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Akai’s standalone Force music production box gets a new track arranger, enhanced MIDI options and Ableton Live project import

Thanks to the launch of NI’s Maschine+ and the discredited Ableton Push 3 ‘leak’, standalone music production boxes have been all over the music tech news these past few weeks. Now, Akai Pro’s Force is heading back into the limelight, thanks to a version 3.0.5 firmware update that promises to deliver “the ultimate standalone clip-launching music production experience.”

The headline act here is the new Arranger, which is designed to help you turn jams and song sketches into complete tracks. We’re promised fast and simple recording of clips, and fluid editing via the touchscreen GUI. Once your track is finished you can export it as a stereo master or as separate audio tracks.

MIDI support has also been improved, with the MIDI Multi option enabling you to control up to 32 MIDI devices via USB. These can be connected via a USB hub, and you have the power to modify MIDI device names, layer MIDI tracks and set device behaviour with Track and Master settings.

The Force workflow has been refined, too: you can simultaneously control multiple parameters with custom knob assignments, and pads can now have 16 dynamic levels. There’s also enhanced Ableton Live integration: not only can you use Force as a pre-mapped Ableton Live controller (either wirelessly or connected via an Ethernet cable), but it’s also now capable of importing Live projects (previously, only Live project export was available).

The Force 3.0.5 firmware update is a free one for existing users, with the Force hardware costing $999/£900. Find out more on the Akai Pro website.

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