The Akai SynthStation49 is a 49-key keyboard that is made to go with an iPad. You can use the effects on apps on your iPad which then turns into sound after pressing keys on the keyboard. The apps you can use are not limited to Akai’s SynthStation app. You can use the keyboard with any app that has sounds for a keyboard, for instance GarageBand is an app that has it, which is a great app for this keyboard. The keyboard is available direct from Amazon for $219.99. That number seems like a high number but those who need a keyboard on the go with their iPad for recording should use the Akai SynthStation 49 as it is the most versatile keyboard for the iPad I have seen.
As the form isn’t nearly as important as the function, I will be brief but I do want to mention a few things. First, the keyboard is very durable and I trust that it would not break if dropped. The layout of the buttons is clean and not confusing. The iPad fits right on it and it is easy to plug in. The buttons were made of a soft rubber that feels nice to the touch. The keys of the keyboard more importantly feel comfortable and play comfortably. Aesthetically, this keyboard is great!
The keyboard itself definitely works like a champ. The keys are solid and are pleasant to play on and if you use the right app sounds great! I would avoid using the Akai SynthStation app that is free on the App Store. You get what you pay for and the free app is not good. The sounds are terrible and there isn’t even a standard piano sound which I found surprising. However, that does not deter away from the productivity of the keyboard since any music production app such as GarageBand works great on the keyboard. It isn’t a full 88-key keyboard, but it doesn’t have to be, it allows you to go up and down octaves easily, effectively and fast. Using the right app, the keyboard works great. The buttons need to work with all apps, that is something that doesn’t happen. All the buttons only work on the Akai app which you don’t want to use. However, must buttons are still usable when using third-party apps. Another thing, other production keyboard require the Camera Connection Kit but I appreciate that this one does not, it plugs right into the 30-pin. You can also plug in your computer to it via MIDI/USB which is a huge advantage considering that I use the app Synthesia when learning a new song (check it out, it’s a great app!). Also, I can use my pedal with it which is a plus. When it is plugged into the wall, it also charges the iPad. Overall, the keyboard does what it needs to do and excels at doing it.
-Buttons work easily and are organized well
-Easy set up (about 3 minutes)
-Solid, comfortable to play on keys (important)
-Many affordable apps on the App Store make it incredibly flexible in terms of sounds
-Easy access to change the octave
-Doesn’t require the Camera Connection Kit (saves you money!)
-Plugs into MIDI/USB so you can plug it right into a computer for other uses such as Synthesia
-Charges the iPad when plugged into the wall
-The lackluster app “SynthStation” iPad app is not the best app for this keyboard, some could argue it’s terrible, and I would be with those people
-Some buttons are not usable in other third-party apps
Ways to improve
One way to improve is to rebuild the app. The sounds on it don’t sound right, there isn’t even a piano sound on there. GarageBand did a much better job with the keyboard than the app that specifically goes to the keyboard did. I would recommend picking up some sounds and design tips from GarageBand while adding more features than what GarageBand has. Another way is just to ask developers, such as Apple or whoever makes apps that go with a keyboard like this, to allow them to add coding that would take full advantage of the buttons on the Akai SynthStation49.
Don’t get me wrong. This keyboard is a solid keyboard that anyone could feel comfortable doing a show with. I have played the piano for a long time and I can tell you that the action and the feel of the keys is better than a lot of other keyboards. The plethora of sounds you can get from the plethora of apps available make up for the SynthStation iPad app. This keyboard isn’t the greatest keyboard on the market but if you have an iPad, you can take advantage of the plethora of apps and for the money. It is the best deal for the money you can find in my opinion. The SynthStation49 receives a 4 and a half star review from me.
Thanks for reading,