Finally, we have an all-in-one MIDI Ableton performance controller! I’ve had to hassle with having two separate devices since I like both Akai’s Ableton pads but also need some keys at-hand if i’m ever in the mood to hit the porcelain (especially live, you can’t go wrong with some keyboarding on stage). One of our favorite music equipment brands has come out with the all-new APC Key 25 Ableton Controller which gives us those nice set of min keys plus some other external controls specifically for Ableton. We saw a little mixture of power with the new APC40 MkII and the APC Mini controller, but this particular piece of gear has it’s own personal spin as well. I really love this machine, not only because of the obvious reasons I’ve already stated but because it’s only $130! Let’s take a look at it.
Main features of the APC Key 25 controller
The clip-launching panel with keyboard interface combines the real-time control of Ableton Live we saw in the APC40 with a traditional creation tool with semi-weighted keys. The 5 by 8 matrix with three color visuals gives you 40 buttons total to assign to sounds. This is so awesome. I go crazy with the capabilities of these machines. Here’s a list of more features of the APC Key 25 controller:
- Retail price: $129.99
- USB powered (no adapter)
- 25 mini keys
- Plus-and-play capability
- Can be used as an all-purpose MIDI device
- Comes mapped to Ableton
- 8 control knobs
- Comes with Toolroom artist launch packs, Hybrid 3 by AIR Music Technology and SONiVOX Twist
- Sustain, Octave up and down control
Our rating of the Akai APC Key 25
The low price is a huge plus, although 25-keys may not be enough for you. I personally need 49 or even 61 keys if i’m recording or performing, but to each his own. I suspect Akai will come out with a larger key model of this in the upcoming years, especially as this one gains traction in the music equipment industry. I don’t see what’s not to like about this besides the key count (which isn’t enough for me, but I’ve still bought one just because of the concept and I was too excited to play with it).
Overall build and stability
Overall, the make of these keys are average. They’re mini keys so be sure to keep that in mind. It will take some getting used to if you’re accustomed to regular-sized MIDI keyboard controllers like we were. It took us around a week of really getting down to it to get a feel of them. They aren’t impossible to play with but the word ‘mini’ is in the description for a reason. Once you do get used to them, it’s worth it as the portability and convenience of this model is awesome.
The pads are also quite small in comparison to the obvious MPC-style on other items by Akai, but are also smaller than the APC 40. They are just like the keys in getting used to, but once you have done so you’re set.
Software bundle included
If you’re looking for some additional software, buying this will not hurt whatsoever. We’re not completely dropping our jaws here but you get a nice little package, especially at the price they’ve listed it for. The samplepack by Toolroom is mediocre, however Hybrid 3.0 is very powerful. The Twist doesn’t hut either, I will be using a few of these sounds for music.
Verdict on the APC Key 25
We’re rating this a 4.5 star because of it’s low price and awesome combination of those legit Ableton pads and keyboard incorporation. Akai listened to their customers and decided to make the ultimate Ableton performance controller, albeit in a compact version. You can also check out our best MIDI controller for Ableton post for some other options you may not know of.
All in all, we are happy with this release. I just wish they had a few other models that included a higher key count, which as I said will probably come out in the next few years when we all complain to them. Regardless, this thing is hot in terms of all-in-one performance stuff. I recommend grabbing one since it’s such a low price. If not, you can maybe grab an APC mini and use it alongside the MIDI keyboard you already.
Your choice with how you want your rig setup. I’ll probably grab em’ all because i’m a weirdo.