Customer Reviews: Akai Professional SynthStation 49 49-Note Keyboard Controller with Drum Pads and Doc
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on August 31, 2012

1.) Keys are solid and have good action.
2.) Pitch and modulation wheels feel solid.
3.) iPad dock station charges iPad when the controller is plugged into the wall.
4.) Can use the controller with your favorite DAW via USB.
5.) A/C adapter and USB cable included.


1.) Transport control buttons flimsy and cheap.
2.) iPad dock flimsy and cheap.
3.) Entire keyboard is lighter and made of cheaper plastic than the solid built MPK61.
4.) Synthstation app, which is a separate Apple App Store purchase, is the only app so far that allows you to use all the controls on the Synthstation 49. Hopefully this improves if more apps start directly supporting this controller.
5.) Drum pads are over sensitive resulting in cut off samples and it is very hard to get expressive with the drum pads since the touch sensitivity is so touchy. Drum pads work well if you mash on them. Really only good for short patterns, but not live or for long expressive drum pattern sessions.

Bottom line: Avoid unless you absolutely have to have the integrated iPad dock. You would be better off buying an AKAI MPK49 and an iPad MIDI adapter than this. Cheaply built compared to AKAI MPK line like the MPK49 or 61. This is hardly a professional grade controller. Very sad considering I have waited so long for this controller. I would have easily paid more money for this if it had a better quality build.
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on December 18, 2012
I just got my SynthStation 49 last night, and I haven't had time to really dive into it deeply yet, but here's a quick rundown of some apps I've tried and my experiences thus far along with links to each of them in the app store -

Akai Synthstation App - This is a REALLY bad app, the sounds are horrible, functionality and intuitiveness of the app is very poor. I suppose every Synthstation owner will buy it, but really, as Eddie.Vidmar said above, it sucks.
GarageBand - This worked pretty well, but I wish the record and stop buttons would trigger those functions in the program rather than you having to tap on the ipad itself. Drum pads don't seem to be assignable, but other than that, it seems to work.

AniMoog - This was really the app that I wanted the Synthstation for, the Moog folks have made a great tool, and it works very well with the synth station. Again, a little more hardware integration in terms of the physical buttons and pads would be nice, but overall, I'm happy with how this works thus far.

Magellan - This app also worked very well with the synthstation, and it's got great sounds. It's well worth the price of the app.

Sunrizer - This app works very well, has great synths, tones, and functionality. Definitely buy this one.

Korg iMS-20 - A fantastic app, the sounds are awesome, and the features are truly like that of the old MS-20. Again, it's a shame that you can't assign the pads and other hardware buttons to other functions within the app itself.

Korg iPolySix - - I haven't tried this yet, I'm hoping to get to it this weekend.

Novation Launchkey - I haven't tried this yet, I'm hoping to get to it this weekend.

Pianist Pro - I haven't tried this yet, I'm hoping to get to it this weekend.

Overall so far, the SynthStation is a decent buy if you already have an iPad, and you're used to playing on a smaller USB keyboard, it's worth picking up. My main complaints are the completely awful Synthstation App, and the lack of being able to assign functionality or use dedicated hardware buttons and pads to perform the functions that they could with other apps. If you primarily plan to use this as your main keyboard, you'd probably be better with the Akai MPK61, especially if you're going to be running it into your laptop rather than your iPad. However, if you're looking to tinker around with a bunch of iPad apps, and want something that will power the iPad and give it a dedicated dock, the SynthStation is not a horrible solution for a set of keys to drag to practice or a friends house to have fun with. I even think that after getting the hang of all the issues with it, you *could* even be daring enough to play a few shows with it as well.
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on August 30, 2012
I just bought this keyboard last week from guitar Center.. and I am here to report to you that the item works awesome... for whatever reason it took Akai a while to bring it to market but it is here.. what makes this product really cool is the fact that you can download a lot of keyboard/synthesizer apps from the App Store for as little as free to $10... you have such a incredible amount of software to pick from.. this is the biggest no-brainer that I have seen in my 20 years of working with software/hardware instruments
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on October 13, 2014
I bought this a while ago for my 1st gen ipad and that has worked very well with the ios music creation apps that i own. I can even use this controller with my more recently purchased ipad air and iphone 6 plus, using the Apple Lightning to 30-Pin Adapter (0.2M). Transport buttons only work with the akai app, but keys, wheels and pads work with a lot of other music apps as well. I paid 100 bucks for mine and its a great value at that, but I wouldn't recommend this at the current price of around $300. You can find most likely a better more updated ios/midi keyboard for less.
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on October 6, 2013
Works fine, app is not bad if you know your way around with oscillators,the only thing I have against it is that the velocity touch sensitivity is kinda cheap... But for a hundred bucks.. You get what you pay for... Great tool for GarageBand, other synth apps work great with the unit, not bad for only a C-note..
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on June 20, 2014
I don't use any of the transport controls, nor the drum pads right now. However, I have assigned them in the past and they worked just fine. My primary purpose of purchasing this little gem, was to have a lightweight rehearsal and/or gig rig for when I only need a one handed synth. Something, super light and that sounds great with the iOS apps. When it first came out, there was only a few apps that would really work and could be relied upon. Most had stability problems and would crash, others sounded terrible. While still others had performance problems and lag, where you didn't want it. As the years have passed since I bought it, there are many fantastic, stable, and super usable performance-ready soft-synth apps that can dramatically decrease the gig-gear backaches while keeping the sonic standard high. This little keyboard, while all plastic, has all that is needed to fit that bill. Well, if you add velcro to the iPad and it's holder.
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on November 17, 2013
This keyboard has been everything I wanted out of a midi controller for my ipad apps, and it's direct compatibility with gen 1 and 2 ipads and instant hook up make it and outstanding grab. I use it mostly With the following apps: Garage Band, Korg iMS-20, Korg iPolysix, Fingerlab DM1, Audanika Soundprism Pro, and the Animoog. It works great with all of these out of the box and can be reprogramed for even stronger control with some of the midi control apps out there. I also plugged my midi sustain pedal and an old usb boom box amp straight in, and it's the house piano/keyboard now. It works especially nice with the excellent Korg apps, with the screen placement being perfect for working with the touch manipulators and pads there in. There is a certain supreme glee to having the patch cord panel or knobs of iMS20 zoomed in and acting like they should be at your finger tips. It's just a ton of fun to play.

However, it does have some down sides. First, and this is not really on AKAI, mind you, but partially on the app devs out there, you can't always get the full control you want, even reprogramming. The Korg ios synthstudion (iMS20 and iPolysix) are extraordinary apps and tools, but they don't seem directly designed to allow full control to all their tracks by midi. This means that even though you can reprogram the switches away from glitches (like a strange one where octave up, besides being octave up, in ipolysix, also changes your amp patch's settings in the envelope and, I believe, deactivates arpeggio) you cannot easily (and possibly at all) assign the pads to your six drums tracks or, in the polysix's case, change to your second lead synth track. This seems to be a temporary oversight on Korg's part in the design of the app, and I don't think any midi controller can access that awesome additional functionality, but for now it is especially a shame with a controller like the Synthstation Pro, which is perfectly set up for such control.

Secondly, extended (hours+) use of the synthstation with certain apps can occasionally lead to a tone and generation error in working with the headphone jack out. This requires a quick reboot of the controller and a quick homepage hop on the ipad (though not a reboot on the ipad) and is all but the most minor of inconveniences for the home composer. However, I can see it being a potentially bigger one for the live performers out there. This may have been partially fixed by app updates, and I haven't had it as an issue in a while, but other work has torn my focus from using my music suite's as much as I was, so it may still be around.

Additionally, it's also a shame that the keyboard does not, in my experience, appear to work nearly at all with 3rd generation (new connector) iOS devices. Even with an adapter. That said, I haven't tried many, and not since they first came out, so this issue may have gone the way of the dodo as well.

Last, and most importantly, is the huge issue that Akai's own apps, the iMPC and Synthstation app, do not work well with keyboard out of the box. Well, that's not entirely fair. The truth is that functionality with the controller is about the only thing that does work well with the synthstation app. It's an unattractive and fairly unfriendly app, but by far it's biggest issue is it's instability. It crashes so much that it's a minor miracle to get it launched. The iMPC, to it's credit, is a better designed, fun, and ridiculously more usable app. However, it's native functionality with Akai's own iPad synth controller is obnoxiously thin. You'll essentially have to reprogram it entirely just to correlate your on screen and off screen pads. These oversights by the first party dev in their software are the biggest issue, but they fortunately do not eliminate the underlying value of it's hardware. I don't regret the purchase at all, and use it all the time, minor gripes aside.
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on October 4, 2013
I bought this to work with a 30-pin iPad, and it worked great- especially with the free AkI Synthstation app! Build quality and keyboard good, but docking an iPad to it and using the Akai app, Sunrizer, GarageBand, Grain Science, Crystal was exceptionally easy and worked very well. With a certified Apple 30-pin to Lightning cable adapter .2 m long you can also hook up the latest gen iPod and iPad iOS 8 with the same above apps. Akai also had the Synthstation app for iPod and it works beautifully with this keyboard. That Akai app is highly underrated. For a free soft synth, coupled with the Synthstation49 keyboard, it is highly professional and a great synth. Bravo to Akai for upgrading the app, and producing such a beautiful controller for it!
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on February 12, 2014
I got mine used for 59bucks from git center.what can I say.its a bargain at that price .no complaints.gig bag cost more than that and it runs on sold
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on December 29, 2013
I bought this for my home studio AND this thing works like a champ for all music application for your music...
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