We’ve performed a couple of performance tests in order to decide which model is better, so let’s see which one is better and why.
Akai Professional MPK vs Novation Launchkey Mini
First and foremost, let’s begin by saying that price is a factor that pretty much defines every other feature and aspect of performance. For instance, it wouldn’t matter if a MIDI controller didn’t perform so great if it’s in the budget price range, and vice versa.
Now, both Professional MPK and Launchkey Mini are in the middle price point category. However, the Launchkey is slightly more expensive. Since they offer a relatively similar set of benefits, it’s quite easy to deduce that Akai’s Professional MPK wins this round.
Performance and features
This is, perhaps the most important section of the Akai Novation versus. The settings and features that these MIDI controllers come supplied to define their performance and give us just about enough credence to have a good picture of which controller is better for the money.
First of all, let’s begin by saying that Novation’s Launchkey MK2 has a keypad that’s almost twice as big as Akai’s Professional MPK. The former features 25 synth-action keys whereas the former packs 49 keys.
This, of course, means that the Launchkey is superior in terms of key quantity. However, that’s not the only criteria we’ve had in mind.
Namely, the Akai Professional MPK packs octave shift, the Arpeggiator, and tap tempo features, whereas Launchkey MK2 features Transpose and the octave shift feature. While the Launchkey has a broader range of tones, the MPK is slightly more versatile when it comes to performing functions and tonal variations.
Bearing this in mind, the scales are in Launchkey’s favor simply due to the fact that it packs two solid performance functions and a board of 49 keys. The Arpeggiator feature alone isn’t enough to compensate for the petite board of MPK, so the winner of this round is Launchkey.
MIDI Control features
The MIDI control features how ‘beginner-friendly’ or ‘professional’ a MIDI controller is, or better said, how ‘versatile’ a controller is. Though both models are formidable in their own way, the Launchkey offers a bit more all-around performance.
Akai’s Professional MPK MIDI controller features a single joystick which combines the pitch bend and modulation effects into one. You’ll notice that the Launchkey MK2 features separate wheels for these functions.
Furthermore, the MPK packs eight velocity-sensitive pads whereas Launchkey rocks sixteen. Both models come supplied with eight rotary encoders, but the Launchkey MK2 also features nine sliders.
In conclusion, the Launchkey MK2 offers a more versatile approach in terms of MIDI controls, thus winning this round.
Connectivity and Compatibility with operating systems
If you intend to use a MIDI controller in a studio, in most cases you shouldn’t have any trouble even if its connectivity is bad (as you can always find an appropriate jack and overcome the issue with ease).
Even if we’re to completely forget about this scenario, you have absolutely no reason to worry about it because both Akai’s Professional MPK and Novation’s Launchkey MK2 feature a USB Type B and 0,25-inch TS-sustain ins.
However, what we did keep in mind is the fact that certain MIDI controllers simply won’t work with any OS. For instance, Akai’s MPK mini will work on Mac OS version 10.4 (or later) and Windows 7 and above.
On another hand, Launchkey won’t work on Mac OS if the version is not updated to the version of 10.7. It will work on any newer version though, as well as on Windows 7, 8 and iOS.
This means that if you have an old Mac OS, you’re better off with the MPK mini, in any other case the Launchkey is superior in terms of OS compatibility.
The size of a MIDI controller is important if you’re using several instrumental tools, especially if you’re a DJ by profession. In such cases, you often have limited space on the table, so a compact controller can certainly come in handy.
It’s quite obvious that Akai’s Professional MPK mini is smaller and lighter, mainly due to the fact that its keyboard is only half the size of the Launchkey MK2. It measures 12.5 inches in length by 7.1 inches in height by 1.8 inches in depth, whereas the Launchkey measures 30.5 inches by 10.6 inches by 3.5 inches.
Even though Launchkey is undoubtedly bigger, less compact, and kind of more unwieldy for live performances, there’s a special anti-theft feature called the Kensington Security Slot which will substantially decrease the chance of it getting stolen from you. In that light, Novation’s Launchkey MK2 is certainly better designed than Akai’s MPK mini.
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Not only does it feature a bigger keypad, but it also features separate pitch-bend and modulation wheels, nine sliders, several performance functions, excellent OS compatibility, and a convenient Kensington anti-theft feature. Sure, it does cost a bit more, but it’s also more functional and valuable for the cash.