Get The MPC Sound In Ableton Live

Sometimes new music producers think that they need to spend a small fortune on vintage hardware to get a retro sound.

While some might argue this is the most authentic route, there's no guarantee that your music is going to sound 'better' if you do this.

Buying retro equipment can bring with it all sorts of other problems - archaic connections and storage formats, faulty electronics and steep learning curves, not to mention your wallet feeling a hell of a lot lighter.

So before you splash the cash, we recommend exploring ways to get the sound you want with tools that you may already have.

Today's quick tip focusses on emulating one of our favourite vintage samplers; the MPC. We're going to show how by using just a few of Ableton's stock plugins, we can get close to the classic, gritty sound of the machine.

Let's dive in! 

First, let's transform our DAW into an MPC60 by making it 12-bit. Let's add the Redux device to our master channel and change the number of bits to 12. This should add some subtle noise and distortion to the signal, as well as reducing dynamic range:

Next, let's add the Auto Filter device, selecting the 'Tops Off & Crunch' preset. This does exactly what it says - shaves off the high-end frequencies and adds some 'crunch' via the Drive parameter.

This will help to further consolidate the 'lofi' grit we want to emulate. You can also experiment with the frequency cutoff point, bringing it down for a more 'submerged' or lofi sound:

Lastly, let's add a simple Utility device to tame a bit of the drive we added with the Auto Filter. Again, feel free to tweak the settings here to your own taste - you may want to leave a bit more of that distorted sound in:

And that's all there is to it!

Let's take a listen to the before and after when applied to some drums. Here are some sounds I picked out from our pack Vinyl Drums - Vintage Drum Samples.



And finally let's add in some more Hip Hop flavoured instrumental loops from our Soul City Beats pack:

See, no need to fork out thousands on eBay!

Have a go yourself and try tweaking the parameters. If you're not an Ableton user, the same blueprint can be used in any DAW using the same kind of FX chain.

Is software emulation as good as the real thing? Well, that's a big debate that everyone has their own view on - let us know your thoughts!


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