Akai Professional MPK249 MIDI Keyboard Review
Akai Professional launched their MPK II series of USB pad keyboard controller models and they have quickly become quite popular with consumers. The MPK249 MIDI features forty-nine keys and a number of upgrades.
The Akai Professional MPK MIDI Rundown
As we have mentioned, this model features some cool upgrades including drum pad lighting, and some other simple tweaks to the controller. The manufacturer explained that they used consumer feedback from the past four years to implement important new features into this model for improved user experience. Akai wanted to focus on the controller capabilities but they have also included some of their new music creation software as well.
This model is definitely a step up for the OG USB model a few years back. The MPK249 is much slimmer in size and includes MPC drum pads and LED lights that allow the user to choose the color, giving the controller a sick look. The semi-weighted key bed is totally new and redesigned to increase comfort and playability. The large LCD screen is also a new addition and gives the controller higher quality res and improved speed.
The controller comes with eight assignable control knobs, buttons and faders at the top of the device, which are perfect for tweaking and mixing a variety of plug-ins, VSTs and effects. These are high quality and are also mapped seamlessly with DAW programs such as Ableton Live, Logic and of course, Pro Tools. Also, this model offers the possibility of four banks of controllers and pads, which is more than enough for you to combine sounds.
Another major highlight is the software package which includes Ableton Live, Hybrid 3, MPC Essentials, and Sonivox. If you love playing around with new software, then this controller and software package is for you. However, if you’re already comfortable with the software you have, then the package may not be a big selling point for you, but most consumers can agree that the controller is worth the price, with or without the package of software.
Top features for this model include the fact that the keys are equipped with after-touch for more dynamic play, the forty-nine weight keybed, the LED backlit trigger pads, the software package and the fast LCD screen which is perfect for DAW based work. The signature mod wheels and pitch bend, octave controls and expression and sustain pedal inputs are also pretty sweet.
MPK Controller Pros and Cons
Pros: Who doesn’t love the cool LED lights on drum pads in a dark studio? The LCD screen is much clearer than past models, which is not a must-have but definitely a plus. The keys feel more comfortable and are considered by many users to be some of the best on the market. The sleeker design is always nice if you need a portable model. The mapping is flawless. The software package is perfect if you’re looking for new additions. The body of the MIDI is described as solid, without being heavy, giving this model the feel of an expensive keyboard. Many consumers felt that it was definitely worth the price considering the added software bundle.
Cons: The software package is nice, but many users felt that it didn’t make the price worth it. This was especially true for buyers who already have programs they regularly use. When lit up, the drum pads look really fancy, but the manufacturer never improved the overall quality in terms of pressure sensitivity and velocity, which was a common consumer complaint. Most consumers felt that the so called upgrades were basically just more of the same features and nothing to really brag about or make a purchase worth it. While marketed as slim and portable, many consumers felt that the design was still too bulky and preferred the more compact design of the Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII MIDI.
Some users who are new to DAW use felt that it was very difficult to setup Logic pro. While the keyboard does come equipped with a number of presets like most DAWs out there, you may need to read up on how to navigate Logic. For most newbies, the difficulty using this program prevented them from jumping right in to start working with their new MIDI, which was very frustrating.
MIDI Review Conclusion and Rating
Are all of these upgrades as innovative and jaw dropping to the music production process like the manufacturer would have us believe? Well, the answer is no. It’s worth purchasing this model if you’re on the hunt for a MIDI that comes with a nice software package, but if you’re already set on that front, it’s probably not worth the purchase considering the pads were not improved and there weren’t many impressive new additions. The drum pads with the backlit lighting look really sleek and the overall reconfigured setup has it’s pros. In the grand scheme of things, this all makes sense being that the manufacturer approached a newer design in terms of don’t fix what isn’t broken. The original MPK boards were a huge success for Akai, so this model should help to keep their reputation going.
However, if you want to purchase a MIDI from Akai, stick with this newer model and don’t go with their older one. Arguably, this model is everything that the original MPK was not. The buttons and keyboard are true enough to the original design, but the dramatically improved knobs, faders and DAW buttons give this MIDI an entirely new look and personality. While some consumers felt that the drum pads didn’t have much to offer, others felt that the pads felt very dynamic and usable, all without needing to make any tweaks to the factory settings.
Overall, Akai Professional MPK249 MIDI Keyboard is well-built, solid and durable. It’s also well worth the investment if you’re in need of some software programs. Consumers who purchased this model gave it a rating of four out of five stars for the same reliable features and the addition of some fun flashy new ones.