Akai Mpk Mini Review: Best Bang For Your Buck?

Review AKAI Mpk Mini

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: What’s Good About The Akai Mpk Mini 25

1) Portability: Fits inside of any backpack and most laptop sleeve cases. It’s a tight fit stuffed into a sleeve (with the laptop), but it works. It fits best in a regular backpack or a Namba bag.

2) LPK25 + LPD8: You get the 25keys and 8 drum pads all in one unit. It’s like they had a baby!

3) Built-In Arpeggiator. This is a great feature, you have a choice of mapping it to a custom temp (using tap temp) or the standard global tempo. Normally, on compact units features get stripped, I’m glad they’ve kept this one.

4) Octave Functionality: Two buttons allowing you to control scale settings.

5) Program Mode: I love this feature because it allows you to choose between 4 programs. This allows you to assign the same knobs to multiple parameters. In Reason 7 Reason 11, I like to have a program for Re-Groove, SSL Mixer, and a few parameters within my mixing suites.

6) Price: it’s affordable, anywhere between 90 and $100 depending on where you’re buying it from of course. My LPK 25 and LPD8 were a little over $100 (not including shipping).

7) Software: Outside of its midi editing software, it comes with music production software. More on this below.

The Mpk Mini is currently on sale for $99 free shipping and handling


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

  • Sustain
  • Portamento
  • Expression
  • Resonance
  • 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

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

Those looking for midi control “A” stability for a cheap price. The producer who likes hammering the life out of their keys. Composers expecting a weighted feel from the keys. They aren’t full size (width).

I hope this review has brought some things into perspective. If you’re using any mini midi controllers let me know which models, and what you think about them.


More Music Biz Education