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Akai MINIAK Virtual Analog Synthesizer Review

by The Review CrewSeptember 25, 2011

The Akai MINIAK is the dream virtual analog synth for the home studio connoisseur. Consider this unit the Pandora’s Box of keyboards, due to its incredible range and versatility coupled with an authentic analog sound and 40 band vocoder, the MINIAK will quickly become a staple to your production regardless of genre.

The beauty of the MINIAK lies in the price, for $260 one can wield the power of keyboards $1,000+. There’s a reason you haven’t seen more than 2 negative comments online about this keyboard, primarily because it annihilates the competition effortlessly with more features per capita than any similarly priced unit.

Akai’s MINIAK has a solid, rugged design that catches the eye. While this isn’t an official aspect of a review, you’ll note some prime empty space to decal your synth and personally that is much appreciated. The dominance of three wheels on the front of the synth harkens to older times, and is a welcome deviation from the rampant use of knobs on the majority of modern keyboards. There are three assignable knobs that provide a nice tweakability. However a control panel with filter and envelope modifiers would have been a joy as well.

The vocoder capabilities of the MINIAK are intense. Thick, fat synth sounds layered over your vocals, pumped out through the keyboards’ on-board gooseneck microphone will have you feeling much cooler than you probably are. Remember that with great power comes great responsibility however, and as tasty as this vocoder’s potential certainly is, we must be weary of its use.

The keyboard is a shorty, thus the MINI in the name, with 37 notes. Some folks warrant complaints of the keys being too stiff, that is hogwash. The screen is small on the unit, and could have seriously benefitted from some color deviation with the text against the backdrop. Angled views of the screen are a little tough, but after 20 minutes of play you get the hang of what you’re doing.

The programming features of the MINIAK are powerful, but wholly require a degree from MIT. That’s hyperbolic language to stress the difficulty of programming on the MINIAK. Don’t take it literally. The arpeggiator on the unit is a beast and with only a couple of keys you can create lush, dense, layers that will entice ladies and men alike.

The virtual analog sounds are produced by three oscillators, two LFO per voice, eight voice polyphonic, three envelope behemoth grumbling out sounds from class MOOG basses to floating leads. The depth of sound is certainly here.

The Akai MINIAK virtual analog synthesizer is a leviathan. For under $300, Akai is handing over the power to create much funk and wreak destruction across the cosmic sound planes. The choice is yours.

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The Review Crew
The Review Crew is a group of beat editors, writers, and consultants that have been working together for years. They know just about everything about everything collectively and have published their collective work under the Review Crew brand moniker for almost 20 years.