Akai Pro has today unveiled the MPC Key 61, a standalone Synthesizer keyboard powered by the MPC Software including brand-new synth engines & more.
My leak-ending prayers have been answered. After countless leaks, Akai Pro officially introduced the MPC Key 61 today, its first standalone MPC Synthesizer keyboard with the brain of the current MPC lineup and more.
Let’s take a closer look at the features.
Akai Pro MPC Key 61
With the MPC Key 61, Akai Pro officially enters the world of Synthesizer workstations. A domain in which Korg, Roland, Yamaha, or Kurzweil are very active. But more competition is always welcome.
Something that immediately catches my eye is that the design is very slim compared to the competition. Also the interface is a bit inclined, which I like. So you can see the screen while sitting and don’t have to look down from above.
The MPC Key 61 hardware is powered by a Quad-Core ARM processor with 4GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal memory. So twice as much RAM and storage as the current MPC Live II which has 2 GB and 16 GB internal memory. There is also a dedicated SATA bay allowing you to expand the internal memory with an SSD drive.
This is Akai Pro’s first-ever standalone MPC Synthesizer workstation keyboard and it comes with a solid feature set. It includes a 61-key semi-weighted keybed with velocity and mono-channel aftertouch. There are also 16 classic velocity-sensitive MPC drum pads with note repeat.
Then, you get a 7″ color touch screen with multi-touch & gesture support, four Q-Link knobs for manipulating parameters in real-time, and a brand new touch strip controller. The latter is fully assignable and introduces new ways to morph and shape your sounds. The hardware also has classic pitch/mod wheels, a dedicated transport section, and a wide range of buttons that serve as shortcuts for the engine.
On the back, the MPC Key 61 offers a wide range of connectivity options. Similar to the MPC One, MPC Live II… The hardware features a built-in audio interface with high-quality AD/DA converters. It gives you 4 discrete line outputs, 2 mic/line inputs with high-end preamps, and 8 CV/Gate output jacks for modular integration.
Also onboard is a MIDI interface (In/Out/Thru) as well as USB connectivity and a two-port USB host. The latter allows you to seamlessly expand the audio I/O of the MPC Key 61 with more inputs/outputs via a class-compliant audio interface. There is also a WiFi/Bluetooth module that supports Ableton Link syncronisation.
The MPC Key 61 is powered by the brand-new MPC Software 2.11 firmware, which is also celebrating its official premiere today. It is packed with tons of synthesis and sampling power. Akai Pro pumped this up with extra content on the keyboard. 25 different instrument plugins are pre-installed, some of them are known, and others are new.
It features the new Fabric XL “flagship” multi-layer polyphonic Synthesizer that combines powerful synth engines and sampled acoustic instruments in a new plugin. Fabric XL’s wide selection of presets are powered by a revolutionary multi-sample-based synthesis engine for cutting-edge performance and sound says Akai Pro.
Further, it ships with OPx4, a new powerful 4-operator FM Synthesizer that provides classic and modern FM sounds all customizable via an easy-to-use interface. Also new are acoustic and electromechanical instrument plugins including
- Stage Piano (Steinway® grand and Bechstein® upright)
- Session Strings with orchestral instruments (solo violins, ensembles of bowed instrumentation…)
- Stage EP is an e-piano instrument that features sounds of classic keyboards such as Rhodes, FM Electric Piano, Wurlitzer®, and more.
- Organ features sounds of the mighty B3 hardware organs processed through a Leslie speaker simulation.
In addition, there are all the effect plugins that you know from the other MPC hardware devices that were developed in collaboration with AIR Music Tech. Including the new AIR Flavor vinyl effect, amp and cabinet simulator AIR AMP SIM and the updated AIR Granulator. Plus, you get all the sequencing power with its 128-track MIDI sequencer, and more.
It’s a pity that the arranger was not imported from the Force hardware. That would have turned the keyboard into an absolute workstation. May come in the future who knows. Akai Pro is known for surprises.
With the first drawing leaks in early 2021, I am following the development of the MPC Key 61. It took a long time, but now the device is officially here. It’s great to see that Akai Pro has gone down this path with the MPC software. But they also listened to the feedback from the community and installed more RAM and internal storage.
The MPC Key 61 is a keyboard Synthesizer with a lot of synthesis and multi-sampling power. It will probably appeal to many musicians who want to have a workstation for a long time but never want to spend the money for a Korg Kronos, Roland Fantom, etc. Akai Pro definitely offers here a workstation-style Synthesizer with a very good price-performance ratio.
And if they add the missing Force arranger, then it’s officially a workstation. Nonetheless, great development Akai Pro and I’m pretty sure there are will a few surprises to come. The development is definitely not over, I’m sure.
Akai Pro MPC Key 61 is available now globally for $1899 USD MAP, 1999€, and £1,699.99 MPC Key 61 users will also receive a free update to the MPC 2.11 desktop software.
More information here: Akai Pro
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