Akai is an old and well-known manufacturer of keyboards. The company has been in the business for over 30 years.
In that period, they’ve been able to manufacture loads of music production gear, that has created some of the biggest tunes in all styles from hip hop to house.
The MPK Mini MK2 is an example of one of their most adored gear, and it’s an improvement of their older version of the MPK mini MIDI controller.
Let’s explore why this mini MIDI is worth looking at.
Akai MPK Mini MK2 Review
The Akai MPK Mini MIDI keyboard controller (Mark 2) has been designed specifically for portability and has been made with enough knobs, pads, and buttons to keep beatmakers on the move making sounds on the run.
Overall, we rate this MIDI keyboard 4.8 stars out of 5. Inside this Akai MPK Mini MK2 review, we’ll cover the key aspects of the device, including its notable advantages and disadvantages.
- Ultra-compact and easy to carry around
- Plug and play with all major DAW’s
- Has a solid and stable build
- Shipped with a great bundled software
- Massive value for money
- Multiple controls, keys, and knobs
- Small keys (due to compact size)
- Pads are not the most responsive
- MIDI mapping software can take some learning
Overview of the Akai MPK Mini MK2
One of the best capabilities of this Akai MPK mini keyboard is the velocity-sensitive pads. The pads light up when pressed, making it a lot easier to use in poorly lit environments.
The MPK Mini has 8 pads and multiple banks to store your sounds. The pads are made of thick rubber, and this improves the experience of using the device.
Good Things Come in Mini (MIDI) Packages
Besides the pads, the MPK mini is designed with several other controllers.
These include the pitch bend joystick, note repeat, tap tempo button, and the full level control.
You will also enjoy using the dedicated keys for note repeat, octave up and down, and full level mode.
It is designed with 8 rotary knobs that can be reassigned as per your preferences. These can be used to tweak synth parameters and manipulating effects from your fingertips.
The Akai MPK Mini works with both Windows 7 and up.
Users of iOS computers will have to use devices with OSX 10.7 or later versions of the operating system.
With this portable controller, you will NOT need to use a power adapter, letting you travel light when producing on the road.
The Akai MPK Mini keyboard is powered by a USB cable, and this is included in the original purchase.
All you need to do is connect it to your laptop or computer and the device will power up.
This makes the entire product even better for people who like to move around with their keyboards.
What’s in the Box?
The main advantage of the Akai MPK Mini MK2 is its compact design. The keyboard is small enough to fit in a normal-sized laptop bag. The knobs are quite short. This helps to prevent damage, especially if the keyboard is carried in the backpack.
That said, the shortness of the knobs will make them more uncomfortable to turn, these are the sacrifices one must make when buying a mini controller. Like all other Akai products, this keyboard is of desirable quality.
The MK2 is one of the highest quality products that you can find in the mini MIDI keyboard range. It will not get damaged under normal use. That said, it is NOT ADVISABLE to store it together with many other items.
If you intend to travel with the MPK mini, you should remember that it is not indestructible. Poor use will shorten the life of the device. The small size is definitely an advantage. However, you should be ready to work with mini keys.
It will be uncomfortable for music production at first, especially if you’re used to playing the keyboard with two hands like a piano. The pads are just large enough for you to use two index fingers side by side.
The velocity sensitivity is also very high. You will, however, get used to the small pads after using them for a while. Many people actually find the whole thing easy and fun to use once they got used to the small-sized keys to produce sound.
It’s also important to note that the keyboard also lacks LED display and modulation wheels.
The Akai MPK Mini MK2 is meant to be used with a DAW. It will take you a considerable period of time to set up the program.
The gadget can integrate perfectly with many different programs, although you may have to configure the software first.
To make your music production easier, you should read the user manual and use the resources provided on the internet. Also, you can contact the manufacturer if you have trouble integrating it with your software.
- SONiVOX Wobble: This is great for producing dubstep sounds. However, it fails in almost everything else.
- Hybrid 3: This one is mostly used to produce electronic sounds. You have to spend a lot of time learning about it to understand its functions.
- MPC Beats Software: A standard digital audio workstation that lets you edit samples and mix down your tracks. It’s something you might only use if you don’t already have one you like.
- VIP 3.1: Gives you access to your virtual instrument and effect collection. You can integrate your hardware and software seamlessly, which is great.
The keyboard is capable of storing four different presets and each of these can be edited using the software provided. The same software can be used to create new presets.
These presets can be transferred from the device to your computer and vice versa. You will need a USB device to do this.
The keyboard is plug-and-play so you won’t need to install any drivers for it to function.
Also, you should update the operating system of your computer to a version that is supported by the keyboard. People with larger fingers will definitely have trouble using the pads.
If you have such a problem, you will enjoy the fact that the pads are velocity-sensitive. This simply means the velocity will be altered, depending on how hard you hit the keys.
Akai MPK Mini MK2 Alternatives
1. Midiplus AKM320
Budget MIDI Controller Option
This keyboard costs a lot less than the Akia MPK Mini MK2.
The portable MIDI keyboard has 32 keys, which is more than those in the compact MPK Mini MK2 keyboard. It offers basic controls and is compact enough to fit in any backpack. Therefore, it can be used when traveling.
With this device, you shouldn’t expect high functionality. It is actually very basic and will work poorly in creating beats. As an advantage, it can integrate well with almost all popular DAWs.
Once you connect the device to your computer or laptop, it will automatically initiate a download of the necessary drivers. The software will be installed in minutes and you can start using the device.
Being such a compact device, the keys are quite small. They are also very stiff, and this worsens the user experience even further. Octave and transpose buttons are conveniently included in the design of this gadget.
The octave buttons allow you to cover a greater range with the limited keys on the keyboard. If you need to change the key in the middle of a song, you can use the transpose buttons.
The keys are velocity-sensitive. However, this function ought to have been improved since the sensitivity is very low.
2. Novation Launchkey Mini MK2
Best MIDI Pad Controller Alternative
This portable keyboard is compatible with iOS and Linux devices. It has a compact design and can easily be carried along when traveling. In order to use this keyboard with iOS devices, you will need Apple’s camera connection kit.
The device has 25 keys and 16 velocity-sensitive pads. In addition, it has 7 function buttons and eight knobs. The pads have RGB backlights in three different colors. Again, this device has very small keys.
The manufacturer makes up for this by including extra buttons, drum pads, and knobs. The overall design helps you to gain better control of the device, though you will still miss the piano experience.
You will not need to install any drivers in order to use the gadget.
This device is seamlessly compatible with most DAWs. It comes with the Ableton Live Lite 9 software and 1 GB of samples and loops.
It also integrates with other popular software like Pro Tools, FL Studio, and Reason.
Like the Akai MPK Mini MK2, this device does not require external power adapters to function. It is powered through USB cables, making it very easy to carry around.
The keyboard only weighs 1.5 pounds. Overall, the product is well-designed and highly functional. It offers a lot of control without being unnecessarily bulky.
The keyboard is quite similar to the MPK Mini MK2 and it will NOT disappoint.
3. Nektar IMPACT LX25+
Studio Quality MIDI Keyboard Controller
The Nektar Impact LX25+ is also very compact. It is designed to hook up to your DAW automatically, and this offers great convenience.
Although it’s small, the device has full-size keys that give you the traditional piano experience. These keys are covered, and this helps to complete the design of the gadget.
Also, the cover helps to protect the keys from dust. The keyboard has four velocity curves that increase in dynamics.
It also has three fixed velocity levels. You can use these fixed velocity levels if you want consistent results. All the buttons and controls on the device are labeled, so you don’t need to bother learning their functions.
It is also designed with four octave and transpose buttons, all of which are conveniently positioned on the device. In addition, it has 8 velocity-sensitive pads that you can use for groove and beat creation.
The pads can trigger with a light touch of the finger.
To show you the pad map that is presently being loaded, the device has LED lights. These come in four colors and further serve to decorate the keyboard.
The colors can also tell you the type of MIDI message the pads are sending.
The keyboard integrates with most of the popular DAWs. These include Reason, Cubase, Nuendo, Reaper, Studio One, and Sonar.
All you need to do is complete the installation of the software and you can start making music.
The Nektar Impact LX25+ is generally easy to use and is also very compact. It is also quite affordable. It costs just as much as the MPK Mini MK2.
Final Thoughts on the Akai Professional MPK Mini MK2
As you have seen in this Akai MPK Mini MK2 Review, the keyboard is quite a bargain. Many other manufacturers hike their prices just because of features already available in this keyboard.
The product is designed for people who like to work on their music when traveling. It’s small and can be carried around EASILY. Also, it is powered by USB cables, and this makes it even easier to carry around.
The knobs are even short to prevent breakage in case it falls when being moved.
The only notable disadvantage of the gadget is the fact that it has small keys.
These can be hard to use since most people are already used to piano-style keys. Regardless, we would recommend it to artists who travel a lot with their MIDI keyboards.
It serves its purpose better than most of the devices on the market, and for a much lower price.
OTHER AKAI REVIEWS:
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