Akai SynthStation25 1st Impressions

I said I’d try and get some thoughts on the SynthStation25 in today and here they are, but I’ve decided to make this post a ‘1st thoughts’ as I’m sure that I’m going to post on this again anyway.

I thought I’d start with the photo above to give you a better idea of the size of the hardware. I was surprised by how small it is. I was expecting it to be more like the size of my KeyRig, but it is about 2/3rds the size.

I already posted pictures of the packaging so I’m not going to show any more of that stuff, but I was pleased to see that the batteries were included in the package too.

Build quality is fine. The unit feels solid and durable. I actually quite like half sized keys although I haven’t played with keys that small for ages.

Once I’d got the thing set up, which only took a minute and got my iPhone 3G plugged into it and working I was really impressed with the sound quality from the headphone jack. Using the SynthStation25 with Akai’s app gives great sound.

The 8 buttons on the right of the keyboard let you select synths 1-3 and drums and change octave and sound selected which is very useful indeed, and the pitch and mod wheels worked fine.

The Akai app worked best in performance mode although I did run in one of the grid modes and you can happily play right over whatever else is going on. One thing I couldn’t work out was if there’s a way to record real time into the app while you’re playing. I’m not sure that is possible, but it would be fantastic if you could.

Now that the hardware is out I’m going to be very keen to see who else adopts the SynthStation25 SDK for their app. iVoxel have already done it, and I tried it briefly yesterday. It was ok, but I’m running the keyboard with my 3G which doesn’t work great with iVoxel. It was usable, but had quite a few crackles and clicks which was annoying.

No I know lots of people have been asking questions about it from the unboxing post so I’ll try and answer some here.

  • It does have MIDI out USB, but no standard MIDI
  • According to the box it will work with a 1st gen iPod Touch!
  • It does not mention being compatible with the iPhone 4 so I’m not going to try plugging mine in just in case. Also, the iDevice bay is clearly built for a 3/3G or iTouch and not an iPhone 4.

So far I like it. I like it a lot. It is small enough to drop into a tiny bag, but useful too. It is crying out for a little zip case as it doesn’t come with anything like that, but I’m sure Akai will think of that soon!

When I’ve had a little more time to play with it I’ll write something more.

http://static.evernote.com/noteit.js Clip to Evernote


  1. Time out! You wasn't able to record what you played using SS keys?

    A pic next to the iPad would be a blessing.

  2. That's great news, Rolf – looks like NLog continues to go from strength to strength.

    I'm something of an apologist for the SynthStation app (I really like the sound quality on 3GS, and don't mind its interface THAT much), however the more alternatives available the better. Hopefully Jasuto and Xenon will follow soon!

    Of more concern is the lack of clarity re iPhone4 compatibility. I'm aware that the peripheral manufacturers have had the rug pulled out from under them somewhat by the changes to the dock connector, but was hoping some solution might have presented itself.

    Anyone got any further info on this?

  3. Then again, if iOS 4.2 does indeed bring CoreMIDI support at promised, the SynthStation hardware could theoretically control future idevice apps via its USB MIDI out…

  4. No iPhone 4 support and upcoming Core MIDI support in iOS 4.2 made this keyboard obsolete even before it was officially released…

  5. The real Problem is that AKAI doesn't tell us if it works with the iPhone4 or not. That's bullshit. If it doesn't tell it to the people. If it does state it crearly. Right now it says “The SynthStation25 transforms iPhone and iPod touch into a professional musical instrument.” Which sounds as if it would work. But than again it can't really, as the iPhone4 has another Doc Connector…

  6. Saw that too. But also never saw an iPhone4 in it. I heard that it should work, and Akai doesn't say it won't, but the Problem is that it's not really possible imho?

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