Akai MPK Mini MK2 Review – A Great Budget Mini 25-Key MIDI Controller

Here is Your Perfect Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII 25-key USB midi controller review for anyone interested in upgrading their existing controllers, or for new studio producers wanting better equipment.

There is no doubt: having a MIDI keyboard controller is probably one of the best investments that you can ever make in building your home studio in order to make music, even when you’re talented enough to play ear by ear.

When you read my music production equipment guide, it’s nothing new for you. Only after I invested in a small MIDI keypad did the beats I did gradually begin to change — nothing is like talking with the buttons and finding rhythms with the fingers, rather than trying to click on items in the roll of the piano with your mouse.

Akai MPK Mini MK2 Review

Quick Summary

    • Small and compact, the MPK Mini is close to being perfect for those who consider portability a must
    • Pitch and mod joystick is an ingenious, space-saving feature and is highly usable
    • 8 velocity-sensitive drums pads that almost feel like Akai’s signature MPC machine
    • 8 assignable rotary knobs that you can use for basic mixing or tweaking synth effects
    • Excellent value for money — one of the cheapest 25-key MIDI controllers with full-size keys, assignable pads, and knobs

 

    • As expected, keys are very small and may cause your fingers to feel cramped, especially when playing for long periods of time
    • Velocity settings on the keys cannot be adjusted, which may lead to your MIDI notes sounding all over the place
    • The MPK Mini has no transport controls, so controlling your DAW means having to reach over to your keyboard or mouse

First of all, Akai MPK Mini MK2 is a small MIDI control. And I’m not simply talking about it having only 25 keys — it’s a miniature keyboard. It is about the same size as a 13-inch Macbook Air in terms of length, as you can see in this image:

MPK MINI AND MACBOOK AIR
MPK MINI AND MACBOOK AIR

With this keyboard, everything has been scaled down to optimize portability — and that includes keys that are about the size of a penny. And, if you’re an accomplished keyboardist, don’t expect to play on that thing the same way you’re playing on a full-size piano for weighted keys.

What are the Basic Features?

The Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII is compatible with:

  • iOS
  • Mac
  • Windows

The controller is completely USB powered, which makes it easy to power and plug in to your OS on the go.

People familiar with the other MPK keyboard models are going to be happy that this controller has many of the same features:

  • Signature Akai drum pads in top of the controller
  • Velocity-sensitive keys
  • Tons of mappable controls
  • Similar overall configuration
  • Easy to read layout

You will also see that this model comes with VIP software, which is the same as what comes with the larger MPK keyboards, so you don’t have to sacrifice software quality when opting for a smaller controller.

All the same functions and controls are there for the user to create awesome music. This includes:

  • MPC essentials software
  • Air Hybrid 3 Synthesizer

how to setup akai mpk mini mk2

What are the Signature Features?

When you look at the Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII, the first thing you are going to notice is that it has a big red joystick, akin to a video game controller, on the upper right-hand corner.

It is a 360-degree stick that allows for pitch control with side to side movements, and modulations with up and down movements.

By default, the joystick is mapped to pitch bends and modulations, but you can use the software to map the controls to whatever you’d like.

Directly below the red joystick are the arpeggiator controls. There are 6 buttons that control every aspect of the arpeggiators:

  • Turn the arpeggiator on/off
  • Tempo tap controls
  • The two middle buttons control octave shift for the keyboard

The two bottom buttons control the drum pads:

  • The first button is an override button, or a full button, that allows the user to toggle the velocity sensitivity on/off, so the user can make use of full-sounding instrument notes instead of relying on sensitivity to create the sound they want
  • The second button on the bottom-right is a button to mute/repeat the beat through the track

The keyboard itself doesn’t just do the job of being a piano key, they also have alt controls that allow for:

  • Different levels of swing
  • Arpeggiation patterns
  • A latch control for arpeggiation
  • Randomizing
  • Order
  • Include
  • Exclude

These controls are accessible by using the built-in shift key.

The signature Akai drum pad features 8 soft pads that are smooth and sensitive to the touch to provide an easy playing experience for the user.

The pads also have good, bright red LED lights built-in.

The velocity sensitivity is better than older models and with practice, the user will find these drum pads to be much more user-friendly.

The top right corner is filled with 8 mappable knobs that really give the user the freedom of control over the entire equipment.

The knobs are a bit smaller, but that is obviously expected for such a mini version of a full-size controller.

A few buttons exist just below the knob section for more control over your music:

  • Program change button
  • CC button
  • A/B banks for the drum pads

On the back of the unit, you’ll find a full-size 1/4″ sustain pedal input for any type of sustain pedal you already own.

The Pros of the MPK Mini MKII

This midi keyboard controller is packed full of features that other top midi keyboards struggle to give the user.

It is also more affordable than other keyboards and selling for around $99 in most places.

The sensitive pads and keys are easy to use for anyone with a keyboard or controller experience.

People without experience need just a little practice to jump right in and start making music.

The Akai MPK Mini MKII is perfect for a beginning producer. It gives the user everything they could ever need to make so many different styles of music.

 

The possibilities are really endless. The best option is that the Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII doesn’t require drivers or other software to simply perform.

It is plug and plays in iOS, Windows, and Mac. No external power supply is necessary.

The overall size of the Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII is about 12″x7″x2″, making it great to move from studio to studio or to take with you on trips without sacrificing room in your bag. The plastic, but sturdy body weighs 1.65 lbs.

Professionals use this controller in their everyday sessions, so a beginner can greatly benefit from the versatility the unit offers, especially with all the features available.

The drum pads and keys are velocity-sensitive, which means you can touch the pad or key with different levels of firmness to create a different response.

This allows musicians to feel the music and flow with the beat, instead of just systematically playing pads and keys to get just one velocity note.

Almost the entire unit is programmable and mappable to the user’s preferences.

Simply use the software that comes with the Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII, and go through the options of mapping the knobs, buttons, keys, etc.

There is no other mini controller with as many options for programming and mappability.

The unit allows the user to map the knobs for easy control without having to stop and mess with the software.

Many professionals use the knobs for reverb, delay, and synth controls, easily accessible mid-beat.

Based on other Akai MPK Mini MKII review videos and websites, the pros are all the same.

Everyone is in full agreement that this product is the go-to for beginning producers, as well as professionals who need a smaller keyboard controller.

The Cons of the MPK Mini MKII

The build quality is subpar, with it being a plastic body all around, it could sustain significant drop damage and completely ruin the entire unit.

The keys and other parts of the controller feel cheap, as they are made with much thinner plastic than users would prefer.

The knobs are quite small. The area for which they are given could have let the manufacturer put bigger knobs on the unit without putting them too close together and throwing off the overall ergonomics.

The unit is not proofed against foreign matter. The plastic body will not repel liquid spills or prevent dust buildup on the internals of the unit.

While this isn’t necessarily a con, users need to be aware that this unit does not have an internal fan, so there is a risk over the unit being overheated if left on for a long time, or it is subjected to a very hot environment while being plugged in.

It would be a good idea to put a small desktop fan on a desk where you normally use the Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII, so that it can have adequate airflow, which will ensure long-lasting operation, as with any electronics.

Thoughts?

This Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII review is built on facts.

The Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII is hands-down the best budget mini keyboard controller on the market. That is a fact.

But, to display the wonderful features and accolades, even more, it is the best mini controller out there as well, regardless of the price.

Most wish that it could be sturdier, and often say that they would even pay more for the better build quality.

Regardless of the very few downfalls of the Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII, the pros outweigh the cons in an overwhelming majority. All other Akai MPK review content agrees.

Another great thing about this product is that there are hundreds of videos, blogs, and articles made about it, so a user can do research and find out more about what it can do.

Becoming an expert with this keyboard controller doesn’t take long at all, and you’ll be making some serious music in no time. For the price, no other controller can beat it.

 

 Click Here for Pricing, Pictures, and Reviews on Amazon.com

If anything, it can serve as a beginner’s tool for a user to master before upgrading to a full-size keyboard with even more features and options with the larger software, plug-ins, accessories, pedals, etc.

Every studio producer needs one of these keyboard controllers, and the Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII is the perfect product to scratch that itch.