The Akai MPK Mini MKII is an affordable, compact, and really useful USB MIDI controller. It has 25 velocity-sensitive synth-action mini keys, 8 backlit velocity-sensitive pads, and 8 assignable Q-Link knobs. When it comes to value for money, the MPK Mini MKII does not disappoint.
It doesn’t matter if you want to use it for a live show or studio purposes, because this particular controller will provide you with everything you need and even more than that. It comes with a drum and keyboard pad combination which increases the convenience and versatility.
At the same time, it is compact enough so that you can fit it into a backpack and take it wherever you wish to go.
Before we get to the review, it’s worth noting that there is a newer version of the MPK Mini, the Akai Professional MPK Mini MK III. If you have the chance to pick up the MKIII then it’s worth doing that. It is also a very affordable, compact, and capable MIDI controller well worth the price.
Design and Construction
Akai is a known brand when it comes to creating affordable and high-end products for more than thirty years. This particular MIDI controller features a legacy construction, and you will feel the design when you lay your hands on it.
By saying that, you should understand that it is not bulletproof, but it is not fragile either. You can travel with it, and it will stand the test of time in your backpack. Since it is designed for touring, it means that can use it with ease wherever you are.
It comes with standard trigger pads that are great to the touch and feels good as well, which is all you will need for a product in this price range. Of course, it will not be able to surpass high-end models that you will find with a more expensive price tag, but it is perfect for novice producers and DJs.
The keys are smaller than a typical keyboard, but it is still playable after you get used to them. You will need a little bit of practice, and you will be surprised by the feel of playing when you learn how to do it.
Check out the sound test of Akai MPK Mini in this video!
The first thing that you will notice when it comes to Akai MPK Mini MKII is the compact design. It contains 25 keys and a relatively miniature controller, but when it comes to length, it is similar in size to a 13-inch MacBook Air.
By using this particular keyboard, you can enjoy portability. It does not matter if you are a skilled keyboardist or not, because it is an entirely different approach with this particular one.
Playing melodies and chords will not be a problem, which is in most cases the main reason why people use this particular controller overall. However, if you have large fingers, it will be challenging to play it especially because the keys are not weighted.
However, we are not saying that keys are lousy, since they are velocity-sensitive, which means that the velocity will change based on how hard you hit the keys. You will also be able to adjust the velocity curves based on the keys.
That is the reason why you should consider this particular keyboard controller because if you wish to use it to record basic chords and melodies for electronic music, it will be a piece of cake.
When it comes to pads, they are vast improvements when compared with the previous model which had issues with the build quality and sensitivity. Even though the pads are not quite the same level as the MPC, they feel great and are made with heavy-duty and thick rubber. In addition, the matte surface is a nice little touch.
It comes with a compact keyboard and a high-quality build, which means that you will be able to use it for years after purchase.
The next thing I have to mention is the rotary knobs. They are less than a centimeter tall and are susceptible to breaking when you throw them in a backpack, so, be mindful. These knobs do not turn endlessly, and they are sturdy enough for making soft synths and tweaks, but you have to program them correctly.
You will also get a four-way joystick that will replace typical mod and pitch wheels. It is a unique part, and the first generation did not have this particular addition. Therefore, the joysticks will allow you to enjoy without adding unnecessary space to the keyboard.
If you wish to understand how to set it up, you should watch this video!
- It is entirely USB powered, which means that you can easily install it and plug it wherever you go.
- It comes with VIP software and you do not have to sacrifice quality by choosing Akai MPK Mini MKII. You will also get the Air Hybrid 3 Synthesizer feature that you can quickly implement.
- The 360-degree stick will allow you to control the pitch with ease with side-to-side movements, with which you can change the modulations with up and down motions.
- Arpeggiator controls feature six buttons that will control every single aspect such as tempo tap controls, octave shift, and drum pads.
- Eight soft pads that are sensitive and smooth to the touch and come with bright red LED built-in lights.
As you can see, theAkai MPK Mini MKII is an excellent choice if you’re after a combination of compact design, affordable price tag, and perfect features that will allow you to enjoy it all the way.
- Value For Money – 10/10 – Even though you will get the basic MPK model that features the ability to move it around in a backpack without breaking a sweat, you can get it for a cheap price tag so that you can enjoy it all the way. It is the best choice within the price range and perfect for traveling DJs.
- Features – 8/10 – Since it comes with an affordable price tag, you will not be able to compare it with more advanced controllers. However, you will still get decent features and sound modules that will allow you to improve your DJ skills.
- Playability – 9/10 – I can easily say that one of the best things about Akai MPK Mini MKII is that you will get the ability to play it with ease and to transition from a regular keyboard to it in a matter of hours. Of course, the keys are smaller than regular keyboards, but they come with a velocity sensitivity design, which means that the sound will be based on how hard you press the key.
- Quality – 9/10 – The quality is very decent when you consider the affordable price tag. You will get a wide array of modules and the possibility to play drums with pads and change pitch based on your preferences.
That was the Akai MPK Mini MKII MIDI controller. Overall, it’s a decent solution that will provide you the possibility to start with music-making and sampling with ease.
If you have previous keyboard experience, you will be able to transition with ease. The best thing about it is the affordable price tag, but the price will not interfere with its features and sound quality.
The main disadvantage is its plastic build, but you will still be able to place it in a backpack and take it with you wherever you wish to go.