Akai APC Key 25 unboxing & first look (VIDEO REVIEW)

I like to keep my live shows active. If I’m not in complete control at each moment on stage I just don’t know what to do with myself. So I ordered an Akai APC Key 25 to give me access to a small set of keys as well as a whole mess of buttons to launch clips from.

This video includes an unboxing, first impressions, and a demo of some of the basic functions of the APC Key 25 from Akai.


The build is mostly plastic, but despite being light, it still has a strong feel to it. I could easily throw this thing in my backpack and not worry about it bouncing around.

Buttons and Keys:

There are 25 keys (hence the name), 8 knobs that come pre-assigned, but can also be assigned manually, a 5×8 grid of buttons for launching clips, and a mess of control buttons like Play, Rec, Stop All Clips, Mute, Solo etc.

Power and Connection:

There are no MIDI in/outs or power cables, this midi controller is completely powered and controlled by USB. The USB cable goes straight from the APC Key 25, directly into any USB port on your computer. You will not need any drivers, and no MIDI mapping is necessary. All you need to do (in Ableton Live) is select the APC Key 25 as a MIDI controller under preferences.

Ease of Use:

Using this thing as a keyboard is completely plug and play (make sure your copy of Ableton Live is updated, otherwise it may not recognize the APC Key 25). All you need to do is arm your desired track to record, and start tapping away on the keys. There is a “Shift” function key that is used to change a lot of parameters on this little monster which takes a minute to get used to, and you need to keep track of what is being selected. However after 5 minutes of playing around with a few loops I was already so comfortable with it that I barely needed to think about it. I can tell the more I use this thing, the more I’m going to love it.

Final Thoughts

In a perfect world, I’d have a mess of giant analog synths filling the stage, but that’s just not a possibility for me right now. This thing is compact, light, has great functionality and is easy to plug in and get started right away. The amount of control you can get from such a small piece of equipment is really impressive and I can tell this is going to be part of my live rig for quite some time.

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