Akai Professional has introduced a twist on their MPK Mini compact keyboard and pad controller. The MPK Mini Play has a bunch of sounds inside and its own speaker making it a portable little musical keyboard.
MPK Mini Play
128 sounds and 10 drum kits seems an awful lot like a General MIDI sound set. Although the marketing doesn’t seem very keen to talk about the sounds and there’s no GM logo on the device. So who knows, they could be 128 variations on the pan flute but we’re going to assume that you get the regular round-up of GM type sounds.
You get a few fewer knobs that the MPK Mini Mk2 to make way for some preset buttons and a little screen. The remaining 4 knobs are doubled up into two banks to give you control over 8 parameters. It has the same arpeggiator but which can now be applied to internal sounds. Add some batteries, plug in some headphones or use the onboard speakers and you’ve got a little keyboard to play with anywhere you want.
It’s also a decent MIDI controller with USB support for your computer. 25 velocity sensitive synth-action keys, 8 backlit MPC style pads and a 4-way thumbstick gives you a lot of control.
There’s also no mention of the VIP software which comes as standard with all other Akai keyboards – I guess we can assume it’s included.
I confess I’m slightly underwhelmed by this little keyboard. There are no sound examples or videos and I’m not really sure who it is aimed at. I guess you get to play some sounds on the bus or something. Otherwise you’ll have it connected to a computer where the onboard sounds actually become inconvenient as they are not in the box with all your other software sounds. It’s not an audio interface so there’s no flow of audio into the computer and you can’t use the headphone output to listen to audio recorded onto the computer. There’s no onboard sequencer for making beats or coming up with tunes.
So it’s an odd little keyboard and after the remarkable Akai Fire they released recently this seems like a misfire. Retails for $129 and is available now.