This is just some of my rambling thoughts on MPC vs. Computer.
I had actually posted this on a bulletin board somewhere and decided to use it here.
I like the portability and durability of the MPC's. Well, software can be durable in CDROM format, but the computer that uses it necessarily isn't.
The MPC is also designed to handle 120F stage lights and high humidity environments. Computers are not. Even though the MPC is a `specialized computer`, performance gear in general is better at handling, gigging and other unfriendly environments.
Cost is a consideration. A computer with software and additional hardware accessories to perform stuff as easily and effortlessly as an MPC will cost you at least as much as an MPC. Please don't say, `I already have a computer, so I won't count the cost of that`. That's like saying it will only cost you $50 for a few records to be a DJ and neglecting the cost of a turntables.
Resale value. I know we do not buy gear knowing that we will sell it at a later date. But if you ever decide that it is not for you, guess which item you can get more of your cost back out of it if you do ever sell. Today, you cannot give away a computer (or software) that was made in 1987, however, you can fetch anywhere from $700 to $1200 for even a beat up MPC60 from the same year. Same story for the rest of the MPC series. They have a good way of holding on to a very good resale value even as Akai releases newer and better models. I know not know of another manufacturer's product that has this luxury. This, BTW, was the reason Akai re-released the MPC3000. Akai looked around and saw the 2nd prices of the original MPC3000's and thought, jeez way don't we just re-release this thing and tap into this hot market.
Ease of use. I have tried out of the software packages but have been mesmerized by the amount of fluff that has been packed into it. Almost enough to make you forget why you are using the software in the first place. The more advanced the software, the longer it takes to learn and the longer it takes to get the simplest of tasks done.
Lastly, and probably the most important, is the interface. Software does not have pads, dials, buttons and an NV slider, but it goes far beyond this. There is something about the immediate instant gratification that an MPC delivers that software can't. Notes are easily entered, samples easily trimmed, quick boot-up time, parameters easily changed and editing quickly performed. The only maintenance required is a occasional OS update (about twice a year) that takes about 2 minutes to complete. I do not even want to into detail about maintenance and updates required by the computer and software. I would also mention that while software based production has much nicer visual interface than an MPC, this can still be a curse. Music is meant to be heard, not seen. I hear too much music that sounds like it was painted by numbers on a computer screen instead of being listened to as it was made, like you are forced to do on an MPC.
You will likely find that software or an MPC will assist you in making your final product (a track) equally well, but half the fun is getting there. If I cannot use something that I enjoy to help me down that road, why even bother?