Akai MAX49 MIDI + CV Control Keyboard Review

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One of the more surprising introductions from last year’s NAMM Show was the Akai Max49 controller – because it’s not only a MIDI controller, but also a CV/Gate controller and sequencer.

In this video, Sonic State’s Nick Batt takes a deep look at the Max49 controller, testing out its expected features and some of its unexpected ones, too.

Features:

  • 49 semi-weighted keys with Aftertouch for complete musical expression
  • Built-in step sequencer for detailed track construction
  • Expanded arpeggiator with latch and time division controls
  • Included AkaiConnect software automatically maps to VST plugins
  • 12 backlit, real MPC pads with MPC Note Repeat and MPC swing
  • Eight backlit LED touch faders for gradual or instant parameter value changes
  • Four pad banks & four fader banks provide a total of 80 assignable pads & faders
  • CV & Gate outputs for use with vintage analog synths (1V/Oct)
  • Large, centrally-positioned transport controls & rubberized pitch and modulation wheels
  • Mackie Control & HUI modes provide instant compatibility with many DAWs

The Akai MAX49 is available now for about US$400. If you’ve used the Max49, let us know what you think of it!

via sonicstate


16 thoughts on “Akai MAX49 MIDI + CV Control Keyboard Review

  1. Man when i saw this think in person at naam it was absolutely beautiful, ad felt solid. the only think more stunning at first glance out right now seems to be the Nectar Panorama. That sequencer seems a bit… Fiddly… though that is amazing, you dont see alot of midi controllers with that option.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2
    • I agree with Paranoid… Not too sure about AKAI QA. My MPK 49 has a key that I have to hammer on to get it the MIDI to register in my DAW. Now, I’m a hobbyist, so I don’t use it hard or all that much, never dropped, etc.

      By comparison, my Roland JX-3P that I bought WHEN IT CAME OUT in the 80′s is still going strong, and it’s been run through the world’s baggage handler gauntlet (US, Africa, Europe, MIddle East).

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
      • To be fair, the Roland JX-3P was priced over a grand when it came out, which would be closer to $3K in today’s dollars.

        Back then, just about everything was expensive and built like a tank. There weren’t any cheap alternatives.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
        • Yeah, very true… In my haste to remeber the good old days, I forgot that one issue.
          But I’ll say that the Akai has a nice heft to it as well… So I guess the internals are where the issue in my MPK lies.

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  2. I don’t trust akai anymore. I own mpk 61 and it came to me with already 2 broken keys, they just don’t send velocity right. after less then a year octave low button broken, and i am not crazy on it. after few more weeks arp 16 mode button failed. I do dust cover it. and it never go away from my desk. Even my cheap m-audio oxiom last longer than this.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3
  3. At the first glances in NAMM videos
    The stepsequencer was the only interest for this
    Touch sensitive faders might be a bit too much for hardware guys

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6
  4. i wonder if the MIDI OUT works when USB is connected? Because it doesn’t on the MPK49. Anyone know?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5
  5. Meh, some cool features like touch sliders, but I’ll stick to my old and trusty Axiom Pro for now…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1
  6. The use of touch faders on this keyboard is actually great because they can update the LED for each bank, since the faders have 3 banks. That is the issue with the MPK, since the faders are not motorized the CC’s will jump if you go to a different bank where the CC is a different number then where the slider currently is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  7. I’m with the guy that said they don’t trust akai- I bought several products (MPK 49, APC 20, MPK mini) and the only one I still use is the mini. They really didn’t concentrate on the playability of the keyboard with the MPK series. The action was really hard and if you notice a company like Novation decided they were really going to offer a product with superior keyboard action for real players instead of trying to put as many sliders and knobs as possible they really delivered a playable keyboard with the SLK series -with akai, the keyboard was an afterthought and they cut corners in production and gave you cheap non-musical keys that had to be pressed too hard to get them to register.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  8. I’m amazed that nobody has noticed a major flaw in the MAX49 – equal power hits on white keys versus black keys result in majorly different velocities. If I alternate between Bb and B with the same strength of hit, for example, I get 127 velocity on the Bb, and about 80 on the white keys. It’s the same across the whole keyboard, and in fact it’s extremely hard to get 127 velocity on the white keys without using so much speed/strength in your hands that it feels like you are going to damage the keys. My first MAX49 went back to the retailer with a mostly dead Bb2, the replacement one went back to the factory when the Bb2 started clicking/clacking (especially with quiet playing) and several keys had differing velocities (you could hit B1 and C2 – adjacent white keys – and the velocities would be markedly different). After 2.5 months of waiting they sent me a brand new one, and now I find that there’s still this major difference in velocity between all black keys and all white keys. The problem with this is that under normal playing conditions, black notes sound way waaaay louder (especially with say an inexpensive multisample piano patch which has an obvious difference between the 60-80 velocity samples and the 90+ velocity samples). I’m stunned that nowhere on the internet has anyone else complained about this….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1
  9. The velocity issue on the black keys is an issue that annoys me constantly. The max49 is an incredible controller but for that issue. I resort to using another controller for actually playing parts. If I didn’t have the other controllers I’d have ditched the Max49 long ago.

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