If you’ve ever gotten into a deep YouTube hole, watching crafty music producers smash out epic beats using a few knobs and drum pads, then you’ve probably seen one of these two devices.
The Native Instruments Maschine MK3, and the Akai MPC One.
Two very different devices, yes, from two very different manufacturers. However, either can be used to achieve much the same result: a dope track that you’ve produced using samples, synths, and beat sequencing.
So, which one should you get?
We’re going to help you decide.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this Maschine MK3 vs Akai MPC One comparison:
- Product Design
- Controls and Functionality
- Inputs and Outputs
- Live Performance
- Price & Value For Money
- Pros & Cons
Ready? Let’s get started…
Main Differences: Maschine MK3 and Akai MPC One
The main differences between Maschine MK3 and Akai MPC One are:
- The Maschine needs to be plugged into a computer, whereas the MPC One is a standalone device.
- The MPC One has a better sampling workflow.
- The Maschine MK3 has more physical performance controls and functions.
- The MPC One connects to other devices via CV/Gate.
- The Maschine MK3 has a mic input.
So when it comes down to Maschine MK3 vs Akai MPC One, which one should you choose? Here’s a quick overview:
- Go for Maschine MK3 if you’re looking for a beautifully classy, tactile device for music production, beat creation, sampling, and sequencing. Grab it if you’re used to working with a laptop as part of your music production workflow.
- Go for Akai MPC One if you need a standalone unit for music production without a computer, need to connect to other gear via CV/gate, and/or are looking for a controller with the best sampling functionality around.
1. Product Design: Maschine MK3 vs Akai MPC One
Product Design: Maschine MK3
The Maschine MK3 is a full-scale music production box, designed to connect with your computer via USB, and run the Native Instruments Maschine software.
To that end, it’s an incredibly complex and deep device (though getting set up and smacking out a few beats is pretty simple).
The MK3 represents a huge step up from previous Maschines, most notably with its 2 high-resolution displays and huge pads.
The Maschine is a classy unit, built for the rigors of live performance, but with a sleek and sexy finish that brings a touch of elegance to any home studio.
Product Design: Akai MPC One
The Akai MPC One is a different vibe.
It’s a standalone unit (meaning it doesn’t need to connect to your computer) and is primarily designed for sample editing and MIDI sequencing.
As such, it has a few connections that the Maschine doesn’t (CV/gate plugs) and will talk with your other devices via MIDI.
The finish is very classy too, though, in my opinion, the Maschine is a cut above.
Product Design: Bottom Line
Ultimately, it depends on what you need.
If you require a standalone unit, then it’ll have to be the MPC One. If you’re happy working with a laptop plugged in at all times, and want access to the incredible range of instruments that Native Instruments offers, then it’s the Maschine MK3 for you.
Product Design Winner: Tie
2. Controls and Functionality: Maschine MK3 vs Akai MPC One
Controls and Functionality: Maschine MK3
There are few controllers that beat the MK3’s functionality.
The 16 gigantic pads are incredibly tactile and responsive, with velocity sensitivity built right in. The assignable colors are a nice touch too.
The two screens are beautiful to use, are the 8 rotary encoders below them, that control different parameters depending on what mode you’re in and what you’ve got up on the screens.
Between the 8 instrument banks (A through H), and the solo and mute controls alone, I’ve been able to craft some seriously fun beats.
Controls and Functionality: Akai MPC One
The Akai MPC One is a classy and tactile device, for sure.
It has the same number of pads as the Maschine, though they are a little smaller, and a couple of screens that do more or less what the Maschine’s do.
4 rotary encoders (plus one main encoder), plus a few other buttons such as start, stop, and record, make up the control set.
Controls and Functionality: Bottom Line
All in all, the Maschine MK3 offers a little bit more on the physical controls front. It is, of course, a bigger device in general, so it can afford to pack in a few extra buttons, pads, and encoders.
Controls and Functionality Winner: Maschine MK3
3. Inputs and Outputs: Maschine MK3 vs Akai MPC One
Inputs and Outputs: Maschine MK3
The Maschine MK3 doesn’t have a tonne of I/O.
That’s mostly because it’s designed for use with your computer, rather than a standalone unit.
Here’s what you get:
- 2x TRS line outs
- 2x TRS lin ins
- 1x mic input (no phantom power)
- 1x stereo headphone output
- 1x footswitch control inpuit
- MIDI in and out ports
Inputs and Outputs: Akai MPC One
The Akai MPC One, being a standalone music production tool is a little more sophisticated.
Here’s what its I/O looks like:
- 2x TRS line inputs
- 2x TRS line outputs
- 1x stereo headphone jack (mini-jack)
- MIDI in and out
- 4 TRS CV/Gate Jacks
- 1x USB Type-A
- 1x USB Type-B
- 1x SD card slot
Inputs and Outputs: Bottom Line
The Akai MPC One has the better I/O set, for sure. It does miss out on the microphone input, though, that the Maschine MK3 has.
Inputs and Outputs Winner: Akai MPC One
4. Sampling: Maschine MK3 vs Akai MPC One
Sampling: Maschine MK3
Sampling on the Maschine MK3 is straightforward, and basically what you’d expect.
A cool feature is the mic input which allows you to record some vocal hooks and then cut them up and layer on effects in the Maschine software.
Sampling: Akai MPC One
The MPC one has some pretty great sampling features.
Just attach your sound source via the two TRS inputs, and hit record!
From there, you can trim, slice, and loop your samples as you see fit, and then play them out on the 16 super-tactile pads.
Sampling: Bottom Line
If sampling is your main objective, then we’d go with the MPC One.
Those who’ve used both extensively agree that the MPC One has a more user-friendly sampling and editing workflow.
Sampling Winner: Akai MPC One
5. Live Performance: Maschine MK3 vs Akai MPC One
Live Performance: Maschine MK3
The Maschine MK3 has no shortage of live performance features.
For a touch-sensitive strip for modulation of effects parameters, to automatic arpeggiation and note repetition from holding just one button, you can come up with some seriously cool beats on the fly.
Live Performance: Akai MPC One
The Akai MPC One is for sure a live performance tool. For starters, it’s a standalone unit, so you don’t need to bring your laptop along.
But a quick look at the performance features tells you there’s more fun to be had.
Assignable knobs make it easy to create a workflow that suits your production methods, and the ability to control other equipment via MIDI or CV/Gate is super powerful.
Live Performance: Bottom Line
The winner here really depends on your live performance rig.
The MPC One has a benefit in that it doesn’t need a computer to run. That said, it’s not battery-powered, so you’ll still need to connect to a power outlet.
The Maschine MK3 needs a laptop, which can be a pain for some live performers, but it has more knobs and buttons to access without having to scroll through menus or hit a Shift button, so you’ve got more performance controls at your fingertips.
Performance Winner: Tie
6. Software: Maschine MK3 vs Akai MPC One
Software: Maschine MK3
The Maschine MK3 is all about the software.
It’s designed to be used with NI’s Maschine software, which can be used as a standalone desktop unit or inside your DAW.
You also get a tonne of epic Native Instruments plugins and software instruments from the Komplete range.
Software: Akai MPC One
The Akai MPC One comes with Akai’s MPC2 desktop software, which is essentially a simple DAW for mixing and mastering your tracks.
Software: Bottom Line
The Maschine is definitely the winner when it comes to software inclusions, by nature of the fact that it’s designed to control software, whereas the MPC One is a standalone instrument.
Software Winner: Maschine MK3
7. Composition: Maschine MK3 vs Akai MPC One
Composition: Maschine MK3
The Maschine MK3, with its standalone or in-DAW Maschine software, and capable scene and arrangement capabilities, is more than capable of composing entire tracks.
That said, most producers I’ve spoken to who use the Maschine MK3 don’t compose entirely in the native software.
More usually, the workflow is to get some sections happening in Maschine, bounce out the instruments, and throw them back into your DAW.
Then, you’d add any flourishes, finalize the arrangement, and do your mix and master.
Composition: Akai MPC One
The MPC One is more of a sampler/sequencer than an altogether composition-focused device.
It’s not that you can’t compose a full track using it, it’s just not really the intention behind the MPC.
Composition: Bottom Line
Neither device is really used for complete composition by most producers that own them. However, you can compose on either, and if this is a must for you, then go with the Maschine MK3.
Composition Winner: Maschine MK3
8. Price & Value For Money: Maschine MK3 vs Akai MPC One
Price & Value For Money: Maschine MK3
You’ll pay $650 for the Maschine MK3. It’s not a super-cheap device, that’s for sure.
However, considering the depth of features it offers, it’s well worth it. Heck, it’s worth it even for the plugins, samples, and instruments that it comes with!
Price & Value For Money: Akai MPC One
The MPC One is a little more expensive at $800.
Still pretty good value for what is pretty much the best sampler and sequencer on the market, but it might be getting out of the price range of a few would-be producers.
Price & Value For Money: Bottom Line
Where value for money is concerned, the Maschine MK3 is the winner, hands down.
Price & Value For Money Winner: Maschine MK3
9. Pros & Cons: Maschine MK3 vs Akai MPC One
Maschine MK3 Pros & Cons
- Tactile pads
- Incredible user experience from hardware to software
- Fantastic set of plugins and software instruments included
- Needs to be plugged into a computer
Akai MPC One Pros & Cons
- Completely standalone unit
- Fantastic sampling workflow
- 7” full-color screens
- Still needs a power input (can’t run on battery)
- No mic input
Conclusion & Takeaway
To summarize our findings in this Maschine MK3 vs Akai MPC One comparison, here are the winners for each category:
- Product Design – Tie
- Controls and Functionality – Maschine MK3
- Inputs and Outputs – Akai MPC One
- Sampling – Akai MPC One
- Live Performance – Tie
- Software – Maschine MK3
- Composition – Maschine MK3
- Price & Value For Money – Maschine MK3
Overall: Maschine MK3
All things considered, the Maschine MK3 is a more appealing device for the majority of producers.
It offers an incredible array of performance features, software instruments, and samples, and has the classiest design and build quality around.
We’d get the Akai MPC One if you’re dead set one having the best sampler and sequencer, but for all other reasons, go with the Maschine.
Akai MPC One
Products Comparison Table:
Spec / Feature
Akai MPC One
macOS 10.13, 10.14, 10.15, or 11 (latest update), Intel Core i5, 4 GB RAM.
Windows 10 (latest Service Pack, 64-bit only), Intel Core i5 or equivalent CPU, 4 GB RAM.
USB 2.0 Port, 9 GB free disk space for MASCHINE software and MASCHINE Library, 33 GB free disk space for KOMPLETE SELECT.
Processor: Quad-core ARM® processor
320 mm / 12.6″
272 mm / 10.7”
301 mm / 11.85″
272 mm / 10.7”
41 mm / 1.61″
53 mm / 2.1”
2.2 kg / 4.85 lbs
2.1 kg / 4.7 lbs
2 high-resolution RGB color displays
7” Full-color LED-backlit display with touch interface
Pro-grade, 96 kHz / 24-bit audio interface
2 x ¼” TRS line outputs, 2 x ¼” TRS line inputs, ¼” dynamic mic input, stereo headphone output, 1 x MIDI In, 1 x MIDI out; 1 x Footswitch
(2) 1/4” (6.35 mm) TRS inputs (1 stereo pair), (2) 1/4” (6.35 mm) TRS outputs (1 stereo pair), (1) 1/8” (3.5 mm) stereo headphone output, (1) 5-pin MIDI inputs, (1) 5-pin MIDI outputs, (4) 4 TRS CV/Gate Jacks, 8 Outputs Total, (1) USB Type-A port, (1) USB Type-B port, (1) SD Card slot
8 touch-sensitive knobs for parameter tweaking, Smart Strip for strumming notes, pitch bending sounds, performing with FX, and more, Four-directional push encoder for browsing, navigating, adjusting levels and balance
(4) 360° touch-sensitive Q-Link Knobs, (4) Q-Link Knob columns accessible via Q-Link button, (1) 360° encoder for display navigation and selection via push, (31) dedicated function buttons; red-, amber-, or green-backlit
Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Cubase, GarageBand, FL Studio, Avid Pro Tools, PreSonus Studio One, and more