The Akai SynthStation 49 (Overview Video)

In his latest iOS Update, Mitch Gallagher of Sweetwater Sound takes a look at the long-awaited Akai Professional SynthStation 49 – a keyboard controller designed for using with either an iOS device or your computer. The SynthStation 49 comes with the Akai SynthStation app and has an integrated iPad holder on the keyboard itself.

If you’ve used the SynthStation 49, let us know what you think of it!

19 thoughts on “The Akai SynthStation 49 (Overview Video)

  1. I use the syntstation 49 since 3 weeks. For this price this is a good key, but at the moment the synthstation app doesn`t open on my ipad2. Hope they fix on fast update!
    The synthstation works fine with core audio apps – so I currently use it with sunrizer.

  2. The Synthstation app is flaky as hell. I recommend updating it, then to run it, making sure you close all your other apps FIRST. It should run then.

    I purchased one about a week ago, and have been exploring its use with various synths. As noted, Synthstation is hardly worth using, but other apps like Magellan, PPG Wavegenerator, Cassini, Vogel CMI, and Sunrizer are ACES.

    I know it’s been possible to use the iPad as a synth unit for some time, but the controller really lets me use it in an easy, integrated fashion. Of late, I’ve been creating little one synthesizer compositions just to stretch the legs of the controller and the apps, getting my head around things. So far, the only real issues I’ve had are with the lack of audio in on the controller, which makes Voice Synth and the sampling apps a lot less useful. I will be experimenting with a workaround soon. The keybed is reasonably nice, but don’t kid yourself into thinking it’s high end. The rest of the controls are pretty useless. The drum pads aren’t sensitive enough; they’re stiff and you’ll beat your fingers down trying to get a wide range of velocities.

    All in all, I bought it to be a keyboard for my iPad. It’s a reasonably good controller that encourages me to make more use of my iPad synths; so I’m not unhappy.

  3. It certainly is a nice keyboard controller for the iPad, but it lacks the possibility to send sysex messages, which is very annoying when you use apps like Lemur or other Midi controller apps.

    Besides this it’s a controller for the price you pay.
    Decent keyboard, wheels and Pads.
    The buttons right from the iPad are only of real use in the Synthstation app.
    Even the transport buttons use Midi CC instead of MMC (which make sense since the Synthstation doesn’t send sysex).

    As a controller keyboard for computer applications it also works fine.
    Connecting it to both my mac and PC didn’t give any trouble, although my mac recognized the Synthstation as a Alesis iO Dock, which makes me think that there isn’t much difference between the two under the hood.

    Altogether I do like my Synthstation, but I hope the sysex issue will be solved in future updates.
    Since this is still not the case with the iO Dock I won’t hold my breath.

  4. I hope the App will get MASSIVE update really soon. A mother of all updates.

    Now its not only buggy, but its completely unremarkable in every way. Synth engine is very basic, it doesn’t sound special(like I was hoping for, because they marketed it as a slice of Micron/Miniak, which I’m huge fan of), theres a paltry ONE effect for everything to cram through.

    And they took a year to make a cosmetic update to iPad.

      1. I bought the Akai 49 and tried it with the Animoog app. You need to turn the MIDI on the app by going to “setup” then tap on “Synth 49.” Hope all synth apps work on this device.

        Will try to see if it works on the “pocket organ C3/B3” app, they just added the CORE-MIDI update.

  5. This seems like a great idea to me, but I’m really put off by the SynthStation app itself. If Akai isn’t going to devote the resources to do it’s own app right, it’s not going to get momentum with other developers. And it puts them in the position of trying to compete and cooperate at the same time.

    If I were Akai, I’d offer a bounty to developers to add SynthStation 49 support and then kill off their own SynthStation app. That or make the SynthStation app something that’s not an also-ran.

  6. Apple is current facing a wave of bad publicity over a New York Times story that exposed many problems with Apple suppliers in China. They included industrial accidents, abuse of workers for long hours and the use of underage labour. Though such problems also occur at many other western consumer electrical companies that have their products made in China, Apple’s position as a brand leader – and its huge profits – make it a high-profile case.

    The Times story itself followed on the work of playwright Mike Daisey, whose one-man show, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, has highlighted the issue, and was featured on the National Public Radio show that Shields listened to.

    1. Mike Daisey has admitted that his allegations were made up. NPR had to retract its story because they discovered that Daisey was lying.

      1. not quite “made up” — but certainly significantly “embellished.” Kind of like a movie that is a “dramatization” of a real event. There are some real issues there. Though also, the issues are not specific to Apple.

  7. I was a little disappointed with the keybaord. It does everything Mitch said but I was hoping to map some of the knobs to synth modulation controls like filter cutoff etc. It doesn’t do this. Animoog will play through the app but it does’t respond to the keyboard. The Korg ims 20 does but the ielectribe doesn’t respond to the pads. Most of my other synth apps don’t respond although all will play though the audio.
    The akai app could be better as has been remarked. Very thin documentation, an alarming trend- hey app manufacturers- Korg included- these things need MORE detailed documentation, not less, as you seem to believe.
    I got this hoping to revive some enthusiasm for ipad sound production but that hasn’t happened. I’m a hardware guy I guess.

  8. 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.

  9. I’ve had the synthstaion for a while and I’m overall very please. I just wish more apps would allow for the user of program preview and next as well as the transport buttons, stop, play, record etc

    1. I’ve had the synthstaion for a while and I’m overall very please. I just wish more apps would allow for the user of program prev and next as well as the transport buttons, stop, play, record etc

  10. Hi there. I use the Synth Station for practicing at home and I use an iodock for playing live with my Nord keyboard. I use SAMPLE TANK app … Love it! Has a slight glitch with noise but I have found a work around. However, my one main complaint about the Synthstation 49 is that I can’t midi it to my Nord … Now if I could do that I wouldn’t trade need the Iodock!!!

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