AKAI MPK Mini Play Mk3 Midi Keyboard with speakers out now! – Review and First Look

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.

Akai MPK Mini Play MK3 unboxing video

New Features

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.

Portability

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.

Conclusion

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.

Problems with Behringer C1 Mic Hum

The Problem

I bought a Behringer C1 Condenser Microphone a while ago, along with a Behringer
U-Phoria UM2 audio interface. I don’t usually do vocals, for my tunes but wanted to try out a couple of proper songs. I plugged the mic into the XLR socket on the UM2, put the C1 on a standard mic stand, and switched on the 48v phantom power on the interface. The interface ran into Ableton 9 on my laptop, and I had headphones plugged into the UM2 to monitor my vocals. I armed one of the audio tracks with the input set to the C1 and set the monitor button to “On”. Then came the buzz!

um2

Before even listening to the sound coming out of my headphones, I saw the track level peak at around -48 db, without any sound going into the mic, and the mic input gain turned all the way down.

abletonbuzz

I tried all sorts of things to eliminate the buzz. Turned up the gain on the mic input on the UM2 and the laptop. Turned down the input level on the audio track. Moved the mic stand around. Put the mic upside down on the stand. Even tried another mic (Shure SM57). Nothing would make the level drop. When I moved nearer to the mic, the noise level increased.

The Solution

I’d trawled the internet for ages for a solution to this problem. Some pages said to avoid the C1 altogether: high noise floor, poor electronics, too sensitive, and more. Some people were even sending it back. Other potential issues I found included the metal mic stand causing an earth loop, and the mic picking up the 60 Hz hum of the mains in the room at home. Solutions mentioned were: buy a ground lift; unplug my laptop from the mains; turn off all the electrics in the house.

Finally, I read something about using condenser microphones in a proper recording studio. Surely they don’t get hum with the mic switched on! They don’t (as far I can see!). I worked out that their audio interfaces usually have their own power supply, rather than relying on power from a laptop USB socket. The mic is supposed to take +48 volts from the interface, but what if there isn’t enough power coming from the laptop to get the interface to 48v?

Out came my trusty 4-way external USB hub from Amazon, bought for a few quid a couple of years ago. Surely that might raise the power to the UM2? I plugged the hub’s adapter into the mains, the USB cable into the laptop, and the UM2 cable into the 4-way hub.  I switched on the 48v supply and armed the track again. This time, no hum! No green bar on the track indicator either! I could even turn up the mic gain on the UM2 without getting any noise!

So, is this the end of the problem? Not quite. If I listen carefully on the headphones, I can still hear a slight hum on a quiet track. This is probably just the C1 picking up noise from the the rest of the house or the laptop fan. If the mic stand is in a slightly different position, the hum comes back. I just move it again, and the hum goes away. However, the external USB hub seems to be the answer, by raising the voltage that makes the C1 work properly, or at least nearer to the 48 volts required to get a clean signal.

If you’re having trouble with hum from the Behringer C1, I hope this solution works for you! If not, then you could always buy a new mic!

By the way, no songs with vocals yet. Just a few of my remixes and instrumentals here on Bandcamp.

Broken Dub EP – How Industrial Electronic became “Dub”

Global Citizen are known for their dark, raunchy lyrics and moody industrial beats and sounds. Listen to what happened when four of their songs were turned into ambient/skanking dubs…..

Listen to the original versions at the official Global Citizen website!

Changes

After acumulating so many blogs on wordpress.com – for my music-making, for personal stuff, e-learning stuff, etc.,  I’ve decided to start posting anything non-“mistrust music” related on here. So, that means anything I want to talk about, things I come across and want to share, e-learning stuff, will appear on here.

Henceforth this blog will be known as “What I have learned today”.

I’m not closing down my other blogs just yet. Just starting from now, all my “stuff” will go on here, except music-making “stuff”. I’m just going to keep the mistrust music blog for things I’m doing with my remixes and other bits of what I’m upto music-wise.

So, if you’ve come here looking for a “mistrust remix” or info about “Half Past One”, hop on over to mistrustmusic.co.uk/blog

If not, say hello!

By the way, I’m on Twitter and Facebook