3 Akai MPX8 Alternatives (2023)

using an alternative to the akai mpx8

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The Akai MPX8 is one of the more famous sampling boards on the market today. Released in 2013, it’s definitely not the oldest sampler on the market (or even close) but it’s still been able to make a name for itself. However, it’s not always the best name and the biggest complaints are usually related to file management. The MPX8 uses FAT32 file types along with a clunky file management system overall.

Still, it can definitely work and this portable sampler utilizes Akai Pro’s famous velocity-sensitive drum pads, comes with 21 classic samples, and an SD card slot to add your samples. Even though it’s not everyone’s favorite, it’s still popular among many musicians and it helps that it’s a budget-friendly option.

However, there are quite a few problems with this sampler that might make someone want to find an alternative. For instance, some users find that the samples they make end up getting mixed up with other samples. Others find that the whole interface is messy, and the loading time is pretty darn slow.

So whether you want to upgrade to a premium sampler, move more in the budget direction or just try something new there are plenty of reasons to explore alternatives to the MPX8. We’ll take a look at all your options but if you just want to skip ahead you can see what made the list here:

Best Overall
Native Instruments Mikro Mk3
9.9
  • Simple and intuitive but with enough options (including a large loop library) to keep things interesting
  • You can’t change the octaves on this machine, so there’s only one octave to work with
  • More than 500+ five-star reviews on Amazon with a reasonable price
Premium Pick
Novation Circuit Tracks
9.7
  • Premium quality at a reasonable price
  • It's not exclusively a sampler but instead includes a wide range of features
  • May not be enough for some hardcore samplers
Best Budget
AKAI Professional MPD218
9.8
  • Comparable to the AKAI MPX8 but with some major improvements like easier-to-use software
  • Very easy on the budget and excellent responsiveness for finger drumming
  • More than 3,000 five-star reviews on Amazon

What Makes The Akai MPX8 Good Or Bad?

Before we start digging into the alternative options, let’s make sure we understand what’s actually good about the MPX8. After all, we want to go for an alternative that’s better instead of making the move to a worse product.

We also want to know what’s bad about the product so we know what we’re looking for in an alternative.

Simplicity

When it comes to samplers (and a lot of other music gear for that matter) simplicity can be a bit of a mixed bag. Yes, it’s great to get started quickly and start making music but too much simplicity is limiting. You end up with not enough options and it’s a big sacrifice to make just to get started more quickly.

The MPX8 is simple but definitely falls into the category of too simple. So we want an alternative that’s easy to use but still has some depth to it.

Price Point

The MPX8 is definitely a budget-friendly sampler. But you get what you pay for and while that’s not always true it’s usually true when it comes to music. We’ll look at a wide range of price options when it comes to price so it doesn’t matter what your budget is you should be able to find a good alternative.

File Management

As previously mentioned, the Akai MPX8 uses the FAT32 filing system and it can be a little harder to use. It’s a little dated now and while the format isn’t going to be a deal breaker for a sampler, we’d definitely prefer a sampler with a better file management system.

Portability

One of the biggest plusses of the MPX8 is its portability. It’s easy to throw this sampler in your backpack or just carry it with you. Luckily, it’s not too difficult to find a sampler that’s similarly portable but in most cases, we don’t want an alternative that we can’t easily carry with us.

Best Alternative Options

Now that we have a better idea of what we want to see, let’s take a look at our favorite alternative options.

Best Overall: Native Instruments Mikro Mk3

Best Overall
Native Instruments Mikro Mk3
  • Simple and intuitive but with enough options (including a large loop library) to keep things interesting
  • You can’t change the octaves on this machine, so there’s only one octave to work with
  • More than 500+ five-star reviews on Amazon with a reasonable price

When this article was first written, we recommended the MK2 but now we’ve got to go with Native Instrument’s newer version: the Maschine Mikro Mk3.

This compact but powerful sampler has a great reputation in the industry with enough simplicity that beginners can jump right in and still enough complexity that more advanced users can find what they need.

Like the MPX8, this sampler is small enough to fit into a backpack and can be easily transported from one gig to another, but it’s also sturdy enough to put up with years of persistent use. I’m definitely not the only one saying that and there are more than 500 five-star reviews for this little guy on Amazon.

It’s also worth pointing out that some of the negative reviews are related to software issues and the fact that the Mk3 isn’t compatible with Windows 10. That was definitely more of an issue several years ago and you’d have to put in some effort to find something other than Windows 10 now.

You can effortlessly create beats with the sampler’s 16 highly sensitive (and back-lit multi-colored) pads, and assign patterns, samples, and sounds with this machine. With this sampler, you have access to over 2,000 sounds for drum kits, one-shot samples, basses, acoustic instruments, and leads. You also have a ton of flexibility when it comes to working those in and this video does a great job running through the key features:

When it comes to file types, the MK3 supports 7 different file types which solves one of the biggest problems with the Akai MPX8.

It also helps that the price point is pretty reasonable. This is definitely a more premium product (compared to the MPX8) but it’s not going to break the bank. You can read more reviews, take a closer look at all the features and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.

Premium Pick: Novation Circuit Tracks

Premium Pick
Novation Circuit Tracks
  • Premium quality at a reasonable price
  • It's not exclusively a sampler but instead includes a wide range of features
  • May not be enough for some hardcore samplers

If you’re looking for as many options as possible, then the Novation Circuit Tracks could be worth checking out. This video does a great job breaking down the long list of features:

As you can see, this isn’t exactly a pure sampler but instead, it’s more a groove box with a huge range of options that includes a sampler. For some musicians, that’s not going to be enough but if you were using the MPX8’s ready-t0-go loops and samples then this might be perfect for you.

The biggest downside here is portability. The Novation Circuit is actually a shorter length compared to the Akai MPX8 (by around 3 inches) but it’s almost 5 inches wider. You can still stash it in a backpack but it’s going to be a tighter squeeze.

You’ll also need to worry about the battery which lasts around 4 hours before it needs a charge. For most musicians, that’s not going to be a problem but it’s still worth mentioning when it comes to portability.

Overall, it’s a sampler and a whole lot more. That’s a win for some but could be a little over the top for others. You can take a closer look at everything this rig can do, read more reviews and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.

Best Budget: AKAI Professional MPD218

Best Budget
AKAI Professional MPD218
  • Comparable to the AKAI MPX8 but with some major improvements like easier-to-use software
  • Very easy on the budget and excellent responsiveness for finger drumming
  • More than 3,000 five-star reviews on Amazon

Sometimes the best alternative is simply another version of a product you already enjoy.

The MPD218 is still very easy on the budget and simple to use but has big upgrades when it comes to software and file storage. There’s still the FAT32 file type (which is present across the MPD line) but you also have exFAT, NTFS, and EXT4 as well.

The MPD218 really excels at finger drumming and this quick video does a great job highlighting the sensitivity of the touch pads:

You can also see from the video that this little guy is plenty portable. Despite having “professional” in the name, it’s not quite ready for center stage and it’s very much still a budget pick. But as far as budget picks go, it’s hard to beat and it helps that there are more than 3,000 five star reviews on Amazon backing this rig up.

You can read some of those reviews, take a closer look at the specs and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.

Closing Thoughts

Finding an alternative to anything can be a little confusing. You want to try and improve on what you don’t like without missing out on the things that you actually like about the original product.

But hopefully, you’ve been able to find what makes sense for you and your music out of this list. Considering the age of the Akai MPX8, it’s not too difficult to get an upgrade and you can often do it without breaking the bank.

What do you think? Did you find a good alternative?