Akai Miniak Synthesizer Now Available For $500

akai-miniak

Akai Professional has announced that the Akai Miniak is now available.

The Miniak combines Akai’s control surface with Alesis’ synth engine.

The Miniak lets you create programs with up to eight multi-timbral voices, each with three oscillators. You can create complex sounds using the Miniak’s two multimode filters, three envelope generators, two LFOs, stereo effects and 40-band vocoder with gooseneck microphone. The MINIAK also has a comprehensive sequencer with step and dynamic real time phrase sequencing, a drum machine/rhythm sequencer and an arpeggiator.

The MINIAK is available from musical instrument and professional audio retailers and has a U.S. Retail Price of $699.00 with an estimated street price of $499.00.

Details below.

If you’ve used the Akai Professional Miniak synthesizer, leave a comment with your thoughts.

Specifications:

  • Keyboard: 37 key, Semi-weighted
  • Synthesis: Virtual analog (subtractive), Noise generator, FM
  • Polyphony: Up to 8 voices
  • Timbrality: Up to 8 parts
  • Oscillators:
    • 3 per voice with continuously variable waveshapes
    • Sync, linear and exponential FM
    • Ring Mod
    • Routable modulation matrix per voice
  • Filters: 2 multi-mode resonating filters per voice with 16 filter types
  • Modulation:
    • 2 LFOs with multiple wave shapes
    • Sample and hold
    • Tracking generator
    • Freely-routable modulation matrix per voice
  • Effects: 4 drive effects, 1 per part; master effects
  • Sequencing:
    • Step sequencer
    • Arpeggiator
    • Drum machine/rhythm sequencer
    • Phrase sequencer
  • Program Memory: Up to 1,000 programs and multi-timbral setups
  • Velocity Sensitive: Yes
  • External Control: MIDI In/Out/Thru
  • Inputs: 2 balanced 1/4 inch TRS, Microphone
  • Outputs: 2 balanced 1/4 inch TRS, 1/4 inch TRS headphone
  • Controls:
    • Pitch wheel
    • 2 assignable Q-Link modulation wheels
    • X, Y, and Z parameter knobs
    • Pattern play
    • Phrase arpeggiator
    • Latch arpeggiator
    • Keyboard octave
    • Tap tempo
    • Program controls
    • Data push-knob
    • Config
    • Store
    • Master volume
  • Pedal Inputs: Assignable expression pedal, Sustain pedal
  • Includes:
    • MINIAK synthesizer keyboard
    • VPM1 gooseneck microphone
    • Power supply
    • Quick start guide

Akai MINIAK Features

  • 37 key synth-action keyboard with velocity sensitivity
  • 8 voices, each with 3 oscillators
  • Up to 8 multi-timbral parts with stereo effects and 40-band vocoder
  • 2 multi-mode filters, 3 envelope generators, 2 LFOs, sample and hold, tracking generator
  • Dynamic real-time and step sequencers, arpeggiator, and drum machine/rhythm sequencer
  • Stereo bus effects including reverbs and delays
  • 24-bit 1/4 inch balanced stereo analog outputs and inputs
  • More than 600 preset sounds
  • Sound banks: bass, lead, pad, string, brass, keys, comp, drum, SFX

Under the Hood

A Miniak program is a sound built from the Miniak’s internal oscillators, filters, and envelope generators. The Miniak’s more than 600 preset programs span the range of classic analog synthesis sounds. If you’ve heard it before, you will probably find it in the Miniak’s presets. In a synth, oscillators generate raw sound. Their output is fed into the filters, whose output is fed into the amplifiers. As the signal moves along that path, you can manipulate the mix at several points and apply modulations, envelopes, and effects to create a custom palette of sounds.

Sound Generation

The oscillators can produce different waveform types and shapes to create various harmonic structures, which our ears perceive as different timbres. Here are some of the waveforms you can create with the Miniak’s oscillators:

  • Sine: Smooth, pure sound
  • Triangle: Fuller than a sine wave
  • Sawtooth: Harsh sonic character
  • Pulse: Harmonically rich, ranging from full-sounding square wave to a sharp impulse wave

The Miniak’s oscillators can produce continuously variable waveforms, so it can can hit any point between these examples.

You can connect external audio sources, other synthesizers, mixers, guitars, and more, using the 1/4 inch inputs. The jacks accept either balanced or unbalanced cables. You can mix in the external audio sources with the Miniak’s oscillators. The resulting combination is then sent through the Miniak’s filters and effects. A special group of programs including vocoder programs exists just for use with the external inputs.

The outputs of the oscillators, the noise generator, the ring modulator, and the external inputs are fed into a virtual mixing board called the pre-filter mix. From here, the signal hits the filters. For each source, you can specify its level and its balance: how much is sent to Filter 1 and how much is sent to Filter 2.

Filtering
The oscillators produce very raw sounds. To shape and fine-tune the sound, filters give you tools for dampening certain harmonics and boosting others. Filters alter the frequency content of the signal and can have a drastic effect on the sound. Each of the Miniak’s voices contains two filters, and each filter can be one of the following different types, each with its own character and sonic flavor.

They are:

  • Bypass, Low Pass: ob 2-pole, tb 3-pole, mg 4-pole, rp 4-pole, jp 4-pole, al 8-pole
  • Band Pass: ob 2-pole, al 6-pole, octave dual, band limit
  • High Pass: ob 2-pole, op 4-pole
  • Three Vocal Formants, Four Comb Filters, Phase Warp, Frequency, Resonance, Key Tracking, Envelope Amount, Offset, and Absolute

After filtering, the signal is fed to the post-filter mix. For each filter output, as well as a pre-filter signal of your choice, you can specify a level and a pan.

Output Processing
In the output stage, the Miniak allows you to apply a drive effect and add some compression, distortion, or other amplification effects. The Miniak allows you to set up twelve modulation routes. Each of these is a virtual connection between some physical or internally generated source and some program parameter. Basically, a mod route tells the synth to automatically grab a knob and tweak it while a note is playing. Although there are quite a few sources that you can use for your mods, the most common ones involve the LFOs and the envelopes.

LFOs
LFO stands for low-frequency oscillator. LFOs are not designed to produce sound, but instead to tweak a program parameter according to a looping pattern. For example, if you are looking to add vibrato, you need the pitch to continuously waver up and down. Each of the Miniak’s voices contains two LFOs, each of which offers rate, depth, shape, and tempo sync. The Miniak’s LFO can sync to the internal clock or any external source via MIDI.

Envelopes

If you hit a note on a piano, you hear a burst of sound energy as the hammer strikes the string, followed by lower level of loudness as you hold down the note and let the string ring out, which fades quickly as soon as you release the note and the damper is applied. Synthesizers model this behavior using ADSR Envelopes. ADSR stands for Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release, and represents the different stages that the sound goes through over the life of the note. The Miniak also has an envelope that is specifically designed for loudness, called the Amp Envelope. Envelopes are useful in all sorts of mod routes, which is why you can hook up any of the Miniak’s envelopes to any modulatable program parameter. Each of the Miniak’s voices contains three envelopes: Amp Envelope, Filter Envelope, and Pitch/Modulation Envelope.

Sequencing

The Miniak has extensive sequencing and arpeggiation performance capabilities. Arpeggios and sequences both respond to a key-press by playing a series of notes over a programmed rhythmic pattern. An arpeggio loops over whatever notes you are holding down on the keyboard. If you hold down a chord, the Miniak will generate a melody by playing each note of your chord individually. A sequence has a melody line built in so you can hold down a single key and the Miniak will play back that melody relative to that key. Pressing another key will transpose the sequence. The Miniak has MPC-style step sequencing and recorder-style dynamic real time phrase sequencing. There’s also a drum machine/rhythm sequencer for the built-in drum sounds.

Effects

The Miniak has a full compliment of stereo effects including Chorus, Feedback, Theta Flanger (Phaser + Flanger), Thru Zero Flanger, Super Phaser, Notch Frequency, String Phaser, 40-Band Vocoder, Analysis Gain, Sibilance Boost, Band Shift, Synthesis Input, Analysis Signal In, Analysis Mix, six types of Delay, and three types of Reverbs.

With the extensive sound generating and manipulating power of the Miniak, the sounds you dream up are as easy to create as twisting a few knobs. And creating complete soundscapes with the sequencer and arpeggiator couldn’t be easier. Create your unique sound with the Akai Miniak.


4 thoughts on “Akai Miniak Synthesizer Now Available For $500

  1. This product is nothing more than a beefed up and re-badged Alesis Micron.

    2 mods wheels like like old Alesis Ion. 8 parts instead of 4.

    Better effects, some sequencer/arp thing (btw, the Micron HAD a seq/arp thing… a nice one too.)

    The important part, which I have confirmed with Alesis, is that the sound engine is IDENTICAL to the Micron's.

    It's less of a new synth, more of a MICRON DELUXE. (Which isn't bad, the micron sounds sweet!)

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  2. I think I'd miss the Micron's sliders, they're one of the features that define it for me. Also this is far uglier than the Micron. But, being an ugly Micron, it will at least sound great.

    I think the Micron is vastly underrated as a beat-making machine, too – the synthesised sounds combined with the sliders controlling several parameters at once can produce epic and unforeseen results from very simple setups. In fact if Akai had seen fit to add some MPC pads to the Miniak… that'd be tempting.

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