Welcome to my midiplus AKM320 review.This is a MIDI keyboard controller with 32 velocity-sensitive medium sized keys, pitch wheel, modulation wheel, octave buttons and transpose buttons, volume slider, sustain pedal input, and USB port which provides the power.
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- Pros & Cons
- Demonstration Video
- Who is it Designed For?
- Pros & Cons in Depth
- What Do Other People Say?
PROS & CONS
- Good construction
- Heavy duty pitch bend and mod wheels
- Sustain pedal input
- Transpose & octave buttons
- Plug and play – works well with any DAW
- Velocity sensitive keys
- Excellent value for money
- Keys are a bit stiff
- Velocity sensitivity could be improved
- Volume slider can be a bit problematic
Please note, the sound being played in that video does not come from the keyboard itself. This is just a controller keyboard and, therefore, does not have any sounds of its own. However, you can still see how it works. As you can see, the octave buttons are useful for if you want to suddenly switch to playing in a higher or lower octave. The transpose buttons are also useful if you want to change key. All in all, this is a pretty standard MIDI controller keyboard at a very low price.
Here is another demonstration video. Although it is in Portuguese, he does an excellent job of demonstrating what it can do:
Who is the midiplus AKM320 Designed For?
This MIDI keyboard controller is ideal for someone on a tight budget who is just starting out with making music on a computer. For the very cheap price, you get a fairly good MIDI controller. It could also be good as an additional portable controller for someone who already has a larger keyboard. So, for example, you could use your main keyboard when making music at home, but if you want to take a laptop and a smaller keyboard off to make music somewhere else, the AKM320 would be good for that. That’s how I use my Akai MPK Mini MKII.
PROS & CONS IN DEPTH
Compact, good construction
This is great if you are intending to take it places. You can slip it into a laptop bag and make music anywhere. For me, that’s really the great thing about these kinds of small MIDI keyboards. Yes, they can be used in your studio as the main keyboard controller, but that’s not really where they are most useful. Something like this is most useful as a second MIDI keyboard that you can take with you when you want to make music elsewhere. For example, I like to sit in my car at a nice viewpoint and compose music, as I mentioned in this blog post.
Heavy duty pitch bend and mod wheels
It’s all very well being able to play notes on the keys, but it’s also good to be able to get some expression with the pitch bend and mod wheels. Not all small MIDI controllers have this features.
Sustain pedal input
Some users have said that it’s great that this has a sustain pedal input, but I’m kind of struggling to understand why you would particularly need to use a sustain pedal on a keyboard like this. I can understand it on the Akai MPK Mini MKII, because that also has an arpeggiator and knobs for adjusting synth parameters, so you can press a note to get an arpeggiator sequence going, hold it with the sustain pedal, then that frees up your hands to play around with the synth parameters using the knobs. Since the AKM320 doesn’t actually have knobs like that, I see less of a need to have a sustain pedal. But some people like it, so what do I know? Anyway, what do you think?
Transpose and octave buttons
These are very useful, considering the limited number of keys on this keyboard. Being able to quickly change to a higher or lower octave means you can cover more range on fewer keys. The transpose buttons are also very useful if you want to change key half way through playing a song.
Plug and play – works well with any DAW
Nobody wants to spend time trying to set up their MIDI keyboard and manually install drivers, so it’s great that the vast majority of users report that it works well with any DAW. You just plug it into your computer, it automatically downloads and installs the drivers in about 5 minutes, then when you turn on your DAW it recognizes it immediately. What could be easier?
Velocity sensitive keys
Being able to play softly or loudly could be great for certain types of music. However, several people say that the action of these keys is a bit stiff, so you have to play them quite hard to get any decent volume out of them, and that the velocity sensitivity levels seems somehow off.
Excellent value for money
Not everyone has loads of money to spend on their music-making equipment, so it’s great that there is an extremely affordable option like this for those on a tight budget. You can always get a bigger main keyboard at a later date once you have some more money, and then this one can be your travel MIDI controller.
Key action could be improved
People are saying that the keys are a bit stiff, so you have to press them quite hard to get decent volume out of them. Also, the velocity sensitivity can be a bit off. So perhaps you don’t want to use this keyboard for playing dynamic piano parts. For those making electronic music, where velocity sensitivity is not an issue, you may be able to set it so that velocity doesn’t get transmitted, but you may need to do that in your DAW.
Volume slider can be a bit problematic
This MIDI keyboard controller is not perfect, far from it, but you do get a lot for a very low price. Those with very limited money to spend who want their first MIDI keyboard or a second one for taking out with a laptop, this would be an ideal choice. Alternatively, if you are looking for a controller with knobs and drum pads, take a look at the Akai MPK Mini MKII, which is the one I use.
I hope you found my midiplus AKM320 review helpful, but if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and I will reply as soon as I can.
All the best,