Select Page

AKAI is a major player in the midi controller game. The AKAI Professional MPK49 is a hot seller on Amazon with great reviews over the years. Playing live sets or live recordings is a breeze. Love the weighted keys, the MPC pads, and the built-in arpeggiator.

There is a newer, bigger, fancier model available on the market with a price difference of a little over $100 or so, depending on where you purchase the controller. The new model is the AKAI Professional MPK249. If you’re looking for a more portable midi controller, the AKAI MPK Mini MKII is a super cheap option great for travel and music production on the fly…and it’s only 1.63 lbs.

AKAI MPK49 Review - Kanye West using MPK49

Kanye West using an AKAI MPK49 in the studio


Pros

  • All-in-one compact workstation design
  • AKAI Note Repeat and MPC swing
  • Arpeggiator and time division
  • Bright LCD screen
  • Simplicity
  • Great feel
  • Aftertouch on pads and keyboard

Cons

  • No automapping for older software
  • Only one button to toggle banks
  • Drum pads close together and not as fat as MPC drum machine pads
  • Power adaptor sold separately
  • No On/Off power switch

Features

The 49-key, semi-weighted keyboard with aftertouch and full-sized keys allows you to feel as though you’re playing a real keyboard, which captures the feel of what you’re playing. 49 keys means you can jump octaves much more easily than smaller, 25-key midi keyboards, which is great for performance.

One of the best parts of the AKAI MPK49 is the MPC-style note repeat and arpeggiator. Hold down a key and the sound repeats while pressure is applied. The arpeggiator is great for playing your favorite VSTi software patches, allowing the arps to unfold as pressure is applied to the keys. Using the Arpeggiator and Latch button in combination allows you strike a key once and have the controller continue playing that key so you can tweak the sound while playing or recording.

Via the Time Division feature, you can set timing options to ¼, ¼T (triplet), ⅛, ⅛T, 1/16, 1/16T, 1/32 and 1/32T. Both the instrument notes and drum programming can be tweaked with this feature, allowing you to easily add groove to your music instead of sounding like a machine. Unless that’s what you prefer.

The 12 genuine MPC pads offer velocity and pressure sensitivity for legendary percussion programming capability. Trigger as many as 48 sounds from four assignable banks. Velocity can be set so that your drums, regardless of how hard or soft you hit the pads, will play back at maximum velocity (127). A lot of producers tend to add fat pads in place of the stock pads.

With 8 full-sized sliders with 3 controller banks each for 24 sliders, you can switch up sounds and dynamics on the fly, making your music much more expressive. For any electronic music producer, 76 assignable controls, with assignable inputs that include an expression pedal, footswitch, and pitch bend and modulation wheels are more than enough to map what you need to with your DAW. Tweak, mix and adjust any MIDI assignable parameter to your heart’s content. MMC/MIDI transport controls keep you in command of your DAW without having to touch the computer mouse. These give you a ton of control.

The large, easy-to-read custom LCD display allows you to easily see which patches you’re playing and all the parameters associated with them. The MPK49 comes with an easy plug-and-play USB connection for Mac and PC; no driver installation required. This is perfect for users of Logic, FL Studio, Cubase, Studio One, Reaper, Digital Performer, Ableton, etc.

AKAI MPK49 Review

Portability: 4/5

The MPK49 isn’t the lightest nor smallest of midi controllers. The upgraded version, MPK249, is actually a bit bigger and heavier than its predecessor. If you’re looking for a more portable solution within the AKAI family, you’ll want to look at the AKAI MPK Mini MKII 25-key midi controller. If this is going to sit in your studio, this is a great pick. If you’re looking for something you can carry around to shows or on an airplane, this won’t be what you want, unless you want to carry big keyboards around 🙂

Feel: 5/5

The AKAI MPK49 midi controller offers semi-weighted keys. Semi-weighted keys are popular among many musicians. They play similar to a conventional piano keyboard but with less key resistance and a slightly springier release, but not in a bad way. This type of keyboard action allows expression and control with most virtual instruments.

If you’ve messed around with keyboards at your local music store or elsewhere, you may have felt keys that seem super flimsy, this is not one of those. The keys are made of a much higher quality than those toys. These keys have great action and are very solid.

Extra Controls: 5/5

The MPK49 comes with plenty of knobs, controls and sliders that can be auto-assigned or you can manually assign them yourself. With the onboard knobs, you can change parameters on the fly without having to use the mouse and laptop. This is great for playing or recording live.

Need to arpeggiate? It’s super simple with the MPK249’s arpeggiator and latch feature – which allows for continuous arpeggiation even without you having to hold the keys down.

Most producers opt for an MPK in order to get the MPC pads that AKAI is famous for. Each of the 12 pads are assignable. As mentioned above, a lot of producers choose to replace those with fat pads.

The A/B control allows you to switch between soundbanks easily. This control also lets you navigate between more than 8 channels of recording.

Pitch bend and modulation controls are another reason I love AKAI midi controller keyboards. Manually sliding basses, leads, etc and modding can make a track sound 100x better than automating your glides.

DAW Compatibility: 5/5

The AKAI MPK49 is compatible with all DAWs ((Ableton Live, Logic, FL Studio, Cubase, GarageBand, etc.)

Price: 3/5

The price for this midi controller keyboard isn’t the cheapest I’ve seen. That being said, it’s still a well-known brand that you can trust. AKAI’s are very popular but this isn’t the most affordable option for 49-key controllers.

How Does it Compare?

Novation Launchkey 49 Keyboard Controller MK2

This midi controller keyboard is priced much lower than the AKAI MPK49. The keys are narrower than the AKAI’s keys and are synth-weighted, which means that they don’t sound or feel as professional as the AKAI’s.

M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKIV

Also a cheaper midi keyboard controller than the MPK49. It doesn’t compare at all in terms of extra controls. The M-Audio Oxygen 49 is a good, budget beginners keyboard.