Akai Professional MPK261 61-Key MIDI Keyboard Controller
Created by Akai Professional, the company that pioneered the use of pads as controllers, it's no surprise that the MPK261's most notable feature is its expressive pads.
But its not just about that because it also features 61 semi-weighted synth style keys, a combination that caters to modern music styles. Guaranteed iOS compatibility is also a plus for added versatility.
Pitch bend and modulation wheels are also present, along with other keyboard related controls including, octave up and down. For triggering samples in realtime, the MPK261 is equipped with 16 RGB illuminated pads, with each one having 4 banks, allowing for a wide selection of samples to utilize for your recording or performance.
Other features include 8 encoder knobs, 8 faders, and transport controls.
- Keys: 61 Full-Size Semi-Weighted Keys with Aftertouch
- Pads: 16 RGB Lit
- Controls: 8 Encoders, 8 Buttons, 8 Faders, Pitch Bend & Mod Wheels, Octave, Transport/DAW Control Buttons
- Octave: 3 Octaves (+/-)
- Zones: Dual
- Automap: Yes
- Connectivity: 5-Pin MIDI, USB
- Control Hardware Directly: Yes
- Compatibility: Windows XP/Vista/7/8, OSX 10.5 (Up), iOS
- Power: USB Bus Powered
- Dimensions: 35.63" x 12.25" x 3.38"
- Weight: 15.1 lbs.
- Bundled Software: Ableton Live Lite, Pro MPC Essentials, Hybrid 3 Synth, SONiVOX Twist 2.0, Akai VIP3 Plug-in, Reason Lide DAW license
Satisfied and impressed users continue to rate the Akai Professional MPK261 highly, and in this market where keyboards are normally rated poorly, getting this much acclaim is quite an accomplishment. As expected, the pads get a lot of thumbs up. To Akai Professional's credit, even the synth action keys are well received, with many reviews noting how much of a dramatic improvement they are compared to others in the market.
The only complaints I found when reading all the reviews was one person who said he wished the knobs were lit for playing live in the dark, and another who said they wanted a PC configuration editor like the 25-Key Mini MkII has.
With its sleek appeal, extensive control set and reasonable price tag, the Akai Professional MPK261 is a reasonable option, however there have been many higher rated options released since this came onto the market and you can find them in our guide to The Best 61-Key MIDI Controller Keyboards.