Advance49_angle_1200x750_web

Smart keyboard controllers that integrate with software have been something various makers have tried frequently over the years, with various degrees of success.

Propellerhead helped lead the way with Automap in Reason, which could cleverly link on-screen controls to devices. But by the time this was translated to multiple pieces of software, the resulting “automatic” features could be harder to use on than off. I tried at various points Novation’s ReMOTE, M-Audio’s Axiom Pro, and Cakewalk’s A-PRO keyboards, and found them all to be perfectly nice hardware – once I gave up and turned the automatic stuff off and just mapped MIDI the old fashioned way. I know I’m not alone on this, as I’ve heard frequently from readers in comments.

Recently, though, keyboards with a more modest scope have resurrected the idea in compelling ways. Nektar’s Panorama keyboard and siblings is nicely designed and works well with certain software – especially Reason. (It’s also a no-brainer if you’re one of the handful of people using Bitwig.)

And then there’s Native Instruments’ Komplete Kontrol. At first glance, it looked nearly perfect. Tight integration with NI’s software means automatic hands-on control with no additional configuration. The design is attractive. The keybed is top-notch (it’s a simple synth action, but the best one available, the Fatar). I’ve been using the 25-key model, and it’s a lot of fun – doubly so when you use it alongside Maschine.

But then come the caveats. Komplete Kontrol is useless the moment it’s disconnected from your computer: there’s no standalone operation, which for a MIDI keyboard seems fairly unforgivable. The arpeggiator and chord feature work only with NI’s software, not with other plug-ins. You sacrifice pitch and mod wheels for ribbon controls, but actually taking advantage of their flexibility is tough, since you can’t easily swap settings without diving into the software. And all this is more expensive than rivals (for instance, from Korg) which lack the same limitations. Unless you own and spend most of your time in Komplete, it’s hard to get excited about a keyboard that costs more, but does less. (That is, there’s no question it’s a godsend for heavy-duty Komplete users, but some of us have other software and hardware we want to use, too.)

And that’s why Akai Advance looks interesting. The keyboard, scheduled for delivery in spring, at least promises to do more with its whiz-bang premium features.

Some of this definitely takes more than a few pages from NI’s playbook. You get light-up color pads (like Maschine), a big color display (like Maschine Studio), a software host that manages presets and control parameters and integrates with the keyboard (like Komplete Kontrol), and “smart” knobs with automatic assignments and text feedback as to what you’re controlling (like Komplete Kontrol and Kore and Automap and all the rest). You even get an NI-style launch video, and a user interface on the computer screen and hardware that visually looks like recent NI products.

But I followed up with Akai to better understand what we can expect this spring, and the Advance line also promises to do some things that other rivals don’t.

Advance49_ortho_1200x750_web

Advance25_rear_1200x750_web

Outlook Good

Some promising signs from the magic 8-ball (aided by some actual information researched from Akai since this announcement appeared).

1. You get a full color screen. Right now, keyboard users are limited to simple text displays. Advance one-ups that with a bigger display closer to what we’ve enjoyed recently for Traktor and Maschine.

2. It has a good keybed. Lately, it’s been unclear what the Akai brand means to InMusic as far as feel and build – products like the entry-level APCs cut some corners to reach bottom-basement prices. Not so with Advance: InMusic reports Advance will use the quite-nice keybed from the MPK249 / MAX25. No bonus points here versus NI, but at least a reasonably even match (depending on your taste).

3. It has conventional pitch and mod wheels, and pads. These rubberized wheels also felt great on the MAX. And pads, while not useful to everyone, certainly appeal to some of you.

4. The software is included. Unlike the Komplete Kontrol, which inexplicably tells you to go buy Komplete if you want more than bare-bones MIDI functionality, Akai is giving away some great software (alongside the included host, which they call VIP.) Vacuum Pro, Loom, Hybrid 3, Xpand!2, Velvet and Transfuser by AIR Music Tech, plus Eighty Eight Ensemble by SONiVOX are all in the box. A couple of those AIR plug-ins are some of the best available, so this is no basic freebie.

6. — but you can also use your own software, too. Again, unlike Komplete Kontrol’s NI-or-the-highway approach, you get support for third-party software. An InMusic rep tells CDM, “We will deliver be pre-mappings for most plugins on shipping. The customer can customize up to 4 banks of controls (64 total) however they like. This can be done from the computer, or from the keyboard. Users can combine controlling of VST plugin parameters and midi CC’s all from the same preset.” (That last one I find especially appealing, as it was a major drawback of previous automatic mapping solutions.)

7. And it works with your DAW, too. You aren’t limited to playing soft synths, either. Akai prominently features an Ableton logo in their product page, and promises rich DAW support. Again, Akai: “There are also presets for most popular DAWs. A button switch will toggle Advance between DAW presets and integration with VIP. In Ableton’s case, the 8 knobs are mapped to device control.”

8. — but it doesn’t turn into a brick if your computer isn’t switched on. Yes, Advance works as a standalone controller – as it should. To anyone working with hardware synths, this is a must, because you don’t always have your keyboard tethered exclusively to your computer. So those MIDI DIN ports work even without a computer connected – unlike NI’s Komplete Kontrol. You only need an (optional, but standard-issue) power adapter.

9. It’s not ugly. Akai’s MAX series was I think the best keyboard controller in recent years, and it still merits your attention. It has innovative programmable touch strips that do cool things like control your DAW or act as a step sequencer – even standalone. It has CV built in. Unfortunately, it’s also glossy fire engine red, which will offend some sensibilities. The Akai Advance looks more tasteful, at least in early product photos.

big_multi

Reply hazy try again

Now, the unknowns – and they’re important to note.

1. Some of this is only on paper. “Spring” isn’t here yet, so we have to guess at how they handle execution.

2. We don’t know how much software will be supported, or how the software will work. This, too, remains to be seen – and it’s been in the execution details where other efforts have failed.

3. We don’t know how the pads will feel. “MPC pads” according to AKAI currently seems to mean “square and made of rubber.” So that’s something to actually review and test.

4. You won’t be able to make use of those cool colored pads – at least right away. I had fantasies of programming step sequencers via MIDI using those pads. But you’ll have to wait: Akai tells us “color editing via midi is something that will hopefully come in a later update, but will not be supported when shipping.” I’m also curious to see how they use the display when you’re in standalone mode.

5. It’s NI’s move. Native Instruments has already shipped Komplete Kontrol. Standalone operation is presumably out of the question, since the hardware relies on a software host for MIDI capabilities. But NI could improve integration with its own software and third-party software. So, we’ll see what they do, and how it stacks up.

6. Maybe a “dumb” keyboard is just fine. You can get a number of perfectly reasonable keyboards with knobs and pads and assign MIDI knobs – for a fraction of the price. Sure, you might not get a color screen or fancy features. But… you might not need those things. So, we’ll see if Akai succeeds where other keyboards have (for some, at least) faltered.

Still, all that said, I’m glad to see AKAI enter this market. It shows they’re still committed to making mid-range, serious MIDI controllers to follow up the MAX, not just entry-level keyboards branded Alesis, Akai, and M-Audio. And there’s a chance to provide some of what Komplete Kontrol does, but without being locked in to one brand’s. And the pricing is aggressive: US$399.99 for 25 keys, $499.99 for 49, and $599.99 for 61 keys, with loads of software.

Of course, none of that means anything until they ship this and prove that the hardware design and software functionality are on target. But it’ll be one to watch in 2015.

http://www.akaipro.com/microsites/advance/index.php

  • mercury

    The manufacturers are finally getting to the heart of the problem – ease of interfacing with VSTs – which is really what separates hardware synths from software synths more than anything today.

    However, why do they all think that 8 knobs will do the trick? I think the next step is a 16 knob, 8 fader, 16 switch controller like the zero sl mkII, but one that properly interfaces with VSTs and has displays above each controller, knob, and switch. The day this happens, we will see a massive change in how VSTs work in software. In the meantime, you can buy several packs from Mabelton that allow you to integrate alot of VSTs with Push anyways and since it also has 8 knobs why bother spending more if you have it already?

  • mercury

    The manufacturers are finally getting to the heart of the problem – ease of interfacing with VSTs – which is really what separates hardware synths from software synths more than anything today.

    However, why do they all think that 8 knobs will do the trick? I think the next step is a 16 knob, 8 fader, 16 switch controller like the zero sl mkII, but one that properly interfaces with VSTs and has displays above each controller, knob, and switch. The day this happens, we will see a massive change in how VSTs work in software. In the meantime, you can buy several packs from Mabelton that allow you to integrate alot of VSTs with Push anyways and since it also has 8 knobs why bother spending more if you have it already?

  • mercury

    The manufacturers are finally getting to the heart of the problem – ease of interfacing with VSTs – which is really what separates hardware synths from software synths more than anything today.

    However, why do they all think that 8 knobs will do the trick? I think the next step is a 16 knob, 8 fader, 16 switch controller like the zero sl mkII, but one that properly interfaces with VSTs and has displays above each controller, knob, and switch. The day this happens, we will see a massive change in how VSTs work in software. In the meantime, you can buy several packs from Mabelton that allow you to integrate alot of VSTs with Push anyways and since it also has 8 knobs why bother spending more if you have it already?

  • Kudamm99

    This is cool but it seems that, with the proliferation of ARM processors, RPis, and iDevices that are easily able to run basic soft synths, someone could return to the idea of a controller with audio in/out built in and VST hosting ability, along the Roland Plug-Out or Muse Receptor model. Maybe there’s limited appeal for generic controller surface + portable VSTs?

    • The problem is, it’s tough to do that with a way that’s competitive – in price or functionality – with the computer most of your market already owns.

      Plus, once you’re doing that, you might as well build a standalone synth.

      I’m not saying never, but — there’s a reason people aren’t jumping into that market. Computers are still sort of useful. 😉

      • Kudamm99

        I agree about computers being useful, totally, and I see what you’re saying on the engineering front – once you put the audio engine and controls in there, you’ve got at least an X-Station. But for people wanting to work “OTB”, or maybe even folks who miss the MicroModular, this would check some of those boxes.

        • Heh, well – these two categories keep coming up. Build a smarter keyboard for interfacing with computers. Build the computer into the keyboard.

          Eventually, someone will get at least one of these right. 🙂 I can tell you for now, though, the keyboard interface is something that sells and makes money. The computer-in-a-keyboard is not. So the latter category is going to be the tough one.

          • freeks

            Pioneer just built computer inside their new DJ controller. Something that is missing from NI S8. IMO that’s how most DJ controllers will be in next three years, Ok Pioneer system is closed, but Traktor etc. version is coming.

            In midi controller with maybe PlugOut system and it could load 1-2 synths to it? Big screen powerful Android phones are quite cheap these days.

          • Kudamm99

            Win8.1 tablets are now sub-$60, too, and can play most any VST out of the box.

          • Didn’t know that, lets hack them and see what can be done on the cheapest of them, IN_CHAIN THEM!

            LO_SP

          • Mutis Mayfield

            I expect the opposite thing… Agnostical controllers with screens running apple apps (like apple car does for cars) even pioneer doing it or dissapearing.

            Most of the things people are discussing these days are doable with ipads and docks nowadays (but people call these toys and dedicated hardware revolution) :S

        • Apoclypse

          Intel was showing this mobo and cpu running the latest broadwell chip that was about the size of a credit card with a copper foil as a heatsink. It was dual core with a 2.3 ghz proc. I’d imagine that one could take on of those or even Intel’s NUC stuff and create a decent keyboard workstation out of it if they really wanted to.

          Me personally I don’t mind carrying a laptop with me to hook up to my gear. I just don’t find it that big a deal since I’m using Live anyway.

    • At least audio in/out is already there in an affordable, portable package (no words on audio quality from me, since I have never used this one): http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/UMA25S.aspx

      • Kudamm99

        Or the below Akai (keeping it on topic!) Synthstation hardware – you could imagine an embedded device in these things (possibly using existing phone/phablet innards), skinned with an interface that mediates between the VSTs (load .dlls from microSD?) and the hardware controls. Though as Peter points out below, this may not prove to have advantages over the computer and hardware control as separate components.

        http://www.akaipro.com/product/synthstation25

        • Well, yes, using an iDevice (I consciously exclude Windows Phone and Android here, because they are still not up for the game – at least in terms of availability of suitable applications, compared to iOS) inside a controller is a feasible way to avoid having to “build a computer” into a keyboard or pad controller. But that would most certainly end up the same cumbersome route as building your own System-1 alike, because you would have to overcome all the current differences between the two platforms: OS X and iOS. AU or VST plugins are currently not running on iOS, and until that (or any alternative solution) would be possible, you would still have to rely on a computer next to your controller.

          So, no, I’m afraid, I don’t see that coming any time soon…

          • Kudamm99

            No, I’m not holding my breath!

          • Mutis Mayfield

            Did you tried the logic remote app? It works with mainstage and give you controls for every vst in your logic/mainstage session, including those nice user interface from garageband ios app as a controller (playing a key like a string!)
            You still need a computer (Mac mini is the most small until new appletv comes with a new flava of true OSX… Maybe soon?) but you have the best of booth worlds (even playing from ipad if you want…) and the keyboard of your choice (I will go for a novation launchkey asap)

            🙂

          • No, but I am not in the business for any if that anyway, because I’m more than happy with my MacBook, Ableton Live, Push and a Nord Electro. I just answered the other guy on his query.

          • Mutis Mayfield

            I discover its possibilities few days ago (you need almost mavericks to run the new versions of all) and it has big potential (and some drawbacks too). For vst remote control I think it is useful! Maybe you could take a look and find something useful for your live setup 😉

      • ElectroB

        I’ve tried one of those. Audio quality is OK, but with a tiny bit too much latency. Keyboard sucks.

        The M-Audio Ozonic, on the other hand, was one of the best portable audio + MIDI solutions out there, and I don’t understand why it was discontinued.

    • Mutis Mayfield

      Ipad?

      • Kudamm99

        Ipads are great, but for the lack of physical controls (multitouch notwithstanding). What I’m proposing is a generic System-1, where you have a hardware controller laid out like a knob-per-function synth (not the typical tight 8x rows of knobs or faders). The controls would be labeled like a typical subtractive synth, etc., but you would have the ability to change the underlying synthesis engine by loading the VST of your choice and work OTB away from a computer. In the same way the ipad was adopted by developers, you could imagine existing VSTi developers or user communities creating mappings for VSTs to work with such a controller, and new VSTs like Basic or Monark might be built from the ground up to map directly onto the controls.

        • Mutis Mayfield

          Mainstage+logic control (as controller but also as screen)+any midi controller of your choice maybe could be near your wishes…

  • Kudamm99

    This is cool but it seems that, with the proliferation of ARM processors, RPis, and iDevices that are easily able to run basic soft synths, someone could return to the idea of a controller with audio in/out built in and VST hosting ability, along the Roland Plug-Out or Muse Receptor model. Maybe there’s limited appeal for generic controller surface + portable VSTs?

    • The problem is, it’s tough to do that with a way that’s competitive – in price or functionality – with the computer most of your market already owns.

      Plus, once you’re doing that, you might as well build a standalone synth.

      I’m not saying never, but — there’s a reason people aren’t jumping into that market. Computers are still sort of useful. 😉

      • Kudamm99

        I agree about computers being useful, totally, and I see what you’re saying on the engineering front – once you put the audio engine and controls in there, you’ve got at least an X-Station. But for people wanting to work “OTB”, or maybe even folks who miss the MicroModular, this would check some of those boxes.

        • Heh, well – these two categories keep coming up. Build a smarter keyboard for interfacing with computers. Build the computer into the keyboard.

          Eventually, someone will get at least one of these right. 🙂 I can tell you for now, though, the keyboard interface is something that sells and makes money. The computer-in-a-keyboard is not. So the latter category is going to be the tough one.

          • freeks

            Pioneer just built computer inside their new DJ controller. Something that is missing from NI S8. IMO that’s how most DJ controllers will be in next three years, Ok Pioneer system is closed, but Traktor etc. version is coming.

            In midi controller with maybe PlugOut system and it could load 1-2 synths to it? Big screen powerful Android phones are quite cheap these days.

          • Kudamm99

            Win8.1 tablets are now sub-$60, too, and can play most any VST out of the box.

          • Guest

            Didn’t know that, lets hack them and see what can be done on the cheapest of them, IN_CHAIN THEM!

            LO_SP

          • Mutis Mayfield

            I expect the opposite thing… Agnostical controllers with screens running apple apps (like apple car does for cars) even pioneer doing it or dissapearing.

            Most of the things people are discussing these days are doable with ipads and docks nowadays (but people call these toys and dedicated hardware revolution) :S

        • Apoclypse

          Intel was showing this mobo and cpu running the latest broadwell chip that was about the size of a credit card with a copper foil as a heatsink. It was dual core with a 2.3 ghz proc. I’d imagine that one could take on of those or even Intel’s NUC stuff and create a decent keyboard workstation out of it if they really wanted to.

          Me personally I don’t mind carrying a laptop with me to hook up to my gear. I just don’t find it that big a deal since I’m using Live anyway.

    • At least audio in/out is already there in an affordable, portable package (no words on audio quality from me, since I have never used this one): http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/UMA25S.aspx

      • Kudamm99

        Or the below Akai (keeping it on topic!) Synthstation hardware – you could imagine an embedded device in these things (possibly using existing phone/phablet innards), skinned with an interface that mediates between the VSTs (load .dlls from microSD?) and the hardware controls. Though as Peter points out below, this may not prove to have advantages over the computer and hardware control as separate components.

        http://www.akaipro.com/product/synthstation25

        • Well, yes, using an iDevice (I consciously exclude Windows Phone and Android here, because they are still not up for the game – at least in terms of availability of suitable applications, compared to iOS) inside a controller is a feasible way to avoid having to “build a computer” into a keyboard or pad controller. But that would most certainly end up the same cumbersome route as building your own System-1 alike, because you would have to overcome all the current differences between the two platforms: OS X and iOS. AU or VST plugins are currently not running on iOS, and until that (or any alternative solution) would be possible, you would still have to rely on a computer next to your controller.

          So, no, I’m afraid, I don’t see that coming any time soon…

          • Kudamm99

            No, I’m not holding my breath!

          • Mutis Mayfield

            Did you tried the logic remote app? It works with mainstage and give you controls for every vst in your logic/mainstage session, including those nice user interface from garageband ios app as a controller (playing a key like a string!)
            You still need a computer (Mac mini is the most small until new appletv comes with a new flava of true OSX… Maybe soon?) but you have the best of booth worlds (even playing from ipad if you want…) and the keyboard of your choice (I will go for a novation launchkey asap)

            🙂

          • No, but I am not in the business for any if that anyway, because I’m more than happy with my MacBook, Ableton Live, Push and a Nord Electro. I just answered the other guy on his query.

          • Mutis Mayfield

            I discover its possibilities few days ago (you need almost mavericks to run the new versions of all) and it has big potential (and some drawbacks too). For vst remote control I think it is useful! Maybe you could take a look and find something useful for your live setup 😉

      • ElectroB

        I’ve tried one of those. Audio quality is OK, but with a tiny bit too much latency. Keyboard sucks.

        The M-Audio Ozonic, on the other hand, was one of the best portable audio + MIDI solutions out there, and I don’t understand why it was discontinued.

    • Mutis Mayfield

      Ipad?

      • Kudamm99

        Ipads are great, but for the lack of physical controls (multitouch notwithstanding). What I’m proposing is a generic System-1, where you have a hardware controller laid out like a knob-per-function synth (not the typical tight 8x rows of knobs or faders). The controls would be labeled like a typical subtractive synth, etc., but you would have the ability to change the underlying synthesis engine by loading the VST of your choice and work OTB away from a computer. In the same way the ipad was adopted by developers, you could imagine existing VSTi developers or user communities creating mappings for VSTs to work with such a controller, and new VSTs like Basic or Monark might be built from the ground up to map directly onto the controls.

        • Mutis Mayfield

          Mainstage+logic control (as controller but also as screen)+any midi controller of your choice maybe could be near your wishes…

  • Kudamm99

    This is cool but it seems that, with the proliferation of ARM processors, RPis, and iDevices that are easily able to run basic soft synths, someone could return to the idea of a controller with audio in/out built in and VST hosting ability, along the Roland Plug-Out or Muse Receptor model. Maybe there’s limited appeal for generic controller surface + portable VSTs?

    • The problem is, it’s tough to do that with a way that’s competitive – in price or functionality – with the computer most of your market already owns.

      Plus, once you’re doing that, you might as well build a standalone synth.

      I’m not saying never, but — there’s a reason people aren’t jumping into that market. Computers are still sort of useful. 😉

      • Kudamm99

        I agree about computers being useful, totally, and I see what you’re saying on the engineering front – once you put the audio engine and controls in there, you’ve got at least an X-Station. But for people wanting to work “OTB”, or maybe even folks who miss the MicroModular, this would check some of those boxes.

        • Heh, well – these two categories keep coming up. Build a smarter keyboard for interfacing with computers. Build the computer into the keyboard.

          Eventually, someone will get at least one of these right. 🙂 I can tell you for now, though, the keyboard interface is something that sells and makes money. The computer-in-a-keyboard is not. So the latter category is going to be the tough one.

          • freeks

            Pioneer just built computer inside their new DJ controller. Something that is missing from NI S8. IMO that’s how most DJ controllers will be in next three years, Ok Pioneer system is closed, but Traktor etc. version is coming.

            In midi controller with maybe PlugOut system and it could load 1-2 synths to it? Big screen powerful Android phones are quite cheap these days.

          • Kudamm99

            Win8.1 tablets are now sub-$60, too, and can play most any VST out of the box.

          • Guest

            Didn’t know that, lets hack them and see what can be done on the cheapest of them, IN_CHAIN THEM!

            LO_SP

          • Mutis Mayfield

            I expect the opposite thing… Agnostical controllers with screens running apple apps (like apple car does for cars) even pioneer doing it or dissapearing.

            Most of the things people are discussing these days are doable with ipads and docks nowadays (but people call these toys and dedicated hardware revolution) :S

        • Apoclypse

          Intel was showing this mobo and cpu running the latest broadwell chip that was about the size of a credit card with a copper foil as a heatsink. It was dual core with a 2.3 ghz proc. I’d imagine that one could take on of those or even Intel’s NUC stuff and create a decent keyboard workstation out of it if they really wanted to.

          Me personally I don’t mind carrying a laptop with me to hook up to my gear. I just don’t find it that big a deal since I’m using Live anyway.

    • At least audio in/out is already there in an affordable, portable package (no words on audio quality from me, since I have never used this one): http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/UMA25S.aspx

      • Kudamm99

        Or the below Akai (keeping it on topic!) Synthstation hardware – you could imagine an embedded device in these things (possibly using existing phone/phablet innards), skinned with an interface that mediates between the VSTs (load .dlls from microSD?) and the hardware controls. Though as Peter points out below, this may not prove to have advantages over the computer and hardware control as separate components.

        http://www.akaipro.com/product/synthstation25

        • Well, yes, using an iDevice (I consciously exclude Windows Phone and Android here, because they are still not up for the game – at least in terms of availability of suitable applications, compared to iOS) inside a controller is a feasible way to avoid having to “build a computer” into a keyboard or pad controller. But that would most certainly end up the same cumbersome route as building your own System-1 alike, because you would have to overcome all the current differences between the two platforms: OS X and iOS. AU or VST plugins are currently not running on iOS, and until that (or any alternative solution) would be possible, you would still have to rely on a computer next to your controller.

          So, no, I’m afraid, I don’t see that coming any time soon…

          • Kudamm99

            No, I’m not holding my breath!

          • Mutis Mayfield

            Did you tried the logic remote app? It works with mainstage and give you controls for every vst in your logic/mainstage session, including those nice user interface from garageband ios app as a controller (playing a key like a string!)
            You still need a computer (Mac mini is the most small until new appletv comes with a new flava of true OSX… Maybe soon?) but you have the best of booth worlds (even playing from ipad if you want…) and the keyboard of your choice (I will go for a novation launchkey asap)

            🙂

          • No, but I am not in the business for any if that anyway, because I’m more than happy with my MacBook, Ableton Live, Push and a Nord Electro. I just answered the other guy on his query.

          • Mutis Mayfield

            I discover its possibilities few days ago (you need almost mavericks to run the new versions of all) and it has big potential (and some drawbacks too). For vst remote control I think it is useful! Maybe you could take a look and find something useful for your live setup 😉

      • Elekb

        I’ve tried one of those. Audio quality is OK, but with a tiny bit too much latency. Keyboard sucks.

        The M-Audio Ozonic, on the other hand, was one of the best portable audio + MIDI solutions out there, and I don’t understand why it was discontinued.

    • Mutis Mayfield

      Ipad?

      • Kudamm99

        Ipads are great, but for the lack of physical controls (multitouch notwithstanding). What I’m proposing is a generic System-1, where you have a hardware controller laid out like a knob-per-function synth (not the typical tight 8x rows of knobs or faders). The controls would be labeled like a typical subtractive synth, etc., but you would have the ability to change the underlying synthesis engine by loading the VST of your choice and work OTB away from a computer. In the same way the ipad was adopted by developers, you could imagine existing VSTi developers or user communities creating mappings for VSTs to work with such a controller, and new VSTs like Basic or Monark might be built from the ground up to map directly onto the controls.

        • Mutis Mayfield

          Mainstage+logic control (as controller but also as screen)+any midi controller of your choice maybe could be near your wishes…

  • I don’t really feel the “aggressiveness” of the pricing – I would never spend 600 $ (or €) for a 61-key-controller (I don’t care that much for the software bundle). I’m glad they thought about visualising the plugin states via the screen – nonetheless I think LED indicators would have been more helpful and intuitive (comparable to Novation’s Remote series). And could it be that the pads are quite far away from each other? Maybe you can tell us something about their playability once you’ve got it in your hands, Peter.

    Overall I don’t see much innovation aside from the big screen and yet another software that plugs between software host and controller (I’ve only experienced Automap so far and that was quite labile and complicated, at least on Windows).

    • You wouldn’t spend $600 for a keyboard with a good 61-key keybed, a color display, and pads built in?

      Uh, software bundle aside, good luck finding that.

      If you don’t want the software *or* the color display *or* LED pads, yes, you should have some other options.

      • I’m just saying that with 600 $ it’ll be one of the most expensive controller keyboards with 61 keys. It’s certainly cheaper than the Komplete Kontrol S61 but most of the other candidates are still way cheaper than the Advance will be. No, they don’t have a color display but at least they’ll provide faders and more pads (e.g. the MPK261 and Impulse 61).
        It’s still good to have more selection and I’m sure the Advance will have its place but for me it’s not attractive.

        • Yes, but a color display is an expensive proposition both as a part and in terms of software/hardware development. So that disclaimer about the color display isn’t a small thing.

          You’re right, though, it’s worth comparison shopping if what you really want is a DAW controller (and hence the faders become appealing)

          • kobamoto rin

            why is the color display so important?

          • Because there is a distinct and significant difference in efforts required to develop software (both inside the controller device and in the host software (e.g. your DAW, plugins, etc) for a device that would support an LED display like on Nord keyboards, a single colour OLED display like on the DSI Tempest or Pro 2 or Nektar Panorama, or a multi colour OLED display like on Maschine Studio.

            On the other hand, an advanced display can assist you very much when using your instrument or controller, so you would not have to rely on your laptop or tablet screen, but on the controller’s knobs and buttons, keys and pads instead. But only, when it is integrated well in the software and hardware around it…

      • Freeks

        $600 is not cheap by any means so it’s really not “aggressive” pricing. It might not be too expensive either so it’s normally priced controller then. $499 for 61key might be “aggressive”, but dunno. KeyLab 61 is $399 and it comes with software bundle. More controllers, no color screen.

        NI controllers are way over priced in their current state. They might get better later with software updates. We have 61 key NI Kontroller in our studio. We got it for free and i would never ever pay what they ask for it. We also have machine 2 and it does the whole Komplete integration so much better,

        It remains to see how these are, I’m on market for 49key controller for home. If i wouldn’t need it soon i would wait for these. I’m on the fence with KeyLab as i have Arturia synths. I already have machine for Komplete integration. Best combination would be MiniLab for Arturia, Maschine for NI and Akai Advance for rest.

        • It’s absolutely aggressive pricing, compared to the competition.
          $600 is the street price for the Nektar, with no color screen and no software and less software support (and I think a poorer keybed).

          $700 is the street for the NI Komplete Kontrol 61-key, with no pads, no color screen, and only basic host software (which requires Komplete to purchase.)

          This is $600 and includes a software bundle that alone once cost that much. It’s got Akai’s higher-end wheels and keybed, which to me would be worth paying extra for over, say, the KORG.

          Now, okay, the Nektar and NI are at the high end of the market – and keyboards with similar components are available for less.

          But at least in the case of the Akai, there’s this enormous software bundle included, plus a color display. And a lot of MIDI keyboards these days are getting cheaper, but going USB only.

          • Freeks

            Nektar Panorama P6 is 425€ @ Thomann. NI Kontrol 61 is 700€ so they are not in same price range at all. We don’t know yet what will be Akai’s euro price, but it’s probably 600€.

            Bigger colour screens can be found from $200 smart phones so it can’t be that expensive in 2015.

          • Ha. Sure a display can be expensive. Remember, the biggest MI maker doesn’t begin to come to the sort of scale of a Samsung or Apple.

            You need different hardware to drive that display. There’s more development time. There are different power requirements.

            Street price is already at around $600 … so equivalent to the Nektar, which doesn’t include *any bundled software*.

            I stand by my claim – it’s backed by some experience of what people spec’ing out this sort of hardware are doing, and by knowledge of the software they’re bundling.

            Akai has priced a reasonably high-end keyboard with a large software bundle aggressively relative to other entries in the market.

          • Freeks

            What is the worth of software bundle that nobody use?
            No matter what is the asking price as at least i’m never heard of those. If they would be good i would have heard ’em. Don’t remember mentions in CDM.

            I think Arturias bundled AnalogLab is worth a lot more as it’s proven to have high quality sounds. Tight integration with 16 controllers and a lot cheaper sounds better deal. IF one is after bundled content. I’m not as i already own everything i want to own.

            I’m looking for a controller that integrates with computer. I have not found one yet. Biggest disappointment was Novation Automap and secong big was NI Kontrollers.

            Maybe i should move to Bitwig user as it seems to get best controller integrations. Live sucks big time on controller support.

          • Where exactly does Live suck regarding controller support? The amount of more or less obscure or outdated (i.e. out of production) devices they won’t ship own templates for? The templates’ mappings? The manual mapping feature implementation?

            My experience is that – apart from Reason – Live is most user friendly in terms of controller support. Try Logic for a change instead…

          • Freeks

            Have you ever tried to do controller script for Live?
            No? That is the reason why manufactures don’t do it either. It is very complicated process to get it work properly. And when Live is updated the script brakes.

            There is a list of loads of old controller scripts that have very basic support for Live. Did i say basic? Yes. Check how Nektar work with reason, Bitwig and Logic. Or how Arturia’s work with Bitwig. Bitwig has controller support how Live should have it.

            I have not seen keyboard that has good support for Live. If you know one i’ll buy it. iPad has good controllers for live. I use TouchOSC and Lemur. But it’s touchscreen operation that i don’t like so much.

            I’m also Logic user. I have 32channels of Logic control. Afaik it was first DAW to have controller. When i connected my iPad to computer first time while running logic it automatically detected it and worked straight away (with TouchOSC). No need to visit preferenes dialog.

            I’ve spent a lot of time in my live in Live’s audio/midi tab and mapping controllers for it.

          • Jeff

            I think its worth noting there’s a difference between assigning incoming controllers to a plug-in parameter and having something which deeply integrates with the DAW or the plug-ins. Nektar’s support for this is pretty impressive actually.

            For the record, for simple hardware controller assignments to plug-in parameters, or key commands, Logic is very simple, but also offers much deeper support than Live.

          • Freeks

            It’s a the opposite. Live supports mostly outdated old controllers. Check the list yourself. Both of my controllers Microkontroller and Trigger Finger are both supported and decade old. Even Korg have dropped support for MicroKontroller,

            As you see there is zero support for 90% controllers released 2013-15. So where is the friendliness of the controller support?

            I just bought new KeyLab 61. It had some template made by arturia but it broke down in last live update.

            I’ve come to conclusion that there is not one good keyboard controller for Live user out there. Reason, Cubase and even Logic get love from controllers but not Live.

          • Happy25

            I’ve been using Ableton for almost 10 years. The only script that broke for me was one I downloaded from YouTube that a guy created for Maschine in Live 8. He never updated it for Live 9, but NI made a much better one and I stuck with that. Whenever I update Live 9 now. I don’t have any issues with the new Maschine script I installed. All the other scripts I have still work for other controllers I use just find. You just have to make sure you copy all your scripts if you’re doing a new install/update into the Ableton folder before using it. You should only update Ableton if your current version is missing features that the update will fix. It really isn’t that much of a problem.

          • Trey

            You’re definitely a strong contender for retard of the year… The tard is strong in you! lulz

          • Jens Barth

            When I heard first time about the Advance I was impressed. Now I read a lot of tests and got desilliusioned:

            – Yes, it has a display.
            – No, you don’t need the display at all if your Mac / PC is near to you
            – To work with your software (VIP or others) you need the Laptop anyhow, and the computer screen / mouse or trackpad is much more confortable to work with.
            – Mac ( = Mainstage) – unsers will not move to VIP because the integration of VIP in mainstage is not god and the setlist function of VIP is too rudimentary to compete with Mainstage.
            – I would never discuss a price level. For somebody the price is high, for others it is reasonable. A couple of monthes ago I bought a MPK261 and I am very happy with it. I made my decision based on the keyboard quality whereas I basically looked for a better software (vst) implementation. However, I did not find any solution (like Automap) good enough. Now I am confortable without it in my studio ad live enviroment.

            – In comparison with the Advance it has more controllers (esp. faders) which I apprechiate. If somebody needs a display (I understand that this is a nice feature) – fine. For me it would be just a gimmick.

            – The software bundle is good. Since I own a MPK261 I already have a part of it, especially Air’s Hybrid I like very much. The others (Sonivox 88) are not at this quality level, I like the NI Pianos more. This is, however, my personal opinion – the bundle is good for those who start with software plugins to get fast and serious results.

          • Jeff

            Maybe they are more inexpensive than ever, but that $200 smart phone is almost certainly subsidized significantly by the carrier.

          • ThisIsTheRager

            Yes there are big colour screens on $200 smart phones. But thats completely irrelevant given it’s a completely different market. You can also buy a Full HD LCD 32inch TV for $200. Doesn’t mean the screens are cheap. You have to consider economies of scale, size of market, average sales, stakeholders and the companies other products which can offset cost.

            It is a great thing they took the initiative to put this on their keyboard. And again it does all these things at this price point?

      • Yeah, if it’s only plugins it’s meant to play then that price is just something ridiculous to me, and not in a good way. Maybe not to someone else though!
        But the thing is also what will it be worth in 10 years?

        • I forgot.
          Akai! A sampler dat does not need a pc apart for editing????
          You listen?

    • Nikolozi

      I feel the same way about -> “yet another software that plugs between software host and controller.” Plug-in inside a plug-in is not innovation. It’s a hack, a workaround to the existing limitations. It’s ugly and complicated. Too many layers of abstraction. Slows down your workflow and there are more sources of bugs and crashes.

      It’s quite annoying that the creators of MIDI never felt the need to update the protocol in 30 years. How cool would it be if there was a standard protocol in MIDI where plug-in host would send full plug-in parameter descriptions (name, range of values, units etc) to the controllers?

      So, yes, I’m in the same boat. I just turn off all these so called innovations and manually map stuff.

      • Colaverde

        the limitations of midi can be found mostly in software (using midi) rather than in the protocol or hardware……..Image line (FLstudio) was the first big company to understand this and provided the most usefull fonctionalities such as : right click to midi assignation, extrapolation with variable speed, one click access to mathematic formulas defining the rule of each assigned knob/fader………The 128 steps limitation is not a limitation whith software extrapolation and the NRPN cover all possible application.

      • The question of how to map MIDI parameters in this case is quite unrelated to the way parameters are exposed by VST hosts…

        I’ll judge the software implementation when they actually ship it. Like I said, I’ve been burned before by these kinds of solutions…

      • Mutis Mayfield

        It seems midi hd will be discussed at Namm… Meanwhile why not take a look at osc?

        • Nikolozi

          tbh, I don’t have high hopes. HD MIDI has been under discussion since 2005. It’s been 10 years since then. During this time we’ve had smartphone revolution, tablet revolution and now wearables soon.

          As for OSC, it’s a cool idea, but it never took off. I see 2 problems: 1. Hardly any hardware supports it. 2. The messages need to be defined on both ends, so the controller and the controlee can understand each other. Whereas in MIDI, there’s only one message that says Note On C3 with velocity 127 on Ch 1.

          • Mutis Mayfield

            Yes that’s the problem or flexibility from different pov, sure.
            Hardware like monome and others have supported it and there are some workarounds for autodiscover things in the net but, yes… One need to “build” the house oneself and it is not really user friendly…

  • I don’t really feel the “aggressiveness” of the pricing – I would never spend 600 $ (or €) for a 61-key-controller (I don’t care that much for the software bundle). I’m glad they thought about visualising the plugin states via the screen – nonetheless I think LED indicators would have been more helpful and intuitive (comparable to Novation’s Remote series). And could it be that the pads are quite far away from each other? Maybe you can tell us something about their playability once you’ve got it in your hands, Peter.

    Overall I don’t see much innovation aside from the big screen and yet another software that plugs between software host and controller (I’ve only experienced Automap so far and that was quite labile and complicated, at least on Windows).

    • You wouldn’t spend $600 for a keyboard with a good 61-key keybed, a color display, and pads built in?

      Uh, software bundle aside, good luck finding that.

      If you don’t want the software *or* the color display *or* LED pads, yes, you should have some other options.

      • I’m just saying that with 600 $ it’ll be one of the most expensive controller keyboards with 61 keys. It’s certainly cheaper than the Komplete Kontrol S61 but most of the other candidates are still way cheaper than the Advance will be. No, they don’t have a color display but at least they’ll provide faders and more pads (e.g. the MPK261 and Impulse 61).
        It’s still good to have more selection and I’m sure the Advance will have its place but for me it’s not attractive.

        • Yes, but a color display is an expensive proposition both as a part and in terms of software/hardware development. So that disclaimer about the color display isn’t a small thing.

          You’re right, though, it’s worth comparison shopping if what you really want is a DAW controller (and hence the faders become appealing)

          • kobamoto rin

            why is the color display so important?

          • Because there is a distinct and significant difference in efforts required to develop software (both inside the controller device and in the host software (e.g. your DAW, plugins, etc) for a device that would support an LED display like on Nord keyboards, a single colour OLED display like on the DSI Tempest or Pro 2 or Nektar Panorama, or a multi colour OLED display like on Maschine Studio.

            On the other hand, an advanced display can assist you very much when using your instrument or controller, so you would not have to rely on your laptop or tablet screen, but on the controller’s knobs and buttons, keys and pads instead. But only, when it is integrated well in the software and hardware around it…

      • Freeks

        $600 is not cheap by any means so it’s really not “aggressive” pricing. It might not be too expensive either so it’s normally priced controller then. $499 for 61key might be “aggressive”, but dunno. KeyLab 61 is $399 and it comes with software bundle. More controllers, no color screen.

        NI controllers are way over priced in their current state. They might get better later with software updates. We have 61 key NI Kontroller in our studio. We got it for free and i would never ever pay what they ask for it. We also have machine 2 and it does the whole Komplete integration so much better,

        It remains to see how these are, I’m on market for 49key controller for home. If i wouldn’t need it soon i would wait for these. I’m on the fence with KeyLab as i have Arturia synths. I already have machine for Komplete integration. Best combination would be MiniLab for Arturia, Maschine for NI and Akai Advance for rest.

        • It’s absolutely aggressive pricing, compared to the competition.
          $600 is the street price for the Nektar, with no color screen and no software and less software support (and I think a poorer keybed).

          $700 is the street for the NI Komplete Kontrol 61-key, with no pads, no color screen, and only basic host software (which requires Komplete to purchase.)

          This is $600 and includes a software bundle that alone once cost that much. It’s got Akai’s higher-end wheels and keybed, which to me would be worth paying extra for over, say, the KORG.

          Now, okay, the Nektar and NI are at the high end of the market – and keyboards with similar components are available for less.

          But at least in the case of the Akai, there’s this enormous software bundle included, plus a color display. And a lot of MIDI keyboards these days are getting cheaper, but going USB only.

          • Freeks

            Nektar Panorama P6 is 425€ @ Thomann. NI Kontrol 61 is 700€ so they are not in same price range at all. We don’t know yet what will be Akai’s euro price, but it’s probably 600€.

            Bigger colour screens can be found from $200 smart phones so it can’t be that expensive in 2015.

          • Ha. Sure a display can be expensive. Remember, the biggest MI maker doesn’t begin to come to the sort of scale of a Samsung or Apple.

            You need different hardware to drive that display. There’s more development time. There are different power requirements.

            Street price is already at around $600 … so equivalent to the Nektar, which doesn’t include *any bundled software*.

            I stand by my claim – it’s backed by some experience of what people spec’ing out this sort of hardware are doing, and by knowledge of the software they’re bundling.

            Akai has priced a reasonably high-end keyboard with a large software bundle aggressively relative to other entries in the market.

          • Freeks

            What is the worth of software bundle that nobody use?
            No matter what is the asking price as at least i’m never heard of those. If they would be good i would have heard ’em. Don’t remember mentions in CDM.

            I think Arturias bundled AnalogLab is worth a lot more as it’s proven to have high quality sounds. Tight integration with 16 controllers and a lot cheaper sounds better deal. IF one is after bundled content. I’m not as i already own everything i want to own.

            I’m looking for a controller that integrates with computer. I have not found one yet. Biggest disappointment was Novation Automap and secong big was NI Kontrollers.

            Maybe i should move to Bitwig user as it seems to get best controller integrations. Live sucks big time on controller support.

          • Where exactly does Live suck regarding controller support? The amount of more or less obscure or outdated (i.e. out of production) devices they won’t ship own templates for? The templates’ mappings? The manual mapping feature implementation?

            My experience is that – apart from Reason – Live is most user friendly in terms of controller support. Try Logic for a change instead…

          • Freeks

            Have you ever tried to do controller script for Live?
            No? That is the reason why manufactures don’t do it either. It is very complicated process to get it work properly. And when Live is updated the script brakes.

            There is a list of loads of old controller scripts that have very basic support for Live. Did i say basic? Yes. Check how Nektar work with reason, Bitwig and Logic. Or how Arturia’s work with Bitwig. Bitwig has controller support how Live should have it.

            I have not seen keyboard that has good support for Live. If you know one i’ll buy it. iPad has good controllers for live. I use TouchOSC and Lemur. But it’s touchscreen operation that i don’t like so much.

            I’m also Logic user. I have 32channels of Logic control. Afaik it was first DAW to have controller. When i connected my iPad to computer first time while running logic it automatically detected it and worked straight away (with TouchOSC). No need to visit preferenes dialog.

            I’ve spent a lot of time in my live in Live’s audio/midi tab and mapping controllers for it.

          • Dopamine Addict

            I think its worth noting there’s a difference between assigning incoming controllers to a plug-in parameter and having something which deeply integrates with the DAW or the plug-ins. Nektar’s support for this is pretty impressive actually.

            For the record, for simple hardware controller assignments to plug-in parameters, or key commands, Logic is very simple, but also offers much deeper support than Live.

          • Freeks

            It’s a the opposite. Live supports mostly outdated old controllers. Check the list yourself. Both of my controllers Microkontroller and Trigger Finger are both supported and decade old. Even Korg have dropped support for MicroKontroller,

            As you see there is zero support for 90% controllers released 2013-15. So where is the friendliness of the controller support?

            I just bought new KeyLab 61. It had some template made by arturia but it broke down in last live update.

            I’ve come to conclusion that there is not one good keyboard controller for Live user out there. Reason, Cubase and even Logic get love from controllers but not Live.

          • Happy25

            I’ve been using Ableton for almost 10 years. The only script that broke for me was one I downloaded from YouTube that a guy created for Maschine in Live 8. He never updated it for Live 9, but NI made a much better one and I stuck with that. Whenever I update Live 9 now. I don’t have any issues with the new Maschine script I installed. All the other scripts I have still work for other controllers I use just find. You just have to make sure you copy all your scripts if you’re doing a new install/update into the Ableton folder before using it. You should only update Ableton if your current version is missing features that the update will fix. It really isn’t that much of a problem.

          • Trey

            You’re definitely a strong contender for retard of the year… The tard is strong in you! lulz

          • Jens Barth

            When I heard first time about the Advance I was impressed. Now I read a lot of tests and got desilliusioned:

            – Yes, it has a display.
            – No, you don’t need the display at all if your Mac / PC is near to you
            – To work with your software (VIP or others) you need the Laptop anyhow, and the computer screen / mouse or trackpad is much more confortable to work with.
            – Mac ( = Mainstage) – unsers will not move to VIP because the integration of VIP in mainstage is not god and the setlist function of VIP is too rudimentary to compete with Mainstage.
            – I would never discuss a price level. For somebody the price is high, for others it is reasonable. A couple of monthes ago I bought a MPK261 and I am very happy with it. I made my decision based on the keyboard quality whereas I basically looked for a better software (vst) implementation. However, I did not find any solution (like Automap) good enough. Now I am confortable without it in my studio ad live enviroment.

            – In comparison with the Advance it has more controllers (esp. faders) which I apprechiate. If somebody needs a display (I understand that this is a nice feature) – fine. For me it would be just a gimmick.

            – The software bundle is good. Since I own a MPK261 I already have a part of it, especially Air’s Hybrid I like very much. The others (Sonivox 88) are not at this quality level, I like the NI Pianos more. This is, however, my personal opinion – the bundle is good for those who start with software plugins to get fast and serious results.

          • Dopamine Addict

            Maybe they are more inexpensive than ever, but that $200 smart phone is almost certainly subsidized significantly by the carrier.

          • ThisIsTheRager

            Yes there are big colour screens on $200 smart phones. But thats completely irrelevant given it’s a completely different market. You can also buy a Full HD LCD 32inch TV for $200. Doesn’t mean the screens are cheap. You have to consider economies of scale, size of market, average sales, stakeholders and the companies other products which can offset cost.

            It is a great thing they took the initiative to put this on their keyboard. And again it does all these things at this price point?

      • Yeah, if it’s only plugins it’s meant to play then that price is just something ridiculous to me, and not in a good way. Maybe not to someone else though!
        But the thing is also what will it be worth in 10 years?

        • Guest

          I forgot.
          Akai! A sampler dat does not need a pc apart for editing????
          You listen?

    • Nikolozi

      I feel the same way about -> “yet another software that plugs between software host and controller.” Plug-in inside a plug-in is not innovation. It’s a hack, a workaround to the existing limitations. It’s ugly and complicated. Too many layers of abstraction. Slows down your workflow and there are more sources of bugs and crashes.

      It’s quite annoying that the creators of MIDI never felt the need to update the protocol in 30 years. How cool would it be if there was a standard protocol in MIDI where plug-in host would send full plug-in parameter descriptions (name, range of values, units etc) to the controllers?

      So, yes, I’m in the same boat. I just turn off all these so called innovations and manually map stuff.

      • Colaverde

        the limitations of midi can be found mostly in software (using midi) rather than in the protocol or hardware……..Image line (FLstudio) was the first big company to understand this and provided the most usefull fonctionalities such as : right click to midi assignation, extrapolation with variable speed, one click access to mathematic formulas defining the rule of each assigned knob/fader………The 128 steps limitation is not a limitation whith software extrapolation and the NRPN cover all possible application.

      • The question of how to map MIDI parameters in this case is quite unrelated to the way parameters are exposed by VST hosts…

        I’ll judge the software implementation when they actually ship it. Like I said, I’ve been burned before by these kinds of solutions…

      • Mutis Mayfield

        It seems midi hd will be discussed at Namm… Meanwhile why not take a look at osc?

        • Nikolozi

          tbh, I don’t have high hopes. HD MIDI has been under discussion since 2005. It’s been 10 years since then. During this time we’ve had smartphone revolution, tablet revolution and now wearables soon.

          As for OSC, it’s a cool idea, but it never took off. I see 2 problems: 1. Hardly any hardware supports it. 2. The messages need to be defined on both ends, so the controller and the controlee can understand each other. Whereas in MIDI, there’s only one message that says Note On C3 with velocity 127 on Ch 1.

          • Mutis Mayfield

            Yes that’s the problem or flexibility from different pov, sure.
            Hardware like monome and others have supported it and there are some workarounds for autodiscover things in the net but, yes… One need to “build” the house oneself and it is not really user friendly…

  • I don’t really feel the “aggressiveness” of the pricing – I would never spend 600 $ (or €) for a 61-key-controller (I don’t care that much for the software bundle). I’m glad they thought about visualising the plugin states via the screen – nonetheless I think LED indicators would have been more helpful and intuitive (comparable to Novation’s Remote series). And could it be that the pads are quite far away from each other? Maybe you can tell us something about their playability once you’ve got it in your hands, Peter.

    Overall I don’t see much innovation aside from the big screen and yet another software that plugs between software host and controller (I’ve only experienced Automap so far and that was quite labile and complicated, at least on Windows).

    • You wouldn’t spend $600 for a keyboard with a good 61-key keybed, a color display, and pads built in?

      Uh, software bundle aside, good luck finding that.

      If you don’t want the software *or* the color display *or* LED pads, yes, you should have some other options.

      • I’m just saying that with 600 $ it’ll be one of the most expensive controller keyboards with 61 keys. It’s certainly cheaper than the Komplete Kontrol S61 but most of the other candidates are still way cheaper than the Advance will be. No, they don’t have a color display but at least they’ll provide faders and more pads (e.g. the MPK261 and Impulse 61).
        It’s still good to have more selection and I’m sure the Advance will have its place but for me it’s not attractive.

        • Yes, but a color display is an expensive proposition both as a part and in terms of software/hardware development. So that disclaimer about the color display isn’t a small thing.

          You’re right, though, it’s worth comparison shopping if what you really want is a DAW controller (and hence the faders become appealing)

          • kobamoto rin

            why is the color display so important?

          • Because there is a distinct and significant difference in efforts required to develop software (both inside the controller device and in the host software (e.g. your DAW, plugins, etc) for a device that would support an LED display like on Nord keyboards, a single colour OLED display like on the DSI Tempest or Pro 2 or Nektar Panorama, or a multi colour OLED display like on Maschine Studio.

            On the other hand, an advanced display can assist you very much when using your instrument or controller, so you would not have to rely on your laptop or tablet screen, but on the controller’s knobs and buttons, keys and pads instead. But only, when it is integrated well in the software and hardware around it…

      • Freeks

        $600 is not cheap by any means so it’s really not “aggressive” pricing. It might not be too expensive either so it’s normally priced controller then. $499 for 61key might be “aggressive”, but dunno. KeyLab 61 is $399 and it comes with software bundle. More controllers, no color screen.

        NI controllers are way over priced in their current state. They might get better later with software updates. We have 61 key NI Kontroller in our studio. We got it for free and i would never ever pay what they ask for it. We also have machine 2 and it does the whole Komplete integration so much better,

        It remains to see how these are, I’m on market for 49key controller for home. If i wouldn’t need it soon i would wait for these. I’m on the fence with KeyLab as i have Arturia synths. I already have machine for Komplete integration. Best combination would be MiniLab for Arturia, Maschine for NI and Akai Advance for rest.

        • It’s absolutely aggressive pricing, compared to the competition.
          $600 is the street price for the Nektar, with no color screen and no software and less software support (and I think a poorer keybed).

          $700 is the street for the NI Komplete Kontrol 61-key, with no pads, no color screen, and only basic host software (which requires Komplete to purchase.)

          This is $600 and includes a software bundle that alone once cost that much. It’s got Akai’s higher-end wheels and keybed, which to me would be worth paying extra for over, say, the KORG.

          Now, okay, the Nektar and NI are at the high end of the market – and keyboards with similar components are available for less.

          But at least in the case of the Akai, there’s this enormous software bundle included, plus a color display. And a lot of MIDI keyboards these days are getting cheaper, but going USB only.

          • Freeks

            Nektar Panorama P6 is 425€ @ Thomann. NI Kontrol 61 is 700€ so they are not in same price range at all. We don’t know yet what will be Akai’s euro price, but it’s probably 600€.

            Bigger colour screens can be found from $200 smart phones so it can’t be that expensive in 2015.

          • Ha. Sure a display can be expensive. Remember, the biggest MI maker doesn’t begin to come to the sort of scale of a Samsung or Apple.

            You need different hardware to drive that display. There’s more development time. There are different power requirements.

            Street price is already at around $600 … so equivalent to the Nektar, which doesn’t include *any bundled software*.

            I stand by my claim – it’s backed by some experience of what people spec’ing out this sort of hardware are doing, and by knowledge of the software they’re bundling.

            Akai has priced a reasonably high-end keyboard with a large software bundle aggressively relative to other entries in the market.

          • Freeks

            What is the worth of software bundle that nobody use?
            No matter what is the asking price as at least i’m never heard of those. If they would be good i would have heard ’em. Don’t remember mentions in CDM.

            I think Arturias bundled AnalogLab is worth a lot more as it’s proven to have high quality sounds. Tight integration with 16 controllers and a lot cheaper sounds better deal. IF one is after bundled content. I’m not as i already own everything i want to own.

            I’m looking for a controller that integrates with computer. I have not found one yet. Biggest disappointment was Novation Automap and secong big was NI Kontrollers.

            Maybe i should move to Bitwig user as it seems to get best controller integrations. Live sucks big time on controller support.

          • Where exactly does Live suck regarding controller support? The amount of more or less obscure or outdated (i.e. out of production) devices they won’t ship own templates for? The templates’ mappings? The manual mapping feature implementation?

            My experience is that – apart from Reason – Live is most user friendly in terms of controller support. Try Logic for a change instead…

          • Freeks

            Have you ever tried to do controller script for Live?
            No? That is the reason why manufactures don’t do it either. It is very complicated process to get it work properly. And when Live is updated the script brakes.

            There is a list of loads of old controller scripts that have very basic support for Live. Did i say basic? Yes. Check how Nektar work with reason, Bitwig and Logic. Or how Arturia’s work with Bitwig. Bitwig has controller support how Live should have it.

            I have not seen keyboard that has good support for Live. If you know one i’ll buy it. iPad has good controllers for live. I use TouchOSC and Lemur. But it’s touchscreen operation that i don’t like so much.

            I’m also Logic user. I have 32channels of Logic control. Afaik it was first DAW to have controller. When i connected my iPad to computer first time while running logic it automatically detected it and worked straight away (with TouchOSC). No need to visit preferenes dialog.

            I’ve spent a lot of time in my live in Live’s audio/midi tab and mapping controllers for it.

          • Dopamine Addict

            I think its worth noting there’s a difference between assigning incoming controllers to a plug-in parameter and having something which deeply integrates with the DAW or the plug-ins. Nektar’s support for this is pretty impressive actually.

            For the record, for simple hardware controller assignments to plug-in parameters, or key commands, Logic is very simple, but also offers much deeper support than Live.

          • Freeks

            It’s a the opposite. Live supports mostly outdated old controllers. Check the list yourself. Both of my controllers Microkontroller and Trigger Finger are both supported and decade old. Even Korg have dropped support for MicroKontroller,

            As you see there is zero support for 90% controllers released 2013-15. So where is the friendliness of the controller support?

            I just bought new KeyLab 61. It had some template made by arturia but it broke down in last live update.

            I’ve come to conclusion that there is not one good keyboard controller for Live user out there. Reason, Cubase and even Logic get love from controllers but not Live.

          • Happy25

            I’ve been using Ableton for almost 10 years. The only script that broke for me was one I downloaded from YouTube that a guy created for Maschine in Live 8. He never updated it for Live 9, but NI made a much better one and I stuck with that. Whenever I update Live 9 now. I don’t have any issues with the new Maschine script I installed. All the other scripts I have still work for other controllers I use just find. You just have to make sure you copy all your scripts if you’re doing a new install/update into the Ableton folder before using it. You should only update Ableton if your current version is missing features that the update will fix. It really isn’t that much of a problem.

          • Trey

            You’re definitely a strong contender for retard of the year… The tard is strong in you! lulz

          • Jens Barth

            When I heard first time about the Advance I was impressed. Now I read a lot of tests and got desilliusioned:

            – Yes, it has a display.
            – No, you don’t need the display at all if your Mac / PC is near to you
            – To work with your software (VIP or others) you need the Laptop anyhow, and the computer screen / mouse or trackpad is much more confortable to work with.
            – Mac ( = Mainstage) – unsers will not move to VIP because the integration of VIP in mainstage is not god and the setlist function of VIP is too rudimentary to compete with Mainstage.
            – I would never discuss a price level. For somebody the price is high, for others it is reasonable. A couple of monthes ago I bought a MPK261 and I am very happy with it. I made my decision based on the keyboard quality whereas I basically looked for a better software (vst) implementation. However, I did not find any solution (like Automap) good enough. Now I am confortable without it in my studio ad live enviroment.

            – In comparison with the Advance it has more controllers (esp. faders) which I apprechiate. If somebody needs a display (I understand that this is a nice feature) – fine. For me it would be just a gimmick.

            – The software bundle is good. Since I own a MPK261 I already have a part of it, especially Air’s Hybrid I like very much. The others (Sonivox 88) are not at this quality level, I like the NI Pianos more. This is, however, my personal opinion – the bundle is good for those who start with software plugins to get fast and serious results.

          • Dopamine Addict

            Maybe they are more inexpensive than ever, but that $200 smart phone is almost certainly subsidized significantly by the carrier.

          • ThisIsTheRager

            Yes there are big colour screens on $200 smart phones. But thats completely irrelevant given it’s a completely different market. You can also buy a Full HD LCD 32inch TV for $200. Doesn’t mean the screens are cheap. You have to consider economies of scale, size of market, average sales, stakeholders and the companies other products which can offset cost.

            It is a great thing they took the initiative to put this on their keyboard. And again it does all these things at this price point?

      • Yanakyl

        Yeah, if it’s only plugins it’s meant to play then that price is just something ridiculous to me, and not in a good way. Maybe not to someone else though!
        But the thing is also what will it be worth in 10 years?

        • Guest

          I forgot.
          Akai! A sampler dat does not need a pc apart for editing????
          You listen?

    • Nikolozi

      I feel the same way about -> “yet another software that plugs between software host and controller.” Plug-in inside a plug-in is not innovation. It’s a hack, a workaround to the existing limitations. It’s ugly and complicated. Too many layers of abstraction. Slows down your workflow and there are more sources of bugs and crashes.

      It’s quite annoying that the creators of MIDI never felt the need to update the protocol in 30 years. How cool would it be if there was a standard protocol in MIDI where plug-in host would send full plug-in parameter descriptions (name, range of values, units etc) to the controllers?

      So, yes, I’m in the same boat. I just turn off all these so called innovations and manually map stuff.

      • Colaverde

        the limitations of midi can be found mostly in software (using midi) rather than in the protocol or hardware……..Image line (FLstudio) was the first big company to understand this and provided the most usefull fonctionalities such as : right click to midi assignation, extrapolation with variable speed, one click access to mathematic formulas defining the rule of each assigned knob/fader………The 128 steps limitation is not a limitation whith software extrapolation and the NRPN cover all possible application.

      • The question of how to map MIDI parameters in this case is quite unrelated to the way parameters are exposed by VST hosts…

        I’ll judge the software implementation when they actually ship it. Like I said, I’ve been burned before by these kinds of solutions…

      • Mutis Mayfield

        It seems midi hd will be discussed at Namm… Meanwhile why not take a look at osc?

        • Nikolozi

          tbh, I don’t have high hopes. HD MIDI has been under discussion since 2005. It’s been 10 years since then. During this time we’ve had smartphone revolution, tablet revolution and now wearables soon.

          As for OSC, it’s a cool idea, but it never took off. I see 2 problems: 1. Hardly any hardware supports it. 2. The messages need to be defined on both ends, so the controller and the controlee can understand each other. Whereas in MIDI, there’s only one message that says Note On C3 with velocity 127 on Ch 1.

          • Mutis Mayfield

            Yes that’s the problem or flexibility from different pov, sure.
            Hardware like monome and others have supported it and there are some workarounds for autodiscover things in the net but, yes… One need to “build” the house oneself and it is not really user friendly…

  • Jim Aikin

    The AIR softsynths, if you don’t already own them, are a great value-added attraction. I’ve spent a little time playing them, and they’re very good indeed. (Loom is awfully hard to program or even edit sensibly, but that’s another story.)

  • Jim Aikin

    The AIR softsynths, if you don’t already own them, are a great value-added attraction. I’ve spent a little time playing them, and they’re very good indeed. (Loom is awfully hard to program or even edit sensibly, but that’s another story.)

  • Jim Aikin

    The AIR softsynths, if you don’t already own them, are a great value-added attraction. I’ve spent a little time playing them, and they’re very good indeed. (Loom is awfully hard to program or even edit sensibly, but that’s another story.)

  • Matteo Grilli

    Having the display not underneath the knobs and even showing the virtual knobs in a different arrangement than you get on the keyboard (2 rows of 4 vs 8 in a straight line) is not a good look, and surely not more intuitive than the way things like push or the komplete line do it.

  • Matteo Grilli

    Having the display not underneath the knobs and even showing the virtual knobs in a different arrangement than you get on the keyboard (2 rows of 4 vs 8 in a straight line) is not a good look, and surely not more intuitive than the way things like push or the komplete line do it.

  • Matteo Grilli

    Having the display not underneath the knobs and even showing the virtual knobs in a different arrangement than you get on the keyboard (2 rows of 4 vs 8 in a straight line) is not a good look, and surely not more intuitive than the way things like push or the komplete line do it.

  • Will

    Meh.

  • Will

    Meh.

  • Will

    Meh.

  • Let’s not forget you also can’t reverse the polarity of the damper pedals on the NI keyboard either. Found this out the hard way. You’d think they’d think of something simple like this?

    Returned it within a week and went back to my trusty ReMOTE 37SL. And I use Komplete almost exclusively for my scoring work, but the NI Kontrol is fairly useless when it comes to anything else, other than NI products. Trying to get it to talk to Ableton Live like my Novation does instantly was a nightmare – I’m not even sure if it’s entirely possible. I’m sure it’ll be better in a year or so. But for now, I was really disappointed. Workflow is everything, especially with super tight deadlines. Couldn’t get into it.

    Oh yeah – and hated the fact that you have to run the NI products within the Kontrol AU/VST host to get the controller to talk to say Massive or Reaktor or Kontakt… Too much like Kore for my tastes. Build quality is great though and love the super sleek minimal futuristic design… *sigh*… I really wanted to love it but alas… We weren’t meant to be.

    • shemp

      ur an idiot!

  • Let’s not forget you also can’t reverse the polarity of the damper pedals on the NI keyboard either. Found this out the hard way. You’d think they’d think of something simple like this?

    Returned it within a week and went back to my trusty ReMOTE 37SL. And I use Komplete almost exclusively for my scoring work, but the NI Kontrol is fairly useless when it comes to anything else, other than NI products. Trying to get it to talk to Ableton Live like my Novation does instantly was a nightmare – I’m not even sure if it’s entirely possible. I’m sure it’ll be better in a year or so. But for now, I was really disappointed. Workflow is everything, especially with super tight deadlines. Couldn’t get into it.

    Oh yeah – and hated the fact that you have to run the NI products within the Kontrol AU/VST host to get the controller to talk to say Massive or Reaktor or Kontakt… Too much like Kore for my tastes. Build quality is great though and love the super sleek minimal futuristic design… *sigh*… I really wanted to love it but alas… We weren’t meant to be.

    • shemp

      ur an idiot!

  • Let’s not forget you also can’t reverse the polarity of the damper pedals on the NI keyboard either. Found this out the hard way. You’d think they’d think of something simple like this?

    Returned it within a week and went back to my trusty ReMOTE 37SL. And I use Komplete almost exclusively for my scoring work, but the NI Kontrol is fairly useless when it comes to anything else, other than NI products. Trying to get it to talk to Ableton Live like my Novation does instantly was a nightmare – I’m not even sure if it’s entirely possible. I’m sure it’ll be better in a year or so. But for now, I was really disappointed. Workflow is everything, especially with super tight deadlines. Couldn’t get into it.

    Oh yeah – and hated the fact that you have to run the NI products within the Kontrol AU/VST host to get the controller to talk to say Massive or Reaktor or Kontakt… Too much like Kore for my tastes. Build quality is great though and love the super sleek minimal futuristic design… *sigh*… I really wanted to love it but alas… We weren’t meant to be.

    • shemp

      ur an idiot!

  • Karl

    I noted that only VSTi seems to be supported with regards to the guest plugins (the VIP host itself will reportedly available in other formats though). For me, as a Mac user that have standardized mainly on AU plugins, this would require quite some changes to my current setup – only to accommodate a new tool, if ever so shiny. Not sure if that is a deal breaker or not yet, but worth noting perhaps. Any thoughts by the way?

  • Karl

    I noted that only VSTi seems to be supported with regards to the guest plugins (the VIP host itself will reportedly available in other formats though). For me, as a Mac user that have standardized mainly on AU plugins, this would require quite some changes to my current setup – only to accommodate a new tool, if ever so shiny. Not sure if that is a deal breaker or not yet, but worth noting perhaps. Any thoughts by the way?

  • Karl

    I noted that only VSTi seems to be supported with regards to the guest plugins (the VIP host itself will reportedly available in other formats though). For me, as a Mac user that have standardized mainly on AU plugins, this would require quite some changes to my current setup – only to accommodate a new tool, if ever so shiny. Not sure if that is a deal breaker or not yet, but worth noting perhaps. Any thoughts by the way?

  • apoclypse

    Just wanted to clear up an inaccuracy. Novation made Automap and Reason has ReMote.

  • apoclypse

    Just wanted to clear up an inaccuracy. Novation made Automap and Reason has ReMote.

  • apoclypse

    Just wanted to clear up an inaccuracy. Novation made Automap and Reason has ReMote.

  • DPrty

    This is to high a price point. However I will buy one if you can rapidly assign chords to those trigger pads. I have a Korg M3 and the memorize chord to pad function is phenomenal for brainstorming new songs …. however Korg has not released a keyboard since the M3 that can trigger chords from pads. They allow you to do it from the touchscreen but with the M3 you had way more control of velocity and a solid feel from the rubberized pads as apposed to banging on a touchscreen.

    • ThisIsTheRager

      Is there anything else cheaper that does the same thing and comes with 16GB of add-ons, full colour screen, Pads, and integration to all kinds of VST’s and plugins.

  • DPrty

    This is to high a price point. However I will buy one if you can rapidly assign chords to those trigger pads. I have a Korg M3 and the memorize chord to pad function is phenomenal for brainstorming new songs …. however Korg has not released a keyboard since the M3 that can trigger chords from pads. They allow you to do it from the touchscreen but with the M3 you had way more control of velocity and a solid feel from the rubberized pads as apposed to banging on a touchscreen.

    • ThisIsTheRager

      Is there anything else cheaper that does the same thing and comes with 16GB of add-ons, full colour screen, Pads, and integration to all kinds of VST’s and plugins.

  • DPrty

    This is to high a price point. However I will buy one if you can rapidly assign chords to those trigger pads. I have a Korg M3 and the memorize chord to pad function is phenomenal for brainstorming new songs …. however Korg has not released a keyboard since the M3 that can trigger chords from pads. They allow you to do it from the touchscreen but with the M3 you had way more control of velocity and a solid feel from the rubberized pads as apposed to banging on a touchscreen.

    • ThisIsTheRager

      Is there anything else cheaper that does the same thing and comes with 16GB of add-ons, full colour screen, Pads, and integration to all kinds of VST’s and plugins.

  • All things said I think it looks much cooler than the NI one.
    Might be just because Native want to sell you their stupid presets.

  • All things said I think it looks much cooler than the NI one.
    Might be just because Native want to sell you their stupid presets.

  • Yanakyl

    All things said I think it looks much cooler than the NI one.
    Might be just because Native want to sell you their stupid presets.

  • TJ

    Yeah, this is what I was talking about in regards to the NI keyboard. Would love to see NI do it, but this might make a great alternative if the plugin support is solid.

  • TJ

    Yeah, this is what I was talking about in regards to the NI keyboard. Would love to see NI do it, but this might make a great alternative if the plugin support is solid.

  • TJ

    Yeah, this is what I was talking about in regards to the NI keyboard. Would love to see NI do it, but this might make a great alternative if the plugin support is solid.

  • Freeks

    One feature in this that beats the crap out of NI Kontrollers: It can be used without computer screen! Browsing and loading sounds with Komplete Kontroll is so akward that i have used mouse instead.

    To get instrument feel you should NOT need to stare your computer screen. That also limits where you can place your keyboard. If it’s not front of the screen you will have trouble. As we all know, keyboard placed on table front of you is the most ergonomic place to put it. At least for piano playing 😀

  • Freeks

    One feature in this that beats the crap out of NI Kontrollers: It can be used without computer screen! Browsing and loading sounds with Komplete Kontroll is so akward that i have used mouse instead.

    To get instrument feel you should NOT need to stare your computer screen. That also limits where you can place your keyboard. If it’s not front of the screen you will have trouble. As we all know, keyboard placed on table front of you is the most ergonomic place to put it. At least for piano playing 😀

  • Freeks

    One feature in this that beats the crap out of NI Kontrollers: It can be used without computer screen! Browsing and loading sounds with Komplete Kontroll is so akward that i have used mouse instead.

    To get instrument feel you should NOT need to stare your computer screen. That also limits where you can place your keyboard. If it’s not front of the screen you will have trouble. As we all know, keyboard placed on table front of you is the most ergonomic place to put it. At least for piano playing 😀

  • Gregg Johnson

    Check out this Youtube video from DLPeace. He’s a passionate got who gets a little repetitious but he makes very valid points about AKAI. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQGRFGqxT1g

    • Well … yes, there seems to be a disconnect between MPC’s software and the keyboard.

      Actually, this is not necessarily a *compliment* to AKAI, but part of the reason I didn’t really talk about this is because I don’t know anyone using their MPC software.

      And yes, I agree with him – AKAI needs to do right by the MPC flagship that is what inspires people to love AKAI.

  • Gregg Johnson

    Check out this Youtube video from DLPeace. He’s a passionate got who gets a little repetitious but he makes very valid points about AKAI. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQGRFGqxT1g

    • Well … yes, there seems to be a disconnect between MPC’s software and the keyboard.

      Actually, this is not necessarily a *compliment* to AKAI, but part of the reason I didn’t really talk about this is because I don’t know anyone using their MPC software.

      And yes, I agree with him – AKAI needs to do right by the MPC flagship that is what inspires people to love AKAI.

  • Gregg Johnson

    Check out this Youtube video from DLPeace. He’s a passionate got who gets a little repetitious but he makes very valid points about AKAI. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQGRFGqxT1g

    • Well … yes, there seems to be a disconnect between MPC’s software and the keyboard.

      Actually, this is not necessarily a *compliment* to AKAI, but part of the reason I didn’t really talk about this is because I don’t know anyone using their MPC software.

      And yes, I agree with him – AKAI needs to do right by the MPC flagship that is what inspires people to love AKAI.

  • ElectroB

    In short: it’s very well built, NI product integration is interesting, color screen interface is definitely a plus to keep your eyes away from the computer, and it’ not too pricey considering the software bundle… which at the same time is a problem – I don’t see this being very appealing to people who don’t use or are not willing to switch over to NI software. I still prefer “dumb” keyboards and assign stuff manually.

    • No, the whole point is that you can use other software. Ableton Live, plug-ins, the AIR stuff that’s bundled with the keyboard.

      See the above explanation. You can use any software you like. And rather than assign things manually over and over again, it seems you *might* be able to create custom templates relatively easily. It’s all in how well they’ve done the implementation.

      • Agree. In fact, Akai’s very own MPD, MAX and MPK controllers have always integrated very nicely, at least with Ableton Live and Reason. Select the template on the device, configure it once in your DAW and off you go.

        All this with the added benefit of a nice OLED display (see also: the latest Nord Electro 5 or, similarly, DSI’s most recent machines), a good keybed, and hopefully smart colour coding on pads and whatnot – what’s not to like about that?

        It is always a plus, when you can assign any knob or button to any control inside any software, but the efforts to do that for all your DAWs and all your plugins for any purpose and scenario… Phew. I, at least, could never be bothered with that. On the other hand, Novation’s Automap never really did it for me either; and NI’s latest product lock-in approach is neither any attractive…

        • ElectroB

          My bad – I was under the impression that “automap” support for other software was non-existent when I first read this.

          Personally, I’ve also usually resorted to manual mapping because I haven’t been happy with Automap-related solutions.

  • ElectroB

    In short: it’s very well built, NI product integration is interesting, color screen interface is definitely a plus to keep your eyes away from the computer, and it’ not too pricey considering the software bundle… which at the same time is a problem – I don’t see this being very appealing to people who don’t use or are not willing to switch over to NI software. I still prefer “dumb” keyboards and assign stuff manually.

    • No, the whole point is that you can use other software. Ableton Live, plug-ins, the AIR stuff that’s bundled with the keyboard.

      See the above explanation. You can use any software you like. And rather than assign things manually over and over again, it seems you *might* be able to create custom templates relatively easily. It’s all in how well they’ve done the implementation.

      • Agree. In fact, Akai’s very own MPD, MAX and MPK controllers have always integrated very nicely, at least with Ableton Live and Reason. Select the template on the device, configure it once in your DAW and off you go.

        All this with the added benefit of a nice OLED display (see also: the latest Nord Electro 5 or, similarly, DSI’s most recent machines), a good keybed, and hopefully smart colour coding on pads and whatnot – what’s not to like about that?

        It is always a plus, when you can assign any knob or button to any control inside any software, but the efforts to do that for all your DAWs and all your plugins for any purpose and scenario… Phew. I, at least, could never be bothered with that. On the other hand, Novation’s Automap never really did it for me either; and NI’s latest product lock-in approach is neither any attractive…

        • ElectroB

          My bad – I was under the impression that “automap” support for other software was non-existent when I first read this.

          Personally, I’ve also usually resorted to manual mapping because I haven’t been happy with Automap-related tools, even though Novation comes close to cracking the problem.

          Maybe this new NI/Akai is a game changer of sorts – for starters, it looks like it’s a break with the “NI lock-in approach” you mentioned.

  • Elekb

    In short: it’s very well built, NI product integration is interesting, color screen interface is definitely a plus to keep your eyes away from the computer, and it’ not too pricey considering the software bundle… which at the same time is a problem – I don’t see this being very appealing to people who don’t use or are not willing to switch over to NI software. I still prefer “dumb” keyboards and assign stuff manually.

    • No, the whole point is that you can use other software. Ableton Live, plug-ins, the AIR stuff that’s bundled with the keyboard.

      See the above explanation. You can use any software you like. And rather than assign things manually over and over again, it seems you *might* be able to create custom templates relatively easily. It’s all in how well they’ve done the implementation.

      • Agree. In fact, Akai’s very own MPD, MAX and MPK controllers have always integrated very nicely, at least with Ableton Live and Reason. Select the template on the device, configure it once in your DAW and off you go.

        All this with the added benefit of a nice OLED display (see also: the latest Nord Electro 5 or, similarly, DSI’s most recent machines), a good keybed, and hopefully smart colour coding on pads and whatnot – what’s not to like about that?

        It is always a plus, when you can assign any knob or button to any control inside any software, but the efforts to do that for all your DAWs and all your plugins for any purpose and scenario… Phew. I, at least, could never be bothered with that. On the other hand, Novation’s Automap never really did it for me either; and NI’s latest product lock-in approach is neither any attractive…

        • Elekb

          My bad – I was under the impression that “automap” support for other software was non-existent when I first read this.

          Personally, I’ve also usually resorted to manual mapping because I haven’t been happy with Automap-related tools, even though Novation comes close to cracking the problem.

          Maybe this new NI/Akai is a game changer of sorts – for starters, it looks like it’s a break with the “NI lock-in approach” you mentioned.

  • Sid Musso

    I need a monome on my keyboard please.

    • Mutis Mayfield

      Akai has released an apc key which has a grid in the same way…

  • Sid Musso

    I need a monome on my keyboard please.

    • Mutis Mayfield

      Akai has released an apc key which has a grid in the same way…

  • Sid Musso

    I need a monome on my keyboard please.

    • Mutis Mayfield

      Akai has released an apc key which has a grid in the same way…

  • Mutis Mayfield

    Nobody take notice about logic remote in junction with logic (or garageband or mainstage wow) transform any keyboard into one of those? Just place your iOS device on top and that’s it (griffin studio connect hd where are you?)

  • Mutis Mayfield

    Nobody take notice about logic remote in junction with logic (or garageband or mainstage wow) transform any keyboard into one of those? Just place your iOS device on top and that’s it (griffin studio connect hd where are you?)

  • Mutis Mayfield

    Nobody take notice about logic remote in junction with logic (or garageband or mainstage wow) transform any keyboard into one of those? Just place your iOS device on top and that’s it (griffin studio connect hd where are you?)

  • ed

    No faders?

  • ed

    No faders?

  • ed

    No faders?

  • just passing

    Suddenly I’m wondering what passive aggressive pricing would look like…

    • cris

      $599.99

    • Vincent Pride

      $499 + 30% royalty from your music production related income + 30% of all the hot pussy you get when performing in clubs

  • just passing

    Suddenly I’m wondering what passive aggressive pricing would look like…

    • cris

      $599.99

    • Vincent Pride

      $499 + 30% royalty from your music production related income + 30% of all the hot pussy you get when performing in clubs

  • just passing

    Suddenly I’m wondering what passive aggressive pricing would look like…

    • cris

      $599.99

    • Vincent Pride

      $499 + 30% royalty from your music production related income + 30% of all the hot pussy you get when performing in clubs

  • Dan

    This AKAI potentially looks awesome if they get the smart mapping working effectively. It is possible to get access to the note data from Komplete Kontrol’s arp and scale features so you can trigger other plugins; I’ve created a reaktor ensemble which routes the MIDI out, check it out here if you’re interested. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YB9nQdwfew

  • Dan

    This AKAI potentially looks awesome if they get the smart mapping working effectively. It is possible to get access to the note data from Komplete Kontrol’s arp and scale features so you can trigger other plugins; I’ve created a reaktor ensemble which routes the MIDI out, check it out here if you’re interested. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YB9nQdwfew

  • Dan

    This AKAI potentially looks awesome if they get the smart mapping working effectively. It is possible to get access to the note data from Komplete Kontrol’s arp and scale features so you can trigger other plugins; I’ve created a reaktor ensemble which routes the MIDI out, check it out here if you’re interested. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YB9nQdwfew

  • Younes Fezzazi

    Do you guys know if VIP software and Midi Mapping would be available for other #AkaiPro devices?
    Personally, I love my MPK 261, but programing it for my DAWs is like decrypting Enigma… I don’t know anything about Enigma.
    Have you ever guys experienced this headache when trying to build a Step Sequencer with the 16 Pads? Or whatever other creative preset you want to implement? A Modifier for example (Accessing a different mode when holding a switch).
    I looked up all over the internet for a solution. I found one.
    It was Native Instruments Controller Editor. But it was only available for Native Instruments Controllers.
    And you have this MPC Essentials/Software. I gave up figuring out how it works.
    So, I was hoping for the company to come up with a good solution. They made a new keyboard. Still, I prefer mine. But I need the software. Please, tell me if #VIP software will support the #Akaipro #MPK?

  • Younes Fezzazi

    Do you guys know if VIP software and Midi Mapping would be available for other #AkaiPro devices?
    Personally, I love my MPK 261, but programing it for my DAWs is complicated.
    I had headaches when trying to build a Step Sequencer with the 16 Pads or other creative presets… A Modifier for example: accessing to a different mode when holding a switch.
    I looked up all over the internet for a solution. I found Native Instruments Controller Editor, but it was only available for Native Instruments Controllers.
    I was hoping for the company to come up with a good solution. VIP software seems to be the right tool for creative programing.
    Let me know if #VIPsoftware will support the #Akaipro #MPK261.

  • Younes Fezzazi

    Do you guys know if VIP software and Midi Mapping would be available for other #AkaiPro devices?
    Personally, I love my MPK 261, but programing it for my DAWs is complicated.
    I had headaches when trying to build a Step Sequencer with the 16 Pads or other creative presets… A Modifier for example: accessing to a different mode when holding a switch.
    I looked up all over the internet for a solution. I found Native Instruments Controller Editor, but it was only available for Native Instruments Controllers.
    I was hoping for the company to come up with a good solution. VIP software seems to be the right tool for creative programing.
    Let me know if #VIPsoftware will support the #Akaipro #MPK261.

  • John Doe

    “It’s also a no-brainer if you’re one of the handful of people using Bitwig.”

    Peter, what’s the point of those constant underhanded jabs against Bitwig?
    Why do you feel the need to belittle a new DAW that’s not even out for a year?
    If you don’t like it that’s perfectly fine, but I personally enjoy working with it a lot and so are not “a handful” but quite a lot of users in the meantime.
    The devs work hard on improving it and come up with quite innovative and interesting solutions that make me more productive than Live ever did.
    I would really apreciate it if you would give it at least a fair treatment as you normally do with other things.

    Thank you.

  • John Doe

    “It’s also a no-brainer if you’re one of the handful of people using Bitwig.”

    Peter, what’s the point of those constant underhanded jabs against Bitwig?
    Why do you feel the need to belittle a new DAW that’s not even out for a year?
    If you don’t like it that’s perfectly fine, but I personally enjoy working with it a lot and so are not “a handful” but quite a lot of users in the meantime.
    The devs work hard on improving it and come up with quite innovative and interesting solutions that make me more productive than Live ever did.
    I would really apreciate it if you would give it at least a fair treatment as you normally do with other things.

    Thank you.

  • John Doe

    “It’s also a no-brainer if you’re one of the handful of people using Bitwig.”

    Peter, what’s the point of those constant underhanded jabs against Bitwig?
    Why do you feel the need to belittle a new DAW that’s not even out for a year?
    If you don’t like it that’s perfectly fine, but I personally enjoy working with it a lot and so are not “a handful” but quite a lot of users in the meantime.
    The devs work hard on improving it and come up with quite innovative and interesting solutions that make me more productive than Live ever did.
    I would really apreciate it if you would give it at least a fair treatment as you normally do with other things.

    Thank you.

  • might be cool. not sure about that single row of pads. at least double rows would be a lot better imo for pad-drumming.

    • Might be enough if they are very easy to assign. I might have interpreted it wrong by I think you can assign a sound to them by selecting it on they keyboard (touch a pad, touch a key – done) – judging by one of the videos I’ve seen.

  • might be cool. not sure about that single row of pads. at least double rows would be a lot better imo for pad-drumming.

    • Might be enough if they are very easy to assign. I might have interpreted it wrong by I think you can assign a sound to them by selecting it on they keyboard (touch a pad, touch a key – done) – judging by one of the videos I’ve seen.

  • might be cool. not sure about that single row of pads. at least double rows would be a lot better imo for pad-drumming.

    • Might be enough if they are very easy to assign. I might have interpreted it wrong by I think you can assign a sound to them by selecting it on they keyboard (touch a pad, touch a key – done) – judging by one of the videos I’ve seen.

  • ThisIsTheRager

    I am very excited about this. People here seem to find any reason to complain. Yes there are other cheaper products but are they as functional? The Keylab have horrible keys (any one whose actually played with one can attest to that. I have on only for Analog Lab) and the Nektar is only amazing with Reason (which I use as well and is also fully integrated with the Keylab).

    NI Kontrol is cool but look at that price! And with no software and only works when connected to a DAW (although the keys are amazing). No faders on the Akai and that’s no problem, I’d rather use a BCF2000 or TouchOSC which are motorised and reflect real time changes than having to select relative or absolute modes on static faders. I’d actually like to know who actually users faders all that much on their midi keyboard.

    For $699 (the price of the MPK61 when I bought it) I get to control Sylenth, Massive, Sampler, Zebra, Hybrid and Air Synths? While also getting a solid keyboard, live feedback on parameters on a full colour screen, pads and the only downside is I don’t get faders? Keyless is amazing for what you get in terms of software. NI Kontrol is great if you use NI products but will run you the price of the keyboard AND Komplete 10.

    There’s no other keyboard like it. There’s some similar but not as open

  • ThisIsTheRager

    I am very excited about this. People here seem to find any reason to complain. Yes there are other cheaper products but are they as functional? The Keylab have horrible keys (any one whose actually played with one can attest to that. I have on only for Analog Lab) and the Nektar is only amazing with Reason (which I use as well and is also fully integrated with the Keylab).

    NI Kontrol is cool but look at that price! And with no software and only works when connected to a DAW (although the keys are amazing). No faders on the Akai and that’s no problem, I’d rather use a BCF2000 or TouchOSC which are motorised and reflect real time changes than having to select relative or absolute modes on static faders. I’d actually like to know who actually users faders all that much on their midi keyboard.

    For $699 (the price of the MPK61 when I bought it) I get to control Sylenth, Massive, Sampler, Zebra, Hybrid and Air Synths? While also getting a solid keyboard, live feedback on parameters on a full colour screen, pads and the only downside is I don’t get faders? Keyless is amazing for what you get in terms of software. NI Kontrol is great if you use NI products but will run you the price of the keyboard AND Komplete 10.

    There’s no other keyboard like it. There’s some similar but not as open

  • ThisIsTheRager

    I am very excited about this. People here seem to find any reason to complain. Yes there are other cheaper products but are they as functional? The Keylab have horrible keys (any one whose actually played with one can attest to that. I have on only for Analog Lab) and the Nektar is only amazing with Reason (which I use as well and is also fully integrated with the Keylab).

    NI Kontrol is cool but look at that price! And with no software and only works when connected to a DAW (although the keys are amazing). No faders on the Akai and that’s no problem, I’d rather use a BCF2000 or TouchOSC which are motorised and reflect real time changes than having to select relative or absolute modes on static faders. I’d actually like to know who actually users faders all that much on their midi keyboard.

    For $699 (the price of the MPK61 when I bought it) I get to control Sylenth, Massive, Sampler, Zebra, Hybrid and Air Synths? While also getting a solid keyboard, live feedback on parameters on a full colour screen, pads and the only downside is I don’t get faders? Keyless is amazing for what you get in terms of software. NI Kontrol is great if you use NI products but will run you the price of the keyboard AND Komplete 10.

    There’s no other keyboard like it. There’s some similar but not as open

  • tm

    You are basically getting a free midi keyboard almost. The air expansion pack which I own and use daily is 299.00 the Sonnivox Eighty Eight is 149.00 and the Tool rooms 3 expansion pack for Hybrid 3 and the advance software to control your plugins another 150.00 easy thats 600.00 bucks the Akai Advance 49 at 499.00 is a steal considering everything that is included. And for us Akai mpc Renaissance and studio users they work hand in hand.

  • tm

    You are basically getting a free midi keyboard almost. The air expansion pack which I own and use daily is 299.00 the Sonnivox Eighty Eight is 149.00 and the Tool rooms 3 expansion pack for Hybrid 3 and the advance software to control your plugins another 150.00 easy thats 600.00 bucks the Akai Advance 49 at 499.00 is a steal considering everything that is included. And for us Akai mpc Renaissance and studio users they work hand in hand.

  • tm

    You are basically getting a free midi keyboard almost. The air expansion pack which I own and use daily is 299.00 the Sonnivox Eighty Eight is 149.00 and the Tool rooms 3 expansion pack for Hybrid 3 and the advance software to control your plugins another 150.00 easy thats 600.00 bucks the Akai Advance 49 at 499.00 is a steal considering everything that is included. And for us Akai mpc Renaissance and studio users they work hand in hand.

  • Bryan McGuire

    Just give me a velocity sensitive keybed with aftertouch along with an unholy crapload of pads, knobs, and faders that I can map however I please. I’ll come up with my own workflow; thank you very much.

  • B.

    Just give me a velocity sensitive keybed with aftertouch along with an unholy crapload of pads, knobs, and faders that I can map however I please. I’ll come up with my own workflow; thank you very much.

  • B.

    Just give me a velocity sensitive keybed with aftertouch along with an unholy crapload of pads, knobs, and faders that I can map however I please. I’ll come up with my own workflow; thank you very much.

  • Marko Wivolin

    I own the AKAI Advance 49. And so far, the Advance does not live up to the expectations at all. It is of good build quality. But there is just to much that ain’t there yet on the Advance!

    1. The VIP Software, although pretty good, still is buggy as hell. And when using the multi-function you need multi output versions of your plugins to be able to route the separate plugins to different mixer channels in your DAWs mixer. Which sucks, since this is where people normally put their effects on their instruments.

    2. The AKAI Advances marketing is basically: “At last you can stop focusing on your DAW, and focus on your hardware instead”. Which ain’t that true after all. One thing that I have noticed is that you can’t switch between instances of your VIP (the software for the controller) through the controller. Which is currently being advertised. The only thing that happens when switching between the instances through the hardware, is the possibility to control the knobs and faders. But if you want to use this thing to perform live, you still need to use your friggin’ mouse to change between your sounds.

    So… At the moment, this is an overpriced MIDI controller, with some good futures. But not worth the 200-300 bucks more that it costs atm.

  • Marko Wivolin

    I own the AKAI Advance 49. And so far, the Advance does not live up to the expectations at all. It is of good build quality. But there is just to much that ain’t there yet on the Advance!

    1. The VIP Software, although pretty good, still is buggy as hell. And when using the multi-function you need multi output versions of your plugins to be able to route the separate plugins to different mixer channels in your DAWs mixer. Which sucks, since this is where people normally put their effects on their instruments.

    2. The AKAI Advances marketing is basically: “At last you can stop focusing on your DAW, and focus on your hardware instead”. Which ain’t that true after all. One thing that I have noticed is that you can’t switch between instances of your VIP (the software for the controller) through the controller. Which is currently being advertised. The only thing that happens when switching between the instances through the hardware, is the possibility to control the knobs and faders. But if you want to use this thing to perform live, you still need to use your friggin’ mouse to change between your sounds.

    So… At the moment, this is an overpriced MIDI controller, with some good futures. But not worth the 200-300 bucks more that it costs atm.

  • Marko Wivolin

    I own the AKAI Advance 49. And so far, the Advance does not live up to the expectations at all. It is of good build quality. But there is just to much that ain’t there yet on the Advance!

    1. The VIP Software, although pretty good, still is buggy as hell. And when using the multi-function you need multi output versions of your plugins to be able to route the separate plugins to different mixer channels in your DAWs mixer. Which sucks, since this is where people normally put their effects on their instruments.

    2. The AKAI Advances marketing is basically: “At last you can stop focusing on your DAW, and focus on your hardware instead”. Which ain’t that true after all. One thing that I have noticed is that you can’t switch between instances of your VIP (the software for the controller) through the controller. Which is currently being advertised. The only thing that happens when switching between the instances through the hardware, is the possibility to control the knobs and faders. But if you want to use this thing to perform live, you still need to use your friggin’ mouse to change between your sounds.

    So… At the moment, this is an overpriced MIDI controller, with some good futures. But not worth the 200-300 bucks more that it costs atm.

  • Jester Mgee

    I’d recommend any would be buyers to check the Akai forum for frustrated users (and Gearslutz). I tested one of these as it was really what I was after and though when it worked it was great, as of the current software there are just too many issues and a lot of plugins that either will not work right or cause VIP to crash.

    The software integration is very sophisticated from a technical stanpoint and the suppoty abilities of Akai I have now found are not up to the task. Waiting days between responses is extremely frustrating. Forget it and just get a good keyboard.

  • Jester Mgee

    I’d recommend any would be buyers to check the Akai forum for frustrated users (and Gearslutz). I tested one of these as it was really what I was after and though when it worked it was great, as of the current software there are just too many issues and a lot of plugins that either will not work right or cause VIP to crash.

    The software integration is very sophisticated from a technical stanpoint and the suppoty abilities of Akai I have now found are not up to the task. Waiting days between responses is extremely frustrating. Forget it and just get a good keyboard.

  • Jester Mgee

    I’d recommend any would be buyers to check the Akai forum for frustrated users (and Gearslutz). I tested one of these as it was really what I was after and though when it worked it was great, as of the current software there are just too many issues and a lot of plugins that either will not work right or cause VIP to crash.

    The software integration is very sophisticated from a technical stanpoint and the suppoty abilities of Akai I have now found are not up to the task. Waiting days between responses is extremely frustrating. Forget it and just get a good keyboard.

  • Aaron Cordle

    I felt the same way, i wanted to love it, but way too limited. I have the Advance now and i must say the bundle alone is worth the money easily and VIP gives instant access too all of my synths, not clunky at all.