All in one solutions - MIDI keyboard with pads

Hi Robert, everyone,

I have carefully reviewed all the tips and advice regarding gear and options for best device to buy. However I feel one aspect is missing from the advice - some of us have limited space and want to have a midi keyboard, so I was wondering if a good quality midi keyboard with 16 pads could be an alternative to having a separate keyboard + say maschine mk3 mikro or similar device?

Two keyboards come to mind from my online research - Akai mk261 and Arturia keylab 61 mkii. I was wondering if you have ever tested such devices and if the pads on these keyboards are any good, i.e. sensitive etc? Many thanks.

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Hey Vladimir,

Welcome! I personally sort of “drew a line” at keyboards with pads in the sense that I buy these controllers and test them out (sending some of them back, that’s true) but if I had to do this with a lot of regular keyboards with pads as well it would become a little much. So I decided to stick with regular pad controllers (unless some company sends me something).

Looking at the two devices you selected all I can say is that the Arturia Beatsep I tested did not have the best pads and Akai devices can be good, but they can also be bad. Even amongst devices of the same type. I talked about this in reviews and videos. Two akai mpd218 controllers can be very different in terms of how the pads respond.

So with that said, from what I know of arturia I have yet to play a device that has sensitiive pads and as for akai I have had good luck and bad luck.

So… yeah… you probably want to try the akai first. Maybe the pads are just nice and then you’re golden!

Thank you Robert! As I need a new keyboard anyway I guess I’ll buy the akai and hope for the best. If I really hate it I will buy a pad controller as well. Either way I will post my feedback.

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Well, I bought the Akai MPK261 and I am loving it! The pad seem very responsive with very good dynamics.

I am not an expert though and I came away from really bad pads so my judgment may not be perfect, but I am really enjoying them.


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Hey this is great to hear! Maybe I’ll buy one too then just to see how I like it. I wil then have at least one option to recommend to people who have the same question as you. Thanks for sharing and should you encounter problems or the opposite of problems (dunno what that would be), I would very much appreciate it if you share it here.

Have fun playing!