Let’s get one thing straight. I was never a fan of the original LPK25 so I didn’t expect a wireless version to do any better. And you know what? I was right! I will admit, however, that video of the guy producing beats while sitting on the edge of the beach drew my attention enough for me to talk about it today. I expected this to be a spectacular reboot of the original, kind of like Mad Max: Fury Road, but like many other Hollywood reboots, it’s pointless, overpriced and someone was clearly just trying to make a quick buck.
Everybody would’ve been better off staying at home on the day this idea was conjured up. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got Ableton Live, Reason, FL Studio, Cubase, Logic, Pro Tools or even Magix Music Maker, all that awaits you is a disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just here to throw shade. I can, unfortunately, see why many beginners or producer veterans would be drawn to such a fancy looking piece of tech. It’s compact, portable and with wireless capabilities, should make a dope addition to any beat studio.
Akai is still a brand with more than a few great products under their belt but everybody slips sometimes. So here’s my Akai LPK25 Wireless review.
Cheapest Place To Buy: Amazon.com
Operating Systems: Mac OS (Windows via wired USB Connection)
What Can It Do?
It’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to the LPK25 wireless and it does come with a few redeeming qualities. First things first, it’s a pretty good looking controller if you ask me. The sleek black design looks at home in any professional environment. Sometimes all you need are keys to get a good beat going and you get mini keys to let your imagination run wild. The key word here is ‘miniature’ as these keys are tiny.
They’ll throw anybody off at first (even someone used to the real deal) but after an hour or two, you’ll get the hang of it for sure. And those scribbles written above the keys? No, those aren’t hieroglyphs. Each key has a unique second function for you to access on the fly, along with the four programmable memory banks. Just like the original, there’s a built-in Arpeggiator and tap tempo button to help you create complex and exciting musical phrases.
The main attraction on this controller has to be its wireless capabilities and as long as you’ve got 3 AA batteries on hand, you can squeeze 72 hours of performance time out of this bad boy (apparently). Don’t worry about failing batteries either. There’s a USB port available as well so you can keep the lights on (literally) just by plugging into your Macbook.
What Can’t It Do?
To me, it looks like Akai thought they could slap 40 dollars onto the price tag just by stuffing in a Bluetooth system that sort of…kind of…maybe works. I’m not sure about where you live, but for me, constantly changing three AA batteries is going to get expensive real quick. Put that aside for a second and there’s even more to burst your bubble. Pairing this device with your MacBook isn’t like pairing with your iPhone (or even your Android).
Instead of clicking the Bluetooth icon and pairing (like normal), you’ve got to go into Applications, then Utilities – Audio MIDI Setup – MIDI Studio – Double Click on Bluetooth – Press the ‘pair’ button on the controller and then click on ‘connect’ in the MIDI Studio window. I definitely wouldn’t mind going through all that on an initial setup but you’ve got to go through that labyrinth of processes every single time you want to use it. (Every. Single. Time.) And they made it like that on purpose!
Wireless for what?!
Better make sure your Mac is up to date because you need that Bluetooth software to be nothing less than 4.0. You might think things would be easier on a Windows PC but guess what? The Bluetooth function doesn’t even work for Windows. And they made it like that on purpose! Apparently, transferring MIDI commands via Bluetooth LE is not officially supported. So to all those producers using Windows, this controller is nothing but a bad joke.
That wouldn’t matter so much if FL Studio wasn’t one of the most popular Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) on the block. (F.Y.I. FL Studio is only available on Windows)
That’s gotta be the worst thing about all of this. There’s not a single piece of downloadable extras to make this a worthwhile tool. No sample packs, no DAW, no nada! I’m a sucker for free goodies man, what can I say, and I know of controllers that offer triple their value in extra features around the same price as this waste of space. Sure, there is the MIDI editor software for fine tuning your controls but otherwise, this is as gimmicky as gimmicky gets and I don’t know why they couldn’t have at least thrown in a free plugin.
It didn’t even have to be a good one. Just something to make me take this thing seriously. Anything.
Should I Get It?
THAT’S A BIG FAT NO!
And that’s got nothing against Akai Professional. I mean, I still think their LPD8 is a dope piece, and don’t even get me started on the MPK Mini MkII, but this controller is one we should all avoid in the hopes that they learn from this mistake. If you’ve got $100 to spend then there are far better options for you to choose from. Don’t get caught up by the fancy tech. It’s not what you have, It’s what you do with it!
Got any more questions on the Akai LPK25? Just got something to say? Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below.
Ryan C. Voller, Recording Artist – Producer – Lead Contributor for HowToMakeHip-Hop.com
The Short Version
- Supports Bluetooth MIDI for iOS and Mac OS X
- USB-MIDI controller works with virtually all audio software
- 25 velocity-sensitive mini-keyboard keys
- Arpeggiator, sustain pedal input, octave up and down and tap tempo controls
- Plug-and-play USB connection for Mac and PC; no driver installation required
- Four programmable memory banks
- Comes with editor software for Mac and PC
- USB bus or battery powered (3 AA, not included)