Akai MPC Studio vs Novation 61SL Mk3: A Comprehensive Comparison Review

You're ready to make a big purchase, but you're having trouble deciding between these two powerhouses, the Akai MPC Studio and the Novation 61SL Mk3.

Trust me, I know how difficult that decision is… especially if you have no plans on whipping out that dreaded return postage label!

I've got you covered.

I've broken down the good, the bad and the ugly of these babies, so providing you have a clear idea of exactly what you plan on doing with it, you will have a clear idea on which one is best for you, by the end of this article.

Let get into it…

At A Glance:

Akai MPC Studio


Novation 61SL Mk3

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Key Differences Between The Akai MPC Studio And The Novation 61SL Mk3

Akai MPC Studio vs Novation 61SL Mk3

The main differences between Akai MPC Studio and Novation 61SL Mk3 are primarily based on their unique features, key counts, and software compatibility.

Akai MPC Studio shines with its slide touch pad and larger grid, offering a higher degree of versatility. It allows hardware control while providing the power of software, making it suitable for uses such as a DAW or a plugin.

This model offers freedom from pure computer-based music production, making it suitable for creative exploration using DAW.

In contrast, Novation 61SL Mk3 comes with an eight-track polyphonic sequencer based on the Circuit sequencer engine along with CV outputs.. It excels in managing zones and layers effectively while delivering an expressive synth-style keyboard. A notable feature is its eight polyphonic tracks or parts that can provide up to 8 lanes of parameter or motion sequencing.

  • The Akai MPK49 version has fewer keys compared to Novation SL MkIII.
  • The Novation SL MkIII integrates a pitch/modulation stick into its design.

When it comes to compatibility with software, while both models can be used with different programs, the Novation is particularly effective if used exclusively with NI's software.

Ultimately, the preference between Akai MPC Studio or Novation 61SL Mk3 would be subjective and depend on individual needs and preferences in music production. However, both these options come highly recommended in their category amongst professional MIDI controllers.

SpecificationsAkai MPC StudioNovation 61SL Mk3
TypeMusic Production ControllerMIDI Controller
KeyboardNoYes, 61 keys
FadersNoYes, 8
Rotary Encoders38
Software IncludedMPC Software 2Ableton Live Lite, Novation Bass Station and V-Station virtual instruments and over 4GB of Loopmasters samples
Dimensions1.9 x 11.2 x 8.1 inches39.5 x 11.8 x 3.5 inches
Weight2.0 lbs14.33 lbs

What You Need To Know About Akai MPC Studio

The Akai MPC Studio is a top-notch music creation system perfect for drumming up beats and crafting electronic music.

This workstation from Akai Professional comes packed with a variety of sounds that you're sure to love – everything from basses and leads to effects and keyboards.

What makes this product really shine is its blend of classic hardware and modern software. It's like having the best of both worlds! The hands-on workflow of traditional MPC hardware paired with the processing power of today's computers makes creating music easier than ever.

At the heart of the Akai MPC Studio lies a software DAW-style environment. This offers an impressive 128-track sequencer, opening up plenty versatile space for your creativity to run wild.

Plus, let's not forget about convenience. Because it's a hybrid system, you can create on the go or settle down in your home studio – it's totally up to you!

Head over to their official page here for more detailed information.

My 1 Month Review Of The Akai MPC Studio

My 1 Month Review Of The Akai MPC Studio


After a solid month with my new Akai MPC Studio, I have to admit, it's definitely been an interesting ride. I'm not normally one to gush about music production gear, but this compact yet powerful piece of kit has genuinely earned my praise.

Setup & Installation

When I first unboxed the machine itself, I was surprised by how sleek and lightweight it felt – a serious plus for anyone looking for portability. It just feels right in your hands, you know? It didn't take long to get everything all set up and ready to roll either.

The software installation was pretty straightforward. No complex instructions or cryptic terminology; everything was concise and easy to follow up on – something that's always appreciated when you're keen to dive into making music instead of messing around with setups.

User Experience

Then there's the user experience. Right off the bat, I could tell that this wasn't your run-of-the-mill MIDI controller. The layout is intuitive and well thought-out, with all the important bits easily within reach during production sessions.

There's an undeniable warmth and intimacy about working with this bit of kit — it almost feels like an extension of my creative mind rather than a separate tool. Whether you're crafting intricate beats or adding layers to your melodies, there’s nothing quite like hearing your musical ideas come alive through this device.

Built-In Features & Functionality

Don't even get me started on the built-in features and functionality.
• The large scroll wheel is amazing for quick navigation while fine-tuning parameters.
• There are 16 velocity-sensitive pads that respond flawlessly every time.
• The Machine also dazzles with its extensive range of effects including reverb, delay, EQs – basically everything you'd need for on-the-go mixing.

Honestly though? The best part might be its seamless integration into any DAW setup which takes live performances from ordinary to extraordinary in no time at all.

MPC Software 2

Now let's talk about the most exciting part: The MPC Software 2.

This software is where the magic really happens; it’s like having a high-end recording studio at your fingertips. The expansive sound library provides endless opportunities for creativity while adjustable sample lengths mean I can tailor each beat exactly as I want them.

The only downside? It took me some time getting used to navigating through all these features – but once I got the hang of it – oh boy! The possibilities are near limitless!


All in all? My month with the Akai MPC Studio has been incredibly inspiring.

Sure there were moments where things got complex (I'm looking at you MPC Software 2), but those moments were minor blips on what has overall been a thoroughly enjoyable journey thus far.
The Akai MPC Studio isn’t just another music production tool—it’s a full-fledged powerhouse that will elevate anyone's creative process nearly instantly!

What You Need To Know About Novation 61SL Mk3

The Novation 61SL Mk3 is a remarkable piece of music gear. Here's why it could be just what you're looking for. It brings together MIDI hardware and CV/Gate synths, making your music setup even better.

One of the best things about this controller is how easily it blends hardware with your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). That means you can interact with your software as easily as you play an instrument!

If you use Ableton Live to make music, the 61SL Mk3 has got you covered! It's designed to work perfectly with this software, so creating tracks will be a breeze.

We all know having too many cords can be confusing, right? With the 61SL Mk3's internal 8 track pattern-based sequencer, you can avoid that mess. You'll have more control over your tunes without all those extra wires.

And here's something else: this controller comes with its own routable clock system. This keeps everything connected in one neat package.

Looking for peace of mind? Novation offers a generous 3-Year Warranty on the 61SL Mk3 and all their other products too!

For more details, check out the official product page on Novation. You'll find everything else you need to know about why this could be the perfect controller for you!

My 1 Month Review Of The Novation 61SL Mk3

My 1 Month Review Of The Novation 61SL Mk3

Introduction to my Novation 61SL Mk3

Wow, I can't believe it's been nearly a month since I first laid hands on my Novation 61SL Mk3. This thing is anything but merely a ‘keyboard'. It has truly revolutionized my music production process.

The Look and Feel

Firstly, let's talk about the aesthetics. The sleek design of the Novation 61SL just screams professionalism. You know you're dealing with a high-end product here.
The keys are delightfully touch-sensitive, offering an expressive range that matches up against some of the most advanced stuff on the market.
And oh my, those colourful backlit pads… they're so beautiful to look at! Plus they made beat creation such a breeze and so much fun.

Versatility at Its Best

The range of controls is where the Novation 61SL shows its real strength:

– Eight rotary knobs
– Sixteen buttons
– Eight faders

This gives me all the flexibility I could ask for when controlling plugins and mixing tracks.

Sequencing capabilities are another major win – being able to create sequences directly from this keyboard without having to touch my DAW was a game-changer for me.

The Integration Aspect

What sets this keyboard apart from others is its impressive integration with Ableton Live. The deep level of control over clips, devices and even navigation within Ableton makes this keyboard not just an instrument but an extension of your DAW.

Sure there were little challenges initially learning how all these features and functions work together but once I got into it, everything flowed naturally – enhancing my workflow massively.

A Few Minor Quibbles

Nothing in life is perfect right? There have been a couple of quirks along the way that I feel need mentioning.

– Midi clock drift: It tends to fluctuate slightly which could be problematic if you are relying heavily on external gear synchronization.

– No Aftertouch: Would have loved if Novation included aftertouch functionality in 61SL MkIII.

Don't let these points discourage you though – they're minor compared to all that Novation 61SL offers.

All in all, the Novation 61SL MkIII has added dimensions to my creativity by integrating flawlessly with Ableton and offering extensive control options. If you’re serious about music production or live performances, give this one a look!

Who The Akai MPC Studio Is For & Why You Might Choose It Over The Novation 61SL Mk3

Who The Akai MPC Studio Is For & Why You Might Choose It Over The Novation 61SL Mk3

Akai MPC Studio: For Versatility and Freedom
If you're in the market for a MIDI controller that strikes a balance between hardware control and software power, consider the Akai MPC Studio.

This unit shines with its larger grid and slide touch pad, offering high versatility to music producers. It bridges both worlds by functioning as both a plugin and DAW, providing the freedom to create without being tied to a computer.


  • Highly flexible with its slide touch pad and larger grid.
  • Can function as either a DAW or plugin.
  • Offers a shift from computer-based production without sacrificing control.

Novation 61SL Mk3: For Advanced Sequencing and Layering
Meanwhile, if your primary criteria are advanced sequencing and effective layer management, look towards the Novation 61SL Mk3.

Housing an eight-track polyphonic sequencer based on Circuit engine, this model offers an expressive synth-style keyboard action. It stands out especially due to its eight polyphonic tracks capable of tracking up to 8 lanes of parameter or motion sequencing.


  • Prominent for its advanced sequencing facilities, thanks to Circuit engine.
  • Demonstrates effective zone and layer management.
  • Caters especially well for NI's software users.

Both models integrate velocity-sensitive keys and automapping technology but differ when it comes down to specifics such as size – Novation SL MkIII trumps Akai Professional MPK 49 in terms of keys count – or design features like Novation's integrated pitch/modulation stick.

In essence, your ultimate choice between Akai MPC Studio or Novation 61SL Mk3 depends greatly on your personal preference in music production techniques.

Who The Novation 61SL Mk3 Is For & Why You Might Choose It Over The Akai MPC Studio

Who The Novation 61SL Mk3 Is For & Why You Might Choose It Over The Akai MPC Studio

Who is the Novation 61SL Mk3 for?
The Novation 61SL Mk3 is ideal for creative music producers and performers who want to harness the power of an eight-track polyphonic sequencer along with CV outputs.

It's particularly suited to those who appreciate an expressive synth-style keyboard and require excellent management of zones and layers in their work.

Why choose Novation 61SL Mk3 over Akai MPC Studio?
There are several reasons why someone might prefer the Novation 61SL Mk3 over the Akai MPC Studio:

Polyphony: The Novation model stands out due to its eight polyphonic tracks or parts, allowing for up to eight lanes of parameter or motion sequencing. This provides a high level of flexibility and creative freedom.

Extra Keys: The Novation SL MkIII has more keys than the Akai Professional MPK 49 model, offering extra range and versatility.

Pitch/Modulation Stick: Unlike its competitor, the Novation integrates a pitch/modulation stick into its design, delivering a more tactile control option.

Software Compatibility: While both models can work across different software programs, it's worth noting that the Novation is particularly effective when used solely with NI's software.

It's important to note that choosing between these two quality MIDI controllers ultimately depends on your individual needs in music production.

In case the products discussed in this post—Akai MPC Studio and Novation 61SL Mk3—do not meet your needs, I have compared other similar music production gear in my other posts that you may find insightful.

You can read about how the Akai MPC Studio compares to the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61, which offers a keyboard controller with many features.

Or, you might be interested in my comparison between the Akai MPC Studio and Arturia KeyStep Pro, another high-quality MIDI keyboard that's well worth consideration.

For a more integrated control surface, check out my post on Akai MPC Studio vs Nektar Impact LX88+.

If you're focused on perfecting your beat-making process, then perhaps my analysis of Akai MPC Studio vs Akai Fire could be useful to you.

These comparisons should hopefully provide you with more options to find the right music creation tool for your specific needs.


What unique features make Akai MPC Studio distinct for DAW-centric creative exploration?

The Akai MPC Studio combines a hardware control with software power, making it ideal for use as a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) or plugin. It offers versatile functionality with its slide touch pad and larger grid. This feature set not only allows for freedom from computer-based music production but also makes it an excellent controller for those keen on engaging in DAW-centric creative exploration.

How does the Novation 61SL Mk3 stand out in terms of sequencing capability?

The Novation 61SL Mk3 is equipped with an eight-track polyphonic sequencer which is based on the Circuit sequencer engine. It comes with CV outputs, allowing it to manage zones and layers effectively while delivering first-class action through an expressive synth-style keyboard. The model stands out due to its capability of providing up to eight lanes of parameter or motion sequencing thanks to its eight polyphonic tracks (or parts).

In what way does Novation SL MKIII's compatibility with NI's software enhance its effectiveness?

While both models can be used with different programs, the Nvation SL MKIII‘s compatibility specifically shines when used exclusively with Native Instruments' (NI) software. This makes it highly effective at handling various music production tasks since NI's suite of software tools are renowned for their extensive range of sounds, easy-to-use interfaces, and flexibility in creating different styles and genres of music.

How do additional keys on Novation SL MKIII distinguish it from Akai Professional MPK49 version?

The Novation SL MkIII, compared to the Akai Professional MPK49 version, has more keys incorporated into its design- adding further depth and expression during playability. Alongside this, the integration of a pitch/modulation stick allows musicians greater versatility when manipulating pitches or modulations during performance or recording sessions.

Buyer's Guide: Important Things To Consider & Look Out For When Buying A Midi Keyboard

1. Identify Your Specific Needs

Before making any purchase, a pivotal step is to identify your specific needs. Are you in the process of building a small home studio, or are you on the lookout for live performance tools? Are you more inclined towards beat making or music production in general? Pin down what exactly your primary need for a MIDI keyboard is.

If you're into beat-making, consider opting for options like the Akai MPC Studio. It's an advanced MIDI controller that doubles as a drum machine, perfect for producers and DJs alike. This type of USB MIDI Keyboard controller can elevate your music game to newer heights.

2. Consider The Size and Key Count

The size and key count of your future MIDI keyboard largely depend on the space available and your proficiency level. If you're just starting out or lack ample space, compact options with 25 keys should do the trick. However, if you're an experienced player moving up from traditional keyboards/pianos, something like the Novation 61SL Mk3 might be more suited to mimic that playability while offering deep DAW integration.

3. Usability Matters: DAW Integration

It doesn't matter how great your MIDI keyboard is if it doesn’t gel with your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Make sure whichever model you choose boasts seamless DAW integration,. This will ensure smoother workflow and help avoid any cumbersome manual mapping processes.

For instance, some keyboards come pre-mapped for popular DAWs out-of-the-box which drastically reduces setup time.

4. Check Out The Additional Features

Nowadays most high-end MIDI keyboards come packed with impressive extras above their basic functionalities.. Look out for features such as built-in drum pads, control knobs and buttons that offer easy control over mixes without leaving your keyboard controller; or even integrated arpeggiators which can spice up performances remarkably well.

5. Determine Your Budget

MIDI keyboards range from budget models to premium professional-grade machines; it all depends on what value they bring to a potential user's table.. When considering price points – think long-term about sustainability versus initial investment costs as there may be ongoing expenses related to updates or maintenance over time depending upon model choice..

That said remember that pricier options often pack in more product features along better build quality too!

6: Look at Customer Reviews And Ratings

The internet provides us instant access insightful feedback from other users who’ve already tried products we might potentially invest-in..
Real customer reviews on reputable retail websites can offer valuable insights into common issues – both in terms of instrument performance as well overall brand support ..

Remember though – everyone has different tastes & personal preferences so don't let one negative review discourage purchasing something if overall ratings & responses appear positive!

Technology breakthroughs seem happen faster than ever before nowdays.:
Especially within evolving spaces like music production ::
Therefore when buying modern tools per say USB-MIDI Keyboard Controllers — keep an eye-out reliable after-sales support trustworthy manufacturers…
This way even if inevitable technical glitches arise somewhere down line :’ll have robust backup & assistance getting things running smoothly again!!
Covering bases this manner makes purchase decision far sounder plus offers peace mind knowing ‘re covered unforeseen hiccups occur post-purchase!


About Author

Arielle P

Arielle P

Songwriter | Music Producer | Engineer.

With a background in music production and a strong passion for education, Arielle is dedicated to helping emerging artists navigate the music industry. She has worked with a diverse range of artists, from indie rock bands to well-known hip-hop and grime artists. Arielle's unique approach to teaching focuses on empowering artists to take control of their brand, ensuring they retain creative ownership throughout their journey. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting with new sounds in her home studio and sharing her insights through music production tutorials and workshops.

📧 Email Arielle