Putting the AKAI MPK Mini Under The Microscope

AKAI Mini MK2 Review – In Short:

Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII – 25 Key USB MIDI...
When I first started out producing music I went straight for this little powerhouse. It’s got everything you’d need as a beginner producer to get going and start learning the ropes...
  • 8 Knobs and 8 Pads
  • 3 Software Packages: So you can stretch its capabilities. Perfect for producers just starting in the game and more advanced producers looking for something a little different
  • Control over pitch bend and modulation control with a handy little Thumbstick
  • Solid and Durable: Well built piece of midi equipment that doesn’t break easily

AKAI Mini MK2 Review

But not just that…

Because of the sheer amount of controls it comes with and the ability to link it up to the 3 pieces of software, the AKAI MINI has a high level of customization options available. This is great for advanced producers who are looking for something a little different to add to their creative process.

Add more customization to your music production..

Admittedly, setting up the software for the AKAI MPK II was a little bit of a drag. To get hold of the software, you’ll need to;

  • Go to the AKAI website and create a new account
  • Confirm your product purchase using the number provided underneath the barcode on your box
  • Then download the individual files from there.
  • You’ll also need to make a note of each license key to ‘unlock’ the product once it’s been downloaded.
  • After downloading each file and installing them on your system – you’ll need to download iLok License Manager to unlock unlock and confirm each

Once that’s done you’re ready to go.

Already purchased AKAI MPK II? Here’s a video explainer to help you through each of the steps.

Here’s a more in depth look at the individual software’s included when you buy the AKAI MINI MPK II;

Get started making music without the need to buy an expensive DAW

With the MPC Essentials software you don’t actually need to have a DAW (Fl Studio / Logic Pro / Ableton) to get started. This piece of software can actually be used as a standalone DAW – perfect for beginners on a budget.

MPC Essentials also allows you to extend the functionality of your AKAI as it comes with all the necessary software pads, knobs and other functions that are all mapped to your AKAI upon installation.

Add more sounds to your EDM or Hip Hop Productions…

While the AKAI can and is used for multiple other genres; the second piece of software, Hybrid 3 is actually a nice little find.

First time I used Hybrid 3 I was hooked to it immediately. It comes with a huge amount of sounds and patches that can customized for your tracks. If you’ve got a copy of XFR Serum then then Hybrid 3 with slot straight into any track.

You can assign the different parameters to  knobs by using the drop down arrow in the top left hand side of the window box and choosing ‘Browse Parameters’ and you’ll be designing new patches in no time.

This little synthesizer is brilliant for what it is and will work within any of the major DAW’s. As you can see from the image below I have loaded it up in FL Studio and comes packed to the brim with a varied sounds.

I’d happily pay for this VST, so the fact you get it free with the AKAI MPK II is an absolute steal.

Fantastic sounds and presets to mess with for any Drum and Bass and Dubstep Project

If you’re looking for that wobble bass sound that’s associates with different Drum and Bass genres for example such as Jump Up and other genres such as Dubstep – then Wobble is a great sound design tool to achieve this sort sound.

Wobble comes with LFO, resolution, width, filter options, as well as delay, chorus and reverb effects to really take your sound design to another level.

Plus, with the Pattern Generator you can really get stuck into creating truly unique sounds that can be attributed you and you only. Like Hybrid 3, you can load this in to work with whatever DAW you use.

Again, I would happily pay for Wobble for my own personal Drum and Bass projects.

Here’s a great video that explains everything in good detail…

AKAI Mini MK2 Review: You’ve Got Controls for Days….

Second to the software, you’ve also got a nice array of knobs, pads and buttons to play with. We’ll start with the pads first; it comes with 8 pads, that can be mapped out to whatever software or vst to you want to use it with.

The sensitivity and feel to the pads are really nice and each one lights up once you hit it.

The knobs, are my favorite part of the MPK MINI II. Again, these can also be assigned and linked to your favorite VST’s, effects plugins and other controls within your DAW. The knobs are quite sensitive, which I don’t really mind but if you’ve got a heavy hand you can use the dials around each knob to help you stay in control.

Lastly, for the bigger controls you’ve also got a nice thumbstick to play with that can help with pitch-bend and modulation controls. Again, the thumbstick feels good, works in a 360 degree angle and can give your music a little dose of variety whenever you need it – great for EDM producers especially.

Also included in the controls sections are; an arpeggio control, octave up and down controls so you can span across octaves with ease, note repeat button, pad control buttons and a few other buttons for a bit more customization of your music projects.

Okay, so what are the possible drawbacks with it?

Firstly, if you’re looking for a midi controller with weighted keys, this won’t be the purchase you go for. While the keys do feel great for what it is, they aren’t weighted and therefore might feel a bit strange and almost ‘cheap’ if you’re used to weighted keys.

If you want want weighted keys on your midi controller you’re going to have to spend far more than what the MPK MINI costs. That said, the keys on this things are super responsive and durable.

Secondly, the setup of the software and all this little packages can seem a little daunting at first. There are a huge amount of videos on Youtube that can help you with setting your software up.

That said, you don’t have to use all the software provided, and with a few easy setup ‘steps’ to get your controller working you can have the MPK MINI doing what you need it to do in a few minutes.

Just remember, if you want more customization, you’re going to have to do a little bit setup first.

AKAI Mini MK2 Review: Quick Recap…

  • Great choice to get started making music right away without the need for expensive DAW
  • Unreal amount of presets and sounds to add to your existing and new projects
  • Great for Hip Hop, and Electronic Dance genres such as; Drum and Bass and Dubstep
  • Comes with 8 knobs, 8 performance pads, a thumbtick and other basic controls

So, as you can see this midi controller is an absolute beast for what it is. You’d be forgiven for thinking it costs a fortune as well…

…for the controls, the software and customixation options, portability nature of it and the overall look and feel, the AKAI MINI MPK is one of the cheapest midi controllers on the market.

So if you’re a beginner producer looking for a midi controller on a budget then the MPK MINI has to be a serious contender. If you’re a more advanced producer, looking to add a bit more customization into your music, or looking for something lightweight to travel with and maybe save some space in the process, the MPK MINI II again, is something well worth considering.

What I personally like about it:

Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII – 25 Key USB MIDI...
It looks slick, performs great and has all the controls and features you’ll need for producing music if you’re a beginner. It’s also great for music producers who have been in the game a while and are looking for something that; gives them more creative options, is travel friendly and can save a boat load of space in the process.

It’s USB powered, has a huge array of buttons and controls even some mid range midi controllers would have a find difficult to compete with.

It’s also a perfect option if you want to produce electronic dance music and don’t quite have the budget to invest in bigger, more well known VST’s such as Massive or Serum. With the AKAI You got 2 extremely good free alternatives in; Hybrid 3 and Wobble to get stuck into.

Overall, the value for money you get with the AKAI MPK MINI II is superb.

Our SP Rating [Category: Portable MIDI Controllers] = 9/10