth, Bassline and Electric synth engines. It also boasts an additional synth called Hype, a preset and macro-based synth combining several different synth engines into a single easy-to-use package. Force also has the ability to record eight stereo tracks.

“With its Ableton Live-style workflow, 8×8 clip launch matrix, touch-sensitive knobs with graphical OLED displays and 7-in multi-touch display and total freedom from the computer, users will experience a degree of creative expression and spontaneity they simply can’t find anywhere else,” says Dan Gill, Akai Professional Product Manager.

Features:

  • Standalone – no computer required
  • 8×8 clip launch matrix with RGB LEDs
  • 7″ color capacitive multi-touch display
  • Mic/Instrument/Line Inputs, 4 outputs
  • MIDI In/Out/Thru via 1/8″ TRS inputs (5-pin DIN adapters included)
  • (4) configurable CV/Gate Outputs to integrate your modular setup
  • (8) touch-sensitive knobs with graphical OLED displays
  • Time stretch/pitch shift in real time
  • Comprehensive set of AIR effects and Hype, TubeSynth, Bassline and Electric synth engines
  • Ability to record 8 stereo tracks
  • 16GB of on-board storage (over 10 gigs of sound content included)
  • 2 GB RAM
  • Full-Size SD card Slot
  • User-expandable 2.5″ SATA drive connector (SATA or HDD)
  • (2) USB 3.0 slots for thumb drives or MIDI controllers


Akai says Ableton Live integration and more will be coming later in 2019:

In March 2019, Force’s development program includes in-depth Ableton Live integration. This functionality will include total visibility and command of Ableton’s clip matrix, tactile control of core mixer parameters including crossfader assignments, and control of device parameters instantiated in Ableton Live’s workspace via the touch user interface and Force’s rotary encoders / OLED displays.

Additionally, March 2019 will also see Splice integration within Force. Splice Sounds fuels the creativity of producers around the world with millions of high-quality, royalty-free samples, sounds, presets and loops, covering nearly ever musical style. With Splice integration in Force, users will have immediate wi-fi access to their own Splice library directly from the touch user interface – perfect for ultra-fast auditioning of sounds for implementation within their Force project.

Pricing and Availability

The Akai Pro Force is expected to be available in February 2019, priced at US $1,499. See the Akai site for more information.

80 thoughts on “Akai Pro Force Promises Standalone Live-Inspired Workflow

  1. AKAI seems to have gotten its act together over the last couple of years. This actually looks killer. Work standalone, or use it to control Live.

    And the price is good – less than getting Live, a good computer to run it on, a good audio interface, etc.

    The main thing I wonder about is how easy it will be to migrate work from the Force to Live and vice versa. If they get that right, we’re going to be seeing a lot of this at live performances.

    1. I would love to actually price that out. Depends on the actual hardware in the Force. What kind of cpu? What kind of hard drive? How deep is the software? Because some laptops are $500. Some are $2000, depending on the specs.

      1. Looks like the Mpc Live + a 64 pad matrix and the clip launching feature. MPC live is about $1100.00. MPC X is about $2100 so I think the price is pretty perfect. The ableton Push 2 is about 800 bucks, add in the software and a computer. I think the point here is the standalone and prices have been catered to consumers so much that we are unable to even see the value of a new product without thinking it should be much cheaper. Behringer effect.

        1. The Mpc live has a quad-core CPU running at a slow 1.8 GHz, 2 gigs of RAM, and 16 gigs of hard drive space. If the Force is similar, I am 100% confident I could match that older spec in a sub $500 laptop and throw in a decent low latency interface with no stutters as well..

            1. sure they will. I’m still on my 6 year old laptop running a much older quadcore i7 and Ableton doesn’t even hiccup on it. My laptop is worth about $300 bucks these days. And my live set is pretty complicated at this point.

              But, even if you buy it new, you can get a hexacore AMD ryzen laptop with 8 gigabytes of ram and a 128 gig ssd for less than $500. Would run Ableton on Win 10 perfectly. And those specs are way better than at least the MPC live.

              Definitely apples and oranges. Yes the Force runs dedicated software, but then again, you can’t do anything else with it. You can run whatever software you want on a laptop.

              My main point was a response that the mpc is not necessarily a cheaper proposition than a fully capable laptop with some externals.

        2. I’ve played a hundred shows with Live on a $500 laptop, with no problems whatsoever. I do all my production on another machine and only play rendered .wav files on-stage (very few MIDI clips, except one instance of Operator playing sub-basses), with effects. Also, my performance computer never gets online.

  2. This looks incredibly interesting. WOW!! Actually, this has taken me surprise because I was a little underwhelmed with the leaked images.

  3. Wow didn’t see this coming!!! Looks good but ouch at the price. For my 2 cents I would like a new MPC that’s a bit more smaller and portable ala the MPC500.

    1. Yep, they continue to ignore this obvious demand segment, which is why 500’s and 1000’s will continue to go for ridiculous prices on ebay.

  4. SATA or HDD – probably meant SSD or HDD?
    Looks like real stuff!
    I use Ableton (lite is fine) just for playing back 8×8 long drone kind of samples that I mix – does anyone know if there’s any app for iPad that could do just that?

    1. Novation has that clip launcher app. Check that one out. Garabe band also has a clip launching feature now, I could be wrong but a quick search would answer that question pretyt quickly.

      1. The Novation clip launcher app isn’t very good though lol. I’m gonna look into Garageband again though as I didn’t realise it had clip launcher function although I bet it doesn’t have beat warping ala Ableton Live. 🙁

  5. nah, i wait for the keyboard version. hey dan gill, please merge a force with an advance 61. that would be the kronos killer. i don´t need the clip launch matrix.

    1. Thats like saying a bike is way too complicated so you will continue to drive a helicopter? FL studio is good but in no way is it not in the complicated department. Been complicated since FL 4. If learning something new is more complicated than what you already know, then yup. Thats usually how it works.

  6. Looks awesome but I’m not sure I could use this live without more outputs. A big part of my live performance is mixing and processing individual clips outside the box.

  7. Mixing full tracks with Live on a 7 inch screen could become messy if they dont nail the workflow. they need a supertight integration, precise and fast reacting touchscreen and controllers. I hope they can get this right for the relatively cheap price. otherwise people will just use push with a laptop.

        1. Well it should have a serial port and at least one SCSI…how the hell am I gonna get this in my live rig.

          Also looking for a roadie to carry my CRTs…..pm me.

  8. I LIKE this. As a guy who’s hated Akai for a decade, I LIKE this.

    I use the drumrack and Impulse in Ableton pretty extensively to chop and rearrange samples, which it looks like this won’t have, but I absolutely LOVE the idea of creating 4 and 8 bar loops in ableton and just loading them up in this to play live with no laptop.

    Any word on multi-outs? If I can apply outboard effects to only SOME samples, this will be an instant purchase.

  9. I’m a little surprised at the love this thing is getting here. I want to like it, but it just seems like a hyper-hobbyist gimmick. Will people really be finishing tracks on this thing? I doubt it, so it’s basically another MPC, minus the MPC workflow. I’m very open to being proven wrong

    1. “Will people really be finishing tracks on this thing? I doubt it, so it’s basically another MPC, minus the MPC workflow. I’m very open to being proven wrong”

      Given the layers of ignorance in your comment, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would be interested in trying to prove anything to you.

      1. Sorry to ruin your day. I just don’t see what the hype is about. You buy it, you have to learn a new workflow, and you can’t even finish tracks in it. That just seems like a waste of time and money to me, especially if you already own an MPC and/or DAW

        1. This isn’t supposed to replace daw. It’s an instrument meant for use on stage. There’s a difference between finishing a track and finishing performing.

          1. Right, so it’s mostly a toy for the hobbyist crowd. Exactly my point. Woa pretty screens and lights! And it can loop???! Only $1500!

            1. it doesn’t sound like you’ve paid any attention to the info released about the Force, this is what people are trying to convey to you. It has the mpc sequencer in it, and it has a lot of ebleton-esk features (not all of them of course)…. it’s not a hyper hobbyist toy or a gimmick because it’s quite capable if the specs are correct to make any kind of complete music on it, in addition to that it has a lot of features that at least on paper are great for live sets as well…. people have been making complete songs on mpc 500s and the force far surpasses that in it’s capabilities. Now if none of it is stable then it won’t make any difference how great it is, but if we are talking about the features and capabilities that have been listed on paper it’s not just capable it’s far more than capable to the point of being obvious… That’s why people are responding to you like they are, you’re not presenting a reasonable argument for the opinion your stating. If you have some other knowledge that hasn’t been revealed about the Force that would make it not possible to make complete tracks on it then by all means let everyone know because I’m sure everyone here would be interested in any info like that, otherwise you sound ridiculous.

    2. I make techno, and I won’t be finishing tracks on anything besides Logic for the foreseeable future.

      My live show however is based on launching looped stems of my material in Ableton with a Launchpad (and mixing / effecting them externally). For many like me, this product is attractive because it allows you to play live without a laptop.

      As I mentioned before, for me it falls just short because I’d like more outputs, but it’s still really exciting to see a product come this close.

      1. Like many live techno/house performers you seem to think the laptop is the problem on stage. It’s not. The screen is the problem. All you’ll be doing with this is replacing one screen with another. Same goes for performers replacing a laptop with an Ipad or with an Octatrack. In all cases you end up with a screen full of information that makes sure you never really get into the flow like say a guitarist or a drummer would.

        1. Laptops also feature bullshit like mouse/trackpad control, screen savers, wifi, nag messages … all stuff you don’t want to deal with on stage. You’re right that I don’t want to have to gaze into a screen, but this is still an improvement.

      2. FYI: Techno officially died on the 24th of July 2010, when a crowd disaster happened at the 2010 Love Parade electronic dance music festival in Duisburg, Germany. It caused the death of 21 people from suffocation. At least 500 more were injured. Ask (former) techno acts like Westbam, Carl Cox, or Laurent Garnier. They would all confirm that.

        1. I’m not sure what “officially died” means, but I suppose rock & roll also officially died in the 1970s in Cincinnati when fans were trampled to death at a general admission The Who concert.

          I think the music continued despite the tragedy. And if the last 9 years are any indication, techno is still very much alive.

        2. the love parade hadn’t been representing techno for almost a decade when that disaster happened. that’s why it was in exile in the ruhrpott instead of berlin where it belongs. this is like saying the Hindenburg disaster was the official end of aviation.

        3. I’ll inform sky and hopefully they will write the premiership out of history too, ever since that Hillsborough disaster.

          What do you do for a living?

    1. The first Push was engineered by Akai. Asking for Abelton in a box when your staring at it. Id assume ableton would just make this. Maybe you want the plugins and FX too which is ok but those features can eat a D when you have standalone. People tend to forget how awesome being away from a computer is especially when every moment your in front of a computer or a phone. Dedicated hardware is coming back.

      1. The very reason I decided to buy a ZOOM Live Track L-12 to record old school. Just me actually playing all the drums, bass, synths and guitars like I used to many many years ago. Eventually when basic tracks are done i’ll dump everything into various computers, but I do hope I will experience some real fun and maybe, lol, (fingers crossed) ‘how awesome being away from a computer is.’

      2. Performing or even just jamming away in your bedroom with dedicated hardware is definitely great and it’s no surprise that the synth and other musical hardware markets are booming at the moment with so many consumers wanting to get away from it all and just have some fun making music.

        However I must say that the Push2 is currently so good in that it actually can make you feel DAWless the most of the time (if you are aiming for that). And with 0 effort you can continue the work on the pc to finish the track (I mean 0 effort = no exporting and importing, since you are already working inside Live). And besides this, general purpose CPU’s are so powerful today, I don’t see the complete full featureset of Ableton Live (vst, max, etc) coming to dedicated hardware anytime soon.

        I love the idea of this Akai Force, but already owning a good pc, live suite and push2, I don’t see myself buying it.

      3. I would be mostly using to sequence external gear but i would love to have some loops and one shots of some sounds i creat myself that could make my rig more portable. this thing really seams like a stand alone push.

    2. Yes that would be my dream. This looks nice but what I’m really waiting for is standalone push with max4live integrated. I want to do my detailed editing and set up mapping etc. on a large screen and then play it live without the laptop.

  10. I‘d wish one of the elektrons could do half the job 🙁

    This machine does everything i want from a box like this!

    AKAI seems like you did it!

  11. Wow. Looks like Akai has got it. Like mentioned before they need to really nail the workflow.. but this looks like a real deal. If I ever got bored with my deluge and saved some cash this would be my next thing.

    1. i guess they need to remove a few features of the Live to keep it attractive. also missing phono in and one pair of extra outputs. as well as DIN MIDI if you care about that…

  12. A Tisket a Tasket, gotta get some money and put this in my Basket!
    This product hits a lot of sweet spots, -it’s simply a brilliant UNIFIER,putting all the processes of a lot of seperate boxes ,controllers software interfaces cables,into 1 Portable hands ON Box.
    The market is ripe for this.Just look at all of us, Faffing about things don’t work as they shoul.moaning about integration,clutter,this box over that box,endless not quite solutions,spending money on niche products in our dream system.
    It’s a guanteed best seller (If it can be produced in massive volume,and has had reliable product testing done).Its a clutter killer.
    As for me ,yeah, like a lot of you I have spent a lot of money on the historical precursor products.
    Love to get one

  13. Look at you ravens, some one makes a plastic boxs with a lot of blinky lights and you all flock together. Not a lot of innovation, all existing interfaces and idees just slapt together in one oversized clunky box. This box screams lets boot up copy pasting music again shall we.

    Why did they not use this opportunity to not make a box for the modern producer that has a hand full of external gear. You want to be able connect some of that external gear like 6x stereo at ones and use the internal effects live on it.

    It would be better if the interface wasn’t oriented at standing and the parameter displays are below the pots.

  14. As someone who owns quite a bit of hardware (and software), including an MPC Live, I’d say this is a pretty great piece of kit. Nothing is going to do everything, but this looks to have taken what makes the MPC Live great, and enhanced it with the Ableton clip based approach that it so revered.

    While I’m a recent convert to Live from about 20 years of Cubase, I don’t have a lot of experience with the clip based approach. However, it has a lot to be desired and has led to some serious creativity for me in the studio. It seems Akai have put a lot of thought into the overall workflow using the 8×8 pad matrix that is really impressive. I’m sure their background designing the original Push and various other Live controllers doesn’t hurt.

    It looks like they have made some really nice UI enhancements to the firmware that, where appropriate, would be nice to see on the MPC Live / X. The biggest weakness of the MPC Live is with regards to MIDI sync and its use as a mulit-timbral sound module. Hopefully, that is addressed here and will trickle down to the MPC LIve / X. That said, the Ableton Link functionality is pretty much rock solid and should be on this device as well.

    If you are someone who prefers to use Live on your laptop, this product is not for you. If you are someone who appreciates the shear fun factor of dedicated hardware as well as the modern DAW / Ableton clip based approach, then this should fit the bill. However, there will inevitably be something you wish it did or didn’t do…

    BTW: Like the MPC Live / X, I’m sure some people will say, “It’s just a laptop in a box”. For me, when I am sitting in front of my Mac dropping block rocking beats 🙂 on my MPC Live, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s not about what’s under the hood as much as how it feels to use, and I adore mine. Even with it’s pathetic MIDI specifications. So, while I am perfectly content with my MPC LIve, the Force looks like a winner and might find it’s way into my studio.

    1. The biggest weakness of the MPC Live is with regards to MIDI sync and its use as a mulit-timbral sound module.

      Could you elaborate on that? Interested to know more about this. Do you mean it can’t play instruments by using different MIDI channels form external sources (USB MIDI) and what’s up with the Sync ?

      1. My best and greatest hardware instruments aren’t meant to also use Microsoft Word, etc.

        Regardless of all the opinions, this def demonstrates that we are now entering a time where they are trying to fuse what a computer can offer, into a hardware scenario. Warmly welcomed! And, I can see MK2 of this being 16 channel, with more outputs and some analog features (like the dave smith filter on the toraiz), etc.

        Q: I think it means, the MIDI timing on the AKAI LIVE (and recent “workstations”) isn’t ‘tight’ and can’t handle large amounts of MIDI information passing.

  15. I see a lot of enthusiasm and skepticism with this product for what it will and will not do. For me, this is a dream come true. I use hardware synths with my Ableton rig both in studio and live. I love the fact that you can export your Ableton Live session view into this…as in MIDI and stems and use the MIDI to control your outboard hardware synths through a clip matrix without a computer. I always wanted to like the MPC, but this is a game changer IMHO for electronic music artists that actually perform live and want to leave the laptop in the studio. Yeah, I know that you can do everything on a laptop with Ableton, but the hardware aspect of this is great, I also love that it is essentially a Push 3 / MPC / APC40 so it could be somewhat futureproof for a while with the ability to plug USB MIDI controllers into it and use outboard SATA SSDs. So I buying one and I could see myself returning back to completely hardware live performances and yet have a great all in one controller that I can use in the studio. Hopefully they will integrate 3rd party VST installations in the near future.

  16. [a] Biggest concern is that the LCD is a bit too far away. It should be angled. Unless used for live or standing up or having it on a stand angled does not look like very ergonomic. You-tube video show people hanging over the unit or using it standing up. How would this work sitting behind at a 45 degrees angle.

    [b] Potentially Limited / Half baked Live integration. For example, will it be able to control the Ableton instruments like Push does, probably not.

    [c] Why not compatible with the MPC2 software ? This means MPC2 software dead ?

    [d] Why limit it to control Live only and not add multi DAW support ?

    [e] Limited to 8 tracks ?

    [f] Why no 8 channels ADAT out with 48/96KHz ? (MPC5000 had 8 channels ADAT 44.1KHz)
    (Same applies to the X) Would have been nice to plug it into the backbone network audio chain.

    A Push 2 with an MPC Live or X offers much more for the money and studio and this is mainly for live use.
    Probably won’t see a Push 3, at least not something as a standalone unit. Push 2 still does the job very well.

  17. Will be interesting watching how this develops. Basically the same price as Push 2 and Live Suite. You gain some sort of portability at the cost of power/flexibility. Think it’ll come down to workflow.

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