If you could only pack one controller in your backpack, and weight, size, and cost were at an absolute premium, the Akai MPK mini would be tough to beat. The latest salvo in the ultra-compact controller wars, Akai has taken the keyboard, pad controllers, and encoders from its LPK25 and LPD8 and packed them into one device. Specs:

  • 25 velocity-sensitive keys
  • 8 backlit, velocity-sensitive drum pads, which can access two banks for a total of 16 triggers (and also send CC, program change if you prefer)
  • 8 assignable knobs
  • MIDI Over USB, USB bus power
  • Arpeggiator: tap tempo, adjustable resolution, range, and patterns
  • Weight is “just over a pound” (specs list it as two pounds, shipping 2.5, but I believe the unit itself is lighter; confirming)

It’s driver-free, USB class-compliant, so should work not only with Mac, Windows, and Linux, but also iPad via the USB Camera Connection Kit. I’m verifying the compatibility of the latter, even if unofficial. (I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that eventually other tablets could follow suit.) Updated: at least one reader is using it with the iPad, whether that’s an officially-sanctioned combo or not.

Also nice, as on the other Akai units, is a built-in arpeggiator and a fair number of dedicated and assignable controls. Now, I’ll be honest; I’d still love to see someone make a high-end, ultra-compact unit for those who are willing to spend some extra cash (and weight) on feel. And you’ll want to look around at other options if you want MIDI DIN output for connecting to hardware. But as a bargain, this is quite a deal: street price is projected at just US$100.

Product page:
http://www.akaipro.com/mpkmini

  • http://www.derekjhunt.org Derek

    If only Akai put a joystiq or modwheel/pitch on it. I have the LPK25, but it really is lacking that functionality. I can't wait for Korg's upgraded mini version. I suppose I'll buy both… damn mini-keys GAS.

  • http://noisepages.com/members/eatyone/ Guillaume LECTEZ

    It's on m'y desk, but should not play with it before the 25…,

  • http://institutfatima.org pepezabala

    is it usb-powered?

  • Cody

    Ahh, this would go great with my iPad, but I'll settle for my trusty axiom 25. Now if they'd just do the mpd2000xl they'd be in business.

  • http://www.derekjhunt.org Derek

    Hmmm, Sweetwater's specs list a foot pedal and switch input ports on the device. @Guillaume or @Peter: Are there ports on the back (or is it just usb)?

  • lzr

    Argh, Akai! Really bad timing, I bought a Nanopad and a NanoKontrol this Summer and an LPK25 just a few weeks back, and now they release this. :(

    Well, gonna get this anyway. And sell the other three for cheap.

  • http://noisepages.com/members/papernoise/ Hanzo

    Actually if we look in this pricerange / device class this one from AKAI is clearly a winner. I was about to get one, but I opted for the Rock Band 3 keytar because of the trash factor :)

    jokes apart, the MPK mini would have been a winner if it had normal size keys and a modwheel. On the other hand this one has drumpads which you don't find in any other controller of this size (except the aforementioned Korg/AKAI dedicated drumpad controllers).

  • http://rekkerd.org/ Ronnie

    Great little controller. Even though I don't travel much I'm considering it so I can use it in the house when I'm away from my desk.

  • lzr

    But you can use one of the knobs as modwheel with ease, I guess.

  • Guillaume Lectez

    @ Derek

    Just a mini usb on the right, nothing else

  • http://noisepages.com/members/7arkathal/ kathal larkin

    aye, its really the lack of a pitch and mod wheel that kills this for me, other than that i would get it in an instant

  • http://www.rutgermuller.nl Rutger Muller

    Maybe it's possible to use aftertouch on one or two of the pads as a modwheel/pitchbend

  • http://dplex.com dplex

    The lack of a dedicated pitch wheel is a deal-killer for me as well.

  • http://www.tweakingknobs.com TweakingKnobs

    pretty cool , i got the lpk 25 and its pretty usefull for traveling and its solid, it has fallen twice from my desk really hard and it still jams perfectly.

    i might muy this when my lpj25 dies, its always cool to have knobs and buttons and keys to take away !

    ;-)

  • http://myspace.com/krzysiekcybulski krzysiek cybulski

    I'd love to see something like this, but even more compact – without the pads, olny with one row of knobs, and some kind of joystick/wheel for pitch… It also would be great if the keyboard had a better feel – unfortunately Akai has very spongy action.

  • Adam John Williams

    It works fine with the iPad, I've been using it with the Korg iMS-20 and Minisynth Pro today. It's totally awesome.

  • http://debsinha.com deb

    ergh! almost. one compact controller, just one, with a footswitch. argh!

  • http://tay0.com tay0

    I've said it before and I'll  say it again – put a ribbon controller on that thing! You could even put it on the left-hand side…

  • brain_powered

    I hope they follow this with an APC mini and an MPD mini as well…there can never be too many useful tiny controllers on my desk…

  • exatari

    Despite the lack of pitch/mod wheel, kudos to Akai for this no-brainer marriage of all of their small usb controllers. If you are paying attention Korg… you guys should come up with a box that records kaoss-pad touch controller movement like you implemented on the KP3 to control f/x but allow multiple patterns that are assignable to multiple cc's, midi notes or pitch bend. I am working on a software solution which imploys Max 5 but it would be nice to have a fancy little blinky hardware box with multiple controller squences! Keep it under $99 and bonus points if you can swing multi-color LEDs…

  • Heinrich Zwahlen

    i agree Peter..we need someone to make a small portable controller with weighted keys,

    Maschine pads and Kore knobs..

    preferably 37 keys for me.

  • micah

    mine just arrived yesterday from Novamusik. on the road for all of Jan and need something for some programming work. tested it out today and it's fantastic (given its size). that's what she said.

  • midihendrix

    Heinrich: the (now discontinued) korg microkontrol is that thing. it has amazing potential that was never realized unfortunately.

    im currently using microkontrol/launchpad/apogee duet/at4033 as my travel production gear

  • http://www.dubspot.com S. Rellz

    I picked up the MPK Mini a couple weeks ago to replace my M-Audio o2 and Akai MPD24 while I'm on the road. I've set up the pads to work with DrumRacks, knobs to work with Devices and also Prog 2 to work with Impulse in Ableton. Its nice to play, but can be a pain playing cords. I think I'll pick up the Korg MicroKey as Im streamlining my home setup.

    My travel setup is Akai MPK Mini/Novation Nocturn/Launchpad/Apogee Duet.

  • http://brunoafonso.com Bruno

    I can confirm too that it works beautifully with the iPad. Nice for iMS-20. Too bad it only supports 4 different programs/configurations. It could easily do 8 so we could program each one for each channel… :-)

  • http://www.suecae.com Robert Halvarsson

    So close to perfection. Only thing needed would be a mod-wheel. Esp. for those who have gotten either Linplug's new synth or Synapse Audio's Dune lately.

  • San Vizaj

    I want a 32/37 controller with the semi-weighted feel of the M-audio Axiom series.  Is there anything out there?

  • http://jordanbalagot.com Jordan314

    If only the USB port on my Akai LPK hadn't snapped off and the knob on my Akai MPD24 didn't generate MIDI noise. I just don't trust Akai products anymore.

  • http://noisepages.com/members/eatyone/ Guillaume LECTEZ

    Tested and approved!!!, now wait and see for the durability :)

  • Kevin

    Tried the ims-20 with the synthstation 25 (normally used with the iPod). It complained that the "accessory uses too much power". Tried the synthstation on laptop with no problem.

    Maybe there's some difference between synth station and Mpk mini?

  • mc

    It seems really great (other than size/weight) but no matter how you look at it you're going to need a plug of some sort in regards to the iPad. Whether it's a USB plug to get power(mac) or electrical power(iPad), you're still stuck to a wall. iPad battery would dwindle quite rapidly I think. The only other option I suppose would be several D size batteries. ..uh….. not gonna happen. ;-)

    Cheers!

    mc

  • mc

    … I suppose I don't have much faith in the battery life. Please correct me if I'm wrong in my assumption. :)

    How IS the battery life?

  • MANNAE

    I WISH THEY WOULD HAVE MADE A PITCH NOBE LIKE THEY DID WITH THE MPK25

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