When it comes to MIDI controller technology, there’s one brand that has continued to impress time and time again. The LPK25 is an oldie but…sort of still a goodie and with a price tag this cheap, it’s still a controller that many beginners have their eye on. Not to mention a couple of pros too. I mean, it’s very easy to see where the appeal lies. It’s about as compact and portable as some of the best controllers on the market, measuring only 13 inches across and taking up as much space as a Macbook Pro.
That’s what you want from anything with the word ‘mini’ on it but to be a respectable choice, it’s gotta do more than just be able to fit into your back pocket. Nowadays it’s gotta function just as well in the studio as it does in your bedroom and be just as effective whether you’re rocking Ableton Live, Reason, Logic, Cubase, Pro Tools or even Magix Music Maker. You won’t get any software included so you’ll want to make sure you already have a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) installed beforehand.
All that aside, it certainly does still have its charms. So if you’re in the market for a new controller or just in need of a second opinion, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s my Akai LPK25 review.
Cheapest Place To Buy: Amazon.com
Operating Systems: Windows and Mac OS
Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars (Based on 341 ratings)
What Can It Do?
The first thing to grab your attention are the 25 miniature sized piano keys that take up 80% of this controller. Emphasis on the word miniature, though, as these are significantly smaller than the ones on a regular sized keyboard so they may take a bit of getting used to, even if you’ve got some experience on the full-sized deal. But you’ll be playing your favourite melodies in no time. Notice all the markings just above the piano keys? Well, that’s because they each serve a dual function to help you fine tune your arpeggiator and help you access the four programmable memory banks.
Speaking of all these functions, those are the six buttons that decorate the left-hand side of this controller. The bottom two are your Octave Up and Down buttons that open up the full melodic range and the two right at the top are the arpeggiator controls (a simple on/off switch and a tap tempo button. The two in the middle are a bit more unique. One labelled ‘Sustain’ which allows any note you play to continue on long after you’ve lifted your finger, and one labelled ‘Program’ that allows you to use the keys’ secondary functions that we mentioned earlier.
And yeah…that’s about it really.
What Can’t It Do?
Weirdly enough, the LPK25’s biggest strength is undoubtedly its biggest weakness. I mean, this thing is cheap! It’s easy on the wallet but only because it was clearly easy to make. This is one seriously delicate piece of equipment and considering the fact that it’s aimed at being a portable musicians tool, it’s a serious problem. Like for real, there’s a reason I don’t keep teacups in my laptop bag and it seems like that’s what you’re getting.
I’m not saying producers are clumsy gorillas but you want something that’s going to last and at least put up with a few knocks while you get used to owning one, and I’ve just seen way too many people make the same complaint about the controllers USB Port. That’s a pretty vital connection with a tendency to break within weeks…really not a good sign. To be honest, at the end of the day, this thing doesn’t do much. I look at other models available from Akai and I’m blown away by their capabilities.
There aren’t even any MPC-style drum pads, which I could’ve looked past if the main attraction wasn’t a honky-tonk set of mini-keys. If it’s all you’ve got then rather put a full-sized set on instead, Akai.
What do you mean extra sauce? This is barely a burger. No chips, no soda and quite frankly, it doesn’t even look that tasty. They even market it as a ‘Laptop Performance Keyboard’ which is where this controller shows it’s age the most. I guarantee that absolutely every MIDI controller these days is a Laptop Performance Keyboard. Speaking of age, did I forget to mention that your editor software (that usually comes as a standard download) comes packaged in the form of a CD? Like seriously, way to take us back to 2002.
I half expected it to come with an extra power cable but thankfully, it’s tiny enough to be powered by your laptop or even your iPhone if you’ve got the right adapter (and the right app to play with). Needless to say that when it comes to ‘extra’, this keyboard is more like an extra in a movie. In the background and unimportant.
Should I Get It?
That’s a big fat ‘Hell NO!’. At the end of the day, I’m trying to help beginners and first-time buyers the most, so I’d ignore the Amazon rating at the top and think about what you’re getting yourself into. If it were up to me, it would get 2 stars at the most. It’s not like there’s anything terribly wrong with it I just think it’s a complete waste of time and money. You want a lot more bang for your buck with your first controller since you’re probably going to need it for a very long time. Why not try the Akai MPK MKII or even the Novation Launchkey as your first instead.
Food is food but if it’s your first meal, it should be an extra large pizza and the LPK25…is baloney on white bread.
Got any more questions about the LPK25? Have you had any experiences? Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below.
Ryan C. Voller, Recording Artist – Producer – Lead Contributor for HowToMakeHip-Hop.com