Are you a music producer? Then having a MIDI keyboard by your side is a must. If you are a beginner, you probably don’t want to spend $100s on a MIDI controller. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend or simply don’t want to hurt your wallet, MidiPlus AKM320 is an excellent choice.
For the price, it’s a fantastic controller for beginners, that comes with all the necessary features a music producer needs. The keyboard is light, with a portable design. This makes it appealing to musicians who travel a lot or like editing and recording on-the-go. Put it in your backpack, and you are ready to rock! It’s also a good choice for those who have a MIDI keyboard already but want something smaller to use once in a while. Once again, for the price, you can’t go wrong.
The controller is rather impressive. Coming with 32 velocity-sensitive keys, pitch and modulation wheels, and octave and transpose buttons, it has all the essential features you need to start producing. It’s powered with the USB cable and plugs-in directly into your Mac or PC. It comes with only 2 inputs – the one for the USB power cable, and an input jack for a sustain pedal.
Features That I Liked
The first thing worth noting is how compact the keyboard is. It only weighs 1.6 lbs and is 18 in long. It’s perfect for those producers who hate having their desks crowded, or travel and tour. The fact that it’s powered by a USB means that you won’t have to get any other external power adapters, audio interfaces, or bulky drivers. The space in your studio should be precious, and the less equipment you have, the better.
Second, it comes with a few impressive features, even though it’s the cheapest MIDI controller out there. Of course, it’s a basic MIDI keyboard, but you get a few cool features other budget and compact devices lack. For example, pitch and modulation wheels, which let you tweak the way each sample sounds. Tune it up to your liking and you are set.
While the up and down octave buttons are quite common on MIDI controllers, they got a nice touch and feel to them. The lack of knobs, pads, and faders can be seen as a good thing because you’ll have more time to actually make beats as opposed to just messing around with all the settings without getting anything accomplished — just my 2 cents.
Lastly, the plug-and-play function that I found incredibly convenient, especially if you produce on the go. Some MIDI keyboards require you to plug the device into an audio interface or another power adapter, which can be really frustrating at times. You may also be required to install drivers or undergo a long setup process. Luckily, nothing above describes MidiPlus AKM 320. All you have to do is plug the device into your PC for music production and get to making beats right away.
Features That I Didn’t Like
While AKM320 is an excellent bang for the buck, it does come with a few drawbacks that are worth mentioning.
First thing you’ll notice are the keys. In particular, how stiff they can be. This affects the velocity MIDI data that’s being sent to your DAW. You may notice that the device requires you to press the keys somewhat hard to get decent volume out of them. This kind of defeats the purpose of velocity-sensitive keys. If you mostly focus on simple chords and melodies (like most hip-hop and trap producers), this shouldn’t be an issue, so I wouldn’t worry too much.
Second, a few producers have noticed issues with the volume slider. According to them, it’s close to impossible to move it all the way down to 0% or up to 100%, and the operating range is only in-between 20% and 80%. That’s clearly a flaw, but it’s only been reported by few (a defective patch perhaps?).
Third, you may notice a few compatibility issues. What am I talking about here? Let me explain. While the manufacturers claim it’s a plug-and-play MIDI device, it’s been reported that some computers have a hard time recognizing MidiPlus AKM320 as a MIDI controller. While there have only been a handful of claims, they haven’t been appropriately addressed.
Next, the lack of controls. While I support having fewer items on your MIDI controller to distract you, having a few drum pads and knobs to control the effects would’ve been handy. Once again, you can’t really complain as it’s the cheapest MIDI keyboard on the market, but it’s worth pointing this out. If you are more of a seasoned producer, you should look for a controller with more controls to meet your music production needs.
Lastly, you don’t get anything with addition to the keyboard, not even a cheap software application. While I understand that it’s hard to release products at such a low price, the manufacturers could’ve included some free VST plugins to get the producers started. You can still get a cheap or free digital audio workstation (Reaper offers a free trial) at any time, so this wouldn’t have been my main concern if I were you.
MidiPlus AKM320 is one of the cheapest MIDI controllers out there, that provides decent quality and all the necessary controls to start making music. It’s great for musicians with limited desk space or those who tour a lot and need a MIDI device in the meantime. It’s very basic, but sometimes it’s a good thing – more time for you to make beats. To sum up, I’d say that MidiPlus AKM 320 is an excellent starting keyboard for those with little budget.
Last update on 2020-02-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API