Akai MPC Key 61 – A Standalone Production Wizard

If you are looking for a new do-it-all workstation (or production synthesizer keyboard., as they call it) for your studio, and you have a couple of grand (or so) to spend, Akai has something new for you – the MPC Key 61.

MPC has been a mainstay of contemporary production for decades, and has always defined chart- topping hip hop, pop and all variations of electronic music. The standalone MPC platform has built on that rich history with innovative mixing and instrument plugins, an intuitive user interface, and a wealth of technology that embraces the modern music producer.

At the heart of MPC Key 61 are the sounds, including 25 unique plugin instruments with the most modern sound design textures and tonality for all genres of music.

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Sound Types

Fabric XL is the flagship power synthesizer offering the most dynamic and powerful synth-engines and sampled acoustic instruments for contemporary music production. Fabric XL’s wide selection of presets are powered by a revolutionary multi-sample-based synthesis engine for cutting-edge performance and sound.

OPx4, a powerful 4-operator FM Synthesizer engine, provides the classic sound of FM at the musician’s fingertips. Built around an elegant interface, the user can dive into a whole new world of sound design, effects and parameters to truly make it their own.

Stage Piano, Session Strings, Stage EP, and Organ offer world-class sounds of acoustic and electromechanical instrument plugins. Stage Piano includes a Steinway® grand and Bechstein® upright for a complete lineup of rich piano tone. Session Strings is an elaborate group of orchestral instruments destined to be a secret weapon in the composer’s toolbox.

From delicate solo violins to formidable ensembles of bowed instrumentation, Session Strings delivers everything needed to create stringed layers of depth and dimension. Stage EP’s tone is meticulously true to all the classic keyboards such as Rhodes, FM Electric Piano, Wurlitzer® and more, while the Organ plugin screams through its Leslie speaker simulation with the very soul and spirit of the mighty B3.

The Complete MPC Package

MPC Key 61 is the first MPC to introduce a 61 semi-weighted keybed with velocity and aftertouch, making the new plugin instruments come to life. With 2 onboard high-end mic preamps and AD/DA converters along with phantom power, MPC Key 61 delivers the full MPC sampling experience while also introducing new ways to morph, shape and define signature sounds with the assignable Touch Strip controller and Q-LINK knobs. From customizing personalized sounds, to composing and fully recording harmonic and melodic ideas, to delivering final productions—MPC Key 61 is the most complete music production tool in the industry for modern music creators.

16 velocity-sensitive RGB drum pads with aftertouch offer the world-renowned MPC beat making and rhythmic experience that is second to none. With an onboard Transport, lay down rhythms and sequences with an effortless workflow. Go from intuitively browsing the thousands of sound presets on the beautiful 7-inch multi-gesture color display, to quickly sequencing ideas and finalizing them with premium effects from award-winning AIR Music Tech. Assign and control all effect parameters with the (4) 360 rotary Q-LINK knobs, perfect for writing real-time automation.

With a wide selection of I/O, MPC Key 61 integrates seamlessly into any studio environment. Use the Class Compliant USB ports to connect devices such as MIDI controllers, audio interfaces, or removable storage. (8) 3.5mm CV/Gate outputs provide plenty of room to plug into your modular and synth gear, and dedicated Pitch Bend/Mod Wheels add expanded control, depth and texture. The onboard TRS 1⁄4″ audio outputs can be configured as dual-stereo or four-mono signal paths while the two XLR/1⁄4” combination inputs enable sampling and recording from Mic, Instrument, or Line-level sources via the ultra-clean preamps and premium AD/DA converters.

Key Features

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  • 25 cutting-edge instrument plugins
  • Expressive 61-key semi-weighted keybed with aftertouch
  • Powerful 4gb RAM / Quad Core Arm Processor – no need for a computer
  • 16 RGB velocity-sensitive MPC Drum Pads with aftertouch and Note Repeat
  • Assignable Touch Strip controller
  • 2 Mic/Line/Instrument inputs with high-end mic preamps
  • Onboard Audio Interface with premium AD/DA converters
  • Vibrant 7” color Touch Screen with Multi-touch & Gestures
  • Powerful 128 track MIDI sequencer
  • Onboard Wi-Fi/Bluetooth
  • 4 assignable Q-LINK Controller Knobs
  • Pitch Bend/Modulation wheels
  • Dedicated Transport section
  • Accepts Class Compliant audio interfaces and MIDI devices
  • 4 discrete Line outputs
  • 8 audio tracks
  • 8 CV/Gate output jacks for modular integration
  • MPC2 Desktop Software DAW for Mac/PC included


USA MAP: $1899
MSRP €1,999.99 / £1,699.99

A Must-Buy?

The MPC Key 61 sure packs a lot. It’s a professional tool with a professional price tag. The question is, do you need all those features? Do you already have gear that covers some of those functions?

I love the fact this MPC Key 61 is a standalone machine (let’s be honest, the Advance controller line and their VIP software didn’t really deliver). Connectivity is great. I’m usually not a big fan of AIR’s instruments and plugins but they are solid (and I’m curious about the new FM synth). Workflow is as usually a very subjective thing. If you enjoy the MPC approach, you’ll be at home here. If it’s not your cup of tea, better look elsewhere.

Learn more here.

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