Review: Medeli AKX10. The best keyboard you can get at $699.
Updated: May 15, 2021
Most high-end arranger workstation category is a niche that is tightly held by the Korg PA and the Yamaha PSR-SX keyboards. Arranger keyboards in this category have fantastic sounds and loads of useful features for live solo performances. But these keyboards have a problem. They are expensive and are priced out of reach of many keyboard players from less affluent economies. The Medeli AKX10 Accompaniment Keyboard achieves the same features as a Yamaha PSR-SX900 coupled with good samples at up to 70% cheaper. These are the reasons why you should get the Medeli AKX10
The Medeli AKX10 has one of the better key actions, with firm key action, quiet with no rattles associated with cheap keyboards, and has a nice linear feel. However, it's nowhere near the ultra-high quality keybed of a $5,000 Yamaha Genos or a $4,000 Korg PA4X.
The Medeli AKX10 includes a little strip of black foam below the keys to dampen any key noise. The keys do get noticeably harder to press nearer to the pivot points, indicating these keys have short pivot lengths. There will not be any issues for keyboard players but those who use the AKX10 to play complex classical piano pieces will face some issues.
The keys are not made of a textured feel (which is what other brands are doing) but have a glossy surface instead, having textured keys would be better as it will allow for less slippage when playing fast musical passages. While the Yamaha PSR-SX900 has only got 5 velocity curves, the AKX10 does better with 8 velocity curves so you can find the perfect setting for your playing style.
Key actions of the Medeli AKX10
The Medeli AKX10 comes with 1,100 sounds plus 256 GM2 voices with an additional 768MB of user memory for you to load your own additional samples. This user memory is more than the Yamaha PSR-SX900, which has a paltry 100MB and the PSR-SX700.
The sound of the Medeli AKX10 is on par with the PSR-SX600 & SX700 but for some sounds, the Yamaha PSR-SX900 is still better, which shouldn’t be a surprise as the Yamaha costs $1,500 more than the AKX10.
The voice articulations and velocity of the Medeli AKX10 switched samples, which Medeli calls “Acoustic Expression Sound” are significantly better than previous Medeli keyboards but are still no match for the Super Articulation technology found on the Yamaha PSR-SX900.
You can layer up to 3 voices on the AKX10 which is more than the dual layers found on Yamaha’s more expensive PSR-SX900 and DGX-670. Unless you are a paid musician or produce music professionally, for most keyboard players, the quality of the sounds in the AKX10 is more than sufficient.
With individual channel EQ, 45 reverbs 76 choruses, and 48 insert effects including the option to configure another 90 of your own, plus a global EQ and compressor, the AKX10 lets you go really deep in editing a unique tone for use in your music. At the same time, the massive touch screen also makes sound editing easy.
In addition, you can create up to 500 of your own arpeggiator patterns if the built-in 100 patterns are not enough. If you still want more, you can use the Medeli Grand Suite software to easily load and edit millions of samples found on the internet and create expansion packs really easily.
The software can also be used to effortlessly create whatever arpeggiator pattern you can imagine. Medeli is beginning to understand that for the AKX10 to succeed, they have to build an eco-system for their AKX keyboards just like how Apple built an ecosystem around their iOS devices.
With Medeli’s Grand Suite software, more experienced musicians can effortlessly make expansion packs to share or to sell to others. For those who prefer not to program your own sounds, the AKX10 comes with more than 1,000 Quick Settings for you to mix and match with every style. The Quick Settings is as well-programmed as the One-Touch-Settings on Yamaha’s SX keyboards.
The joystick used for pitch bend and modulation feels premium and returns to the center smoothly. I also love the little LED ring light on the tip of the joystick.
Also, the 3 assignable switches above the joystick have soft-touch surfaces and can be configured with more than 20 different performance parameters.
The 3 large knobs can also be assigned and configured to trigger a long list of real-time effects, making it very convenient.
The knobs feel so smooth and dampened that it makes the plasticky PSR-SX knobs feel cheap. The AKX10 also has really pretty LED indicators also let you see at a glance the amount of effects you have applied.
The AKX10 claims to have 256 notes of polyphony, whereas the Yamaha PSR-SX900 which costs $1,500 more has only half the polyphony. You can layer three voices with a ridiculous amount of delay and sustain while a busy style is playing and did not experience any note dropouts which is an extremely important feature for arranger keyboards.
Sound Quality of the Medeli AKX10
The Medeli AKX10 is marketed as an accompaniment keyboard and it comes with 280 inbuilt styles covering every imaginable musical genre. However, Medeli is building an ecosystem for users to load a lot more of their own or third-party styles. That is why the AKX10 comes with a huge internal memory for another 1,000 user styles
With every style, you get 3 intros, 3 endings, 4 variations, 4 rhythm fills, half-bar fills, and a musical break. The styles are well-programmed and respond decisively to bass inversions and complex chord changes. The transitions between variations and fill-ins are also smooth.
It also comes with a visual mixer that allows you to mix the volume or mute any of the 8 tracks in every style which is extremely useful to build up an arrangement.
Comparing to the competitors, Casio is the weakest in the styles department and the styles in the AKX10 are better than the styles in the Casio CT-X keyboards. At the same time, the AKX10 styles are as good as those found in the Korg PA-700 and the lower-end Yamaha PSR-SX keyboards. However, the styles in the AKX10 have yet to reach the dynamics & musicality of the styles found on Yamaha’s PSR-SX900, which is to be expected as the SX900 costs $1,500 more.
Medeli wants you to explore creating and editing your own styles and have included a very powerful 8 tracks style creator and editor. This allows you to
record new styles in real-time or go into granular editing with step-recording which is a feature not found in entry-level Yamaha PSR-SX keyboards.
The Medeli AKX10 has every imaginable chord detection mode, such as bass inversion, full keyboard detection are available on this keyboard which makes it perfect for those using the AKX10 for Trinity College of London’s keyboard exams.
With Medeli’s Grand Suite software it makes it ridiculously easy for users to create, edit & mix style parts which are key to creating an ecosystem where users can easily share or sell their own style creation.
There are 720 musical phrases you can trigger with phrase pads which can further spice up your playing. If that is not enough for you can record an additional 500 of your own musical phrases to make your music sound busier. However, the phrase pads cannot trigger audio samples, which the higher-end Yamaha and Korg keyboards can do
Styles of the Medeli AKX10
The Medeli AKX10 has a pair of amplifiers with a total of 100 watts of amplification which drives 4 speakers which gives the keyboard a good amount of frequency separation. The AKX10 speaker system sounds significantly better than my PSR-SX600 & SX700 as these 2 Yamaha keyboards only have a pair of amplifiers which put out a paltry 30 watts of power.
Speaker of the Medeli AKX10
It also comes with microphone input but also a vocal harmonizer and a vocoder. The vocal effects section is great, but the vocal harmonizer and vocoder are still behind those found in Yamaha & Korg but
it’s amazing that we are getting these features on such an affordable keyboard.
The AKX10 has a slew of connectivity options, apart from the usual headphone jack, you get 2 assignable pedal inputs, a pair of ¼” stereo line outputs, and a pair of ¼” stereo line inputs. Compare this with Yamaha which gives you a paltry mini-jack for the aux in.
As well as the full-size 5-DIN MIDI IN/OUT ports which are great for controlling external modular synths and the USB port on the AKX10 transmits and receives both MIDI and audio, doing away with the need for you to buy an external audio interface.
Audio over USB is a feature that even Yamaha’s $5,000 Genos cannot do and if you prefer a wireless setup, the AKX10 has wireless Bluetooth MIDI & audio built right inside.
You can save your own registration setups as the AKX10 can internally support up to 200 banks for a total of 1,600 registration memory slots which is plenty for most users. You can also save up to 1,000 user albums which are the equivalent of Yamaha’s playlist and Korg’s SongBook feature.
Not only the AKX10 is a full-fledged 16 track sequencing workstation allowing you to record up to 500 songs internally and have the ability to execute granular event-level editing. You can also record your performance as audio recordings, if you prefer, for easier distribution. It also supports WAV, MP3 & AAC audio files and can remove vocals from the audio track for those who rather play with audio backing tracks rather than styles
To make the AKX10 stand out on stage, Medeli has also incorporated really cool “breathing” LED lights on both sides of the keyboard. The LED lights pulse rhythmically in sync with your music and add an additional dimension to your stage performance. You can change the color of these pulsating lights or turn them off when you play in more conservative environments.
Built-in features of the Medeli AKX10
The Medeli AKX10 has a large touch screen which is more responsive than those found on both the Yamaha PSR-SX as well as those on the Korg PA keyboards. This screen seems to have a higher-touch sampling rate which explains why it gives you the confidence that what you touch on the screen will be registered.
You can also personalize the thematic colors of the UI on the touch screen to make it your very own.
The AKX10 is very user-friendly and logically laid out which does not require you to refer to the manual at all from the moment you get it. Anyone who has used a Yamaha PSR-S or SX series keyboard would instantly feel right at home on the AKX10. Many of the features are also uncannily similar to Yamaha arrangers such as the One Touch Setting on Yamaha is Quick Setting on Medeli, Playlists on Yamaha, and Songbook on Korg are called albums on this keyboard. Even Yamaha’s Direct Access feature, which I use a lot, is here on the Medeli but is called the “ShortCut” button
Although Yamaha & Korg have full-color touch screens, the implementation on the AKX10 is much better. On the AKX10, you get large, high-contrast faders, knobs, and buttons. The layout is very well-thought-out and nothing is gratuitous. Unlike the Korg PA screen which has the resolution of a Gameboy and Yamaha’s screen which has a lot of wasted real estate in order to look aesthetic and colorful, every element on every screen of the AKX10 is purposeful, highly functional, and makes sense. Medeli has taken the best of Korg and Yamaha user interface and improved on it. In fact, I would go as far as stating that the AKX10 touch screen responsiveness, layout, and user experience is currently the gold standard which the competitors should learn from.
User Interface of the Medeli AKX10
The Medeli AKX10 has a really solid build compared to its entry-level keyboards.
It might not have the curves of a PSR-SX but after you spend 5 years lugging these keyboards around on gigs, the AKX10 will come out in better shape than the PSR-SX keyboards. The touch screen, switches, knobs, joystick, and rear connectors of the AKX10 have a heavy-duty, robust feel to it. There is no doubt, Medeli built the AKX10 to be a live performance workhorse.
Build Quality of the Medeli AKX10
For 80% of the arranger keyboardists out there, there is no doubt that the Medeli AKX10 at under $700, is an extremely value-for-money accompaniment keyboard. The AKX10 is recommended as the best keyboard for those taking their Trinity College of London keyboard exams. Whether you are taking the Rock & Pop Keyboard or Electronic Keyboard syllabus, the AKX10 has every feature you need to complete all the assessment levels up to Grade 8 and even the Licentiate Diploma.
For those who are beginners and prefer not to spend too much on their first keyboard, yet don’t want to keep upgrading as their skills improve, the Medeli AKX10 is priced at a fantastic sweet spot. When you win the lottery and decide to upgrade to the $5,000 Yamaha Genos, you will be well acquainted with the familiar interface from using your AKX10.
There is no doubt, the Medeli AKX10 is better than the Casio CT-X5000, better than the Yamaha PSR-E463 and PSR-SX600, and better than Korg’s EK-50 and i3 at a much affordable price. In fact, the Medeli AKX10 is currently the best keyboard for under $1,000 but costs under $699.
I hope that this review of the Medeli AKX10 has been useful for you. Do check out the links provided in this article for the latest updates and prices of the Medeli AKX10. If this keyboard is not for you, do look at the other articles in this blog to find your ideal instrument