My Akai MPK Mini Play

Mini Play 1

Introduction

    My mother bought me this keyboard for Christmas in 2018.  As a guitarist, I have encountered times where I needed just a simple keyboard nearby to help augment the band or my abilities.  So I run my Mini Play directly into my Boss ME-70 Line In jack.

Drumming

    Drumming works on this unit, but I don't expect it to be something I would do regularly from this small keyboard.  The touch pads work, but they're small and close together.  As well, this unit, to my knowledge, doesn't have any sort of canned rhythm machine.  That means I cannot create my own rhythm and loop it to a tempo.  So I can't be a "one man band."  But I can see Pad Bank B being useful for fills.  I have not needed to use it for rhythm fills yet.

Keyboard

    This item is useful as a keyboard.  So far, I have used it live just once to compliment the introduction to a song in church.  Most the key banks sound sort of like a stereotypical synthesizer from the 80s.  The onboard sounds are tolerable.  The warm pad is probably the best setting.  The strings sound fake.  The piano patch is decent enough to not be distracting, but you can tell it's not real.
    I'd like to have even more sounds and more control over the sounds.  I'd love to be able to buy modules (as you can with some units) to get the sounds I hear on modern recordings, especially some of the stuff I hear on Hillsong's albums over the last ten years.
    The patches work, even if they're simple synthesized sounds.  For the price, I cannot really expect complex and lush sounds.  But for the price, I get what I wanted in the first place: to be able to add fills from time to time.
    After using the keyboard a while, however, the small size was a major pain for live music.  First, the velocity sensitivity is far too touchy.  For someone like me who primarily majored in piano in music college, doing a junior piano recital which included songs that require a lot of dynamic range, it's very annoying when I know I'm "transmitting" in mezzo-forte but then something sounds like it became "forte" because the velocity sensitive.  This has resulted, live, in the warm pad taking on an ugly tone, which is also very annoying to me, and cannot be changed.
    Second, the key size makes some chords like Cm7 very awkward.  I can't wait to get a synthesizer with a full size keyboard.  And one without velocity sensitivity if possible.
    Note that I am an "auxiliary" keyboard player in church, usually adding pads while another keyboardist plays strings, or adding bass when we are missing a bass player.

Mini Play 3Mini Play 4

Mechanical Construction

    Most of the keyboard seems well constructed.  However, one problem is the spring in the battery compartment for the negative side of one of your AA batteries is too long.  One must take great care to ensure the spring doesn't get bent and therefore not make contact.  I've been tempted several times to chop the spring in half so that there's not all this excess spring material.

Manufacturer Support

    The software marketed with the Mini Play works.  However, I have a few things I would like to see from it.  One of which being a list of patches.  With 128 key banks, it can become annoying, especially with such a small and compact knob, to scroll through them all one by one to find what I want.  I'd like instead to have a list, in the manual or on their website.  They didn't include either, so my son and I put together a key bank list.  This is unlike (for example) Boss, who includes patch lists for all their guitar processors.
    Akai also does not include any software to add additional sounds.  You can edit sounds using their software, but not really add new songs.  So that is limiting.  Given the price of the unit, sure, I can't expect everything.  But the word "professional" on the unit should mean that I can at least expand it, even if it means paying for the software and/or modules to do so.

Church 2018

Mini Play 2

    Here are some clips.  I will be adding to these as I get used to the Mini Play.

Sale

    I outgrew this mini keyboard, and so I bought a Roland System-1.  I sold my Akai Mini Play for $80.  It served me well, but it's time to move on.

Conclusion

    For the money ($140), sure, this is a good addition as an auxiliary keyboard.  And it can do some cool things.  But ultimately, I have been bitten by the miniature synthesizer bug, and so my next synth will probably have a lot more features.
    This keyboard is still worth using as a MIDI.

Legal Disclaimer

    I am not affiliated with Boss, Akai, or Fender.