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Novation Impulse 49 vs Akai MPK249: Which is Right for Me?

Novation Impulse 49 vs. Akai MPK249_ Which is Right for Me_

You’ve FINALLY decided to UP your MIDI experience.

The issue?

You can’t take your pick.

The Novation Impulse 49 and the Akai MPK249 let you smoothly deliver music to your computer. They are a close match, but there can only be ONE WINNER.

Read on to find out your better companion in music-making!

Table of Contents

Novation Impulse 49 vs Akai MPK249: A Brief Overview

Novation Impulse 49 vs. Akai Professional MPK 249- A Brief Overview

The Novation Impulse 49 and the Akai Professional MPK 249 are excellent choices if you’re looking to upgrade your setup. You can’t go wrong with either.


Each still has a benefit over the other, DEPENDING ON YOUR NEED.

It’s always best to check which one understands your workflow more!

Getting to Know the Products

A MIDI keyboard is a great device for performing and experimenting with different tones, chords, and melodies.

Many people can take advantage of its keys to compose impressive sequences.

It comes in all shapes, features, sizes, and characteristics. With a ton of options in the market, there’s one that will give you a unique and personalized playing experience.

The Novation Impulse 49 is a USB MIDI controller. It offers full expression and precision with your creation.

The Akai Professional MPK249 keyboards, on the one hand, are the standard in several professional rigs. It provides tons of options to improve your workflow.

Novation Impulse 49

Novation Impulse 49

How does it help you achieve full DAW control?

It is equipped with 9 faders, 8 rotaries, 8 backlit performance pads, and an LCD screen for all your CUSTOM needs.

Novation Impulse is known for its first-class key bed.

It lets you feel like you’re playing on an instrument (and not just on a computer accessory). When you feel that the keys connect to you more, you create better sounds!

Novation Impulse also lets you roll beats, warp arpeggios, and launch clips. This is possible through accessible transport control, mixers, and a bunch of plugins.

Accessibility = Productivity and Efficiency

Wondering if Novation’s Impulse will work on your DAW?

Impulse 49 works with Ableton, Cubase, Logic, ProTools, Sonar, Studio One, and Garage Band. As if that isn’t enough options, the automap 4 software gives you wider choices for plugins.

The Impulse 49 is a dedicated key bed.

Do you want to access third-party instruments and effects or try Scene Launch and Clip Launch? Novation can provide it for you using Impulse’s drum pads.

Akai Professional MPK249

Akai Professional MPK249

Akai Professional MPK 249 has an aftertouch-enabled bed and comes with 8 faders, buttons, encoders, 16 performance pads, and transport controls.


  • MPC Note Repeat
  • MPC Swing
  • Arpeggiator for perfect melodic manipulation
  • Flexibility to add some vibrato
  • Ability to change up the modulation hands-free
  • De rigeur pitch and mod wheels

The best thing about Akai is that you can use the familiar work tools they’ve implemented for years.

No matter the complexity of your project, Akai can definitely hit the mark!

Wondering if your software integrates well with Akai Professional MPK 249?

The 49-set comes with FREE software options like Ableton Live Lite, Pro MPC Essentials, Hybrid 3 (by AIR Music Tech), and SONiVOX Twist.

A stunning software package PLUS enhanced hardware is the name of Akai’s game style.

No gap or misstep between your hardware and the software leads to STREAMLINED productivity!

The Similarities

You are NOT alone in feeling stuck between these two keyboard controllers.

The Novation Impulse 49 and the Akai MPK249 are pitted against each other so often because, in some ways, they can be pretty similar.

Here are some of the features both the Impulse 49 and Akai MPK249 live up to.

Design and Structure

  • Semi-weighted keys
  • Total number of keys
  • Aftertouch keyboard
  • Backlit LED buttons (for better visual effect)
  • An electronic display (for increased visibility)

Control and Features

  • Octave buttons
  • Tap tempo control
  • Arpeggiator function
  • Transport Controls
  • Pitch and Mod wheels
  • Mappable
  • USB-based connection
  • Windows/macOS Compatibility

The Head-to-Head: Impulse 49 vs. MPK249

The Head-to-Head- Impulse 49 vs. MPK249

It’s rare finding a product that already has everything you need.

That’s why it’s always good to know what product feature is most important to you. Taking notes of the benefits of each product can also help you make your final choice.

We’ve listed every feature unique to each keyboard and chose a subcategory winner.

Here’s a quick guide you can always review.

Portability: Novation Impulse 49

At first glance, the Akai Professional MPK 249 is the product to beat for PORTABILITY. It’s smaller, shorter, and thinner!


The size isn’t the only thing that matters. We prefer to carry a light, bulky item over a compact but heavy device.

The portability of the keyboard is based on how comfortable it is for you to carry it around.

You can remember it this way; COMFORTability = comPORTABILITY.

However, the Novation Impulse 49 does get problems on their semi-weighted keys. Many complain that Impulse 49 is just not weighted enough.

Sensitivity: Akai Professional MPK

A velocity-sensitive key that tells us how hard or soft you press will dictate how loud it will sound. In simple terms,

  • Lighter press = Softer sound
  • Harder press = Louder sound

Is that important to me? If you’re a beginner, the answer might be NO.

But, if you’re anything but a beginner, touch-sensitive keys are a must! The sensitivity control will result in a wider range and a more dynamic piece.

Without proper velocity-sensitive keys, it’s pretty difficult to play fluidly.

Akai Professional MPK 249 and Novation Impulse 49 both have pressure-sensitive and velocity-sensitive pads. Novation Impulse 49 is the only one with velocity-sensitive keys.

BUT! Sensitivity isn’t always good.

Novation Impulse 49 is notorious for having keys that are simply TOO sensitive. The notes you play get duplicated, and the dynamic range is too wide.

Compatibility: Novation Impulse 49

Both Novation Impulse and Akai Professional MPK score high in the compatibility factor.

Still, one outranks the other.

Both keyboards are mappable, USB-connected, and compatible with Windows and Mac OS. The Akai Professional MPK, however, loses out.

Automapping technology and iOS compatibility are unique to Novation Impulse. This means a smoother connection and improved ease of use.

Integrability: Novation Impulse 49

You’re not purchasing either the Akai Professional MPK or the Novation Impulse as a standalone keyboard.

The ability of the keyboard to mold closely to the software you already use is very important.

Both Impulse 49 and Akai Professional MPK include the Ableton Live Lite software. But both come with a lot of other free software.

Novation Impulse 49

  • Novation Bass Station
  • An analog bass synth
  • XLN Addictive Keys instrument
  • 4GB Loopmasters sample library

Akai Professional MPK

  • Pro MPC Essentials
  • Hybrid 3 (Analog synth-action)
  • SONiVOX Twist 2.0

The Akai Professional MPK comes with a better set of software.


We can always BUY the software we need.

We’re looking for the ABILITY to integrate with major DAWs and plugins in the keyboards.

Out of the two, Novation is the standout candidate in seamlessly working with major DAWs.

Creativity: Akai Professional MPK 249

In terms of features, Akai Professional MPK beats the Impulse 49 (and many keyboard controllers) by a long stretch.

The Akai Professional MPK 249 may lack transpose buttons but boasts navigation buttons for easier customizability. It also has a bank selector button for a better handle.

Drum pads? Akai.

The MPK249 has 16 drum pads, while Novation Impulse only has 8.

It doesn’t end with the number of drum pads. Some of the advanced features MPK249 comes with are listed below.

  • Color selection
  • Grouping
  • Triplet-based time division
  • Swing

The drum pads are also positioned ergonomically at the center.

If you’re experiencing discomfort with right twisting with the Impulse 49, the ergonomics of MPK is a big deal.

It’s weird, actually!

The Akai Professional MPK has more pads and keys, BUT it still is the more compact MIDI controller.

It TRUMPS the Novation Impulse 49 with double the drum pads PLUS efficient controls.

Affordability: Novation Impulse 49

The Akai Professional MPK is a GREAT keyboard in terms of controls!

It boasts a pro keyboard performance with the semi-weighted action of its 49 keys. You won’t lack anything for triggering the samples, loops, and melodic you need as well.

The Akai controller has 16 RGB-illuminated MPC-style pads with 4 banks each.

It doesn’t end there!

You also get 24 assignable Q-link controllers. That involves 8 control knobs, faders, and switches for a hassle-free assignable control system.

HONESTLY? Amazing stuff.

On the other hand, you have to shell out around $400! That’s a HUGE amount, and you might be thinking, “Do I have to shell out that much?”.

Basically, it depends on what you need.

But if you can’t make use of all the keys available in Akai Professional MPK, Novation’s controller is pretty good as well.

The Novation Impulse 49 has ultra-responsive keys with aftertouch. You’ll have full control of your DAWs and plugins with 8 knobs, 9 faders, and loads of buttons.

For $100 less, it works pretty great.

The Basics

It’s frustrating when you can’t choose which product is better for you.

We can imagine you asking yourself, “How do I break the tie?”.

Our secret?

Going back to the basics.

You can be a total beginner, or you might be looking to take it up a notch. Whichever the case is for you, ask yourself what you’re getting a keyboard for!

A few more buttons? A few more features? Price?

What is a MIDI Keyboard?

What is a MIDI Keyboard

Short for musical instrument digital interface, MIDI is a way to get your music to your computer.

But, MIDI controllers do not have internal sounds like digital instruments.

Where does the music come from then?

The sound source will be the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). It’s a standalone tool, whether it’s recording, playing, or mixing.

Yes, you CAN use DAW on its own without any midi controller!


A good keyboard will streamline your process. It’s WORTH IT!

Why Should I Get One?

MIDI keyboards have hefty price tags attached, but don’t get discouraged just yet!

Owning one makes production less stressful and more inspirational. It allows you to easily transfer your ideas from your head to your computer.

Many people who’ve owned keyboards agree that this product improves the melodies they come up with.

Also, if you’re looking to learn how to play the piano, this is a great chance to do so!

It can be expensive, but the creativity it provides makes it worth it!



Got a few more questions?

We got you!

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about Novation’s Impulse and Akai’s MPK that might help you in your final decision.

What Are the Common Issues With Novation Impulse 49?

Novation Impulse is stellar, especially when you hear all the specs in the music store. The real question is, does it live up to its claims?

Here are some of the common troubles people encounter with Novation Impulse 49.

  • Doesn’t truly feel semi-weighted (Too light)
  • Trouble setting up (Especially complicated setup in MacOS)
  • Keys, knobs, and pads are way too sensitive (Not good for live performances)
  • Uses too much power
  • Software issues with Logic Pro

What Are the Common Issues With Akai Professional MPK?

There are a few things the Akai Professional MPK lacks, but it still has its plethora of keys, pads, and switch controls.

Still, it has received some complaints. Here are some of the cons of buying the Akai Professional MPK.

  • Does not integrate well with other Akai products
  • Extremely heavy
  • Inconsistent sensitivity
  • Keys feel fully-weighted
  • Outfitting is a bit cheap for the price point
  • No plugin feature for headphones

What Are the Pros of Buying the Novation Impulse 49?

The thing about Novation is that I can get to a great sound design without shelling an extra $100.

But that’s not the main reason it’s a good choice.

The Novation Impulse 49 has a nice tactile feel on its keys. It’s also well made and provides you with a decent complement of controls.

Here are other observations we loved about the Novation Impulse 49.

  • Works amazing with Ableton
  • Automap software makes it easy to get started
  • Easy transport and setup
  • Stable feel with Ableton integration

What Are the Pros of Buying the Akai Professional MPK 249?

Aside from the endless customizability you get from the number of keys in Akai, it boasts a few other great perks.

Looks and layout-wise, it comes in a simple-cut, functional look and an efficient layout we love.

In our opinion, learning the curve is quick and easy. Here are some of the other things we enjoyed.

  • Properly responsive pads
  • Quick and reliable octave shift
  • LOTS of programmable and controlled feature
  • Friendly to beginners

What Is the Purpose of Each Button and Key?

The Novation Impulse 49 and the Akai Professional MPK 249 have all these keys, buttons, and pads. If you’re not sure what they’re for, here’s a short description of their purpose!

Present in Both

  • Octave buttons – for shifting the keyboards in one-octave increments for a wider range of sounds
  • Tap tempo control button – for adjusting the tempo externally on tap
  • Transport controls – for easy playback and movement through the recording
  • Faders – for adjusting volume, pitch, notes, and EQ (8 for Akai Professional MPK 249 vs. 9 in Novation Impulse 49)
  • Modulation wheel – for changing sound elements and notes
  • Drum pads – to assign trigger loops, samples, and pitch notes
  • Aftertouch – for sensitivity to pressure after first-contact

Only in Akai Professional MPK 249

  • Bank selector button – for efficiently controlling independent knobs, pads, faders, and keys
  • Navigation buttons – for going through files bit by bit

Only in Novation Impulse 49

  • Transpose buttons – for shifting the pitch
  • Velocity-sensitive keys – to assign a touch-dependent sound volume

Sum it Up!

Sum it Up!

The Novation Impulse 49 and the Akai Professional MPK 249 have their quirks. A feature in one can MAKE OR BREAK your choice.

In our opinion, it can be disorienting looking at so many deciding factors.

For a simpler basis on which one you should purchase, check out this “For You” section. It’s a short guide on which device might suit you better.

Novation Impulse 49

Novation Impulse 49 is the perfect middle ground for MIDI needs. Is it for you, though?

For you

  • If you want ABSOLUTE DAW control
  • If you’re a pro
  • If you’re using Ableton (works seamlessly with Impulse 49)
  • If you’re looking at AFFORDABILITY

Not For You

  • You don’t have a computer
  • You’re a complete beginner
  • You’re playing live most of the time

Akai Professional MPK 249

Akai Professional MPK 249 boasts a features-packed system. But do you really need it?

For you

  • If you’re looking for MAXIMUM CREATIVITY
  • If the drum pads are the most important for you
  • If you’re playing live frequently
  • If you’re a beginner

Not For You

  • You have a limited budget
  • You’re looking for an ecosystem
  • You want integration with other Akai device

The Winner: Novation Impulse 49

The Novation Impulse 49 and the Akai Professional MPK 249 are SOLID MIDI keyboards. Just go back to WHY you’re buying keyboards.

Is it the pads, the knobs, the faders, the keys?

For us, it’s the full complement of controls at a price we can reach.

Akai has more features, but we only really need responsive keys, smooth-action knobs, pitch control, and modulation options.

What makes Novation’s Impulse THE perfect choice? The BALANCE of customizability and affordability!

We hope this article helped you pick a device to pick up at the nearest guitar center!

About the author


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.