AKAI MPK Mini Play Mk3 Review and Demo

Akai have finally released the new version of their MPK Mini Play MIDI keyboard controller.

Verdict

A great upgrade to Akai’s portable keyboard/controller with an improved speaker, key bed, and drum pads. The improved battery life make it great for coming up with musical ideas on the road or sitting in the park!.

Pros

Cons

  • Great battery life
  • Improved key bed and speaker
  • MPC velocity and pressure sensitive pads with aftertouch
  • Play internal sounds as well as a MIDI controller
  • Great for experimenting with new sounds
  • Play back internal sounds using MIDI from external source
  • Plasticky body doesn’t feel very sturdy
  • No way to edit internal sounds
  • Slow to pick up knob values
  • Can’t change reverb level on drum kits
  • No way to balance sounds and drum kits when playing together

Review

The Akai MPK Mini Play Mark 3 is a 25-note MIDI keyboard controller with a built-in speaker. It has 128 internal sounds, is USB, and battery-powered, and has a 1/8 inch headphone socket for private listening. The Mark 3 is a step up from the previous version. It has the second generation key bed and the MPC drums pads which were seen last year (2021) on the MPK Mini Mk3 MIDI controller. It also has a larger speaker than the previous Mini Play, which gives a slightly better bass end. The four control knobs (Filter, Resonance, Reverb, and Chorus levels, which were near the speaker on the old model, have now been moved to above the drum pads.

Akai MPK Mini Play Mark 3 on a table

Akai MPK Mini Play Mark 3 Cool Features

The main draw for the Akai MPK Mini Play Mark 3 is surely is portability. There aren’t many budget keyboards around that operate as both a MIDI controller and a portable synth. When you’re not near your computer or laptop and just want to make some tunes, this is ideal. Admittedly, the internal sounds aren’t going to set your productions on fire, but they improve dramatically when you’re listening through headphones. One of best features for me is using the arpeggiator on latch, and drumming on the pads, which gives you a sort of portable recorder/sequencer. You can go one better by sending MIDI notes from your DAW into the Akai MPK Mini Play Mark 3 and play the internal instruments and drums.

What can be improved?

The rotary knobs take a bit of getting used to. They’re not endless encoders, and take a while to pick up their values when changing instruments. There’s no way to balance the volume of the internal instruments and the drum kits. There’s no way to add your own sounds, and you can’t edit the ones that are built-in.

Is the Akai MPK Mini Play Mk3 any good and who is it aimed at?

I think it’s a really great mini keyboard and MIDI controller for someone like me who is on a budget, and wants to make music away from my DAW. The built-in sounds are ok, and there are plenty of features for the price (around £109.00). It reminds me of the old Casio portable keyboards from the 1980s!

Akai MPK Mini Play Mark 3 Key Features

25 velocity sensitive keys with 10 octave range, 8 velocity and pressure sensitive MPC pads with aftertouch, 4 rotary knobs, thumb stick pitch bend and modulation , USB and battery powered, Sustain pedal input, 1/8 inch headphone socket.

Check out my unboxing video of the Akai MPK Mini Play Mk3

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