Based on the best selling MPK Mini, the Akai MPK Mini Play has been designed to be ultra portable with it’s 25 mini, touch responsive keys, 8 velocity sensitive percussion pads and a little joystick which allows you to control pitch, modulation and expression. Now whilst primarily being a controller, this one does have another pretty cool trick up it’s sleeve, as it also features a huge selection of onboard sounds and effects with a built in speaker, which makes the MPK Mini Play the ideal MIDI keyboard for mobile musicians who might want to also be able to work on parts without having to connect it to their computer.
These onboard sounds include pianos, strings, organs, synth pads, leads and sound effects, as well as a decent selection of drum kits pre-mapped to the percussion pads, and in all honesty, considering the very affordable price of the keyboard, they sound pretty awesome. The onboard speaker is admittedly a little quiet without much bass response, but through headphones or plugged into an amp, the sounds are really rich, punchy and dynamic, definitely good enough for jamming or demoing up ideas, plus there’s control knobs to control reverb and chorus effects, EQ and filter parameters.
Back to the MIDI control functions, there’s octave shift buttons, which are pretty essential on a 25 note keyboard like this, a handy arpeggiator with lots of tempo, pattern and swing options, the knobs and pads can all be assigned to whatever MIDI CC parameters you like, and a small but very clear OLED screen allows you to easily navigate menus and see parameter changes.
Finally, as you can see, it’s a really small, lightweight unit that will easily fit in your laptop bag or gig bag, there’s a headphone output to listen to the internal sounds, a sustain pedal input and the keyboard can be powered either via the USB socket or 3 double A batteries, so you can play it pretty much anywhere.