Akai Professional Advance - 49 Key MIDI Controller Keyboard
Akai's Advance series of MIDI keyboards differs from the MPK series in that they have a strong emphasis on virtual instrument control - both for recording and live performance.
NB: This had a Gearank score of 84 back in February 2016, however its ratings have dropped since then and it's no longer on our main recommended list - for our current recommendations see our guide to The Best 49 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards.
It comes with their Virtual Instrument Player (VIP) software which can run as a stand alone application, or as a plugin with any AU, VST, or AAX compatible DAW - this means you can control nearly all VSTi's with or without a DAW running making it ideal for live use.
The VIP software lets you control, edit, and mix up to 8 VSTi's in real time and the full color screen provides real time reporting on plugin parameters. When used as a plugin, you can run unlimited instances of VIP. For more information on the VIP software see this video demo.
- Keys: 49 semi-weighted, velocity sensitive with aftertouch.
- Pads: 8 MPC style which are velocity and pressure sensitive with RGB illumination.
- Octaves: 10 by using Octave Up and Octave Down controls.
- Arpeggiator: Yes.
- Motorized Controls: No.
- Bundled Software: No - but comes with 16GB of sounds.
- Power: USB or an optional external power adapter.
- Connectivity: USB, 5-pin MIDI in and out, 2 x TRS inputs for expression pedal and sustain pedal or footswitch input.
- Control Hardware Directly: Yes
- Compatibility: Mac OS X 10.8 or later + Windows 10, 8, and 7.
- Dimensions: 29.52" x 11.52" x 3.48"
- Weight 9.92 lbs
It comes with templates for controlling Ableton, Cubase, Logic, Bitwig, FL studio and Reaper, and you can also set up custom templates for any other DAW you have.
Many customer and expert reviews talk very positively about the VIP software saying that the combination of the Advance 49 with VIP essentially replaces synth workstations.
They also talk very positively about how good it is to use playing live, with particular attention paid to the color screen which means you're not reliant on a computer screen while playing. Those that spoke about the 16GB of sounds say they are of very good quality.
On the negative side, some reviewers found setting it up a bit complicated, and some reported that the keys are a bit too tight or stiff - although others specifically disagree with that assessment.
Overall, if you're looking for a very capable MIDI controller for both live and recording, then this is probably the right one for you.
This video provides a good look at the Akai Professional Advance 49: