Akai just officially announced the MPC Key 37, a standalone workstation and groovebox. This is the latest standalone MPC device, following last year’s larger Key 61. The Key 37 has everything you need to make a beat or song from scratch without having to use an actual computer and DAW, with some limitations.
There are 37 full-size keys, complete with aftertouch. There aren’t that many standalone devices out there with a full keybed, so this should excite musicians who lack experience with Akai-style pads. This device does have 16 velocity-sensitive pads for laying down drum parts and triggering samples, so it’s a “best of both worlds” type situation.
The Key 37 ships with 32GB of on-board storage, though 10GB is used up by the OS and included sound packs. Thankfully, there’s a slot for an SD card to expand the storage — these standalone devices fill up fast.
You get the same color 7-inch multi-touch display and four assignable Q-Link knobs as the company’s Key 61 workstation. This is great for making system adjustments and for controlling effects plugins and the like. As a matter of fact, the entire layout recalls the Key 61, though this new release is slightly less powerful.
The Key 37 features 2GB of RAM, compared to 4GB with the Key 61. This is going to hamper the number of tracks that will play simultaneously without any hiccups. It also lacks the two microphone inputs and associated preamps. There are, however, stereo 1/4-inch inputs and outputs, USB Midi, 5-pin MIDI In/MIDI Out, 4 TRS CV/Gate output jacks and a USB host port. This keyboard also boasts Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity for wireless streaming with platforms like Ableton Link.
Beyond the iconic 16 pad layout, the highlight of any MPC machine is the software. To that end, the Key 37 ships with Akai’s MPC2 desktop software and its standalone suite. You get eight instrument plugins out of the box and a voucher for a premium plug from the company’s ever-growing collection. You even get that cool stem separation software, though it’s not available on the Key 37 yet.
Akai’s latest and greatest may not be as full-featured as 2022’s Key 61, but it’s around half the price. The Key 37 costs $900 and is available to order right now via parent company inMusic and authorized retailers.