Pro Audio

Akai Professional mini Play mk3: a portable MIDI control and synth powerhouse

Akai Professional has released what might be the most efficient, functional and portable MIDI controller in recent times: the MPK mini Play mk3.

Akai Professional is well known amongst musicians for its MPK controller series — a go-to for stage and studio — and the MPC60 and MPC2000 music workstations. In its latest update, the MPK mini Play mk3, Akai has set the standard again for size, control, software, and design.

A brief rundown: 25 keys (that actually feel good to play), a joystick that works as both a pitch bender and a mod wheel, 8 drum pads, 4 solid knobs for ADSR and other adjustments, an arpeggiator, an octave transpose, a display panel with selector knobs, in-built speaker and a volume knob.

Hang on…speaker and volume knob? Yes, this is one of the few MIDI controllers that come with internal sounds, and very good sounds at that. Let us show you through.

MPK mini Play mk3 app

As a MIDI controller

From the first opening of the Akai MPK mini Play mk3, you will notice you are holding a solid unit. Sure, everything is small, but not so small that you feel like you haven’t turned or twisted anything and/or moved another fader or knob too close to it! This is quite an update since the original release in 2018. The joystick is not only a great way to save space, but I also found it fun and intuitive as both a mod wheel and pitch wheel.

All 6 knobs on the controller are a great size and feel more like you are making a move on an expensive synth rather than an AUD $199 MIDI controller. The 8 drum pads have a great feel to them as well as an LED light under each pad that lights up when you hit them. Don’t miss the colour changing Pads A/B and Knobs A/B button on the right-side panel that opens them up to the B options.

On the left side buttons, there’s an Arpeggiator with a Tap Tempo, Octave transpose down and up buttons, a Full Level button — that removes velocity sensitivity from the pads, and a Note Repeat button that repeats drum hits if you hold the pad down (Hold down this Note Repeat button to change the tempo with the selector knob).

The internal sounds

As far as internal sounds go, I was pleasantly surprised by two things. Firstly, there are a whopping 128 keyboard sounds from pianos to synths, strings, brass, and sound effects, as well as 10 drum kits with 16 sounds in each. Secondly, there is so much variation in the internal sounds. Each sound within the Keys Sounds can be edited with a Filter, Resonance, Reverb and Chorus Amount, then — when changing knobs from A to B — Attack, Release, EQ Low and High. Very impressed.

The in-built speaker was enough to hear my edits in a quiet environment and I felt intrigued to play with those sounds further knowing I could adjust them as I pleased.

The Akai MPK mini Play mk3 has a sustain pedal input, a headphone input, and a 4 AA battery power option, and comes with a huge range of software — MPC Beats (DAW), sound packs, and a collection of software instruments by AIR Music Technology.

Overall, this is a great new piece of portable gear not to be relegated to the MIDI controller category. Even if you wanted to completely unplug from all attachments, the MPK mini Play mk3 has enough built-in character to kick off new projects and inspire fully-fledged productions.

For more, head over to Akai.