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Sorry Akai but this is really a bit lacking. Be warned, this keyboard is absolutely 100% ableton, so if you use other DAWs alongside live as vsts then there's no room for remapping. Construction-wise this is a £15 item...MAX, cheap plastic top-to-bottom and certainly not worthy of the "professional" description. Key feel is absolutely terrible, although "velocity sensitive" attempting to get consistent velocity is almost impossible. Seriously, the keys feel worse than the cheapest toddlers piano. As a button matrix for clip launching it's ok, plenty of buttons (albeit of the simple silicone membrane type) and transport controls are about the only thing that saves it from the bin but not one of my wisest purchases.
I tend to write more good reviews than bad because I take the time to research my purchases carefully and the effort is generally rewarded. My efforts were more than rewarded by the Akai APC Mini. This device comes recommended by several musicians I respect including Ned Rush. It is easy to set up, easy to use, fun, well designed, well constructed, and perfectly integrated with Ableton. (For what it's worth, I am running a recent version of Ableton, specifically Live Standard 10 on Windows 10 Home on a cheap, reconditioned, low end Dell Inspiron 15). The manual is short, clearly written and the steps necessary to set up the device are accurate. It takes about 5 minutes to get it up and running and I've been having fun with it since. The manual is short because the user interface is well designed and very easy to use. You could use this without the manual, provided the first run setup was already done.
I paid £53.30 for this. It arrived 5 days earlier than expected in exactly the condition it is supposed to be in. It came packaged with a copy of Ableton Live 9 Intro, which I didn't need, a copy of the Air Hybrid virtual synthesiser, which isn't bad at all, and a fairly respectable sample pack to get you started. The total value, bought separately, would be close to £100. So there is really no question of value for money. More importantly, if you just bought this device, you would have enough hardware, samples, and software to start making music immediately. So that's a hell of a deal for the beginner electronic musician.
All in all, I couldn't recommend the product or the seller more. Excellent price. Excellent product. Unusually swift delivery, particularly given the fact that the whole world is in shutdown because of a pandemic. Hats off to the seller! You have made me a very happy camper!!!
I'm a complete beginner to making electronic music so was a bit anxious about buying something since I really didn't know what I was looking for. Well I got a new job and decided to treat myself to this. Amazing for the price - has everything you need to get up and running out of the box (obvs you need a computer too...). But it has software, a couple of synths (the Hybrid sounds really nice), and of course the hardware. I've found it great helping me get to grips with Ableton using the dedicated pads. The keyboard isn't the best but it is touch sensitive (the harder you kit the keys the louder the sound) and good enough to get down some melodies. And plenty of knobs to mess about with. The interface is a little complicated but once you understand the various shift functions it's fine. I disagree with one of the reviewers here and find it MUCH easier to control Ableton using this device than a mouse (in part because my laptop doesn't have a huge screen so I need to keep scrolling around which is a pain - you can move through your clips and scenes easily using the controls on the APC).
Just a fantastic bit of kit if you want to get started - has finally got me making the music I have been thinking about over the last year. It's not professional standard equipment but it's cheap and it does what it says on the tin.
Simply put this seems to be a great little controller especially for the price.
Now for a bit more detail.
This controller is really for ableton only as its mapped out perfectly for it. So I would suggest other options if you want to use it for another or multiple DAWs. For me that's exactly what i wanted. Within a couple of minutes of plugging it in to the laptop worked perfectly with no hassles with drivers etc. With a quick 20 min session I had some good sounds coming from it. So great for ableton.
Size is perfect for a small workspace or for travelling/gigging. Pianists may struggle with the small keys and the feel of them.
The keys are a little spongey but for playing bass lines and simple melodies and chords it's perfectly fine. As a non pianist I don't have any issues at all here.
The 40 pads on this AREN'T really for use as drum pads they are for triggering you clips in ableton. I assume if you want to you can remap in the software if you want. But for the intended use they are excellent. Aping some of the more expensive controllers like the akai apc40 or abletons own push for a fraction of the price.
Finally build quality. Basically its exactly what I'd expect from a company like akai and the price. Yes its plastic but doesn't feel flimsy in any way keys are level and have a consistent feel to them and the pads buttons and knobs feel good.
Oh and one last thing. It's a midi controller and WON'T work as a standalone keyboard. So be warned.
Downsizing my set up to make it more portable. Having always had issues in the past with Ableton recognising (and/or retaining) the set up of my previous controller, I felt going to a dedicated controller was the way to go. This has proven to be the right decision as this was a doddle to set up and works flawlessly BUT PLEASE NOTE, only after I upgraded my Ableton set up to Live 10. This controller is not supported on anything before Live 9. I suppose I did not research this enough before buying (I have stayed with Live 8 Intro as is unlimited in terms of track count unlike 9 and 10) so is my mistake, but at the same time it could be made a lot clearer in ads or by Akai. So have ended up coughing up another £50 for Live 10 Intro just to be able to use this controller properly (the included Live10 Light is worthless). Even 10 intro is limited to 16 tracks so in some ways not as good as my old Live 8, but 16 tracks is usually enough for me and includes lots of additional good features not in 8 (Drumrack for example). Sorry this has ended up more like a review of Ableton that the Akai. The former is frustrating in that it's upgrade path for those of use who cannot justify +£400 is a pain. The latter is an exceptionally good wee box of tricks that is a joy to use.
This product is pre-configured and mapped to use with Ableton Live. I just plugged it and it worked. It's NOT a musical keyboard but is used for triggering individual samples and clip or complete 'scenes' in Live's session view (similar to Ableton's Push controller). It will also record 'armed' tracks straight into arrangement view.
If you don't have Ableton Live, the APC mini comes complete with a serial number for Ableton Live Lite (downloadable FREE from the Ableton Live Lite website) and you can also download the excellent Hybrid 3 virtual synth for free after you register the product with Akai on their website. To get the best out of the Hybrid 3 synth you'll need to connect a separate midi keyboard to your computer.
There are thousands of free samples and clips on the internet. I've had great fun with this in Ableton Live and I would recommend it.
I rather like this product, It's cheap and cheerful and does exactly what it's supposed to do :)
Only downsides are there's 2mm of travel on the button presses so if you are thinking of using it as a percussion pad look elsewhere as there's also no variable velocity to the presses, also the sliders are a bit variable in their resistance not only between individual sliders but also direction dependent and position
and that's it for the downsides!
It's best paired with Ableton Live 10, forget the MPC Beats software as it's not really designed for the APC Mini, however the AIR Music Synth is pretty darn decent, and it's thrown in for free (cheaper to buy this device than actually purchase the Synth!)
I've only spent a few hours with this but love it already. It works so seamlessly with Ableton and speeds up working in Session mode to make it more fun. I noticed Ableton only really mentioned their own more expensive Push device and this one, which came out about 6 years ago, which to me indicates it's a winner after years of competition. Having used it briefly, I can see why.
I bought it for my 10 yr olds bday, he was so excited for a whole yr for one of these. Turns out, once you set it up and its complicated for a child, the controller does not work unless you go into every one and put in a sound. Hard work and any beginner would struggle.
Shame it's mainly based on software, rather than the unit itsself.