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Old 13th March 2012 , 03:07 AM
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Location: Birmingham
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Default Akai mpk49 review

1. Name of the product:

Akai MPK49



2. When you bought the product:

Monday 12th March 2012

3. Why you bought it:

My old M Audio Radium 61 is well and sincerely battered. In all fairness it was never a particularly pleasant controller. In recent times things had started going wrong. Many of the sliders and rotary encoders were starting to randomly spurt data for fun. Time for a replacement. I looked at another M Audio which felt just as badly built, I didn't think the Arturia effort was up to much either, same with lower priced things from Behringer. I liked the Novation stuff, but the Akai pulled me in for its solid build and feel.

4. How much did it cost:

£242 (and some pennies)

5. Installation / Setup:

To get going with, it was easy. I'm guessing it's OSX Core class compliant, meaning it doesn't rely on a unique driver to communicate with the computer. Since I don't use Windows, I can't confirm if it's that easy on that OS.
Where it does seem to get quite tricky, is controlling specific software packages. The mpk supports upto 30 profile templates. But Akai haven't bothered including them for some big names. No Logic or Protools are the most obvious ones.

6. What do you like about it?:

Lots to like here. So I'll summarise:
1) Build quality. Generally is very high. Nice weight to the unit, buttons click reassuringly, the keyboard itself is a million times nicer then the old M-Audio one I had.
2) The edit function. Lets you get quite involved with the guts of the beast with relatively little fuss. Things like Velocity curve for pads, arp gate and swing etc.
3) The fact that it has a built in arp which sends the note data. This is very handy for quickly setting arps up and then editing later when the data is in your software of choice.
4) MIDI clock options. Can be clocked to software or used to generate clock for other devices. Again....comes in handy when using the arp feature.

7. What donít you like about it?:

1) The pads don't feel anywhere near responsive enough. Even after playing with sensitivity and velocity curves.
2) Akai don't bother giving you a PSU with it either.
3) The included software editor is a bit clunky and cumbersome. It works but could be so much better. And the edit button on the mpk itself is just about as easy to use anyway.


8. Any improvements:

Better response when playing on the pads.
LED illumination of encoders & faders.


9. Comparison to similar products:

There is a lot of competition for midi keyboard controllers at this point. But I'd say the closest ones are probably the Novation SL 49 or Impulse models. Without seeing them to test, it's hard to say how they pan out against the mpk. On paper they look better.

10. Would you buy it again:

I'm not sure. Akai seem to have taken note of the competition with a heavily revised model due for launch called the Max 49. It's more software driven and therefore flexible (like Novation Automap) and crucially it's said that the pads are going to be much better.
In all honesty, I like it but might take it back. The pads really are that annoying on this model and the improvements look like they might be worth waiting for. Or I might go down the Novation route. I already have 2 of their controllers..

11. Platform:

Windows & Mac. See manufacturers data for compatible versions

12. Pros and cons summary:

A solid feeling and generally impressive controller, but let down by the poor pads and template support. Factor in the tough competition and even Akai's own update model...at £240 this might not make as much sense as it did 4 years ago at £299.

13. Rating:

3/5
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