Akai Professional Intros Advance Keyboard Series


2015 NAMM Show Preview: Akai Professional today introduced a new line of control keyboards, the Advance Keyboard series, that’s designed to provide deep integration with virtual instruments.

Available in 25-, 49-, and 61-key sizes, the Advance 25, Advance 49, and Advance 61 let you load, play and control your virtual instrument plugins directly from their keyboard.

According to the company, the Advance Keyboard series has been designed “to fuse the power of software instruments with the live playability of a keyboard workstation,” transforming the use of computer-based plugins into an entirely hands-on playing experience.

Here’s the official intro video:

The Akai Professional Advance Keyboard Series

The Advance controllers feature an integrated high-resolution full-color 4.3-inch display. In addition, the Advance Keyboard series works with any VSTi virtual instrument, using the Advance keyboard’s custom designed Virtual Instrument Player (VIP) software application. VIP operates as a plugin inside any major digital audio workstation (DAW) or as a stand-alone application on both Mac and Windows operating systems.

Akai_Pro_Advance25_angleA wide variety of physical controls are also included, with RGB backlit, velocity- and pressure-sensitive pads integrated into each keyboard surface, rubberized pitch and modulation wheels, continuously-variable endless knobs, and a semi-weighted, velocity-sensitive keybed which supports aftertouch.

Included with each Advance Keyboard is the Virtual Instrument Player (VIP) application which gives Advance Keyboard users access to any virtual instrument in their collection with or without a DAW. VIP software users can also create set lists for immediate access to user-curated instruments. VIP also boasts facilities for fast instrument and patch browsing, key zone splitting, layering of up to 8 instruments per VIP instance, expansive custom mapping capabilities, and support for any VSTi plugin. Advance Keyboard users may run as many instances of the Virtual Instrument Player as their computer allows.  VIP runs as a VSTi, AU, RTAS or AAX plugin, allowing you access to VSTi’s in virtually any DAW, such as Pro Tools, Logic Pro X and Ableton Live.

Each Advance Keyboard also ships with a 16GB download of over 10,000 sounds from industry-leading developers at AIR Music Technology and SONiVOX.

Akai_Pro_Advance49_rear_Advance Keyboard Series Highlights:

  • Keyboards for advanced virtual instrument performance
  • Integrated 4.3-inch high-resolution full-color screen with dedicated interface buttons
  • Screen provides 1:1, real-time feedback of plugin parameters
  • Available in 25-, 49-, and 61- key sizes
  • Includes Virtual Instrument Player software for unprecedented virtual instrument preset management, control mapping and multi patch creation
  • Premium, semi-weighted velocity-sensitive keybed with aftertouch
  • 8 large, endless and continuously variable control knobs
  • 8 velocity- and pressure-sensitive MPC pads with RGB illumination
  • Dedicated pad bank, transport control, octave, and performance buttons
  • Note repeat, time-division, pattern arpeggiator, and tap-tempo buttons
  • Rubberized Pitch and Modulation wheels
  • Expression pedal and footswitch inputs
  • USB and 5-pin MIDI Input/Output for use with any MIDI capable software or hardware
  • Also functions as a standalone controller
  • Includes a 16GB download with more than 10,000 sounds from leading virtual instruments from AIR Music Technology and SONiVOX.

Virtual Instrument Player (VIP) Software Highlights:

  • Plays virtually every VSTi-compatible plugin
  • Operates as a standalone virtual instrument player for your computer
  • Also operates as a plugin within any AU, VST, or AAX compatible DAW
  • Organizes your plugin collection with intuitive browsing by plugin, artist collection, instrument type, timbre, and more
  • Access, edit, and mix up to 8 virtual instruments at one time
  • Set list feature lets live performers switch between patches from any plugin instantly from the keyboard
  • Extensive key zone splitting, custom mapping, and instrument mixing options
  • Pre-mapped to hundreds of industry-leading virtual instruments
  • Unlimited instances of VIP may be run in a DAW

Pricing and Availability.

Akai Professional’s new Advance 25, Advance 49, and Advance 61 keyboards will be available in early 2015, at a suggested retail price of $399.99, $499.99, and $599.99, respectively.  For more information, visit the Akai Pro Advance keyboard website.

56 thoughts on “Akai Professional Intros Advance Keyboard Series

  1. Whoopsie, I almost became delighted as I first thought this would work as self sufficient vsti player.

    I would pay more, than this if it had Miniak inside of it instead of that VIP app.

    1. yeah, except NI forgot to put the screen in – dumbies. And for this to Kontrol all my plug-ins rather than just NI ones is a huge plus. Of course, NI will put it in their MkII, but they missed the boat on their product roadmap to get ahead of Akai. This might actually have me use a computer live.

    1. Yes it will operate as a stand alone vst host per their videos and online content… Up to 16 parts (different vst’s) per instance…

      1. multi instrument is only 8 part not 16, in standalone mode, which works great so far, has a workstation feel, and most workstations including my korg kronos has an on board computer installed, so using this with a computer is no difference. The vip software is very easy to setup, as of now it works as great in pro tools, logic and any other daw, but you are using your vst plugins, you can not use your au plugin folder, I have already requested this feature as well as vst3 can not be used as of now. I have had the advance 49 for a few weeks now and I am very pleased with it, and I think most plugin users will be as well.

  2. So Akai just continues to copy Native Instruments’ products and features every step of the way. That’s cool and all, but without at least 16 drum pads you won’t find me playing one of these.

  3. Ho. ly. Shit.

    If the screen is anything to go by, their future MPC’s and drumcontrollers are going to be amazing! Imagine Machine-like control over any VST you have!

    Imagine even further: If these keyboards are coupled with a Push-XT kind of user script for Ableton Live, the possibilities will almost be endless!

      1. We’ll have to wait and see. I do see a MIDI mode already, I wonder how customizable the screen will be when using this mode.

      1. +1 I built an Intel NUC and it’s the fastest PC in my house, despite being little larger than a deck of cards… It has a quad core i5 and 256 GB Samsung 840 SSD… This would be a serious combo with one of these Akai MIDI controllers.

  4. This is NI KORE for any VST- I hope they have a huge hit, it looks better than Komplete Kontrol and I never forgave NI for dropping KORE!!

  5. If the screen would act as a display for my Mac I would buy one in a heartbeat, I’m trying to make computer invisible on stage.

    And Poly Aftertouch would be nice, too.

    1. Looks like this is only going to handle the virtual instrument chores. But you should be able to create a custom mapping in your DAW to let you use the keyboard’s controls to run your set.

  6. It’s too bad they don’t build the hosting software into a keyboard so that we could have a stand-alone loadable keyboard. THAT I would pay for.

    1. I have been in the market for a keyboard controller. But I’m waiting until after the Winter NAMM to decide. These new Akai’s look intriguing.

      I wonder what some of the other vendors (M-Audio, Nektar, Roland, Korg, Novation, etc.) have up their sleeves?

    2. That is my dream, a dedicated motherboard w/hard drive inside the case uncluttered by any kind of bloat. Full color 7″ screen. Maybe Livid could step up take the bull by the horns with all their other options why not an integrated processor. I do like the way the Akai key bed feels.

  7. Although this is obviously following the NI lead, it’s taking the completely reasonable way to make it available to almost any plugging, including NI. I can’t blame NI for forcing me to buy their products (which are great) to use for their Midi workstations (which are great) if I can’t really use all of their power for all of the other NI plugging and software that I have. There has been no real reason for me to just buy something for some flashy lights only, when I already have a midi controller. This is what I would’ve really see come out of NI. Let’s wait to see more, but I think Akai have played it well, and this is definitely more tempting than a Complete Kontrol. I don’t mind having a computer to run things, I just want to stay away form it and play. I also appreciate a controller that is going to allow me to have less things around to control other gear and software. They really got my attention.

    1. Dude it take years to design and develop a product like this. So did NI and Akai have a similar idea ? yes, certainly. But the design for this product started long before NI launched their Komplete series.

      1. Hear hear, there is no way a product this complex just automagically gets released 6 months after the NI controllers. Both companies were working on this for years, and we will see which one works better. Personally, I’m digging the NI-Kore-like functionality that Akai has; if it works they will be the one to buy instead of the overpriced NI controllers.

  8. Interesting; I wonder what kind of key bed they’re using.

    The key bed on my MPK 40 has a few faulty keys that have to be hit HARD to register any MIDI, so it’s a PITA to play on live. I baby the thing, so, so it’s not from abuse, just dodgy build quality.

  9. Interesting; I wonder what kind of key bed they’re using.

    The key bed on my MPK 49 has a few faulty keys that have to be hit HARD to register any MIDI, so it’s a PITA to play on live. I baby the thing, so, so it’s not from abuse, just dodgy build quality, I’m afraid.

  10. Awesome, but what I want is the ability to do this without a computer. A controller than runs any VST without needing a computer at all. Like Roland but better.

    1. keep dreaming, because the only way to run VSTs is with a computer. Nobody is going to build a magical device that lets you run them on pixy dust and broken dreams…

    1. From my understanding of the vip it will be able to run any Vst within any daw. For example refx nexus 2 doesn’t work within the mpc software after the last 4 or 5 updates but the vip should make that possible along with any other vst.

  11. Let’s hope they do something about the velocity sensitivity this time. The MPK and MAX49 have lovely feeling boards but with virtually no discernible velocity sensitivity. It can’t be that difficult.

  12. I wonder if you could just use an ipad synth and load that into the keybaord? Anyway, this looks awesome! Cant wait for some in depth reviews

  13. Did anyone notice before attack AKAI, that ALL the latest N.I. Hardware is made by AKAI?
    It’s like the Ableton Push….. made by AKAI.

    Now that N.I have their overpriced keyboards without any software inside, I have to say that I gonna get one 49 keys for myself and sell my good old Alesis Q49

  14. i’ll wait for the MkIII or whatever with a larger touchscreen that lets me directly interact with the plugin’s interface rather than using a wrapper-style interface. you can kinda do this already with an iPad and AirDisplay, but its not really its intended purpose and isn’t performance-worthy.

  15. This looks very interesting, it is similar to the NI keyboard but way better. I love the fact that it’s for all vstis, the pads, the note repeat, the screen are all a plus too! Let’s just see if it works “as advertised”

  16. Receptor in a keyboard, at half the price. I guess that’s pretty advanced. Or normal if you go by the continuing progress of technology. No poly aftertouch, though. That would have been nice. People still fight over Roland A50s and GEM S2s, and Infinite Response VAX77 (named for VAX FORTRAN 77 for some reason?) and Haken Continuum are priced out of most people’s hands, regardless of what some dilettantes say. Still, these aren’t a Kurzweil with VAST. Somewhere in between a Motif and a Kurzweil, I’d say. You can get a Kurzweil K2VX with sampling for about as much and create your own new synths beyond what SynthEdit can do. If you’re happy using other people’s VSTs, these are good. If you have a decent MIDI keyboard and a laptop, you already have this.

  17. I wonder if they use the same injection molded plastic keys as the Alesis Vortex?

    (Added here because the comment editor is not working properly.)

  18. Do they have to cram those fucking pads into every god damn keyboard? Jeez! Their keyboards could look so much better and have room for more knobs without them. Pads on the Ren/Studio/HW MPC + 8 useless pads on the keyboard. Should of had more VST control!

  19. I would hold any software wrapper interface gizmo highly suspect. It probably works nicely today, but will be a show stopper when it inevitably breaks through various software and OS updates that Akai doesn’t keep up with, and when it buts heads with all the other crappy rush-coded software that everyone is going to produce to try to give their hardware some kind of advantage in the market.

    … in the end, all they REALLY needed to say was, “It has aftertouch, and some cool lights”. Seriously. The best selling midi controller ever would have these features, and these features only:

    – Solid playable key bed, with aftertouch and velocity sensitivity
    – At least one of every type of controller
    – Those controllers aren’t wiggly and shitty. They turn smoothly and allow granular control of things
    – And those controllers are mappable to anything
    – Both old style and usb mini jacks, in the middle of the back to split the difference for cable distances
    – The case is solid enough not to flex when you play it, but not so heavy you get a hernia putting it in the gig van
    – No custom anything, so your investment will remain functional as long as the midi standard is supported

    And that’s it! Please, someone, make that. And only that. Leave the other shit features on the board room floor.

  20. yes, why – oh – why can’t I find a great midi controller? Every year I think “this is the year! someone will release the midi controller I’ve been waiting for!” and then…each new release has either poor key playability, shoddy build, no aftertouch…

    is it that difficult???

  21. In my opinion Akai is going to confuse the hell out of people by using the words “standalone VST host” in connection with these keyboards. Many people will think they will be able to play any of their VST instruments without a computer, that the Advance itself has some kind of an on-board VST host computer…

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