Akai's MPC Live II is a portable studio with built-in speakers

James Trew
Managing Editor
Akai MPC Live II

Akai hasn’t been shy about reinventing the classic MPC series. Right now you have at least five options to choose from, and that doesn’t include the apps (or… headphones). Today, Akai reveals the MPC Live II. As the name suggests, it’s a sequel to 2017’s original Live, which offered battery power and computer-free use for beat-makers who wanted something that would fit in their studio, as well as their carry on.

The Live II has one obvious new addition: a pair of “studio monitors” built right in. The speakers sit along the bottom and offer stereo sound wherever you are. Previously, you’d have to create music in headphones, and it’s likely you’ll still want to do that for the most part, but having speakers on board will definitely make this a little more “complete” as a standalone device. It also means you can give impromptu performances and play out at a house party we assume.

Akai MPC Live II.

Akai describes the speakers as “a convenient set of reference monitors for studio use,” which is a strong statement, given that most people with a home setup will be using 5-inch and upward standalone speakers. All that to say, it’s definitely a nice addition, we’re just interested to see what they sound like.

Beyond the new speakers, the Live II adds a few hardware buttons for easy access to common tasks (Mute, Time Correct and Mix among others). The master volume control is now on top, much easier to reach than around the back as before, which is more prudent given that you can now play music out loud. One other welcome hardware tweak for those with a lot of synthesizers is the addition of CV/Gate outputs. There’s also WiFi to compliment the Bluetooth connectivity of the original.

The MPC Live II will ship with the recent 2.8 firmware update, with MIDI Multi capabilities (the update will come to the original Live, too, but it’s one less thing for you to do?). This means you can use the Live II to control any other MIDI gear you might have along with some inter-device routing and control options. 

Beyond the above, it’s more of the same. The internal battery should be good for 5-6 hours of outlet-free use, and Akai is bundling in 16GB of sounds to get you started. The Live II still supports Ableton Link and that 7-inch, multitouch display remains. Picking one up will set you back $1,119 — the same as the original at launch, which you can snag for under a thousand right now, and maybe even less as of today.