Reviews and questions about the entry-level MPC500
By HxHika44 Sat Jan 09, 2021 3:35 am
I already own the MPC Live, however it is just too big (and awkward looking) for busking.
I need a sampler/beat device to do some light hip hop style busking so it needs to have it's own battery (I don't want to carry around a power supply so rules out other MPCs).

I intend on perhaps sampling my acoustic guitar live (or not) but at the very least make a cool beat live.
I would also like to loop guitar or a tamborine or something to play along side the beat I have made on the sampler (something you CAN do with the MPC Live because of it's looper function but since the live is so big and awkward I'd rather not use it) but if no other device could do this I could possibly use the device (MPC or other) in conjunction with a Loopstation pedal.

So would an SP404 be a better bet than a 500 or vice versa? Also are there any other suggestions for a device that might suit my needs?
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By mr_debauch Sat Jan 09, 2021 6:16 am
well the SX with the latest firmware has an easier time sequencing than the original and i believe the A is pretty much the same thing. the 500 has a good sequencer and can have 128mb of samples loaded at once (the 404 is basically unlimited)

playing an instrument live while your beat is playing... ugh... not sure those are the pieces of kit for that (they don't do the on the fly looping like what you were talking about) .. you gotta record the sample, assign it to a pad on the mpc.. record it into the sequence. the 404 i don't think you can just record a sample while a sequence is playing because they are in different modes. also you don't want to record the whole entire thing on to the pad you selected... just the instrument.

the 404 wins with the fx... you can tweak those live. maybe if you had a live 2, you get the looping, and you get the built in speakers so if you don't need it that loud you may not need to lug your battery powered amp with you.
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By NearTao Sat Jan 09, 2021 11:18 am
you are worried about the bulk of the live... but what are you using for a speaker or a stand? Is where you are busking providing those? You have a decent amp and speaker already?

Maybe describe your desired workflow... you planning on finger drumming the whole time? Looking to play actual songs? Make a short beat and then start juggling, dancing, and free style rapping?
By HxHika44 Sat Jan 09, 2021 11:32 am
mr_debauch wrote:well the SX with the latest firmware has an easier time sequencing than the original and i believe the A is pretty much the same thing. the 500 has a good sequencer and can have 128mb of samples loaded at once (the 404 is basically unlimited)

playing an instrument live while your beat is playing... ugh... not sure those are the pieces of kit for that (they don't do the on the fly looping like what you were talking about) .. you gotta record the sample, assign it to a pad on the mpc.. record it into the sequence. the 404 i don't think you can just record a sample while a sequence is playing because they are in different modes. also you don't want to record the whole entire thing on to the pad you selected... just the instrument.

the 404 wins with the fx... you can tweak those live. maybe if you had a live 2, you get the looping, and you get the built in speakers so if you don't need it that loud you may not need to lug your battery powered amp with you.


Yeah I see, so the second part to the question might apply, are any other devices that would be better?
By HxHika44 Sat Jan 09, 2021 11:46 am
NearTao wrote:you are worried about the bulk of the live... but what are you using for a speaker or a stand? Is where you are busking providing those? You have a decent amp and speaker already?

Maybe describe your desired workflow... you planning on finger drumming the whole time? Looking to play actual songs? Make a short beat and then start juggling, dancing, and free style rapping?


I am only in the idea stage as of right now, and will taylor my show around the best combination of gear I can come up with.

I of course intend on rapping over my beat and singing too, with or without incorporating guitar, and potentially working with another singer/rapper also. I don't intend on finger drumming the whole time, just enough to show that what I am doing is created live and I'm not just playing a pre made and arranged backing track.

The Live is thick and wide (I actually really do not like the design at all), if I wanted to just hold it in my hands whilst making my beat its awkward af, the 500 however is half the size (and the aesthetic is also more old school).

Speaker wise its highley likely I'd use a Roland Street Cube. Although I am yet to research my best choice on that.
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By NearTao Sat Jan 09, 2021 12:28 pm
Yeah... the Live is a bit beefy for trying to hold in one hand and play in the other... that said... I can envision a workflow on the MPC 500 that could allow for this, but you'll definitely need practice. I have both the Live mk2 and the 500, and I would say weight wise the 500 is probably a third to a quarter of the Live... definitely the mk2.

A few things to consider if you're planning on mic'ing up... the 500 does provide phantom power on the inputs... so you wouldn't necessarily need an amp for that... though it does force you to have record on... you can monitor, but I don't think you'll be able to change beats, sequences, or whatever while you're also in record mode... however, a thing to note... because I did this on accident while repairing my 500... it looked like you could bridge the line in to the line out, so you *could* have a pass through for the inputs if you wanted to mess around with the guts of the 500. I didn't write down what I had bridged or connected improperly... so not going to be able to help you there off hand, but I suspect it is possible to mod the 500 to do this...

Another thing that you might want to consider if you go with the 500 is your relationship between programs, tracks, and track mutes... track mute mode is a pretty easy way to bring sounds in and out without having to replay everything... though you can always also just hold erase and a pad to take out specific notes before building up new patterns. I don't recall a pad mute mode on the 500... but I might be forgetting something there.

As far as sound... I'd probably suggest going mono for all your samples... it will double your polyphony and double your sample time... allowing you to get up to 32 sounds playing at the same time, and have what is it... 23 or 26 minutes of mono sample time... ought to be plenty especially if you're just recording one shots...

The Q-link can be super fun to do some tape stop, scratching, and similar type sounds... just map to pitch and a white noise sample to start... set the sample to Note On... and go to town just to get a feel for it... then you can do some vocal chops or other samples from there... it's pretty fun... gets you the effect without needing to lug more gear around... and with a pad bank A/B/C/D can get you 48 different samples at the touch of your fingers.

Other thoughts? if you go the 500 route, you're likely to want a looper... I'd definitely suggest checking out the Chase Bliss Audio Blooper, though if you want to midi sync it you'll need either another piece of gear, or maybe a TRS to midi cable *might* work... haven't tried it myself. Blooper straddles between the goofball and straight up looping side... for example has some really good aging effects on one knob to get you some of that noise/wow/flutter if you're looking to wear out your sound some... but it also has a great eight layer system for recording loops... *and* it's got a mode to take your loops, and chop them up and resequenced them... plus it's got a pretty good amp section... so you might be able to work the MPC 500 rec gain knob and the Volume knob on the Blooper to get your gain up... anyways... I'm all over the place there and just scratching the surface.

Good luck man and keep at it!
By HxHika44 Sat Jan 09, 2021 3:08 pm
That's good to know about the phantom power on the 500, and what you said about bridging the mic in/out for direct monitoring is a great idea.

So with the Q-link on the 500, it changes the function of the slider? As a Maschine user originally I have to say I much prefer the layouts and design of the old MPCs (pre touch screen devices). The design of the Live with it's annoying linux interface imo actually makes a lot of things slower as it's quicker to simply learn button shortcuts to achieve things, and in comparison the knob controls of Maschine devices are actually a joy to use most of the time compared to a temperamental touch screen.

But I will definitely look into those loopers you mentioned as that could be the solution. So there are ways of making a looper play in tempo with a device that has a midi out? If the midi signal is just outputting a pulse to keep time a midi head to TRS would work surely?

I think I side more with the 500 than the 404 at this point, it can also be had relatively cheap compared to new MPCs I might buy one and see which device I could use most efficiently.
Who knows I might end up just using the Live, but I just don't like the thing, I opened it up the other day and its very poorly built inside, I've seen some much better built devices that are also made in China. Loose wires, rough edges, it just looks a mess, no wonder some people get reliability issues with the Live, it doesn't seem to be built well at all when you see the internals. There's a lot of wasted space inside too, I can't help feeling they really could have made it thinner and more compact if they tried, they gave it a battery so why not finish the job and actually make it more portable? And thats forgetting the temperamental touch screen.
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By NearTao Sat Jan 09, 2021 3:38 pm
The Slider/Q-Link, when pressing <Mode> <Pad1/Slider> lets you use the q-link to alter Tune, Filter, or Volume... so it isn't exactly feature rich... but you can do a few tricks, and you can record the data from it... so for example... you could drop a high hat every sixteenth note, and then record a Q-Link/Slider sweep set for volume to have a roll of hats fade in...

I'll leave the touch screen conversation as a matter of opinion... personally I find it just as fast or faster for many things... but having dedicated buttons is nice too. And yeah, when a touch screen is being sloppy it does suck...

The Blooper (URL has a link to the manual) can accept CV gate, expression pedal, and midi (with the right adapters/cables)... I have mine sync'd over midi, but have clocked it to CV as well... basically when you've got it sync'd to midi it will punch in/punch out to the nearest quarter note... and it will honor the 1.1.1 measure start. I've found it to introduce a bit of latency... maybe 10ms or so... but unless you're playing the exact same thing you are looping, you're not going to really notice or hear the phasing issues it would introduce, and for my uses it hasn't been an issue. Chase Bliss makes a lot of different crazy pedals, and they are all very customizable, automatable, and each one can cover a lot of ground. For example... the Blooper can also function as a tape style delay, can pitch up or down loops in sync or out of sync, can do LP/HP filtering, can wear out loops over time, resequenced loops... it's a pretty crazy little box, but it is on the pricy side. Knobs worked with Chase Bliss on this specific pedal... and has a bunch of great videos showing it off... for example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoUNwYXcONU shows some of the early prototype and what they were doing with sounds.
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By richie Sat Jan 09, 2021 4:32 pm
It's somewhat nice to see that you're interested in busking while we are in a global pandemic. Best of luck to you!
By HxHika44 Sat Jan 09, 2021 9:57 pm
The blooper looks amazing, and It's a pedal I might be interested in one day however for now I can't quite justify the price unfortunately, thanks for the suggestion though, I think I could get a Loopstation cheap enough instead.

I think I could get the timing right by ear if I was going to use a pedal without having it synched through midi. Does anyone know of anyone that already does this kind of thing that could give me some more ideas about how to set up a workflow (using an MPC with a looper pedal)?

And as for busking during the pandemic, I have a friend who was busking in London a month ago or so just before our restrictions tightened, even though it was raining he apparently still had some great luck, even drew a small socially distanced crowd. Around the same time I was in trafalgar square and there were all kinds of street performances going on (some of the crowds were barely socially distanced I must say) but it proves people still want to see this kind of thing, perhaps the side effects of imprisoning people in their homes?
Personally I have no problem with it as long as everyone is sensible, the naysayers can go and f*** themselves quite frankly.
If socially distanced how is it any different to those Italians (I think it was in Rome?) singing out their windows together when they first went into lockdown.
By HxHika44 Wed Jan 13, 2021 7:09 pm
So in the end I bought a 500, and it is f***ing amazing, I love it. I decided the sp404 would be less comfortable for me and also I prefer the pads on the 500. The Live is just overkill for a portable beat maker, this thing does exactly what most people buy the Live for tbh. I think what I am going to do is use it in conjunction with a Boss RC-30 (or better). Thanks for the input!