Akai MiniAK for longer tracks?

Anyone here has any experience using the Akai MiniAk for building longer tracks?

I keep looking at this thing, seeing an eight part, multi-timbral, well-sounding 37-key synth with internal fx, drum machine, sequencers and stuff. And I read reviews that are favourable (interface aside), and I wonder - why didn’t this thing take off? What am I missing?

Is it just a pain to use for anything beyond a few bars, or just a pain in general, or something else?

I used to own one. ACtually miss it a little bit. Built like a tank and actually sounded fantastic.

When you say using it for longer tracks do you mean trying to use the limited sequencer? If so - forget it! Can’t remember giving its multimbral options a serious go but didnt think it was that hard.

And yes, the interface is horrific. Some good editors out there though.

I got mine for about £110 - sold on for a profit. Absolutely worth that price that’s for sure!!!

Thanks. Yes, I actually meant just that, so you confirmed my fears. This is not a tool for writing complete songs, then.

Seems the market for portable keyboard workstations are non-existent or wide open, depending on how you look at it.

It would def be possible - from some of the demo sequences were quite cool/impressive but the thought of trying to build something from scratch would put me in a cold sweat!

Really cant remember how well it’s midi options were but could see the Miniak plus OT (or other midi sequencer) being a great option. Can’t remember the Miniak’s polyphony though - sure it was only 8 voices from memory.


I own a new bought Miniak, it lays on the shelve.
Not because it’s a bad synth, sounds are fantastic but not very user friendly to program (and I am not a real performer).
When recording patch by patch however it is a powerful sounding machine.
Even the presets are useful right away.
Used it for long polyphonic chords.

Man, I think I’m just trying to trick myself into thinking this is the answer to my secret dream instrument, which is a proper keyboard workstation that’s just small enough to fit on my desk. I live in a small place and got kids all over the place, and being a keyboard and piano player to begin with, I’m just starting to tire of selecting between groove boxes - which are right in size and almost in function - or gargantuan work stations - which are wrong in size.

But I guess there’s not a big market for keyboard lovers who want a small, powerful production package and yet retain the keys.

But I’m starting to see the end of the road here, and the MiniAk is just one of the few options I haven’t yet exhausted.

Thanks. It does sound nice, from the demos I’ve heard. In fact, if someone told me this was a pricy VA poly, I’d believe them.

Again, I guess I have to experience the instrument myself, to fully understand why it wasn’t a hit. I mean, the Microkorg - come on - best selling synth of all time? I don’t mind all the success to this neat little package, but how come an eight part, great-sounding VA synth, with sequencer, drum machine and all that, doesn’t even make a dent into a four-voice monotimbral, non-sequencer package?

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I think you got a good point.
Maybe it has something to do with the name… Akai vs Korg?
This might be a little gem to be (re)discovered.
Now this thread has made me going to connect this little maniacally Miniak again.
There are indeed some good editable drumsounds in there ready for sampling.

I used to own one. I loved it and used it a lot. The presets were useless for what I wanted, but once I had spent some time with it, creating patches were surprisingly easy with that one knob. I didn’t mind that at all. The keyboard works as “hotkeys” for jumping to the various sections, so once those and the structure of the synth engine is internalised, editing is quite fast.

What I usually did with the sequencer was to create various “patterns” and map them to keys. Then I played on top of that.

I remember the sequencer as a bit fiddly. I usually just programmed beats as steps and recorded melodic parts by playing.

All in all I consider it the best sounding and most fun synth I have ever owned.

Damn, that’s good praise.

I grew up with a Yamaha SY-55 and made complete tracks on that. It can’t be fiddlier than one of those.

Was it a linear sequencer or entirely pattern-oriented?

Yeah, I might be romantizing a bit, but for whatever reason it (well, technically the Alesis Micron, which is the same synth) was a very good match with my preferences. As other synths came and went, that one was my go-to synth for a very long time. I know others who got one and didn’t connect with it at all, though.

I don’t remember how long a sequence could be, but iirc it was all pattern-oriented. Pattern per part, that is. So you could have a 16 step beat with a longer chord sequence on top, for instance. I don’t think it would work well as a workstation, but I sometimes used the sequencer when playing in a band to trigger preprogrammed stuff and layer that with live playing.

The Alesis Micron did take off a bit at the time. There was only one other synth like it in the marketplace - the Microkorg. The Microkorg had more knobs and of course the fun wood panels. However, it always had the shrill/honky side to it that you either had to embrace or fight. The sound of the Micron (which later was re-badged as the Akai Miniak) was always a lot nicer and could cover more bases. There was also the Mopho - these were the 3 main choices in this portion of the synth market - but it was set up differently with no keys.

There’s a lot of love in the Micron/Miniak OS and you can really get in there and program if you want. Problem is that there are only a few knobs and a tiny screen so there is a lot of scrolling. Today you’d really want to pick up an editor such as the Midi Designer for IOS or something similar for deeper sessions. If I had to be stuck on an island with this or the Microkorg, it would be this no question.

But anyway, at the time it was getting tougher and tougher for the electronic musical instrument industry in the USA. The dot com crash had ended and the economy never really started up again. The big recession was coming. Certain kinds of (mostly older) people could make fake money in the housing market but these people probably weren’t buying too many synths. Alesis was in trouble and the incredible Andromeda and very capable Ion synths were well known but neither was selling quite fast enough I guess. The Micron has all of the thought and care that went into the previous synths embedded in its OS, but with that crucial choice of only a few knobs for cost purposes. It sold fairly well as far as I can tell but Alesis went under a few years later. Just like almost every other synth company in the US such as E-Mu, Ensoniq, Oberheim, … The big guitar companies in the US all made it through but the synth companies didn’t except for Moog.

Today there are some other interesting choices in this area such as the Korg Minilogue and the Arturia brutes.


I own one and use it a fair amount. You could compose all the parts of a complete song on it by making lots of patterns, but you will need an external sequencer of some kind to put it all together. There’s no song mode. Although it will sync to midi clock, you have to send it notes (or press keys) to trigger the patterns (the sequencer does not respond to start/stop messages).

It sounds fantastic, but the effects are nothing special, and you have to choose between delay and reverb. The interface, once you spend some time with it, is actually brilliantly efficient. Yes, it’s limited, but the key shortcuts are very effective. An external editor is still worth getting. I tried several, and the best one I found is from chippanfire. Check out the Yahoo group on Micron/Miniak for the best info and sysex files. Also, because of non-standard nrpns, you won’t be able to control much with CCs, but I haven’t really found this to be a big issue because there are so many internal modulation options and you can assign anything to the x,y,z knobs.

This thing works extremely well with an MPC 500. And both are relatively cheap.

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I got an old micron recently and really clicked with the way the patterns and multi setups work. Also with the ‘latest’ firmware installed the pattern length goes to 16 bars. Patterns of varying lengths can be layered. The graphic interface for the individual pattern sequencer is minimal but nicely done. Then you trigger patterns by playing them off assigned keys.

The keyboard hot key thing is good too. I just admire how it was all thought out. It has restrictions. Like MIDI channels for the multi setup are assigned in ascending order as you add voices, but you can work with it. You can at least set the starting channel to avoid clashes with other gear.

One nice thing is you can process external audio - Eg. gating audio with the sequencer and using filters, envelopes and effects. External in is just another element in building patches so you can really do stuff with that. It can even sequence external gear.

Not sure if the akai repackage has all these elements?

Yes, the Akai does all this, just different hardware. Inside the only difference is some of the presets, I believe.

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