MESSE09: Akai Pro's First Synth

MINIAK has been developed in partnership with the Alesis synthesis team      01/04/09
MESSE09: Akai Pro's First Synth

Here's the full press release...
The MINIAK is the first synthesizer from Akai Professional. Developed in partnership with the world-renowned Alesis synthesis team, the MINIAK brings together the control of the Akai Pro MPD, MPK, and APC series with powerful DSP sound-generation technology. The MINIAK is a perfect synth for producers in the studio and live performers on stage because, while it is extremely compact and portable, it's a serious instrument for creating sounds for both performance and production.
The MINIAK puts up to eight multi-timbral voices at your fingertips, each with three oscillators. You can create interesting and unique sounds and take advantage of the more-than-600 preset sounds and store up to 1,000 programs in the MINIAK. The synth also has two multi-mode filters, three envelope generators, two LFOs, stereo effects, and a 40-band vocoder. On top of all of this sound-melding power, the MINIAK has a comprehensive sequencer with step and dynamic real time phrase sequencing, a drum machine/rhythm sequencer, and an arpeggiator to aid in creating the landscapes and textures you're after.
Rounding out this complete instrument are high-resolution, 24-bit balanced 1/4" inputs and outputs. The MINIAK has a 37-key semi-weighted keyboard with velocity sensitivity and aftertouch for all-in-one performance. It can also be used as a sound source for MPCs, computer software, and keyboards via MIDI.
A MINIAK program is a sound built from the MINIAK's internal oscillators, filters, and envelope generators. The MINIAK's more than 600 preset programs span the range of classic analog synthesis sounds. If you've heard it before, you will probably find it in the MINIAK's presets.
In a synth, oscillators generate raw sound. Their output is fed into the filters, whose output is fed into the amplifiers. As the signal moves along that path, you can manipulate the mix at several points and apply modulations, envelopes, and effects to create a custom palette of sounds.
The oscillators can produce different waveform types and shapes to create various harmonic structures, which our ears perceive as different timbres. Here are some of the waveforms you can create with the MINIAK's oscillators:
  • Sine – Smooth, pure sound
  • Triangle – Fuller than a sine wave
  • Sawtooth – Harsh sonic character
  • Pulse – Harmonically rich, ranging from full-sounding square wave to a sharp impulse wave
The MINIAK's oscillators can produce continuously variable waveforms, so it can can hit any point between these examples.
You can connect external audio sources – other synthesizers, mixers, guitars, and more – using the 1/4" inputs. The jacks accept either balanced or unbalanced cables. You can mix in the external audio sources with the MINIAK's oscillators. The resulting combination is then sent through the MINIAK's filters and effects. A special group of programs including vocoder programs exists just for use with the external inputs.
The outputs of the oscillators, the noise generator, the ring modulator, and the external inputs are fed into a virtual mixing board called the pre-filter mix. From here, the signal hits the filters. For each source, you can specify its level and its balance: how much is sent to Filter 1 and how much is sent to Filter 2.
The oscillators produce very raw sounds. To shape and fine-tune the sound, filters give you tools for dampening certain harmonics and boosting others. Filters alter the frequency content of the signal and can have a drastic effect on the sound. Each of the MINIAK's voices contains two filters, and each filter can be one of the following different types, each with its own character and sonic flavor.
They are: Bypass, Low Pass: ob 2-pole, tb 3-pole, mg 4-pole, rp 4-pole, jp 4-pole, al 8-pole; Band Pass: ob 2-pole, al 6-pole, octave dual, band limit; High Pass: ob 2-pole, op 4-pole; three Vocal Formants, four Comb Filters, Phase Warp, Frequency, Resonance, Key Tracking, Envelope Amount, Offset, and Absolute.
After filtering, the signal is fed to the post-filter mix. For each filter output, as well as a pre-filter signal of your choice, you can specify a level and a pan.
In the output stage, the MINIAK allows you to apply a drive effect and add some compression, distortion, or other amplification effects. The MINIAK allows you to set up twelve modulation routes. Each of these is a virtual connection between some physical or internally generated source and some program parameter. Basically, a mod route tells the synth to automatically grab a knob and tweak it while a note is playing. Although there are quite a few sources that you can use for your mods, the most common ones involve the LFOs and the envelopes.
LFO stands for low-frequency oscillator. LFOs are not designed to produce sound, but instead to tweak a program parameter according to a looping pattern. For example, if you are looking to add vibrato, you need the pitch to continuously waver up and down. Each of the MINIAK's voices contains two LFOs, each of which offers rate, depth, shape, and tempo sync. The MINIAK's LFO can sync to the internal clock or any external source via MIDI.
If you hit a note on a piano, you hear a burst of sound energy as the hammer strikes the string, followed by lower level of loudness as you hold down the note and let the string ring out, which fades quickly as soon as you release the note and the damper is applied. Synthesizers model this behavior using ADSR Envelopes. ADSR stands for Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release, and represents the different stages that the sound goes through over the life of the note. The MINIAK also has an envelope that is specifically designed for loudness, called the Amp Envelope. Envelopes are useful in all sorts of mod routes, which is why you can hook up any of the MINIAK's envelopes to any modulatable program parameter. Each of the MINIAK's voices contains three envelopes: Amp Envelope, Filter Envelope, and Pitch/Modulation Envelope.
The MINIAK has extensive sequencing and arpeggiation performance capabilities. Arpeggios and sequences both respond to a key-press by playing a series of notes over a programmed rhythmic pattern. An arpeggio loops over whatever notes you are holding down on the keyboard. If you hold down a chord, the MINIAK will generate a melody by playing each note of your chord individually. A sequence has a melody line built in so you can hold down a single key and the MINIAK will play back that melody relative to that key. Pressing another key will transpose the sequence.
The MINIAK has MPC-style step sequencing and recorder-style dynamic real time phrase sequencing. There's also a drum machine/rhythm sequencer for the built-in drum sounds.
The MINIAK has a full compliment of stereo effects including Chorus, Feedback, Theta Flanger (Phaser + Flanger), Thru Zero Flanger, Super Phaser, Notch Frequency, String Phaser, 40-Band Vocoder, Analysis Gain, Sibilance Boost, Band Shift, Synthesis Input, Analysis Signal In, Analysis Mix, six types of Delay, and three types of Reverbs.
With the extensive sound generating and manipulating power of the MINIAK, the sounds you dream up are as easy to create as twisting a few knobs. And creating complete soundscapes with the sequencer and arpeggiator couldn't be easier. Step up to the only synth with the Akai Professional name... the MINIAK.
Key Features
  • Eight voices, each with three oscillators
  • Up to eight multi-timbral parts with stereo effects and 40-band vocoder
  • Two multi-mode filters, three envelope generators, two LFOs, sample and hold, tracking
  • generator
  • Dynamic real-time and step sequencers, arpeggiator, and drum machine/rhythm
  • sequencer
  • Stereo bus effects including reverbs and delays
  • 24-bit 1/4" balanced stereo analog outputs and inputs
  • 37-key synth-action keyboard with velocity sensitivity
  • More than 600 preset sounds
  • Sound banks: bass, lead, pad, string, brass, keys, comp, drum, SFX
Pricing and Availability:
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    17 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
    I Don't Like Music    Said...

    A rebranded micron. Big whoop.

    01-Apr-09 01:03 PM

    Alfie    Said...


    Seriously, I doubt this is even going to sound as good as Reason's 8 year old Substractor.

    Pitting this little sh*tty synth against Omnisphere, Massive or the TI Virus would just be hilarious.

    Well done Akai, for another excruciatingly boring and underpowered synth.

    I really do hope that DAWs like Ableton and Cubase can kill off the MPC once and for all.

    01-Apr-09 01:10 PM

    Brian from USA    Said...

    Sorry, Akai might say it's their first synth but that only means they forgot about their AX series analog synths from the 1980s.

    First digital or first VA, OK.

    01-Apr-09 01:14 PM

    FunkyPunk    Said...

    It's not Akais first synth. Akai has made a number of synths, although not recently.

    01-Apr-09 01:14 PM

    Marc    Said...

    Hmmm... I guess that VX90 I have doesn't really exist. Oh, I get it, it's April fools!

    01-Apr-09 01:52 PM

    DBM    Said...

    Well its Akai pro's 1st synth since they were restructured under numark ...... It looks to be the ion engine (2x) so it will sound better than subtractor . I wonder if this means Alesis are out of the synth game ?

    01-Apr-09 04:34 PM

    Failed Muso    Said...

    The description here and on Akai's website has been misquoted and differs from the official press release which uses the correct punctuation to state the following:

    "The MINIAK is the first synthesizer from Akai Professional developed in partnership with the world-renowned Alesis synthesis team."

    So no, it's not Akai's first synth, but their first one developed with Alesis (same company pretty much) and not the first real collaboration as the VA synth on the MPC5000 is a variation on that found in the Alesis Fusion.

    As for the detractors, have you heard this synth yet? Do you know the price point? Have you compared architectures?

    Simple answer: No.

    Say what you like, but this will be a highly affordable and powerful little synth, and will sell by the bucket full. When Omnisphere and Massive require updating or become redundant due to OS changes and demand more financial outlay, this thing will still be there, at the flick of a switch, churning out quality sounds. Comparing it to a Virus is just feckin' ignorant.

    As for DAW's killing off the MPC, seriously, I'll have some of what you're smoking.

    01-Apr-09 05:03 PM

    dj_sheldon    Said...

    i cant wait to hear the vocoder... im not impressed with korgs maybe this will be a good affordable altenative !!

    01-Apr-09 06:47 PM

    w    Said...

    ps can someone post a video looking everywhere and cant find any more info ...

    01-Apr-09 08:32 PM

    MPS    Said...

    Yo Muso, Here we go again eh?

    02-Apr-09 12:26 AM

    eXode    Said...

    Why oh why didn't they supply an USB connection as an alternative for MIDI?

    Complement this with a VSTi editor!

    02-Apr-09 01:21 AM

    Ted    Said...

    True, it's a reskinned Micron - probably does not even address the Ion/Micron's AMP click/squeak problem. Even the Inputs/Outputs reflect a very 2003 spec. (No USB) Still, I might want one anyway. The Micron/Ion engine sounded really great and the hi-res modeled filters behaved very analog.

    02-Apr-09 10:12 AM

    Nick B    Said...

    Folks, videos should be with you tomorrow, we have been travelling tonight

    02-Apr-09 05:32 PM

    Glenn    Said...

    Another 3 octave keyboard synth. Where's the rack version?! Why not throw it in a rack and sell it for $199?

    10-Apr-09 11:33 PM

    Al Bandus    Said...

    I'm sure this is Alesis Micron with a new look and a new name. The synth-engine is the same like Micron.

    01-May-09 07:08 AM

    Long Tube    Said...

    Dj sheldon you don't need to wait because this Toy has the same engine, sound and vocoder as Alesis Micron since many years.

    07-May-09 07:32 PM

    PHOKEZ tha BEATSMITH    Said...

    digital workstations like ableton and reason will never kill the mpc legacy akai and roger linn ar the shit bro- the fact that ur saying this is funny to me= yes the virus would prolly destroy it/ and a number of other synths as well- BUTT daws wil never take the place of the mpc . sorry but thats the way it is! thats the classic sound and only pl who dun know much about music would say shit like that! anywhoo jus my opinon but have a goodone member hip hop is sampling if u wanna check some of my shit out

    18-Jul-09 10:54 AM

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