Akai have revealed Force – a portable, standalone, groovebox and production machine designed to create, produce and mix your music without a computer. Having designed the original Push controller for Ableton, Live users will recognise the casing, with similar buttons and stylings, and inside the machine isn't much different. Featuring clip launching, built-in synths, step sequencing, direct sampling into the unit and a seven-inch multi-touch screen, it's designed to be a complete DAW in hardware – a bold move from Akai.
Available from February at a price of $1,499, Force features an 8x8 RGB clip-launching matrix for launching clips, sequencing and playing in beats and melodies, as well as two audio inputs for stereo sampling and four audio outs for sending your signals around the studio. There's MIDI if you fancy using a full-size keyboard or other controller and there's even CV ins and outs for connecting to modular setups. There's also a cool crossfader, which can be assigned to any parameter for quick chopping and morphing. Akai have also included eight knobs, with eight OLED screens for reading out the current parameter and setting.
Inside the box, Akai have designed a custom-made DAW software with mixing capabilities, real-time time stretching, the ability to record up to eight tracks simultaneously and have added AIR effects and have even added their own VSTs that run right there on the unit in real-time. There are built-in SD card and USB stick slots for storing samples and projects, and there's also a slot to fit your own 2.5" hard drive for extra space.
While the unit comes with samples built in, from March you'll be able to connect directly to sample service Splice and download sounds straight to Force, if you've got the appropriate Splice account. You'll also be able to use Force as an Ableton Live controller.
Akai Pro have promised a lot with Force – it looks like an extremely ambitious piece of kit. We'll let you know how it works in the real world as soon as we get our hands on one. Interestingly, Akai haven't given the Force the coveted MPC tag, like their Live and X range from previous years. It'll be interesting to see how it differs from the legendary beat machine.
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