Whether you’re new to the world of music production, or you’ve had experience in it for years, the chances are that you’ve seen a common name popping up here and there in all areas of audio production; from equipment and accessories to production software and sample packs. They go by the name of Akai.
If you haven’t heard of this iconic company already, today’s your lucky day. The company is renowned around the world when it comes to the audio production industry, covering all the areas you could ever need when you’re setting out to produce a track, song or album.
Akai prides themselves on being able to give you the tools you need to make the sounds you’re trying to create, as well as opening the door to many new production opportunities you may have previously deemed impossible.
Today, we’re going to explore this musical-pioneering company, helping you understand what kind of solutions they can provide for you, and why you should consider looking them into them when it comes to creating your next best hit.
The History of Akai Pro
Akai Professional was found back in 1984, meaning they have over four decades worth of experience in the music industry. During the last near-half a century, they have dipped their fingers into all areas of production, from helping artists perform to the best of their ability on stage, to producers who are building up their experience in their bedrooms.
In fact, Akai is so huge, they are considered by many to be a building block of the modern-day music industry, and the scene wouldn’t be where it is today without them.
The Lowdown on Akai
As we mentioned above, Akai provides a full range of equipment and solutions that can help you get started on your musical journey and can provide you with the tools you need to take it to the next level.
Primarily, the company is famous for their software platforms, which includes their leading MPC studio, which we’ll explore below. However, not only do they produce this software for computers, but also iPad, iPods, tablets, Android phones and any device you care to name to give you the freedom you need to produce on the move when that moment of inspiration strikes.
But, Akai doesn’t stop there, they also produce a range of leading, highly-rated MIDI controllers that can be used on any platform or DAW software, expansion sample packs to give you an even greater choice of sounds to use in your own tracks, high-quality recording equipment, and even DJ equipment for when you’re performing live.
In addition to these physical controllers, they also produce drum machines, Ableton-optimized controllers, pad controllers, keyboard controllers and their highly coveted MPC Series setups. They even produce multi-functional turntables so you can include vinyl material into your tracks or sets!
In short, it doesn’t matter whether you’re purchasing a controller, a drum/sample pad or any of their high-performance MIDI controllers, you can buy safe in the knowledge that these are some of the best and most affordable products in the entire industry.
However, if you’re looking to dive into the rabbit hole to see what Akai has available for you, let us guide you through this wonderland that could otherwise be quite overwhelming if you’ve never been there before.
The Complete Guide to Akai Professional Products
Below, we’re going to explore a number of the products that are available from Akai Professional. We’ve taken samples all the categories that Akai provide so you can see exactly what kind of quality products they develop.
MPC Software 2
This is the name given to Akai’s leading music production software suite. This is similar to other leading platforms, such as Ableton and Logic, except it fully embraces Akai’s leading ethos of remaining simple yet powerful, so anyone can take control and start producing music.
This highly compatible software can run easily on both Windows and Mac computers, as well as being ultra-compatible (and cross-platform) with all smartphone devices and tablets. As you would expect the software is compatible with all the Akai MIDI controllers, and the vast majority of your favorite MIDI controllers that you might already have.
Some of the leading features of this software suite include the ability to use the Audio Track Recording
Function which gives you an insane amount of control over the way you edit and interact with your waveforms and beats, as well as offering real-time, time-stretching, and pitch-shift functions.
Of course, this software is compatible with all your own samples, such as vocals you’ve recorded using a mic, or any sample packs you’ve downloaded from the internet.
MPS Software 2 can be used standalone with your mouse, or even integrated into suites like Ableton, helping you to effortlessly produce the sounds you want to create. There are even a ton of effects and samples included with your purchase, ensuring you have everything you need at your fingertips.
Akai Professional MPC Studio
As we spoke about the MPC Software above, it would be insane not to talk about the accompanying MPS Studio setup. This refers to the slimline MIDI controller that’s built to work effortlessly with the software, and there are even updates available to all the recent firmware if you’re using an older model or version, as well as continuous updates in the future.
Referring to the build of the device, the compact design of this studio controller means it’s less than 1-inch thick and can easily fit into your standard laptop bag, making sure this is easily one of the most portable MIDI controllers out there.
Once connected to your computer, you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits that come with an impressive 128-step sequencer, 16 backlit MPC-patented pads, complete with Akai’s most recent range of velocity-sensitive controls, and an outstandingly well laid-out version of their previous workstation controls.
This updated model even comes with a full LCD screen so, in theory, you don’t even need to look at your computer when you’re working with your controller. This truly defines what it means to be an all-in-one device.
When purchased, you’ll also have access to the software as we noted above, but it also comes with over 7GB+ of samples to play with, eight unique pad banks, full VST support to connect it with your favorite DAW and supports your own samples in multiple formats, including MP3, WAV, REX and SND.
So, if you’re recording your drum sounds using a mic, you can simply save your sample, drag it into the studio window and it will be ready to use immediately!
If you’re looking for a beat-making controller to accompany your keyboard so you can enjoy the full audio production experience, this is the tool you’ve been looking for, regardless of whether you’re new or highly experienced in making tracks.
Akai Rhythm Wolf
If you’re looking for a powerful and feature-rich synthesizer that takes a step back from your typical digital approaches but prefers a unique analog signal path, Akai has what you’re looking for. The Rhythm
Wolf is actually a combination of three elements;
• A Drum Machine
• A Bass Synthesizer
• A 32-Step Sequencer
That’s right. A ton of the main functions that would typically need to spread across multiple windows or platforms can now all be found in one place, without compromising on quality or performance.
All the controls you’ll need can be found on the device itself, complete with 6 pad controllers that help you customize each area of your sound. You can then tweak each setting with the tiniest movements until you’re happy with the final sound.
Once you’ve created your sound, effortlessly load it into the step sequencer to create your beat. Once you’re happy with your beat and connected your device to your computer using the USB cable, you’ll be ready to record and master! It’s that easy.
This particular model even comes with a range of five different outputs, so you can connect it to other devices and controllers (or speakers), as well as four input settings, including the power supply.
If you’re wondering why this model was titled the ‘Wolf’, it’s because you’ll instantly find that the sounds you produce with this device come with ‘bite’ that you simply can’t get with other synthesizers. There’s even a custom ‘howl’ distortion effect which is unique to this model!
All in all, this is one of the most complete and most affordable synthesizer hybrid pads available on today’s market and it’s sure to give you all the opportunities and tools you need to take your productions to the next level.
As we mentioned above, Akai also likes to dabble in DJ controllers and equipment, and this is where their leading AMX Audio Interface comes into play. This particular control has been designed to work fluidly with Serato DJ, giving you full control over your mixes while enabling you to access a range of features that are sure to take your set to the next level.
This 2-channel mixer is easy to set up thanks to its effortless plug-and-play technique, no installations or upgrades required. However, the controls can be expanded (check the documentation) to help you control the vast majority of DJ setups, simply by using a USB connection.
As you would expect from a feature-rich controller, you’ll have all the dials and settings you need, including an individually-dialed three-band EQ for each track, Cue buttons and even a sync button for when you’re looking to create clean and sharp mixes that sound flawless every time you perform.
However, what sets this mixer apart from their conventional counterparts is the nine integrated, touch-activated knobs to help you manage your EQ setting, and even apply Filter sweeps whenever you need them.
This adds a whole new level of depth to your mix and can even rival many budget controllers from the likes of Numark.
You’ll also be able to control, load, search and cue up your tracks using the built-in controls, so you won’t even have to use the decks to make sure that you’re choosing the right songs.
Regarding the specs of this device, it’s incredibly lightweight and highly-portable, meaning it can go with you wherever you need it, without it getting in the way.
The AMX prides itself on supplying you with two line faders, gain controls, a tri-colored LED metering space, 2 phono/line inputs and an adjustable innoFADER crossfader, complete with reverse switch. This gives you potentially unlimited opportunities to connect any hardware you want to use, and to connect to any high-quality speaker system.
To briefly conclude, despite the affordable price tag, Akai has once again pulled out all the stops and supplied a leading product to help you perform to the best of your abilities, regardless of whether you’re playing for the first time or a highly experienced disc jockey.
Akai Advance 49
Okay, while we’ve got time for just one more product, we’ve decided to make it a winner in all categories. The Akai Advance 49 is a premium virtual instrument production controller that’s overflowing with high-performance features and enough to keep you busy for many years to come.
If you’re a producer, experienced or simply looking for the right tools to get you started, this is the ideal keyboard to help you capture your melodies and provides a wealth of functions to assist in finding the sounds you’ve been trying to create.
First up, we’ll start by talking about the fact that this keyboard comes with VIP 3.0 as standard with your purchase. This, of course, is Akai’s leading software that helps you connect your device to any other hardware or software application that you might be using during your productions.
This software is designed to be incredibly user-friendly, so it feels natural while you’re playing and recording your samples, rather than being overwhelmed by potentially complex processes. This software also sees that you’re provided with 16GB+ of samples to explore, equally over 10,000 sounds to use in your productions; a studio value of over $1,000 on its own.
In terms of the keyboard itself, you’ll be subject to a range of features including 49-key keyboard (which is touch and velocity-sensitive), 8 large endless variable control knobs, 8 patented, velocity-sensitive MPC pads, all backed with their own customizable backlit LED RGB lights, a dedicated pad bank to control them all.
There are also multiple inputs and output ports so you can connect to a computer or audio interface using a simple USB connection, or you can use your keyboard as a standalone controller.
To briefly summarize, this is easily one of the most feature-packed keyboards available, and for one of the most competitive price tags, you really can’t go wrong.