Posted 03 February 2012 - 07:43
As a disclaimer, I haven't used either of these MIDI controllers.
Just skimming through reviews it's hard to say. The Akai Pro seems like the slightly better choice to me mainly based on quality. I'm admittedly out of the loop these days, but I've never really known M-Audio as having quality, but more of a decent bang for your buck. Akai has a great track record of quality and, at least "way back when", was used in professional recording in some genres (and especially the ones where one might use a "keyboard" with 25 keys).
The M-Audio MIDI controller doesn't have weighted keys which was a red flag to me, and after reading several reviews I found that lots of people felt that the keys felt "cheap". Every non-weighted keyboard I've ever used felt like a Fisher Price keyboard you'd buy at Toys 'R' Us. The Akai has semi-weighted keys which have a much better feel IMO (as far as playing and the quality of hardware), but some people prefer the loose, non-weighted keys like the M-audio has. Since these are both 25-key controllers, that might not matter much to you, though since there can't be much heavy playing.
If you don't care about that, it's a toss-up pretty much; it just depends on your preferences. They both have velocity-sensitive keys (and pads in the Akai's case). Anything you can do with drum pads can be done with the keys. If you're rough with drum pads or are just used to them, then the Akai would be better for you. If you use a lot of tracks in your compositions and do a lot of retakes or punching in and out, then you might prefer the DAW controls that the M-Audio has.
I'll admit that the Akai MIDI controller is disappointing in that it doesn't have pitch bend or modulation controls. If you care about those, then that's something else to consider. I'd honestly save up and step up to a 49-key MIDI controller where you can get the features from both controllers all in the same controller. I've watched people try to make music with these 2-octave, 25-key controllers and it doesn't seem worth the 50 bucks or so saved. It can definitely be done, but if you're constantly hitting Octave Up/Down keys while playing it just distracts you from coming up with something more natural.