Your MPC hardware is capable of handling complex processing when sequencing MIDI data and audio. Just like an operating system on your computer, steps can be taken to optimize your workflow to experience the best possible performance. This article will cover some basic guidelines to optimize the MPC hardware's System Resources for getting the best performance from its CPU and managing RAM usage. We will also touch upon managing storage devices with the MPC and transferring data both to and from the MPC hardware with a computer.
The MPC's CPU and RAM usage can be referenced by selecting the System Resources icon at the upper right portion of the display in the Main modes. In the Menu display, CPU usage percentage will be displayed at the upper right portion of the display. The MPC's CPU functions similarly to the way your computer's CPU functions - the more resources you use simultaneously and the more you demand from the CPU, the harder it has to work to process everything - this can affect hardware performance. Using many tracks (both MIDI and audio), insert effects, and audio warping in your projects can restrict the performance of the MPC. While you should feel free to use tools like insert effects and audio warping creatively, just be mindful that they will use processing power. Using Audio warp algorithms is a CPU-intensive process as the MPC processes this audio as the project plays back. Warping many regions of audio can cause audio playback to dropout. Audio warping can be a very useful utility but it is a good practice to monitor how often and how much you use it. You can reduce the CPU resources required for these processes by adhering to the following guidelines:
- Minimize the amount of pitch adjustment (e.g., the Semi and Fine fields) used.
- Avoid warping very small track regions.
- Warp as few tracks or track regions as possible (i.e., reduce the total number of voices [of the polyphonic limit] that use the warp algorithm at a given time).
The MPC hardware's RAM stores the audio samples that are contained in your project (in both programs containing samples and audio tracks themselves) as well as help host the MPC's OS and aid in various system processes. The current RAM usage is displayed in the System Resources menu along with battery charge percentage and CPU usage. As you add audio content to your project, the RAM meter in System Resources will fill. Projects that use a greater amount of resources and show a high percentage of memory used will be more susceptible to performance issues. Like CPU usage, RAM usage should be monitored to ensure the best possible performance. If you find that you are working on a particularly demanding project, you can save it to a storage device, transport it to your computer, and continue working on your computer with the MPC software. When in Controller mode, the MPC will not use its own processor and RAM - it will use your computer's resources.
Checking Storage Space
The MPC hardware contains 16GB of internal storage memory. Some of this storage is allocated to the pre-installed factory sample content and the MPC's operating system but a user can save their projects, samples, programs, sequences, etc. directly to the internal storage. To check the current capacity of the internal drive (or any drive connected to the MPC):
- Open the MPC Browser.
- From Browser, select Places and highlight Internal (this is the MPC's internal drive).
- Hold the Shift button and press Drive Info at the bottom of the display to receive a popup with drive information including the Drive's name, the size of the drive, and how much free space is remaining on the drive.
Using Additional Storage Devices
If you are continuously saving your projects to the MPC's internal storage memory, you will eventually run out of storage space. Fortunately, the MPC X and MPC Live can accept several different types of storage devices including internally installed SATA drives (see page 208 of the user guide for SATA drive installation directions), USB flash drives, SD/SDHC cards, and external USB hard drives. You can use any of these types of storage devices as long as they are formatted in a way that the MPC hardware can read from and write to. The MPC hardware supports exFAT, FAT32, NTFS, and EXT4 file systems for read-write capability. It also supports the HFS+ format as read-only. As of firmware version 2.0.5, drives can be formatted directly on the MPC X or MPC Live. To do this:
- Open Browser
- Select Places
- Select the drive you wish to format from the list of storage devices
- Hold the Shift button on the MPC and select Format Drive at the bottom of the display
- The MPC will confirm that you want to format the drive - select OK
- The MPC will format the drive to exFAT
A few things to note:
- The MPC Live must be connected to power in order to format a drive.
- If a drive is write-protected, it cannot be formatted - the MPC will indicate whether a drive is write-protected by an icon that looks like a pencil with a slash through it.
- In order to format a drive with the MPC, the drive you are using must already be in a format that the MPC can read as discussed above.
Alternatively, you can use the MPC as a card reader for your computer while it is in Controller Mode in order to format a drive. See the video links below to learn more about formatting drives for use with the MPC with your computer:
- Akai Pro MPC X and MPC Live - Formatting a Drive (Windows)
- Akai Pro MPC X and MPC Live - Formatting a Drive (Mac)
- Akai Pro MPC Live and MPC X - Transferring Content to and from the MPC Live and MPC X
- MPC 101 - File Management Tips & Tricks
- MPC Live - Battery Optimization