I remember when I first started out creating music on my laptop. First, programming my melodies note by note in the piano roll in my DAW. Then, I found out I could enable my typing keyboard to jam out some chords here and there. But I couldn’t capture any velocities, I needed to alter each note’s velocity manually after recording to get a human feel out of my composition. Okay, okay, let’s get a small midi keyboard so I can get a true human keyboard performance in there, even though I need to switch octaves with these buttons now and then.
Drat, I can’t lay down any drum patterns with these tiny keyboard keys, I need a portable drum pads! But, but, I also want to control my VST synth knobs and my mixer automation, I need some portable knob controller. Now how do I get all of these controllers in my bag?
What if I told you there was a single controller for all of this? Enter the AKAI Pro MPK Mini.
AKAI MPK Mini Features
So basically, for a little more money you’ll get the LPK 25 with drum pads and knobs added which makes the controller a bit bigger (think 2 rows of LPK 25 keys) , but still portable with 6 x 13.6 x 1.2 inches and 2 pounds in weight. The device is plug and play by USB, where it also draws its power from. You’ll have 25 keys, 8 drumpads, 8 knobs and buttons for switching octaves / pad banks and enabling the built-in arpeggiator. Further control is provided with added software where you can define midi presets for the pads and configure your arpeggiator.
Pros and Cons
The MPK Mini is really portable. You can fit it right with your laptop in a backpack and still have spare room for an audio interface such as the Apogee One. While you do get a velocity sensitive keyboard, don’t expect a full keyboard experience. Especially people with larger fingers may experience difficulty in performing on this model. The same can be said for the drum pads. While the 8 pads might be sufficient for laying down a simple drum pattern or drum roll in your arrangement, the araabMUZIK’s among us will really require a 4×4 drumpad setup with higher quality pads such as that of an MPC to fully express themselves. Besides that the MPK Mini really provides all midi controlling you need on the road.
If you have little space for your setup at home or you need a tiny all-in-one controller to lay down your ideas on the road (don’t be that Starbucks dude though) the Akai Pro MPK Mini is like nothing else out there and a great value for your money.
Price & Where to Buy
Introduced for $199 The AKAI MPK Mini retailed for around $99 with most music- and webstores at the time (start of 2011). Nowadays $79 seems to be the average price online with Amazon offering it cheapest at $75.99 with it being the best-selling Midi controller at the time of writing.