Choosing The Right MIDI Keyboard

Hi, everyone!

I’m considering purchasing an Akai MPK Mini MKII, for use with Zynthian as well as a DAW. I’m concerned, though, because this Amazon review says that there is a design flaw with the keys on the MPK Mini.

Is anyone using an MPK Mini MKII? Have you ever had problems with the keys? Does it play well with Zynthian?

And, while we are on the subject of keyboards, what other keyboards do you guys use?

(I sent the design-issue question to the guys at Akai. We’ll see what they say.)

Thanks so much!

Its really not a very nice feeling keyboard, very plasticy. Probably pretty good for triggering stuff and key changing for sequences but it’s obviously built to a price.
The set up programme is a bit flaky as well …

Personnally I’ve got a Roland A88 hammer action which is lovely , a Behringer Motor 61 which was bought as a zynth controller but mostly for the flying faders.

I’m actually looking for a nice 49 note keyboard but I’m trying to resist the tempation ot buy things at the moment as I’ve got too much clutter in my life. :slight_smile:

1 Like

I considered the MPK Mini but ended up with the Arturia KeyLab 49 instead. I do really like it. I chose it because of the nearly full sized keys and the fact that it had a regular MIDI out in addition to the USB, but I wish I had bought the Arturia KeyStep instead for the step sequencer. I do have other hardware step sequencers, but I am finding I can never have too many channels of step sequencing :slight_smile:

Most of the relatively cheap midi controller keyboards are going to feel a little cheap and plasticy, but some of them are pretty good, in my opinion, but I’m not really a keyboard player in the strict sense.

1 Like

Thanks for the tip! I checked it out on Amazon, and found their MiniLab MkII. It looks fantastic, but someone complained about the encoders not working correctly. Do you ever have trouble with your encoders?

I haven’t had any problems other than getting it set up to play well with my electribe 2. That took a while.

That doesn’t mean that they don’t have problems, but I haven’t encountered them. Personally, I like the Arturia stuff.

1 Like

I have an Alexis QX-49 which is now discontinued. It is fairly feature rich although configuration does require regular reference to the user manual and it has some odd performance modes that take some getting used to. The keybed is suboptimal, feeling rather springy although not terrible. I don’t think it would stand up to much abuse, indeed I bought it cheap as it was broken. I had to fix some keys, adjust some squeaky springs (with varying success) and reply the USB type B socket. It is small and light making it easy to transport but likely to break in transit without a decent carrying case / bag. I generally use it as my testing device for geeky projects rather than for performance. It is currently on sabbatical with my son at university. He immediately found a firmware bug where note-off messages were not sent for some chord combinations. This is fixed in the latest firmware update and the keyboard is serving him well as an input device. He may even take it out for the occasional Animé music gig :slightly_smiling_face:.

So, to wrap up this tale of keyboards…

It’s been over two weeks, and Akai hasn’t responded to my communication. One wonders why. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Sooo… I kinda gave up on Akai and bought the Arturia MiniLab instead.

Looking forward to using this with my Zynthian!

@wyleu @favolaschia @riban Thanks so much for your helpful feedback! I wish you all the best!

-Jack

Let me know what you think about the Arturia.

-Jim

1 Like

Yeah, you’ve uploaded stuff you can go . . . . :smiley:
The longer you stay away the fewer problems we will assume you are having !!:rofl:

1 Like

I love Arturia, and their 1st génération of keylabs… I had the keylab 25, excellent… I sold it, as I bought a keylab 49…
The keybeds are very light and fragile… many of them end up with broken keys… but they are playable… the OS is excellent… it includes breath controller which for me, is important…
And if I remember well, it’s a good USB to MIDI relay, as it sends back to MIDI out the data received on the USB plug…
I also have bought an Arturia factory 32, which is small and light weight, has 32 keys and that’s much better than 25… very good, though you canot edit the parameter when it stands alone, you are forced to use a computer for that… even changing the MIDI Channel is impossible on the machine itself and must be done through USB with a computer…
Arturia offers a good software (Midi Control Center) for that…
I love the cosmetics of those machine, and the case is build like a tank… the sliders, on the Factory 32, look rather fragile, though…
The bend and mod wheels are a delight to use, they have the resistance and sensitivity that fit my need…
The laboratory 49 seems interesting too, and surprisingly, sells at a lower price than the factory 32… I believe it’s standalone, and you’re not force to use a computer to edit its setup, tu I’m not sure…

I had the minilab 25 for a few weeks and found no reason to keep it… the bend and mod pads are not so easy to use… the pads are an interesting feature, not only to trigger drums or samples… the case is plastic and doesn’t get the same feeling as the keylabs, but the look remains lovely…

Changing the keybed, when keys are broken, is possible and costs around 30euros for a 25keys, and around 60 for a 49 keys… plus shipping…
They say that the new keybeds are better than the older ones… after receiving mine, I’m not convinced… maybe they last longer, but they look 100% similar…

People at Arturia are lovely and take time to answer and care when you submit your problem…

See you…
Thierry

1 Like

My Arturia came today! :smiley:

A review (and some soundclips) are forthcoming! Stay tuned… :wink:

My only complaint about this thing is the occasional double-trigger on the drum pads. Other than that, this little keyboard is fantastic!

In case @wyleu isn’t convinced, let me provide some proof!

3 Likes

Arturia keystep is in my mind.
you will get a full step sequencer with it.
most usb devices I had are…hmmm children’s toys.
the keys to small or no real pressure points in feeling and so on.

I’m looooong time fan of these:


Solid build, relatively cheap, have all needed functions (maybe just less arp… Would be nice to have it, too). Have three sizes - X2, X3, and X6. Just really enjoying them!

1 Like

Check out this beast!

1 Like

Beautiful device, lacks an Ethernet in my opinion or does it do wifi? :-D.

Good to see the dear old nord still doing it well. :smiley:

Anthem build, but it’s an advert.

Built around a melody pattern, which is sped up. Played around on a genuine bit of analogue. CV obviously works !

4 triggers into a DRM1,

Not sure what the ribbon swipe was about. …?

Good to see Nord doing the lead line stuff :smiley:

and then some 808 :smiley:

Lot’s of Interface to learn …

1 Like

…but you get to sequence four of your Zynth engines! At least, until Zynthian attains unto that high and glorious μDAW destiny. :wink:

I’ve had this on my wish list since it was announced at NAMM.
Looks like a nice upgrade to my Keystep and should work nicely with my Beatstep Pro.

The ribbon, looks like it is on the Beatstep pro - can be used as a Roller/Looper

1 Like