Earlier this week, I did an interview with Dub Pete, host of the The Music Zoo on the Incapable Staircase online radio station, where I talked about my music, composing, production, and much more.
The show went out live at 9.30pm on Tuesday September 27th, 2022, on the Incapable Staircase online radio station and Pete played a few of my songs and remixes. He asked me all about how and when I started out making music (in the 1980s!) and my first synth (Jen SX1000), how I started doing the official remixes for bands like Pitch Black (thanks to The Only Michael), and my go-to VST plugin (TAL Dub Delay). We talked about some of the things I’ve done music-wise over the years, and some of the highlights of my musical “career”. We also talked about how I compose my songs and the production techniques I use.
I thought that there wouldn’t be much to talk about for 90 minutes, minus time for a few of my songs and remixes, but the time went really quickly and we could have talked for longer!
You can listen to the interview on Mixcloud, if you missed it live or use the player on this page. Don’t forget to leave a comment, and share the link to the player with your friends and followers. Share it on socials too!
I’d like to thank Dub Pete for inviting me onto his show and for being a great host.
Akai have finally released the new version of their MPK Mini Play MIDI keyboard controller.
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!.
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
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 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.
Akai Professional have just released a new version of their best-selling MPK Mini Play MIDI Keyboard with speakers. The AKAI MPK Mini Play Mk3 is a 25-note MIDI controller, and a portable keyboard with 128 built-in sounds.
The Mini Play is a step up from the previous model, and now includes the 2nd generation dynamic keybed and MPC-type drum pads that are standard on the Mark 3 MPK Mini controller, which was released last year (2021). There is a larger built-in speaker compared to the old version of the Play, with better bass/low end response. The layout of the device has changed since the last version. It seems that Akai have altered the shape of the pads that are on the MPK Mini. They’re rectangular rather than square, which I presume is to create space for four of the dials/pots, which have been moved above the drum pads. The dials in turn have been moved in order to make space for the larger built-in speaker!
The built-in sounds seem to have been improved since the last version, but you’ll need to plug in some headphones to hear the best of them. The sounds look they’re standard General Midi presets, with pianos, synths, and orchestral names, but there’s no sign of the GM logo anywhere on the keyboard.
On the rear of the keyboard, there’s a switch to change between External (USB) power or internal batteries (4 x AA). This user had a few problems opening the battery compartment at the rear. Maybe my fingers, but it did feel like it may snap at any time! There’s also a USB-B socket, to connect to a computer, a 1/8 inch headphone jack, and a 1/4 inch sustain pedal socket.
Although the AKAI MPK Mini Play Mk3 can be used a MIDI controller, and map to your favourite DAW, it’s best feature is its portability. According to AKAI, the battery-life is now 14 hours, so you’ll get plenty of time before you have to replace them. Overall, for anyone who wants a portable synth to take anywhere and doodle around some tunes, it looks like it’s going to be well-worth investing in.
It’s worth noting that although the AKAI MPK Mini Play Mk3 is now available to buy on Amazon (affiliate link) and many other online and physical stores, it still isn’t featured on the AKAI website. Rumour has it that it will be officially launched in March this year (2022), so look out for more news on my website, or check out my unboxing video/first thoughts on the AKAI MPK Mini Play Mk3 on my Youtube channel or at the top of this page.
I’ve just read that Loopcloud version 6 has now been released! It has a number of new features including AI harmonic and rhythmic file-matching, improved search, better workflow, new FX, and much more.
What is Loopcloud?
Loopcloud is a cloud-based music sample store, made by Loopmasters who have been selling sample packs for years. The idea is that instead of buying a whole pack of samples that you won’t use everything in, you can buy individual files with credits, when you need them. Loopcloud has a desktop app which connects directly to the store, and also integrates with your DAW. This allows you to play samples in time with your own projects and use the app audition new sounds on the fly.
I’ve been using Loopcloud on and off for a few years and would recommend it to anyone looking for a cloud-based sample store. I can’t wait to try out the new features!