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Akai SynthStation 61

Akai's been teasing us with the SynthStation 49 for over a year now... So I present to you the SynthStation 61!
Bonus: My video will no longer be doing that fucking annoying auto-focus!

This really has shifted my paradigms and changed my game. The instant access to all these great iOS apps has got me playing a hell of a lot more! In fact, playing with the DXi synth in this configuration is now my new favorite way of playing with any FM Synths. It is so much more straight-forward to be able to reach out and touch the screen to change things and have all these many keys for playing!

Suck it, hardware die-hards! You don't need $2,000 keyboards, you just need a $49 IPevo Perch.

Reader Comments 10

This iPivo perch thingy might be a perfect fit for my M-AUDIO Pro 61 keyboard. Is it robust enough?
Sorry, but I'm not gonna buy another iPad anytime soon. I'm saving some money for Abelton Live.
By the way, love your home studio, seems like you have plenty of space unlike me, oh and a comfy chair too ;-)

Thanks for this great review, Tim.

April 12, 2012  | person_outline Thierry

Ha! The comfy chair is the most important part! Man I was shopping all over the suburbs of Chicagoland for 3 months before picking that one. It only took me a month to pick the keyboard.

It does feel robust, the metal base and arm make it feel very sturdy. With the keyboard on top of it I don't have any worries about it tilting back when I get too enthusiastic... and I do get too enthusiastic quite a lot! Like I said, I even elbowed the damn thing and it didn't flip.

Do you need external power to the Akai to get it running via the camera connection kit?

April 14, 2012  | person_outline Scott

Scott: Yes, and there is a couple of ways to do that. If you just want to plug the USB from the keyboard in, get a powered USB hub (2.0) and connect it in through that.

If you want to get fancy you can plug in a power adapter into the MPK61. When it is receiving power via the adapter you can unplug USB and run it straight out through the MIDI ports. This is a handy trick for cycling between using the keyboard with the iPad and Computer DAWs, without a lot of switching cables! Since you will be routing MIDI through the DAW you will want to be sending to you iPad through your MIDI ports anyhow, so just leave that plugged in to your iPad. Then leave the keyboard USB plugged into your PC/Mac. If you ever want to just jam on the iPad without the DAW, unplug the USB from the back of the keyboard and it automatically switches to just playing with the iPad. That becomes the only cable you ever need to fiddle with to get the best of both worlds.

Given that we've been waiting for the SynthStation49 and the new version of the SynthStation app that Akai Professional showed us all at Winter NAMM in January of 2011 for this long, I don't blame you for just going ahead and spending your money elsewhere.

Akai seem to have become an excellent marketing company and have dropped the ball on delivering on their promises. Shame, really.

Personally, I use the Alesis IO Dock although this doesn't give me the same degree or visibility that your solution does, but I do get the added input and output options.

I used to do lots of work for Akai back in the day and they're just not the same anymore. Whilst it pains me to do so, I'll be selling my MPC500 & MPC1000 as well as my two old workhorse S6000 & Z8 samplers. My MPK49 is my go to controller now and Reason now does all I could ever need, with the iPad generating good stuff via Animoog and the like :-)

Great site, by the way!

Kind Regards,

Failed Muso

April 15, 2012  | person_outline Rob Puricelli

Hey Rob, I know you! I heard about you on the Sonic Talk podcast!

The viewing angle on the IO Dock has been one of the reasons I haven't really considered it. Even with the price reductions, it just doesn't look that appealing to me. I'd rather have a proper interface daisy-chained in with a powered USB hub and throw the iPad on this Perch.

I'm curious to know if Alesis has sorted out the MIDI issues relating to iOS 5 though, could you shed any light on that?


Haha! My reputation precedes me! ;-)

As long as you've updated to iOS 5.1 and are running the latest IO Dock firmware and all your apps are running the latest versions, it appears those issues are a thing of the past.

As I'm not using the iPad as a primary tool, the dock pretty much ticks all my boxes. When required, I just open up a channel in Reason, select the IO Dock's input on my Balance unit and play it in live. In that respect, it works fine for me :-)

On the matter of the Akai SynthStation app, every time I challenge someone from Akai on it, I get nothing but silence, which doesn't bode well. I know that they are trying to ensure physical compatibility with all iPad generations and I think the 3rd gen iPad threw them back a bit further as I'm still waiting for Alesis to say how they're going to fit it into their Dock range. This was my only real concern when buying the dock and it looks like it might be the undoing of these 3rd party peripherals. Apple will just go right ahead and do what they like, and if companies like Alesis get fed up with trying to play catch up, we could end up being lumbered with these things.

Which makes your solution that much more appealing in the long term ;-)

All the best,


April 15, 2012  | person_outline Rob Puricelli

Thanks for getting back to me on that, I'm glad to hear IO Dock owners are able to use their gear! It's funny how the Internet echo-chamber works; I had heard all about the problems, but not a single mention of the fix.

Akai won't return my emails, but I just assumed that's because I'm a small-fry. I think you're probably right about the size of the iPad 3 though, it is just a little bit bigger than the iPad 2. I've heard some people have theirs stuck in iPad 2 cases they tried to squeeze them in. The size difference will probably be delaying the Alesis AmpDock too.

I think some people have the right idea though, when you upgrade just leave the iPad 1 in the IO Dock for a dedicated synth. Sure it might not be able to run some of the apps of the future, but it will be able to run all of the current ones just fine. That is, in and of itself, more worthwhile than many dedicated workstations!

Hi, nice post - useful tip there with the stand. Just wondering how you tackle the issue of powering the iPad while its in the cradle there, or do you just have to keep charging it up? Thats the advantage of the IO Dock, as it powers the iPad too.

May 07, 2012  | person_outline Nick B

Hey Nick, I ran my iPad's power/sync-cable around there so that I just plug it in to charge over-night. The iO Dock's ability to power it while using MIDI is nice, but the angle on this is much more conducive for viewing while playing!


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