Sunday 15 January 2012

Akai Miniak

For quite a while I have been "cheating" with digital Alesis Micron synths live. The synth engine is very flexible, I can have a HP and LP filter in series Korg MS-20 style, it can sound unusually analogue:ish, and above all: It can sound really, REALLY mean. And it's affordable and easily available if one gets stolen backstage.

However, the Micron has some drawbacks. The volume knob must be the worst placed in universe. I have to duct tape it, or else surprises will happen. And the sliders and bend wheel are awkwardly placed. After ten years or so Akai have repackaged the Micron to the "Miniak", and done most things right. Great feeling rubbery backlit bend and mod wheels, and very smooth action X, Y and Z knobs makes playing easier. Overall it feels and looks more "quality", and is slightly bigger and heavier. It's amazing Alesis old synth engine still excels today without any alterations. But the D/A converters are much improved so the Miniak actually sounds noticably better. And best of all. It costs almost like a VST plugin at the german webshops. €299, which is like 2600 sek at the moment. This must be a new world record in "bang for the buck". You even get a Gooseneck microphone for the vocoder.

Apart from some powerful bassdrums, the factory programs are not that impressive. But it's surprisingly easy to wade through the myriad of parameters with the keyboard shortcuts to parameter groups. If you know subtractive synthesis you don't need a computer to fairly quickly program this from the front panel. Still no aftertouch though. That's a shame. Another drawback is the visibility of the very blue on blue display. Yellow light would have looked nicer and been more readable. I strongly recommend Akai Miniak to anyone that wants an unusually powerful hardware synth with much more bite than contemporary Korg's and Rolands.