Akai is one of the leading names in the MIDI controller world and they recently came out with a game-changing controller: the Akai Professional MPK Road 88. I feel that there were some huge advancements that Akai took with this controller and I was waiting for these improvements for 88 key controllers.
Great Gigging MIDI Keyboard
Akai Professional Road 88
Overall, Akai streamlined the Road 88 to be sleek, light-weight and road-ready. You don’t have any pads or a lot of controls, but the functionality is well above average.
My opinion is that the Akai Professional MPK Road 88 is a huge win for the MIDI controller community. The main reason that I like this keyboard so much is the fact that it is one of the only 88 key MIDI controllers with aftertouch. It also has an incredible key-bed that is hammer-action.
You can compare this to some of the other 88 key options in this post here.
I believe that this is easily the most advanced 88 key controller on the market and that there isn’t really any competition, especially for the live music aspect.
Note: You might consider this to be more on the expensive side for a keyboard, but you are getting a lot of value and brand new technology for the price. I personally think the key-bed trumps almost all other key-beds near its price range.
Akai MPK Road 88 Overview
The MPK Road 88 is a machine that is built for the road in basically every way possible. It is slim and sleek and even contains its own interface. This is a rather new feature, especially in controllers.
They removed all of the pads that are typically on the Akai keyboards. I think it gives it a clean design, however, if you like to use those pads for triggers, you may have to resort to launching triggers from the keys or another keyboard.
Key Features & Specs Of The Road 88
- 88 Fully-weighted hammer action keys
- Computer Interface: USB/MIDI
- Weight: 70 pounds
- Case Included
- Bundled Software: VIP3.0 Included
- Key-split which enables two sounds from the same keyboard
As you can see above, it has a very slim build and a very simple layout. Akai’s purpose here was to give a professional level keyboard that also works as a MIDI controller.
You only get a few buttons on the keyboard in an effort to provide a more simple layout. While it only has a few buttons on the top left, it still comes with a mod wheel and pitch bend.
Note: While it does look slim, it still weighs about 70 pounds. This isn’t crazy heavy, but it definitely is a good lug if you’re going to be touring with it. However, you have to keep in mind that it’s also an interface and a case all in one.
I think this is one of the coolest features of the Road MPK 88. I am surprised that more controllers don’t have this feature, as I think it’s a great addition. This means that you don’t need to buy an additional interface for this keyboard, you can just plug right into the back.
It has 4 outputs located on the back of it for ease of plugging in.
The case saves you a couple of hundred dollars right off the bat. 88 key cases are not cheap, especially if you want a decent one. The one thing I want to point out with this case is that it looks just like the old-school Rhodes cases.
To me, this is a major win and extremely creative of Akai to do. You can carry your keyboard up to the stage and simply remove the top, without having to move your entire case off the stage.
Here are some additional 88 key cases, if you are looking for other keyboards.
I always hate finding my case at the end of the night amongst 50 other cases and packing my keyboard back up.
I mentioned above that the key-bed is one of a kind and I totally mean it. My problem with a lot of 88 key controllers and MIDI keyboards in general is typically their key-beds.
For the longest time, the key-beds always felt like complete junk and it was just something that you had to get used to. With more and more keyboard players wanting to go the MIDI route, controllers are going to start developing higher quality key-beds and that’s what Akai has done.
The key-bed for the Road 88 is only used for this one keyboard and it is hammer action. This means that it is built to feel just like a real piano. The lower notes feel heavier than the higher notes, just like on an actual piano.
This is one of the only 88 key controllers with aftertouch. The only other one I know of is the Komplete Kontrol, which is also a nice option. I love having the ability to use vibrato by simply holding down a key.
It has your typical Akai featured software, the VIP 3.0 included. This is a great value as it comes for free and you can use it instantly.
What Sets It Apart From Others?
The key-bed and the interface. The MIDI functionality is great as it’s brand new technology. Anything that you’re going to want to do with it as far as MIDI is concerned, you will be able to do.
Aftertouch is another feature that most other products just simply don’t have. This typically adds up a considerable value as it really does add to your performance.
I think the main thing that musicians could comment negatively on would be the lack of pads. Akai is known for having some great pads and some keyboard players take full advantage of the pads to launch triggers.
This is the keyboard that I have been waiting for as it is built for the live musician. If you are a gigging musician, I strongly recommend looking into the MPK Road 88.
I would recommend taking a look at my Yamaha P-515 review as well since you can run this as a controller.
Do you have any experience when it comes to controllers or this one in particular? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!