Akai is clearly ramping up its NAMM campaign, outing the latest in its legendary MPC series: the Renaissance. While the new boy is no dumb controller -- it packs a full audio interface, USB hub and lots of I/O -- for the first time the MPC gets dedicated external software. Sound familiar? Well yes, it's no doubt a direct response to the popular Maschine hardware / software combo from Native Instruments, but Akai isn't just playing catch-up here. The new hardware includes a "vintage" mode that recreates some of that legendary MPC3000/60 crunch, and the standalone software comes with a massive sound library, instant VST mapping (so you can work with all your third-party synths) as well as the option to run in VST / AU / RTAS mode itself. If you're worried about the possible implications of a "tethered" MPC, take a peek at the promo video over the jump, which should soon allay your fears.