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Akai Professional MPK88 Keyboard Controller Reviews

3.5 stars based on 14 customer reviews
Questions about the Akai Professional MPK88 Keyboard Controller?

Questions about the Akai Professional MPK88 Keyboard Controller?

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  • dh
    from Tampa, FL October 1, 2013Music Background:
    30+ years as a pro musician, recording engineer and studo owner

    AKAI MPK 88

    If you are looking for playability and feel this is your machine. I tend to be very picky about the feel of any synth. If you tried the Korg Kronos and liked it but not the price, you will be blown away by the quality for what you are paying. I have owned several weighted-key controlers and this is the best so far!

  • Rick
    from Charlotte, NC October 25, 2011Music Background:
    composer, performer

    Great!

    I've played piano/keyboards for over 40 years. I've been using MIDI since the Mac came out, and I purchased one in 1986. Over the years, I've played quite a few 88-key digital pianos and MIDI controllers. This is the best I've ever used. Beyond the quality and feel of the keys, this thing is a one-stop MIDI control center. Nothing better!

  • Customer
    from August 1, 2016

    Great working station

    I have Akai MPK88 pro for 6 years now. It worked perfectly until i spilled my coffee on it... but that was not a problem - opened it myself, cleaned it and it continued working like new. I use it mostly for keyboard playing, it has a good feeling. Never really used drum pads... Arpeggiator is very useful as many settings are as well. Faders and sliders work very well. It's quite heavy compared to other keyboards. But for me it's just a sign of built quality. Use it every day for 6 years... what a great friend!

  • CSharpDude
    from Sarasota, FL United States January 31, 2014Music Background:
    Semi-Pro, 40 yrs playing and writing

    My Favorite Controller To-Date

    I've played host of keyboards including acoustic pianos over the years. I've always used a synth or semi-weighted action for my controller keyboard. This year I decided to go with a fully-weighted controller. I wanted 88 keys and automation controls as well. I decided on the MPK 88 after a long search and I am really happy with it. I like the feel of the action and the controller section sliders and knobs are good quality - they behave like a good mixing console's controls. Let me address some of the other reviewer's issues:

    1. The keys are noisy. I agree, but they aren't too noisy for my needs. Even an acoustic piano's keys are not silent. I would think that if you wanted to sing at the keyboard, a good directional mike would suffice to eliminate any noise.
    2. The controls are difficult to set up with [Insert your DAW]. I use Sonar X3 and ACT is a little tricky but that is the DAW's issue not the controller. The software that comes with the keyboard makes setting up presets an easy task. You do need to read the manual for the controller section and software (which is short).

    Some other things to know:
    The controller is USB-powered. There is an optional power supply but know that if you use the power supply, the MIDI connection works differently. With the USB power, the MIDI signals In and out go over USB and show up as another set of MIDI devices in your DAW. MIDI will be routed back out to the controller so you can connect another sound source to its MIDI out. Connecting a power supply changes this behavior. Read up on this before spending $$$ on a power supply.
    There is no off switch. This is a USB device. Disconnect it to turn it off. Be sure to reconnect before starting your DAW or it may not recognize the controller.
    If you are using the USB interface, make sure to connect to a fast USB port. Often these ports are on the rear of a PC, but check your PC's docs. You will get much better performance (lower latency) if you are connected to a fast port (same goes for a USB audio interface.
    Once you get the controller section set up the way you like, use the software to save a copy to disk and also save the preset to an empty slot in the controller. That way you can call up the preset when the controller starts up and if you accidentally mess it up, you can load the disk file into the software. Save your DAW's settings (ACT for Sonar) to disk as well.

    I hope this helps someone else make a decision if this controller is right for them.

  • Ryan McClure
    from Escondido, CA USA July 26, 2011Music Background:
    Student, hobbyist

    Great keyboard but random key makes annoying click sound

    I was excited to get this controller and began using it right out of the box. It works great and has some really cool features. However, only 2 days after I started using it, the 2nd octave G# key started clicking every time I pressed it. It still does it and I can't hear it with my headphones on but I can feel it and it can get a little annoying. I would have expected a bit higher quality from such an expensive keyboard. Other than that it's great.

  • JBlongz
    from NYC March 3, 2013Music Background:
    Pro Musician, Producer, Engineer

    Best Bang For Buck

    Pros: Great Weighted Feel, AFTERTOUCH which is important for software that supports it, midi knobs for automation

    Cons: Buttons are pretty cheap, one of them stopped working, screen editor is awkward. I would rather had an ios editor and snap my ipad/ipod into the unit.

  • Mike McClain
    from Dallas, Texas December 23, 2011Music Background:
    Piano lessons as a boy,Vox Continental when the Animals came out, 30 years of all kinds of gigs, and music arranging and recordist since 71. Still going strong at 62

    My New MPK88

    I just got my new MPK88 and I am impressed. This thing has a very solid case and the controls are of good quality. It's a heavy mother but since I'm just using it as a controller in my studio that doesn't matter to me ! My first impression of the feel of the keys was that they were not as piano-like as the Yahama I was replacing but after playing it a while and listening to the way it responded with my Ivory plug-in I loved it. It somehow made the Ivory sound much better to my ear. I was equally pleased that the sliders were already programmed to be drawbars in B-4 which I use a lot. Another feature I like is the wide 4 octave range on the transpose. This lets you move up a couple of octaves when doing bass parts etc.
    I haven't gotten into the programming of presets yet so I can't say how easy that is but what I have come across just puttering with it seems intuitive.
    On the negative side, they should have included a 1 amp power supply and not sucked juice out of my computer to power this up. I'm not big on that. I figure my computer needs its own power for itself, and 1 amp is a lot. But, I saw this coming back when manufacturers quit putting a nice big power supply inside and instead provided us with a cheap plastic wall-wart to keep up with. And of course no nice big easy to understand manual. But that's just the way it is these days. At least they didn't cut corners on the quality of the construction.

    Overall I'm real happy with this. The last time I bought something that said Akai it was a reel-to-reel tape recorder. But that was long ago in a galaxy far away.

  • Dale W. Carter
    from Edgewood, NM July 14, 2011Music Background:
    Theorist, composer, hobbyist

    Very nice, but could have been even better!

    My first hammer-action keyboard. Though not quite the same as an acoustic grand, I love the feel verses an old non-weighted Roland W-30 I've got. If you tap the keys with your fingernails, however, you probably won't appreciate the "plasticky" sound you get back. Also, the keyboard is a bit noisy, so if you're doing any acoustic recording (e.g. voice or other instruments) with this in play, you might pick up some keyboard clatter. Also, be sure to have a VERY sturdy stand for this monster as those hammer action keys don't feel right with even a slightly flexible stand. I would also have liked to see this cased in aluminum instead of plastic, but it already weights 67 pounds, so...

    The LCD display is easy to read, but my personal preference would be to have amber (to match the button and bender/modulator knob lighting) backlighting in the display rather than blue as amber is a bit easier on the eyes in low light.

    As a MIDI controller, this thing is awesome!! Just about any of the buttons, sliders, knobs (except for the pitch-bender), and pads can be assigned to broadcast any MIDI messages you want, whether it be for selecting instrument or effect programs, controlling mixing or effects in your software, controlling other MIDI compatible devices, or for playing instruments. In my case, I am driving reverb and echo parameters within my ancient Alesis Quadraverb with sliders on the MPK88 and I can honestly say that, after owning my Quadraverb for 18 years, I haven't gotten nearly the value out of it that I have in the last few weeks under MPK88 control. And, any MIDI controls you program can be saved in a multitude of presents, so you're up and running with a twist of a knob and the press of a button. The only two things I'd like to see added are a user-definable keyboard velocity curve added to the resident five (LINEAR, LOG1, LOG2, EXP1 and EXP2) curves and I would like to be able to tune the threshold velocity that causes a MIDI velocity value larger than "1" to be sent when a key is pressed (for us newbies to hammer-action that sometimes don't reach the default threshold velocity for an instrument to make a sound).

    One little nit-picky complaint I have is that to get the MPK88 to broadcast internally generated MIDI messages to its own MIDI-Out port, you must also have a 6 Volt, 1Amp external power supply (Akai recommends the Akai MP6-1 which is, unfortunately, not a regularly stocked item at most pro-audio stores) plugged in because, if the MPK88 is running on USB power, it reserves the on-board MIDI-Out port to echo messages coming from your computer. This is not a big deal because you can just have your computer echo the MPK88's USB messages back to the MPK88, but I think the behavior of the MPK88's MIDI-Out port should be user configurable.

    In summary, I'm extremely pleased with the Akai MPK88.

    Pros:
    * 88 fully weighted, hammer-action keys
    * A huge assortment of fully programmable knobs, sliders, and pads
    * Price
    Cons:
    * Would be happier with less "plasticky" keys and aluminum shell
    * On-board MIDI-Out port behavior is not user configurable

  • Luke Frymire
    from July 28, 2015Music Background:
    Bedroom Musician

    Just Falls Short

    For the price you won't find any full sized keyboards with so many features. Unfortunately the execution wasn't all there. The feel of the pads is pretty lacking especially in comparison to my Korg PadKontrol. The knobs and faders are alright (although they have a bit of a budget feel) but the deal breaker for me was the keybed. If you're looking for a true weighted piano style keybed you may want to look elsewhere; I found them too heavy and sort of plastic-y. To be fair weighting is very objective, so try it out first if you can!

  • Luke
    from September 28, 2013Music Background:
    Hobbyist

    Good Midi Controller, Maybe Not The Best Piano

    Pros:
    Fully weighted keys
    Knobs and faders feel really good
    Plenty of functionality and control
    Seems to be built really solidly

    Cons:
    Keys make REALLY loud mechanical sounds when playing
    Pads are dismal in comparison to a lot of other pad controllers
    Pretty heavy if you're looking for a gigging MIDI keyboard

    Overall:
    I've had this keyboard for about 3 months. It has IMMENSELY helped my creativity, just due to having DAW controls and a master keyboard all right square in front of you. The controls work perfectly and can really speed things up if you're used to mostly doing things by mouse.
    On the flip side, I do have quite the gripe with the keybed. I'm primarily a pianist and these keys are really not my type. Of course that much is really preferential and I recommend going to a local store and trying it out for yourself if they have one, but I think most people would agree that it is FAR to bouncy and loud (clunking every time you let go of a key). The bounciness of them especially makes it hard to play with a lot of dynamic compared to traditional pianos.
    The other issue I had was with the pads. I've had an MPK25 before and more or less expected it, but if you're hoping to play live drums with the pads you might want to think twice before using these. They have a really low sensitivity and often miss hits. I had modded my MPK25 by putting rubber squares beneath each pad and that helped somewhat, I imagine you could do the same with this but to be honest you're waaay better off going out and getting a PadKontrol.

    All in all, for midi capabilities and functionality this is everything you could ask for, but the physical keys and pads are somewhat disapointing. They don't usually hinder workflow but they don't feel polished at all.

  • JRS
    from Detroit, MI June 25, 2013Music Background:
    Hobbyist

    Heavy, High Profile, and Slow

    Overall, I'm much happier with the Akai MPK88 than other keyboards I've used. That being said, if you are using it for the same purposes I am, you can get a better more realistic keyboard for the price.

    The pads are slightly less responsive than an Akai MPD. The interface makes them cumbersome to use. You're better off having a separate MPD. This is my current setup.

    The key weights are unnatural enough to be noticed. Casio and other keyboard companies provide alternatives to this keyboard with a much more realistic feel.

    The keys themselves are much higher up than a typical keyboard. Depending on your desk height, you might actually need a drafting chair to get up high enough to play it naturally - or stand.

    Sliders, other equipment, and the ability to switch between DAWs with a selector switch is nice.

    The interface is a bit clunky when trying to link other keyboards.

    Overall, I think it's a decent unit but less expensive options do better with less features. If you must absolutely have one unit and only one unit, it is good for that purpose.

  • Robert
    from Stratford, CT December 23, 2012Music Background:
    Composer, Producer

    Not for Gigging - Otherwise Excellent

    The good: Nice, heavy weighted feel on the keys. Body construction, in Akai fashion, is very heavy duty. Large pads are nice. Controls have very solid and smooth feel and operation. Display is large enough to be very useful. Program-ability is VERY flexible and straightforward (except for 'exit' function- there is a cancel button, but no visual indicator of having exited the current function and returned to a main or previous screen)

    The bad: Gigging musicians should probably forget this keyboard altogether. It's an absolute TANK, with a big footprint and weighing nearly 70 lbs! After 8-10 gigs, the keyboard is showing questionable signs of wear, most notably a loud clicking on one or 2 keys, indicating something in the hammer mechanism is worn or coming loose. 88 key boards are susceptible to this kind of wear, but this is the fastest I've ever experienced this, despite making every effort to handle the unit with care.

    My recommendation: If this unit will sit in a studio, it's a fantastic value for the money. If you're planning on playing gigs, prepare to suffer!

  • Customer
    from February 17, 2016

    THE WORSE WEIGHTED BOARD EVER

    I'm a professional touring musician, I don't normally write reviews but decided to do it this time in order to save someone some money and time. When M Audio released their very first 88 keys weighted controller I thought that its impossible to make a weighted keyboard any worse but I guess I was wrong, AKAI just proved me wrong. If you are a piano player you are familiar with terms like piano, forte, pianissimo etc.. Well apparently the engineers at AKAI are not! This keyboard can probably respond to 10 velocity points instead of 128. In my opinion, if you are making a controller with 88 hammer-action keys no matter how advanced the functionality of your knobs, fades and pads is, the keyboard is something that should are at least usable, otherwise sell your faders by themselves. Bottomline, the keyboard in any cheapest P series Yamaha or Casios is dramatically better than in this $800 "PRO" product
    Very sad AKAI

  • Glenn
    from San Diego CA August 17, 2013Music Background:
    Pro musician

    returning it!!

    I just purchased this keyboard and used for one week. I just couldnt understand the annoying buzzing/rattling sound I was hearing in the middle section of the keyboard!! I tried pressing my hand on top of the case to get rid of it and nothing worked. So I googled "rattling sound on MPK88" and I see someone online has created an instructional video on taking the keyboard apart and placing electrical tape inside of the unit on the switches to dampen the buzzing/rattling sound!! Of course that voids your warrantee! So back to store it goes and I will try the Roland next...

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