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MPK61 vs. Axiom 61 vs. Oxygen 61 V3 vs. A-800PRO
Old 20th June 2010
  #1
Registered User
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
MPK61 vs. Axiom 61 vs. Oxygen 61 V3 vs. A-800PRO

Hi Gearslutz,

Long time reader, first time poster.

Iโ€™m looking to upgrade my controller to one of the following 61 key USB keyboards:
- Akai MPK61
- M-Audio Axiom 61
- M-Audio Oxygen 61 V3
- Edirol Cakewalk A-800PRO

My current keyboard is the M-Audio Oxygen8 V2 (25 keys) โ€“ so, yes, any of the above keyboards is definitely an upgrade for me (or so I hope!).

Reasons why I have chosen the above keyboards:
- 61 keys โ€“ Iโ€™m getting a bit sick of using the octave buttons on my Oxygen8
- Multiple sliders/knobs/buttons โ€“ I want to be more hands on with my music
- Price โ€“ (In Australia), all of these keyboards are under $510 AUD

What I would like to know:
- Does anyone have any opinions on these keyboards? If you have had experience with any of these, I would be interested to hear what you think of them
- Semi-weighted vs. synth action (the first two are semi-weighted and the second two are synth action)
- Build quality
- Customer support
- Any other keyboards that I may have missed that you would recommend (I have read good things about some of the Novation controllers โ€“ but theyโ€™re probably out of my price range)

Additional notes:
- Iโ€™m unable to test a few of the keyboards (perhaps with the exception of the Oxygen 61 โ€“ but I already know what this will be like) because most stores here in Australia donโ€™t have these items on display (and they must be ordered in) โ€“ otherwise I would have tested them myself and this thread probably wouldnโ€™t exist
- I currently use FL Studio 7 (however I plan to use another, โ€˜more advancedโ€™, DAW in the near future such as Cubase or Sonar)
- Although I have been producing (as a hobby) since 2005, Iโ€™m by no means a technically sound pianist or keyboardist (hence my semi-weighted/synth action query)
Old 20th June 2010
  #2
Registered User
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
I haven't used any of them but Depeche Mode chose Edirol PCR-800 (the predecessor of A-800 Pro) as their controllers for their last tour.

I don't care what celebrity used a piece of gear but I believe DM know what a reliable keyboard is.
Old 21st June 2010 | Show parent
  #3
Registered User
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
Oh cool, that's interesting. I guess that speaks for the quality/build/reliability of the A-800PRO then.

Anyone else who has used one or more of these keyboards?
Old 21st June 2010 | Show parent
  #4
Registered User
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
I'm looking in the same price range and am curious about the A800 too.

It's nice and streamlined, not bulky and deep like a lot of the other MIDI controllers out there (such as the Akai MPK and Novation SL).
Since I'm going to be using the APC40, I don't care as much about the pads and knobs as I do about the board.
And if and when I get another DAW, I would just as soon buy another box as opposed to having a controller keyboard that takes up too much space.

So lets have some more feedback on the cakewalk - and any other recommendations?
Old 21st June 2010 | Show parent
  #5
Registered User
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
The Oxygens are nice and thin too but I've heard a lot of people on here complain about crap build quality/things breaking a lot on M-Audio products
Old 21st June 2010 | Show parent
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Jussi Kulomaa's Avatar
 
๐ŸŽง 15 years
The Edirol/Cakewalk controllers are great.
The new A-series felt just as good as the old PCR series, just some cosmetic tweaks and buttons changed places etc..
During the 6 years or so that I've worked in the shop here, I can't remember a single warranty issue with Roland/Edirol/Cakewalk stuff.
(Or maybe I just got lucky and someone else dealt with 'em.. heh)

M-Audio are cheap, they do what they're supposed to, I guess, but the build quality and keyboard feel are just "ok".

Haven't tried the Akai.

The semi-weighted action on the Axiom is a bit spongy, but that's how I feel with almost any semi-weighted.
They are shaped like a piano keyboard (full edges and flat black keys) so you get a different feel, compared to a synth keyboard, if that's important.

However, I'd rather go with purely synth-type keys and/or a full hammer-action keyboard, but that's just me and my fingers.
(Fatar make a 61 keys hammer-action MIDI controller, I believe?)
Old 21st June 2010 | Show parent
  #7
Lives for gear
 
mildheadwound's Avatar
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
You really have to try the keys on the Akai. They have a great feel to them. Perfect for synth use. Controller wise, it has the gamut.
I do notice, on the larger one, that it's impossible to get a picture of the back online. And the website, suspiciously lacks midi out info, (apart from usb). But again it's for the 88 key i'm talking about. I'm pretty sure the 61 key does have the midi in/out/thru. Often the midi out is limited on these keyboards in the following way. If you want midi out, you have to pick usb or midi port out, (usually by unplugging the usb, thereby making you reliant on a wall wart or some such), but i am yet to see it work with both at the same time. Maybe this generation of controllers have gotten that under wraps?
Old 22nd June 2010 | Show parent
  #8
Registered User
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
The Akai is probaly my favorite of that bunch. The keys and build of that keyboard is really, really nice.
Old 22nd June 2010 | Show parent
  #9
Registered User
 
2 Reviews written
๐ŸŽง 10 years
i had a novation remote SL 37 and wanted a 61 key controlller...


my MPK61 just came last Friday and I hooked it up today....I am have a tad of a hard time getting it setup right with Cubase....but the build quality and keys are awesome!! I like it a lot. The faders and knobs blow away the competition feel wise. The Novation definetly wins with the scribbled strip LEDs though.
Old 22nd June 2010 | Show parent
  #10
Registered User
 
๐ŸŽง 15 years
I have owned M-Audio boards in the past. They aren't even in the same league as the Akai boards. When I was in the market for a new controller I tried quite a few brands, including M-Audio. Being a long time MPC user, and knowing what Akai has done for midi, I picked up an MPK61. Let me tell you that it is the best synth controller that I've personally used. They keys feel awesome and the depth of controls is great.

I now have the MPD32, MPD18, and LPK25. For what they are, they get the job done quite well, although the feel is very different from the MPC line.

I say all of this to recommend that you give serious consideration to the Akai MPK61.
Old 22nd June 2010 | Show parent
  #11
Registered User
 
2 Reviews written
๐ŸŽง 10 years
the akai has a super heavy feel to it, no the weight when you pick it up but when it;s on the table it's nice and smooth, huge rubber feet on the bottom make it feel very secure...the case has a very nice 1 piece profile to it with high quality silk screening throughout. i am starting to love it it also has back-lit mod and pitch wheels which look cool. all of the buttons feel very nice and it has some pretty cool dedicated MPC functions on the front that i've never seen on other controllers like 16 levels, split, note repeat, etc......I likey! the faders are big, chunky and all move very smoothly and consistently. it looks really classy.
Old 24th June 2010 | Show parent
  #12
Registered User
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
Thanks for all the responses, I really appreciate it.

So it seems that quality/build wise, the A-800PRO and the MPK61 are front-runners.

I also own an Akai MPD24, and that thing is as solid as a rock, so I knew the MPK61 would be a quality product.

To be honest, I was leaning towards the A-800PRO and the MPK61 from the beginning, but it's good to hear that my judgment was correct.

Ideally I would like to hear from anyone who has used both of these controllers.

In the meantime, I think I'm gonna have to go searching for places to try them out (not sure how successful I will be haha).

Thanks again!
Old 24th June 2010 | Show parent
  #13
Registered User
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by DownTownPounder โžก๏ธ
Thanks for all the responses, I really appreciate it.

So it seems that quality/build wise, the A-800PRO and the MPK61 are front-runners.

I also own an Akai MPD24, and that thing is as solid as a rock, so I knew the MPK61 would be a quality product.

To be honest, I was leaning towards the A-800PRO and the MPK61 from the beginning, but it's good to hear that my judgment was correct.

Ideally I would like to hear from anyone who has used both of these controllers.

In the meantime, I think I'm gonna have to go searching for places to try them out (not sure how successful I will be haha).

Thanks again!
Ditto! Who has used both? I myself am leaning toward the A800 due to its smaller size unless someone convinces me that the action is way better on the Akai!
Old 27th June 2010 | Show parent
  #14
Registered User
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
I actually found a place that had both the A-800PRO and MPK61 on demo.

In terms of feel/action, the MPK61 has much 'firmer' keys, and the store assistant said that it better suits those who like to play their keyboard hard. The A-800PRO, on the other hand, has 'lighter' keys, possibly better for more intricate playing.

Overall, both keyboards felt much nicer/smoother compared to my Oxygen8 V2 (which is obviously expected).

I'm leaning towards the A-800PRO at the moment, mainly because the lighter keys will probably suit me better.

However, the other consideration I have is regarding the bundled software included with the controllers. The MPK61 comes with Ableton Live Lite whilst the A-800PRO comes with Sonar 8.5 LE (both of which are watered down versions of the actual software).

I personally don't have much experience with either of these DAWs. Does anyone have an opinion on these? To be honest, unless the A-800PRO's included Sonar software is completely useless, it probably won't sway my decision (nevertheless, I'm interested to hear what people think). Keep in mind that I will continue to use FL Studio as my primary DAW for the near future.
Old 27th September 2010 | Show parent
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
1 Review written
๐ŸŽง 10 years
Hi, im currently in the same situation! Im thinkin bout getting the a800 pro ..because i mainly work with Sonar 8.5 ..and hey ..it looks cool! any thoughts on the mpk88?
Old 28th September 2010 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
Akai keys are horrible, sooo stiff. The Axiom feels like crap too. I hate the sloppy action of the Remote SL's.

I finally settled on an Axiom Pro and am happy with it!
Old 28th September 2010 | Show parent
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Ben F's Avatar
 
1 Review written
๐ŸŽง 15 years
I just bought a new Axiom MKII and am extremely happy with the build and action. Big improvement on the Novation that I had before- could never get the automap to work properly. Rubber end cheeks as well!

http://www.m-audio.com/images/global...Lt%5Bsl%5D.jpg
Old 28th September 2010 | Show parent
  #18
Registered User
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
I avoid M-audio like a diseased *****, Axiom pro keyboards have sticky keys I have returned 2 those were 49 keys, I like my mpk 25 but I dont like mappimg the damn thing and I;m looking at the novation now.
Old 29th September 2010 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Maniac
 
1 Review written
๐ŸŽง 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben F โžก๏ธ
I just bought a new Axiom MKII and am extremely happy with the build and action. Big improvement on the Novation that I had before- could never get the automap to work properly. Rubber end cheeks as well!

http://www.m-audio.com/images/global...Lt%5Bsl%5D.jpg
Axiom MKII? is that the newest model? Im looking for a really really good controller under for 1100 $ or less. I have a really old midi kyeboard here with 76 keys..and i seriously need to upgrade. 88 Keys would be nice, what do you guys think? My DAW is sonar 8.5 btw! Lemme know guys!
Old 17th March 2011 | Show parent
  #20
Lives for gear
 
skiltrip's Avatar
 
๐ŸŽง 15 years
I'm not one to resurrect threads, but as of tonight, I'm asking myself this same question. I used a Roland XP30 as my MIDI controller for the longest time, but the MIDI out on it just got flaky. So it's time to look elsewhere.

The Roland A 800 seems like the best bet. What are you all thinking these days between the ones mentioned above?
Old 17th March 2011 | Show parent
  #21
Registered User
 
๐ŸŽง 15 years
I have the Akai MPK61. The feel of the keys is absolutely terrible. It looks good and there are plenty of nice controller options but if you are a keyboard player you should find something else.
Old 17th March 2011 | Show parent
  #22
Lives for gear
 
LiveFromKyoto's Avatar
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
I got an Axiom because of the Logic compatibility. It's decent, just watch out for the models with sticky keys, there are a lot of them. M-Audio will replace it if you get one. but it's a hassle.
Old 17th March 2011 | Show parent
  #23
Gear Nut
 
funk5's Avatar
 
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by slojammin โžก๏ธ
I have the Akai MPK61. The feel of the keys is absolutely terrible. It looks good and there are plenty of nice controller options but if you are a keyboard player you should find something else.
You know I've kind of always felt the same way. My buddy has an MPK 49 and the first time I played it was annoying -- the springs are too strong, making it a little bit more difficult to push down a key. This results in a strange feel that I haven't been able to really get around.
Old 17th March 2011
  #24
Registered User
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
I got an A300 Pro recently, DV in the uk is selling them off as they're being renamed to Roland. Not a bad controller, nice keys but the aftertouch needs some pressure! Apparently that's a long running issue with Roland boards though. The ACT control with Sonar LE is pretty good as well, like automap but the controls are limited.
Old 28th March 2011 | Show parent
  #25
Here for the gear
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
I've tried all those boards as well and totally agree that the Akai action is terrible! At least for a keyboardist. The springs are far too stiff and the black and white keys are very unbalanced (black keys are even stiffer than the whites). The 88 keys weighted version has a nice feel though.

The Edirol/Roland is a good board and pretty reliable but the keys aren't full size (no go for me), they are scaled slightly smaller than full size. Aside from that the feel is decent (I used to own a PCR-M50).

I went with the Axiom (older version). It has been abused on tons of gigs for 3 or 4 years now and is still holding up fine! It's missing some slider knobs and one is chipped, but they all still work. Even after I broke one of the encoders (still there but a little loose), it still works if you press while turning. The action is better than most others I've tried, but it's not without faults. The keys are a little spongy, but the biggest problem for me is that the black keys are much more sensitive than the white. Using the same physical velocity from white to black will trigger a much louder note on a black key. Once you get used to that, it's a nice board with a good feel and full size keys.

I'm still waiting for something better and reasonably priced . No need for all that gimmicky automap crap here. You can configure that within the software and make a template; done.
Old 28th March 2011 | Show parent
  #26
Lives for gear
 
login's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
๐ŸŽง 10 years
I had to make this decission too and ended with novation nocturn 49. Novation keys are far better than akai's and m-audio, this two feel totally unatural for synth type action.

ANyway, I think there is no overall best midi keyboard in the market, choose what you like more.
Old 28th March 2011 | Show parent
  #27
Lives for gear
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
Since you already use an M-Audio keyboard, my instinct is to say stick with what you know and go for the Axiom or the Oxygen. That said, I had one of the Edirol PCR keyboards and found it great and easy to use. With something like a keyboard, it's definitely down to personal taste so I would recommend having a play of each and going with your gut.
Old 28th March 2011 | Show parent
  #28
Here for the gear
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by login โžก๏ธ
I had to make this decission too and ended with novation nocturn 49. Novation keys are far better than akai's and m-audio, this two feel totally unatural for synth type action.

ANyway, I think there is no overall best midi keyboard in the market, choose what you like more.
Yea, I always liked the feel/features of the novation controllers except for some being a little loose side to side, and overpriced. I also don't like the combined pitch/mod wheel thing or how the mod wheel springs back to zero. I'll have to try the nocturne though. I don't understand why they don't have a 61 key version, as with many of their boards.
Old 28th March 2011
  #29
Registered User
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
I had the Axiom 61 and now have the Akai MPK49. The Akai by far, for me is the better one. Very solid, compatable with Ableton, Cubase, Nuendo (The Axiom is also compatable with all of those of course but i found it more complex to program, assigning the faders and knobs, but that could just be me, lol), assigning the knobs and faders on the MPK couldn't get easier, it has an arpeggiator and looks really nice. I also like the fact that if you call up vsti's you get the standard assigned knob settings all ready to go (cutoff, reso etc)..This is all my opinion of course.
Old 28th March 2011 | Show parent
  #30
Registered User
 
๐ŸŽง 10 years
I love the action on my MPK61, the keys have a satisfying weight to them somewhere between springey and full on hammer-action. I tried all the alternatives you mentioned and they are all too light and cheap feeling. That's the thing though keyboard action is a very personal preference so you really ought to try them out to decide which one you like better. I am actually kind of suprised to hear people who don't like the Akai action, I mean compared to the M-audio board it's like the difference between a crusty old Ford vs a Mercedes they just feel that much better the keys, sliders, knobs. Besides which M-audio is probably the worst company out there for technical support and driver updates... After fiascos with their MIDI devices and soundcards over the years I avoid them like the plague. And computer/audio interfaces are supposed to be their speciality! Yeah right. The Edirol/Roland isn't that bad, I would put it in second place but I still felt the keys are just too light for the way I play. The Akai just feels solid, I can pound on them all night long without a problem or fear of breaking the keys. Yes I do tend to pound on them, especially on stage.

The Midi out and in ports work fine when you are plugged into USB however you should probably quickly read the user manual to get your head around how they are setup in the device manager. Basically you end up with 2 midi ins and outs, one of them being dedicated to the controller itself whereas the actual midi plugs on the back of the keyboard become Midi OUT/IN B. This had me scratching my head for half an hour trying to get the keyboard to control my hardware while USBed but after I cracked the manual it all made sense.
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