Akai Mini MK2 Review –Is this the best MIDI controller available?

Music production can be daunting without the right tools. Are you in the market for the best MIDI controller that can bring out your creative genius and have you churning hit after hit? Well, we might have the perfect solution for you.

Akai Mini MK2 is among the globally recognized MIDI keyboard brands. Keep reading to find out why this controller is one of the best in the market.

Mini MK2 controller falls under Akai’s MPK series and is a perfect entry-level keyboard of low weight and slim build for portability. It features 25 keys and, pitch controller and plenty of tabs and knobs.

It could be best for studio sessions and on the road as well. However, the pads and the keyboard generally have not been built to perform live as they are too few to create complex beats.

What to expect with the Mini MK2

The Akai MK2 Mini is USB connected and this makes it easy to set up and launch your preferred DAW as it can integrate with may commonly listed and used. The editor allows for configurations to be custom designed and for the availability of use of presets. This controller lacks a MIDI port even though you might not need it. It has a great portable size that can fit into a laptop bag or backpack. As an improvement from the MK1, the quality of construction is great and everything is placed better and works well. You can expect to use this keyboard either in compatibility with your Windows or Mac OS PCs. Also, it has no power switch and comes on automatically.

What are the key features of the Mini MK2?

Keyboard

MK2 lacks aftertouch and only has three touch sensitive settings but provides great big keys that are perfect for comfort during longer hours of play. Though for people with big fingers, this will still be an issue. It may not be designed for live performances or complex music compositions but you could use it with any DAW and you can play your chords and melodies. This is largely attributed to the inability to adjust the velocity curves on the keyboard.

Pads and Knobs

It offers eight pads that can be easily programmed. They have a soft feel and are sensitive to velocity. The backlights light up on the sides when the percussion tabs are touched. Due to their few numbers the pads could be a little limiting in production.

The quality of the MK2’s rotary knobs could have been better as they lack that click that satisfies the knobs turns. They are eight in number and they have been enabled with the Q-link software which will help users manage and control filters, envelopes, or oscillators in your chosen synth. They are about a centimeter high which is a good length that protects them from breakage. They do not turn endlessly and would need your proper configuration to get them to tweak soft synths.

Joystick

Other controllers have wheels or touch-sensitive tabs for pitch and modulation. For the MK2 this is represented by a joystick controller that sits on the left top side of the keyboard. This does save on space.

Arpeggiator

Below the joystick is the arpeggiator with one button for on and off and another is a Tap Tempo for manually setting the tempo. Using the software editor, more changes are possible. You can set it to either use its own cock or to merge with an external channel such as the DAW application. It can be set to up to 32 notes with each note having triple variations.

Below the arpeggiator is the Sustain button that will see to it that when pressed and held down for a duration of time, the notes played in this time will be running on a continuous loop until you release the button. When pushed, this arpeggiator becomes active and loops notes continuously. The last button is labeled “Program” and can be pressed down and held simultaneously with the four top pads on the keyboard to make a switch between one or another preset.

Software

Comes provided with three different software:

  1. SONiVOX Wobble is a one-dimensional synth software great for making dubstep tracks and not much else beyond this. So, if you are not looking to create dubstep sounds, you should miss this launch.
  2. Hybrid 3 is highly electronic and technical naturally so might people, especially new keyboard controller users may struggle with this. It has a load of presets that are great for beat production and tweaking. The more you use this software, the more you can find that is useful.
  3. MPC Essentials to bring Akai-type sampling and workflow to your keyboard. It may be a little tasking to set it up but it is worth it to get the maximum use out of your controller. You will need to register for an Akai account and enter an authorization code to start it up.

Another useful software is the Virtual Instrument Player or VIP 3.0 that does not require Akai keyboards to function. This software is compatible with certain virtual instruments and these can be all controlled form one dashboard.

Connectivity

MK2 only uses USB to connect, plug and play and launch a selected DAW. It is extremely easy to set up and launch your preferred DAW as it can integrate with may commonly listed and used. The editor allows for configurations to be custom designed and for the availability of use of presets. This controller lacks a MIDI port even though you might not need it

Pros

  • Portable and light-weight
  • Affordable
  • Built-in arpeggiator
  • Great software provided

Cons

  • Limited velocity sensitivity
  • Not suitable for live performances

 

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Conclusion

If you are new to the industry looking for a reasonably priced MIDI keyboard that you can take with you everywhere possible and you really don’t have big ambitions as to how much you can do with it, the MK2 is perfect for you. It might not dazzle everyone with its efficiency but it will function properly and consistently.

Peter Smith

Welcome to MusicGearAdvisor! 4 years ago I rediscovered my passion for making music and began building my own home studio. As I have gone through my journey I realized that I am just as passionate about the equipment as I am about the music. I started MusicGearAdvisor as a way for me to share my learnings with others so you can get started making music that you dream of.

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