I’m a huge fan of midi controllers, they’re inexpensive, come in a variety of sizes/builds and most have awesome features. One of my favorites is the Akai Mpk Mini.
Now, I don’t suffer from gear lust, but if you put a good midi controller in front of me… at the right price, I’m adding it to my arsenal. One controller that’s always looked attractive to me was the MPK Mini so, I purchased it, and here’s what I think:
Review: Why Use The Akai Mpk Mini 25?
Here are some reasons to consider the Akai Mpk Mini if you’re in the market for a 25 Key Midi Controller.
1. Portability: Easy To Travel With (Fits In A Backpack)
The Akai MPK Mini is designed with portability in mind. It’s small and lightweight (1.6lbs), making it easy to fit into a backpack or carry around. I like putting mine in a Namba Bag.
2. Two Midi Controllers (LPK25 + LPD8) In 1:
The MPK Mini combines the features of the LPK25 and LPD8. It has 25 synth action keys (LPK25) and 8 backlit velocity sensitive MPC-style pads (LPD8).
It’s like having the best of both in one device.
3. Built-In Arpeggiator.
This arpeggiator, arp for short, is useful for creating quick melodic ideas, especially when you’re on the move and need to get a musical idea going or accompany chords.
4. Octave Switching Functionality:
Two buttons allowing you to change the octave of the keyboard you’re playing in. On a standard 88 key piano, there are 7.
5. Program Mode:
This mode is accessible via the ‘Program Select’ button and lets you choose between different preset configurations, and you can customize these presets using the provided software. In Reason 12, I like to have a program for Re-Groove, SSL Mixer, and a few parameters within my mixing suites.
6. Affordable Price:
The price can vary depending on the retailer and sale promos, and region. You can typically find the midi controller priced around $89-$130, but I’d recommend checking current prices on retailers’ websites or local music stores.
7. AKAI Mpk Mini Comes With Software:
The MPK Mini often comes bundled with software. What it’s bundled with varies. Here are some applications you’ll usually find included.
This usually includes Akai Pro MPC Essentials, SONiVOX Wobble, and Hybrid 3 by AIR Music Tech.
The Mpk Mini is currently on sale for $99 free shipping and handling
Akai MPK Mini Features Music Producers Will Love
Every music producer I’ve talked to that has an Mpk Mini, says they chose it based on the features mentioned below.
1. Velocity Sensitive Pads
The 8 MPC-style pads are backlit and velocity sensitive, which allows for finger drumming and sample triggering.
2. 8 Assignable Control Knobs
Give you hands on control which is great for EQing, adjusting fader levels, mixing, tweaking synth parameters, etc.
It gives you some good hands on approach that generally lacks when working with a keyboard and mouse.
3. 4 Way Thumbstick
This is a great for adjusting pitch bends, modulations which come in handy when adjusting the espressive permornaces within your mix.
4. Sustain Pedal Input
The sustain pedal input on the MPK significantly enhances playability, allowing for extended note durations and smoother transitions between notes.
This feature contributes to a smoother, professional sound in melodies and chord progressions.
5. USB Powered
Simple Plug and Play. No need for an external power source. Just plug it into your computer or laptop, and go.
6. Compact Design
Its design isn’t just about fitting into a backpack; it’s also about being able to set it up in tight spaces, perfect for small studio setups or crowded coffee tables.
7. Built-in Note Repeat Function:
Useful for quickly laying down hi-hat rolls, tom fill, drum break downs or other rhythmic elements in your tracks.
Multiple Color Options:
The MPK Mini comes in different varieties of color:
- Black and White
- Black and Red
- All Black,
- You can also get the casing custom made (or pained).
Akai Mpk Mini MIDI Editor Software
The software supplied with the MPK mini is decent. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles, but it does help when it comes to customizing functionality. Me personally, I’d like for my pitch bend to work vertically as opposed to horizontal (how it comes stock).
You get 4 banks, A – D to play with and modify to your liking. I like to give each bank separate CC midi commands that I can trigger via key or pad, most of the time it’s going to be pad. This makes composing easier for me when working with a smaller midi controller.
Midi parameters I map to the Akai Mpk Mini
- All Notes Off
- All Sound Off
- Pan Bank Select
Akai Bundled Music Production Software
MPK mini comes bundled with professional production software and virtual instruments for immediate music creation.
Software From AIR Music Tech
Hybrid 3: This is a subtractive synth with 6 oscillators. It comes with some pretty nice stock presets, very simple to use/tweak. At the time of this posting, you can find free Hybrid 3 expansions at Plugin Boutique.
Akai Software: Mpc Essentials
This is the stripped version of their flagship MPC software that allows you to sample and chop audio as you would on an Akai Mpc. It fully integrates with the Mpk Mini (by default) and can be used in standalone mode.
At the moment, the essentials version is only a 1 track plugin, but perfect for those who want something simple (as a vst/au) they can load in their DAW and slice samples with.
What I Hate About The Mpk Mini 25
1) Pad Sensitivity: It sucks! IMO that was one of the main selling points! Keys and pads merged together in a compact solution. The pads work, but sensitivity ruins the user experience.
If the pads were as responsive as the LPD8, it would be perfect. Can’t believe they messed that up.
2) Mod & Pitch Wheel: I know, it’s a mini controller, but having these two features could of really put this unit over the top. Even if they built in a cheap pitch/mod strip, that would have done the trick.
Final Thoughts On The Mpk Mini
All in all, it’s a good controller especially if it’s a tool you ‘need’ in your arsenal. Do you need a smaller 25 key midi keyboard? That’s what it all boils down to.
Who this controller is for
This midi keyboard is perfect for the person who moves around a lot or likes the flexibility of being able to work on the go. I like to toss this puppy in the backpack along with my MacBook and head off to Starbucks, the park, a friend’s house, etc.
It doesn’t have the stability of my Mpk49, but the Akai mini serves its purpose and it does it well.
Who this controller isn’t for
The music producer who likes hammering the life out of their keys. Composers expecting a weighted feel from the keys. Those who need the flexibility of full size (width) keyboard.
Akai Mpk Mini Price vs Functionality
The Mpk Mini is worth the price, especially if you need a controller thats light, mobile and budget friendly. Every music creative knows the struggle of finding affordable studio gear, that functions well and doesn’t hit the pockets too hard. The Akai Mpk Mini strikes that perfect balance and gets the job done!
I hope this review has brought some things into perspective. If you know someone thinking of purchasing the Mpk mini or another midi controller or similar size, please share this post with them.
Akai Mpk Mini FAQ: Common Mpk Questions
Purchasing a MIDI Controller can be huge for those who are just starting out. As a result, I’ve compiled a concise FAQ addressing the most common questions.
1. Is The Akai MPK Mini 25 Good For Beginners?
Yes, it’s user-friendly and ideal for beginners to start their MIDI journey.
2. Can I Use the Akai MPK Mini 25 With FL Studio?
Yes, The Mpk Mini is compatible FL Studio, Reason Studios, Reaper, Logic Pro X and most major DAWs.
3. Does The Akai MPK Mini 25 Require Drivers?
No drivers are needed; it’s plug-and-play. There is specific MPK Software that enhances functionality, but its not needed.
4. Can I Use The Akai MPK Mini 25 For Live Performances?
Yes, its compact size and suitable for live sets.
5. Does the Akai MPK Mini 25 Have a Sustain Pedal input?
Yes, it includes an input for external sustain pedals.
6. How Much Does The Akia Mpk Mini Weigh?
The Mpk Mini weighs 1.6 lbs and its measures are 7.08 x 12.48 x 1.92 inches.