A few years back I got a bit fed up of being tied to my studio. Everything musical I owned was located in one room and I was craving some mobility to help encourage the music writing process.
The single biggest consideration in liberating myself from the studio was the computer. I invested heavily in a fully loaded MacBook Pro 15” with touch bar. It’s the 2016 model and I was amongst the first in queue when this product was released. This laptop provides me with uncompromising power in a mobile package and was the first step in creating a mobile studio. Already armed with other essential peripherals, the one key element missing was a compact midi controller keyboard.
Continuing with the untethered theme, I decided early on that I wanted a wireless controller keyboard. I’m not a fan of cables, I’d like to rid the world of them along with flies and mushrooms. Of course, as this is a mobile setup I wasn’t looking for a 88 key grand piano, I’m merely after something compact that can be stuffed in a bag and will allow me to record chords, melodies and embellishments to existing recordings with one hand. A 25 key controller with mini keys would suffice.
As an owner of several Korg workstations my natural leaning was towards one of their wireless controllers but I thought I’d mix things up and give AKAI a go. Around £55 (UK) later and the AKAI LPK25 Wireless arrives on my doorstep.
Bluetooth compatible with iOS and macOS the LPK25 Wireless is loaded with all the essential features you need from octave up/down and a neat arpeggiator it was easy to setup. Press the bluetooth ‘Pair’ button and look for the keyboard in your usual bluetooth connection list and away you go. Reassuringly the connection takes about a second meaning you’re ready to go almost immediately. It does lack pitch bend and modulation but in a package of this side those features would likely need to be in the form of buttons which I think lack expression control. Therefore, they’re not missed.
About the length of a 30cm school ruler, the action on the mini keys is perfectly fine providing all the velocity control you’d hope for in such a compact unit. Flipping the keyboard over I was surprised to find a sustain pedal input which certainly expands the expression options.
A plastic construction, the keyboard weights 0.49kg and sits securely on a desktop surface. It’s solid enough and I think it will last some years. I was initially concerned that there might be some latency to deal with over a bluetooth connection, but there isn’t any noticeable delay. This is going to work out just fine. The bluetooth connection is powered by a user replaceable battery (which lasts for months) but if you’re out of power, switch to the bus powered USB cable option.
Of course, there is no substitution for the studio with it’s treatments and gear, but there are loads of musical tasks where you can step away from the gloom and locate yourself somewhere different.
The sun is shining and the school run is done. A fresh coffee to hand and I’m sat in the garden armed with the MacBook Pro, AKAI LPK25 Wireless and and some Sennheiser Momentum cans. I’m taking in the view over the Somerset countryside, bees are dancing between flowers and a family of vividly coloured goldfinches are gorging on bird seed. This is exactly what I was seeking.