Akai have released the MPC Key 61, their first standalone production synthesizer keyboard. The instrument combines a 61-key semi-weighted keybed with 16 MPC drum pads and features 25 built-in instrument plug-ins. Two microphone/line/instrument inputs each equipped with high quality microphone preamps and phantom power are present, and the on-board software features eight audio tracks and a 128-track MIDI sequencer, allowing users to produce, sample and record without the need for a computer.
Both the keybed and the 16 drum pads are velocity-sensitive and equipped with aftertouch, and Akai say that the instrument delivers the full MPC sampling experience whilst also introducing new ways to morph, shape and define signature sounds with the addition of a Touch Strip controller and assignable Q-LINK knobs. Pitch bend and modulation wheels are present to the left of the keybed, and the top panel features a dedicated transport section.
The MPC Keys 61 comes equipped with 25 instrument plug-ins, and a range of premium effects courtesy of the award-winning AIR Music Tech. Among the instruments are synthesizers such as Fabric XL, a sample-based synth engine, and OPx4, a four-operator FM synthesizer. Sampled instruments are also on offer, with plug-ins such as Stage Piano, Studio Strings, Stage EP and Organ offering a range of acoustic and electric sounds.
Centred on the front panel of the instrument is a seven inch multi-gesture colour touchscreen, which offers an intuitive way to browse and load sounds from the built-in instruments as well as providing access to the built-in audio and MIDI sequencing capabilities. Plenty of power is on offer, with the on-board software powered by a quad-core ARM processor and the device equipped with 4GB of RAM.
On the rear panel, there are two pairs of quarter-inch TRS outputs that can be configured either as dual-stereo or four separate mono signal paths. A pair of XLR/TRS combo sockets provide connectivity for microphone, instrument, or line-level sources to utilise the device’s recording and sampling functionality. Class Compliant USB ports allow the connection of additional devices such as MIDI controllers, audio interfaces and removable storage, and the instrument itself also features a built-in audio interface with premium AD/DA converters. Modular setups have not been left out either, with the MPC Keys 61 sporting eight CV/Gate output jacks.
Check out the in-depth SOS review
We’ve had our hands on the MPC Key 61 here at Sound On Sound, so check out Simon Sherbourne’s in-depth review in the July 2022 edition (print/ web/ app/ replica/ PDF editions).
The MPC Key 61 is available now, priced at $1899£1699.99 Including VAT / 1999.99 Euros.