Akai's original MPC revolutionized music forever by combining all of the tools a producer needs—a sampler, mixer, multi-track recorder and editor—in one device. The new ultra-portable iPad version of the hardware might do the same thing for a new generation.
The Akai MPC Fly crams the tools used by hip hop and electronic music producers into a slick, iPad-sized MIDI controller and accompanying app. The MPC Fly features 16 backlit pads for activating samples, and they look and feel like those on Akai's standalone workstations. The package is designed to work with Akai's MPC Fly app for actually producing and editing music, but the MPC Fly will work as a controller for other apps as well. Like the iPad, the controller is designed to be portable: It's built into a hinged case so you can fold up the package and go when you're done.
Music production on the iPad has been technically possible forever, but the MPC Fly makes professional work feasible. The iPad's touchscreen is fine for certain parts of the process, but without physical pads the apps are just toys. Akai has made a tool that looks like it could be the basis for an entire Kanye West record. The MPC Fly should be available mid-year. There's no word on price, though. [Akai]