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Akai MPK249 Review: The Ultimate 49 Keys + 16 Pad Controller

akai mpk249 review

All creators of music know that the QUALITY of tools you use can shape the sounds you produce.

You could be the most talented producer in the world, but your pieces might seem like the work of a beginner if you aren’t using the proper equipment.

At the same time, even a beginner is more likely to produce quality music when using quality production gear!

In this review, we talk about one of the best 49-key MIDI controller options on the market today that will help you turn your talent into professional-sounding music: the Akai MPK249

Table of Contents

Akai MPK249 Review

Akai MPK 249

Everybody knows the mantra: “You are only as strong as your weakest link.” Well, in music production, you are only as strong as the QUALITY OF YOUR TOOLS.

Luckily for those of us with a penchant for quality creation, there are plenty of different tools on the market that can help further your production caliber.

The Akai MPK249, in particular, is a state-of-the-art performance pad and keyboard controller that could be the perfect option for musicians on a budget who are looking to improve their production quality.

In our books, this high-quality keyboard controller gets a perfect score of 5 out of 5 stars.

Keep reading below to find out more about this quality piece of music production equipment.

Pros

  • Wide availability of bright colors on the drum pads
  • Bright backlit LCD screen
  • Slim design for optimal portability or storage
  • Software bundle for added DAW and VST options
  • Durable and lightweight build

Cons

  • Budget-friendly but still on the expensive side, costing several hundred dollars
  • Very similar to older versions in the MPK series of MIDI controllers
  • May not be ideal for beginners who are looking for a simpler entry option

Akai MPK249 Buyer’s Guide

As with any product, there will be both advantages and disadvantages when it comes to purchasing.

Unfortunately, even a product that rates a 5 out of 5 stars may have a couple of cons involved.

It’s the customer’s job to weigh these factors against each other, keeping each of them in mind while deciding whether or not to purchase the product.

Here are some of the pros and cons of buying and using the Akai MPK249 keyboard controller.

Akai MPK249 back view

Key Features

When it comes down to it, all that REALLY matters about a keyboard controller is its features and what it can deliver to the musician who uses it.

These features are what determine whether or not the piece of equipment will be worth purchasing and using to produce music.

The Akai MPK249 has many great features that could benefit any musician who may decide to use it.

Here are some of the essential features this keyboard controller includes:

  • Full-sized keyboard with 49 semi-weighted keys
  • Keys have aftertouch for dynamic play
  • RGB LED backlit drum pads
  • Bundled software including Ableton Live Lite, AIR Hybrid 3, and SONiVOX Twist 2.0
  • Quick, responsive LCD screen
  • Includes 8 faders, 8 control knobs, and 8 backlit switches that are all assignable
  • USB-MIDI keyboard with 5-pin MIDI ins and outs
  • Additional controls such as:
    • MPC Note Repeat
    • MPC Swing
    • MPC Full Level
    • 16 Levels
    • Tap Tempo
    • Time Division
    • Arpeggio

The Akai MPK249 is an upgrade from the company’s previous keyboard controller, the MPK49.

The MPK249 is slimmer and more aesthetically appealing with its backlit and customizable RGB LED drum pads.

Akai describes this keyboard controller as more comfortable and easier to play compared to other models on the market. Brand new with this model is also its crisp, improved LCD screen made for optimum resolution and usability.

Another great feature that might appeal to those looking for a little extra is the inclusion of a software package.

This software package includes Ableton Live Lite, AIR Hybrid 3, and SONiVOX Twist 2.0.

These are all quality programs any budding music producer would love to add to their utility belt.

For those who are interested in expanding their software collection, the Akai MPK 249’s price tag might be a reasonable one.

The MPK 249’s inclusion of pedal connections could also be a great feature for those who are looking to add more control to their sound.

Users who are more familiar with playing a traditional piano or keyboard may feel more comfortable when using a suspension pedal.

Because of this, the feature could be great for beginners who are still adjusting to a MIDI keyboard controller.

Workflow and Creativity

The Akai MPK 249 is designed to be incredibly easy to use.

In fact, although it does include several features that could be confusing to someone just starting out, even a beginner could be able to figure out this keyboard controller with moderate ease.

This piece of state-of-the-art equipment is designed as a standard MIDI keyboard controller with 49 semi-weighted keys. It also has a full-size layout to make up a premium key bed in the style of a standard piano.

This setup allows optimal comfortability when playing for users of all experience levels.

On top of that, the model comes equipped with easy-to-use pctave controls to allow the musician to easily play a large range of notes, harmonies, bass lines, and solo leads, all with the press of a few buttons.

RELATED: Best 49 Key MIDI Controllers on the Market

Simple Configuration

The MPK 249 is incredibly easy to set up on your computer, as it is designed to be a plug-and-play keyboard controller.

No drivers are necessary to install this model.

With that said, musicians who are Mac users should take care to pay attention to the warning given at setup regarding the exiting of the Keyboard Setup Assistant. This pop-up warning is seen the first time the MPK 249 is connected to the computer.

Other than that, however, the keyboard controller is simple to configure regardless of what type of computer you will be using it with. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure this one out!

Akai MPK249 zoomed in

Akai MPK ISO Compatibility

For those users wishing to utilize a MIDI controller while mobile without the use of a laptop, the Akai MPK 249 could be a great option. This model can be hooked up in low-power mode to your iPad.

For the iOS compatibility to work, however, you will need to have the Apple Camera Kit to have access to the proper USB port. When using the MPK 249 with an iPad, the pads will not be lit up and the LCD screen will be dimmer.

However, this low-power usage will allow the keyboard controller to be operated while powered by your iPad. This feature could be ideal for musicians who frequently produce while on the go.

If doing live performances, this feature would also allow a player to leave his or her bulky laptop at home in exchange for their slim and portable iPad.

Explaining MIDI Keyboards and the Akai MPK249

Before you begin your search for the perfect MIDI controller or performance pad, you should first understand the basics of what the product is and how it works.

After all, you can’t accurately decide if you’re not well-informed, and, with the prices of most of the models on the market, it would be well worth your time to educate yourself before beginning to look.

Man playing the Akai MPK249

The first thing to understand about MIDI keyboards is that they are NOT simply “digital pianos” or “digital keyboards.”

A MIDI keyboard controller is unable to make sounds on its own as a piano or standard keyboard doe. They do not store any sounds internally.

These pieces of equipment are designed to be used with software programs called Digital Audio Workstations, otherwise known as DAWs. Some examples of DAWs are Ableton, Logic, and Pro Tools.

Ableton is an attractive option that is also included in the software bundle that comes with the Akai MPK 249.

RELATED: The Best MIDI Controllers For Ableton

When looking into different models of MIDI controllers, it’s important to remember that there are a wide variety of features out there, and there’s a chance you might not need all of them.

More expensive, higher-end models often come with all the bells and whistles.

These models may be ideal for professionals with a good amount of experience who are familiar with how to work a MIDI controller.

On the other hand, one of these models may very well be a waste of money for someone who is only just starting out. It’s important to be honest with yourself regarding your experience and the features you do or do not need.

Background on Akai

AKAI Professional Logo

Akai is a company rich in history. They’ve been providing quality music production equipment since 1984 when they entered the market with the intention of providing musicians with quality material.

They debuted the Akai MPC series in 1988 with the help of Roger Linn, a leading developer who joined the team in 1986.

Ever since then, for over 20 years now, Akai has been producing musical equipment that has successfully changed the lives of many artists.

As it has stood the test of time better than many other companies can attest, Akai has proven themselves as a leading option for all musicians, regardless of their skill or experience level.

Today, that worthiness does not stop at the MPK 249.

However, if the Akai MPK 249 keyboard controller doesn’t pique your interest, there are many other options you could consider.

Akai MPK 249 Alternatives

The market is full of different types of MIDI keyboard controllers, all ranging in price and the inclusion of features.

Although the Akai MPK 249 may be a good fit for a musician with a little bit of experience looking to enter the world of professional musical equipment at a reasonable price. Other artists may feel that a different model may be best.

For those artists, we have included a couple of other options that may be suitable.

If budget is the primary concern, the Alesis VI49 has a lot of the same features as the Akai MPK 249, but its price tag is virtually cut in half.

For those looking for a more in-depth keyboard controller, the 61-key version of the Novation Impulse could be a good option to consider.

On the other hand, if you’re a beginner looking for a simple keyboard controller to get you started, the Korg microKEY is an affordable, straightforward option that could be worth looking into.

Final Thoughts

In the end, you’re the only person who can decide which keyboard controller model is the best option for you.

There are several different brands and models available that offer a variety of features.

Depending on your skill level and the music you would like to produce, some features may not be necessary for you to have.

Make sure to take the time to compare several different models to ensure that you make the most well-informed decision possible in the end.

When you do begin your search, though, the Akai MPK 249 could be a great place to start.

  • Complete control
  • Plug-and-play with major DAWs
  • MPC style pads and APC style faders
Akai MPK 249

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About the author

cd38730de4e65cc7ce515086e48ba144

After becoming obsessed with the beats that were the soundtrack to his youth, Nick became a student of hip hop, digging for vinyl records, looking for the perfect break. Before he got his hands on an MPC sampler, he would mash these records, beats, and breaks into mixtapes and live DJ sets.