on November 18, 2009
Akai Pro LPK25 Laptop Performance Keyboard
OVERALL IMPRESSION: NOT A TOY! This is an excellent songwriting tool, that makes music making on the go a reality. Not intended to replace your main MIDI controller.
DISCLAIMER: I am an amateur musician making songs mostly to share with family and friends. Also, guitar is my native instrument, and my keyboard skills still leave much to be desired. That being said:
I LOVE THIS DEVICE!!
-PORTABILITY AND SMALL FOOTPRINT. I can take this thing with me anywhere and it does not take much space in my laptop bag or work-surface. I have a 20"x20" wood board that I use as a work-surface for my laptop, mouse, LPK25, and headphones. Using that setup I composed whole songs in my bed, sofa, dinner table, backyard chair, passenger seat of my car (at work during lunch time), hotel room, in-laws house...you get the idea. I also have a room with a full size desktop piled with recording equipment in my house, but I only use that setup for recording vocals, guitars, mixing, and mastering (when I have time). Most of my music creation is done with the LPK25 and my laptop.
-PLAYABILITY. Although the keys are small they are still comfortable to play without hitting more than one note at once with each finger (and I have thick fingers). The keys also have great sinth-like action.
-BUILT-IN ARPEGIATOR. I am a novice at using arpegiators but I have found the built-in arpegiator on the LPK-25 very useful and simple to use. An excellent tool to develop ideas, particularly if you (like me) are lacking serious keyboard skills.
-USB POWERED. No power brick required, and it does not drain my laptop's battery quickly either.
-PLUG & PLAY: No drivers to download and fuss with.
-VELOCITY RANGE NOT AS WIDE AS I WOULD LIKE. The difference in loudness when you press a key fast/hard VS. soft/slow is not as noticeable as more expensive controllers I have used in the past. If you are a very expressive player you won't like it this very much.
-QUALITY & LONGEVITY: I have only owned it for a few months so I don't know how well it will stand to the test of time. But that being said as far as I know AKAI products are pretty reliable, and well built, and this product feels solid.
FINAL NOTE: Although this will be obvious to most, I think it is worth mentioning that this is a midi controller and NOT A STAND ALONE KEYBOARD. The unit makes no sounds of its own and you need a separate computer program (i.e. virtual instrument) to use it.
UPDATE 12/08/2010: I am happy to report that as of today (12/08/2010) my Akai LPK25 is still working as good as the day I bought it.
on December 11, 2009
I carry around an LPK25, an LPD8, and a Go Mic in my laptop bag for beatmaking on the go.
Considering the only thing remotely close to the LPK is that crappy looking thing called the Nanokey, this is the laptop controller to get. Build quality is great. The keys and housing are sturdy. The keys are small but the feel is good enough that you can get melodic with them. Unlike the Nanokey, which feels like Korg put a bunch of spacebars side by side, Akai actually made an effort to make this thing feel like a keyboard.
The same Arppegiator that Akai uses in their MPK series comes with this and you can set up everything via software. The sustain button can either be used to sustain the key you're playing or latch the arppegiator sequence. There's a tap tempo button if you don't want to use an external MIDI clock for the arp. And the bottom two buttons are use to transpose up and down. They light up to let you know whether you're at a higher or lower octave.
That's all there is to it. There's no pitch bend or modulation, but I'm guessing that's because they wanted people to buy the LPK too. If you can afford both the LPK and LPD, you can use one of the LPD knobs to control pitch, mod, velocity, etc.
I'm glad Akai upped the bar on this. There's so much more that can be done with laptop controllers and between Akai, Korg, and Vestax, there should be a lot of cool new gear coming out over the next few years.
on October 20, 2009
I purchased a Korg Nano Keys yesterday and did not like the "button" like keys you had to play on. I could not tell what notes I was hitting without looking at the keyboard. (My old piano teacher would have been cracking the backs of my hands with a ruler for looking...lol).
I traded the Korg in for the Akai LPK25 (which I did know existed till last night!). It was [...] more, but so worth it!
This thing is much better built than the Korg. The Korg felt like it might break in my laptop bag. This is much more solid.
It is about twice as thick as the Korg, but still small enough to put in your messenger bag or laptop case.
No drivers needed, just plug it in and you are ready to go.
Sustain button is a nice feature that the Korg did not have. Only drawback about the sustain is that you cannot shift octaves and add more notes while holding the sustain button down.
The octave buttons light up but could have used a multi-colored method of letting you know how many octaves you are shifted. (Korg did this)
The arpeggiator is a feature I will probably never use. It would have been nice if the editing software would let you re-assign these buttons to something else like pitch bend, modulation, or a couple of transport button functions. (The Korg had pitch and mod buttons, but not really practical for anything I could think of compared to a full sized controller.)
Here are the PROS & CONS....
PROS: No drivers needed, sturdy, sustain button, octave buttons.
CONS: Sustain only good for current selected octave, Arpeggiator is a wasted feature to me (or at least let me set these buttons up to do something else!).
In all, a solid product that is already getting alot of use since I brought it home this afternoon, (I'm already finishing up one writing assignment on it).
It was [...] @ GC which compared to the Korg Nano Keys @ [...], but the quality is worth the extra [...]. (You get what you pay for!)
on February 15, 2010
I initially bought the Korg nanoKEY because I was in need of a low cost midi keyboard for creating music. I wasn't sure I was going to be doing it for very long, so I didn't want to spend a ton of money on one. I had played piano for quite a few years when I was younger and I was disappointed that the Korg keyboard felt nothing like a real keyboard (see my review for more details). This keyboard is only slightly more expensive, but it's absolutely worth the money.
*Feels like a real keyboard
*Very sensitive, and lets you play soft notes and have them register without pounding on the keys (unlike the Korg)
*Great value for the money
*It's a small gripe, but the Korg had green, yellow, and red lights for octave indicators. The Akai does not, so you can't tell visually if you're one, two, or three octaves up. This is a very minor detail though.
It's a great keyboard, and if you need a low priced keyboard and you're not sure which to get, the Akai is absolutely the best way to go.
on June 6, 2010
The LPK25 has a good build quality. I travel often and it's perfect for that. Still, there are two major annoyances so I can't give it five stars. Four may actually be a bit generous.
The keys have a spongy feel and I do not like the velocity curve. It feels like an instrument more than a toy and it is possible to play expressively, though for me it requires much concentration to hit the keys hard enough to make a sound yet soft enough to avoid running out of velocity response. I could not find any evidence that it is possible to program the velocity curve.
A worse annoyance is that, according to the manual, it requires the included software to change the midi channel. Since I use the keyboard with Linux I have not yet been able to change the channel from 1. Things I thought would work, like depressing "program" and "up" have no effect. It is possible to use the included software to program four presets but that would still yield a maximum of four preset channels. All presets came set to channel 1 on my unit. The arpeggiator is a superfluous waste when you consider that something as simple as changing the midi channel can't be done with the buttons on the hardware.
There is room for improvement but it is still the best in its class, unfortunately. If this keyboard appeals to you on the web then you should be at least satisfied with it.
on March 31, 2010
I bought this as a replacement for my (broken) Korg NanoKey and it's been a fantastic purchase.
I enjoyed the NanoKey for the first month or so that I had it. It was inexpensive, ultra-portable, and served its purpose. Unfortunately after only a few weeks, keys started dying, and this was despite taking very good care of it. The NanoKey is just a very flimsy product. The LPK25 is anything but.
DURABILITY- Despite the fact that it's entirely made of plastic, this thing is remarkably solid. Nothing is loose or flimsy or cheap feeling- with care, this thing should last a long time.
SIZE- while significantly thicker than the NanoKey, it's still very portable. It would fit easily in a medium sized pocket of a backpack.
THE KEYS- remember before buying this that the keys are much smaller than "normal" keyboard keys, much closer in size to that of a small Casio keyboard. But don't let that dissuade you! They may be small, but they're not cheap. They're obviously (for the size) not weighted keys, but they have a good, firm, but not overbearing resistance to them. It's a little tricky to figure out the velocities, but that's not why you buy a keyboard this size.
THE DOODADS- For some reason, the LPK25 has a built-in arpeggiator, which while totally functional, seems a bit superfluous. Especially since the unit is lacking pitchbend and modulation controls. I'd gladly give up the real estate the arpeggiator controls take up for a modulation slider or pitchbend buttons or both. The octave +/- buttons light up, which is nice, but they only light up one way. That is, you can't tell by looking at the unit if you're pitched up 1 octave or 3, unlike the NanoKey which had multicolored LEDs to indicate the octave. It's a minor gripe but it's still worth mentioning.
USB- Plug and play on both PC and Mac. I didn't have a single issue on either platform or in any program.
Ultimately though, any negatives that could be leveled against the LPK25 are overshadowed by the fact that it serves its role as an affordable, reliable, portable, and easy to use unit. If you need a small keyboard you can toss in a backpack or suitcase, it's worth every cent.
on January 7, 2012
I use FL Studio 10 on a laptop that i like to bring around with me to friend's houses, the laundromat, etc. The LPK25 is the perfect edition to my traveling studio! It is a great price for the quality...it does not feel like a cheap toy (like some other MIDIs in the same price range) the key sizes are perfect, and it still fits in my backpack with my laptop. It's perfect for easily, and effortlessly trying different riffs, and progressions.
Any downsides? Okay, fine...the keys have a pretty decent reaction to velocity, but you do have to be a little aggressive to get it the loudest, or to react as highest velocity.
It does come with a cd, but i havent used it yet...it may have an instruction manual, or programming options. As i said before, i use it with FL Studio 10 and it was plug and play...i opened fl studio, plugged up my lpk25, went to MIDI options, clicked the lpk 25, clicked enable, and BOOM! ...it worked. Arpreggiator works, tap tempo works, octaves work, sustain works (but only while you are pressing it)...also, so far, i can link any key or button to anything in FL Studio.
...sorry for rambling, hope this helps.
First of all, don't be "oversold" by the "extraordinary value" that some reviewers claim this fifty-buck inputting device to be. Akai is considered a budget-priced version of, and a step down, from Sony, which in the minds of some has dropped a few steps lower itself. But it's the ideal solution for many of us who may be working at a desktop computer with Garageband, Band-in-the-Box, Finale, Sibelius, Audacity or a similar program. The last thing I would do is lug a 50-pound PC or SP Kurzweil model (plus AC power transformer) upstairs to place on an over-crowded desk. Even the 12-pound Yamaha NP-30, with its 76 notes, is awkward to use for this purpose. Make it nothing longer than a 41-note keyboard, but if you can get one at half the price of the E-Music 41-note, that may be the handiest, most practical device for your needs.
Sure, there are alternatives. You can click at a "virtual keyboard" that Garageband makes available for a mouse--but it's slow. Or you can download a virtual keyboard to your iPad (or iPod) for a couple of bucks, but it's limited to no more than an octave and a "touch screen" which, though superior to mouse-clicking, still isn't as satisfying or "immediate" as inputting by pressing down on actual, physical keys.
This cheaply-made--even "cheap"--but effective Akai keyboard fits the bill very nicely, especially for someone who's working in congested space. It's regrettable the company refers to it as a "performance" keyboard. It's nothing of the sort, nor should it be. That's the reason I initially went with the NP30, only to find that the bi-purpose instrument I had in mind was impractical for either intended use.
Take a look at the Korg "Nano" piano, and if you're a pianist, you'll immediately see the superiority of the Akai. But be careful not to be lulled into purchasing the deluxe model of either the Akai or the E-Music, or you'll be close to spending as much as you would for a keyboard that lives up to the name "Performance." This Akai model looks and feels like a kindergartner's ten-dollar toy, but it's the best compromise I've been able to turn up for my crowded work area.
on March 7, 2011
It is only natural to compare this to the Korg Nanokey, since they both fill the same niche for about the same price.
There are some advantages that the Korg Nanokey has over this thing:
* The LPK25 does NOT have pitch-bend or modulation buttons (not a big deal for most)
* The "octave" buttons light up, so that you know if your octave is up or down, but there is NO visual indication to tell how many octaves you have shifted. The Korg used different-colored lights for this (slightly inconvenient, but not a big deal).
* The Korg comes with a license for the M1-le virtual synth software.
* The Korg is about half as thick as the Akai, so it is easier to carry around (may be a big deal to some).
* The Korg is slightly cheaper (but you get what you pay for).
* The Korg also has a "controller" mode that is useless for 99% of the people.
Well, the Akai is, simply stated, far superior in every other respect...
* The Akai appears to be MUCH more sturdy. My NanoKey died when a couple of keys were accidentally torn off. This should NOT happen with the Akai.
* REAL KEYS. Yes, they have been shrunken. But, they are REAL KEYS, compared to the laptop-space-key-style-buttons on the Korg. The Akai is simply far, far better.
* Apreggiator. This is really cool to play with.
* Sustain button. You have to hold it to get it to do anything during normal playing, but it is a toggle on/of when the Arp is on! This is seriously cool.
One slightly odd thing is the way the touch-sensitivity works on this thing compared to other keyboards. With most keyboard, it measures how fast the key is moving when it "bottoms out." However, for whatever reason, the LPK25 measures how fast the key STARTS to move. This means that if you start to press a key softly, and then press harder (faster) halfway through, most keyboards will register a hard press, while this one will register a soft press. This also means that it is easier to have a finger accidentally halfway press a key and get a note. Not a big deal, but something to be aware of.
For the money, this keyboard rocks. If you want something small that you can use with your DAW while you sit at a coffee shop, this is your product. Do not even consider the Korg Nanokey unless you really have to get something that is thinner and easier to carry, and even then you will have to baby the Korg so that it does not die.
on June 28, 2015
This or any other digital keyboard is not for the novice. It took me about a week to figure out how to get this keyboard to work with my surface pro tablet with windows 8. Tech support does not help! The first thing you need to know is that the keyboard is not plug and play. You must download and install a midi player. I used FL Studio because it was free. I tried a few others but could not get it to work. Second, you must download the sound file you want your keyboard to sound like. I found a free grand piano. You can find plenty of free .SF2 files to install. The .SF2 file must go in the sound folder of the program you are using.