My go to Keyboard
This is my go to keyboard for several reason: It is pretty small, great for small studio apartments or limited space in your home. It has just enough octaves to work as a standalone for beginners and has enough features to be a strong addition to a professionals tool kit. I would not recommend going lower then a 49 key keyboard, you become very limited in your playing ability having to think about shifting octaves digitally vs just sliding your hands down to another octave of keys. I use this keyboard with Reason 4.0+ and it has never let me down. All of the buttons, sliders, and knobs are mappable inside the program and allow for on the fly alterations, or just a more analog feel when working in the studio. I also use this with my Native Instruments Maschine sequencer controller and I've never had any issues with latency or connection issues. The keys have very good velocity detection if treated correctly and taken care of, if i press hard it gets loud, if I press soft the volume is quiet. And the keys have a very good weight/ feel to them, feels very natural to play on. Very good for making your electronic compositions feel/sound more natural. My only complaint is two of my keys in the lower octaves have lost some sensitivity, keep in mind I've been using this thing every day for the last 2 and a half years... with that being said, some of my keys just get a mid velocity hit every time I strike the key, unless I strike it pretty hard (not insanely hard, but harder then i'd normally strike the keys in a performance) in which case I get the louder volume no problem. I've learned to work around those keys since there are a few other octaves, so its not the end of the world. Other then the minor issue with the keys (which only began to happen after about 2 years of use) I can say I really enjoy this piece of equipment, and as long as you have the software to use it with (reason, cubase, ableton live, etc.) it serves as an all in one controller with faders, many knobs, and pads for drum hits or sample triggers etc. I'd recommend this as an in studio piece of equipment, not necessarily for live performances or traveling. And don't bang out your tunes like you would on a real piano to avoid losing sensitivity in the keys. For live I would go with a larger set of keys, and potentially analog synth vs midi, but it all depends on your set up. I will be purchasing another Akai keyboard in the near future and this will serve as my alternative octaves keyboard for my right hand, it will sit above my larger keyboard to give me more options while working in the studio.