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February 24, 2023
Akai Buying Guide

Akai Professional: MPCs, MIDI Controllers, Drum Machines and More

Electronic music makers know Akai Professional as the brand behind the iconic MPC sampler, as well as more modern gear like MPK MIDI keyboards, APC Ableton controllers, and much more. Follow this buying guide to find the Akai gear you need for your studio or live rig, from drum machines to EWI wind instruments.
Akai MPC Grooveboxes + Pad Controllers
When we hear "Akai," we think of the MPC -- the classic groovebox that combines a drum machine, sequencer, and sampler with a grid of 16 rubber pads, built to take the abuse of aggressive finger-drummers. The Akai MPC -- which once stood for MIDI Production Center, and now means Music Production Controller -- has seen a few updates since it first appeared in 1988.

Like the classic MPCs, the flagship Akai MPC X is a standalone music production workstation that doesn't require a computer. With a 10.1" color touchscreen, touch-sensitive knobs and pads, and 10 GB of world-class sounds pre-installed, this studio centerpiece can also integrate with your Mac or PC via USB.

Akai's second-gen MPC Live II has the same multi-core processor as the MPC X under the hood -- in a gig-friendly, battery-powerable package. Built-in monitor speakers and a 7" touchscreen make it a go-anywhere standalone MPC.

Akai's MPC One goes one step further, packing the legendary MPC workflow and hard-hitting sound into a compact footprint with a 7" color touchscreen.
Akai APC Ableton Live and FL Studio MIDI Controllers
The original Akai APC40 was a big hit with Ableton producers, delivering hands-on control of all Ableton Live's functions -- clip launching, recording and mixing -- in one beast of a controller for a great price. The APC40 mkII upped the ante with an RGB clip-launching grid, giving you better visual feedback so you can perform without looking at your computer screen.

Then there's the APC Mini and Akai MIDImix knob controller -- all amazing values on dedicated hardware controllers.

Now, Akai takes the FL Studio world by storm and introduces the first controller made just for this DAW. The Akai Fire is a 4x16 backlit RGB matrix controller with an OLED display that'll have you creating, making, and tweaking whole songs in FL Studio, in seconds.
Akai MPD MIDI Pad Controllers
Want to play drums in your DAW? Akai Professional is at the top of their game when it comes to crafting great-feeling MIDI pad controllers. Using the same pressure-sensitive, velocity-sensitive performance pads found on MPC grooveboxes, Akai's small-footprint MPD MIDI controllers give you that MPC feel when triggering drums and samples in your software. Just plug one of these Akai pad controllers into your laptop -- after the session or gig, it'll fit in your laptop bag.

The larger MPD226 offers both MIDI-over-USB and 5-pin DIN MIDI I/O with 1/8" to 5-pin breakout cables.. If you're using USB MIDI, your controller will be USB-powered. If you prefer to use the 5-pin MIDI I/O, pick up the optional Akai MP6 power supply to power your MPD226.
Akai Force: Grid-Based Music Production System
The Akai Force is a standalone music production and performance platform with an 8x8 pad grid and multi-touch 7" screen. Use the Force to record, remix, and time-stretch samples with a clip-centric workflow -- no computer required!

You can use the Force as a standalone instrument, or connect it to a computer over Wi-Fi or Ethernet for instant tactile control over Ableton Live software. The Force comes pre-mapped to Live for unparalleled integration -- and you can seamlessly switch between standalone operation and Live Control mode, with instant tactile control over Ableton Live software.
Akai EWI Wind Synthesizer
If you play a traditional woodwind instrument like the saxophone, clarinet, oboe, or bassoon, the Akai EWI is the MIDI controller for you. "EWI" stands for "Electronic Wind Instrument," and it lets you use your breath and your fingers to trigger sounds on any synth or sampler with a MIDI input, including virtual instruments on your computer! The Akai EWI feels like a real wind instrument, and it can control any sound you like, from smooth saxes to the most spaced-out synths. The EWI5000 comes with on-board sounds and effects and even includes a built-in stereo wireless system so you can play live without being tethered to a USB cable or MIDI cable.