Image courtesy of AKAI.

The AKAI MPK mini MK3 is a portable 25 key MIDI keyboard controller. I thought it would make a great portable tool for use with my iPad. It turns out a camera adapter is required to supply power from a wall outlet when connected to an iPad. Oddly enough, my much larger Nektar 88 key MIDI controller keyboard can be completely bus powered. This feels like a failing on the part of AKAI as I’m still stuck to a wall.

The keyboard controller is pretty intuitive and as easy to use as any other keyboard controller, with an important exception. The pads and keys require an inordinate amount of force to get full sound levels. There’s a “Full Level” toggle that registers all pad hits as 100% which makes it easier to get the full sound, but at the expense of any nuanced playing.


If you hold down the “Full Level” key for about 5 seconds it will open up a screen where you can change the velocity ranges of the keys. Thoughtful modifications to the setting can make the keyboard perform more satisfactorily. Just remember to take a picture of the starting settings before you modify anything in case you want to change it back. Press the “Full Level” key for another 5 seconds to save your changes.

In place of Mod and pitch bending wheel controls as found on the big brother MPK249, the MPK mini has a joystick. At first I was concerned that it would be difficult to affect only one of the two parameters but, in practice, it’s a whole lot of experimentation fun. When playing with a virtual instrument such as Strum Session, the electric guitars gain significant expression capabilities that I haven’t successfully pulled off with the two wheeled controls on other models.

If you don’t mind figuring out playing with the right input pressures, this is an excellent creative tool. With certain instruments I find the MPK mini to be superior to a larger device.

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