December 12, 2012

Akai MAX49 MIDI + CV Control Keyboard Review

While Akai does not dominate the controller market for digital DJs who are looking for ways to trigger their cues and samples, their offerings are much more varied than other competing companies.  Their ranges of midi products run from complete keyboard emulators, to MPC-like drum machine setups – and everything in between.  Akai’s products tend to have a better quality reputation than comparable products from Korg, hence the slightly higher price point.  Even their most basic controllers like the Akai LPD8 tend to get more attention than Korg’s NanoPad and like offerings.

The area where Akai shines, are their controllers that offer a mix of pianist, beatmaker, and DJ setups.  The Akai MPK series, like the MPK49, put squared beat pads and piano keys on the same instrument.  It allows DJs to take advantage of piano keys (something they wouldn’t normally do), and producers also get the benefit of extra pads for something like live drum production.  Akai’s Max49 is a step up from their MPK series, offering control voltage outputs that can be used in conjunction with analog synthesizers.  The price of the Max49 is also something to be looked at as well – at around $400 it beats out many workstation pianos that cost over a grand.