In 2016, AKAI refreshed their portable midi controller lineup (LPK 25 & LPD 8) with a complete re-design look and added new advanced features. Both MIDI controllers have been on the market for many years and are still a popular companion with amateur as well as professional musicians. Beside the AKAI LPK-25 Wireless, I had also the chance to check out the new version of the LPD-8 pad controller for several weeks.
The AKAI Pro LPD8 wireless is a further development of the best known LPD8 pad controller. Same as the initial version, it features 8 backlit velocity-sensitive drum pads to send note or program changes. On the right side, you have also 8 knobs for controlling nearly any parameter of your favourite software. The front is still in simple black with white labels. It looks different on the left, right and beneath of the device.
In this section, the colour red dominates which fit very well to the new improved design of the controller.
Significant changes are noticeable in the connection possibilities. First important improvement compared to the first version is the new USB port. The old LPD8 pad controller still have a micro USB port which was in my opinion relatively unstable, the new version now features a classical USB-B port known from bigger keyboards. The AKAI Pro designers took here the a good decision to replace this because it makes the entire unit better and more solid.
Right next to the USB port, you have now a little slider where you can switch from USB to the battery powered mode. Musicians have here the possibility to switch to USB powered so the controller is powered by the PC/Mac or iOS device or they can activate the new bluetooth function. This features requires three double A normal or rechargeable batteries.
If the device is used daily, I would advise you to rechargeable batteries. These can be recharged in the evening after a longer jam and the next day, you can use it again without having fear for empty batteries.
To offer more portability to musicians, the AKAI Pro developers built in the new LPD8 the modern technology MIDI over Bluetooth. To pair the controller to an iOS app per example, users simply press the select button and Pad number 4. When this is made, the device will pair with a PC/Mac or iOS device. It’s important to mention that not all support products (PC/Mac or iOS apps) support midi over bluetooth. In short: this controller only works over bluetooth when the software also support this technology. In the past weeks/months, many software developers already updated their apps per example so it’s only a matter of time when most of the products have this technology inside their feature list.
The new Bluetooth connection behave nice and doesn’t make major problems. During the review time, I have the new Beatmaker 3 app mainly played with this controller over bluetooth. A little latency between the pads and the instrument is still noticeable when you use it wireless. Also noticeable is a problem with one feature in the bluetooth mode. MIDI clock doesn’t work with the note repeat in this mode because the protocol doesn’t support this currently. It’s depends very how do you use it and with which apps or programs. Per example, I tried the LPD8 wireless with Logic Pro and there was near no latency appreciable. The technology allows you to play nicely wirelessly music but the USB connection is here still cleaner and better for quicker movements.
Here is a tutorial how to map the pads via bluetooth to Beatmaker 3