Novation Remote SL Compact 49, Korg Kontrol49 or Akai MPK49


I’m looking for some insightful comments on these 3 MIDI controllers.

The Remote SL series have Automap Universal. Seems like a big plus, but does it really work as advertised?

Korg’s Kontrol49 looks pretty sharp and has the sliders which the SL Compact doesn’t have. The Akai MPK49 looks great as well, but my local shop can’t seem to get a hold of one of these and Akai’s email support left me in the dark too.

Please share your experiences. Why do you like yours, or why wouldn’t you buy it again?

Update: I went for the Novation Remote SL 37, good stuff!

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  • audioworld

    my local shop has all three next to each other:
    if you need good keys and pads, go for the AKAI, the response of the keys is the best of the three (in my opinion). the automap on the Novation works ok MOST of the time (when used with Ableton Live), but I found myself still looking around between Novation and the PC screen while playing on stage way too often, so I build custom midi controllers for my most often used plugins, just to be sure that every button/rotary does exactely what i think it does…
    I still need a lot of Program Changes, and really miss those 32 direct access keys of an old DX-7… none of the three offers me this, unfortunately.
    best regards, and thank you for your reliable information over the years!

  • I love the idea of Automap, and I don’t need it in a live setup so the Novation looks good.

    The pads on the Novation seem a bit unresponsive, but I don’t think I’ll be using them much. But, no sliders…
    Unfortunately the Remote SL which does have them is a bit pricier.

  • I do not own any of those but I have to say that I fell in love with the Remote-Series the first time I saw them. Too pricey for me though, I stick with my old m-audio radium for the time being.

  • novation remote sl all the way. have a sl61 here. totally rocks. intuitive software setup, intuitive design, excellent quality, dead easy to work with and very flexible. the best part is the key action is wonderful and the aftertouch feel is probably the best i’ve used.

    before this i had a fatar 88 key, then a oxygen8, then a rolandxp-60. of all the controllers the remote sl is the best bar none. even better than my old xp-60 keyboard was.

    novation also provides automap, and great templates already built for the latest vsts out.

    a new version of automap is coming too which is going to be cool as well.

    novation all the way man.

  • Thanks for the info guys. I guess I’m going to have to break the bank and get the SL then.

  • Document02

    Got a Remote SL zero, and the LED display broke afte 3 months. took the after sales 3 months to send me a new one. From forums, that is apparently a pretty common issue with the SL.
    Other issues include paint tearing off and knobs acceleration too sensitive for unlimited knobs.

    Additionally there seems to be issues with live 7 and automap.

    If I were to buy another one, I’d go for Korg…

  • Steve

    Just picked up a compact SL 49 today, loving it so far. I prefer the action to the MPK49, and the Korg just feels and looks cheap IMO.

    I do wish it had a few sliders like the regular SL series but the knob setup is pretty intuitive, and the compact format is nice for travelling.

  • Al

    I picked up the MPK49 a week ago and i love it. I did have to wait a week from a local guitar center, they had to ship it from another location. Well worth the wait!!

  • I picked up a second hand Remote SL 37 a few days ago.

    There’s something wrong with the LED displays, which is why I was able to get it for 275 EUR.

    The LED’s can only be read from one angle, unless you change the contrast. So basically, when I set the contrast to 0-2 I can read everything clearly, but when I stand and look down on the LED’s I can’t read anything unless I change the contrast to about max.

    Don’t know if it’s something which can be fixed, but as I will use the controller from the same angle 99% of the time it’s not a big issue for me.

    So far I’ve been quite happy with this controller. The keys feel great, reminds me a bit of my old Roland PC-200 MK II.

    I’ve tried the Automap, but I’m not sure if I’m going to be using that a lot actually. It seems not very useful with things like Reaktor 5 (it’s probably faster to just use MIDI learn on the few controls I want to control…).

    I’m using the FL Studio setup from Novation which works pretty well. A lot of controls are left unmapped so I’ll be concentrating on optimizing my workflow with the Remote. The less I have to switch between controller and keyboard/mouse the better.

  • cool on the SL purchase ronnie. the new software that’s coming out will make the LED screens a thing of the past – did you see the NAMM video? check it out on youtube the software is an overlay which shows what the mapping and such is. i’m excited about it for the same reason – the angle at which i sit and the way i have my SL set up i cannot really see the LED’s anyway.

  • will

    does the novation have the arpegiattor fonction…? If not, is it possible to play an acoustic instrument like a flute or a harp with an arpegiattor in the music softwares? (i am novice thanks)

  • Hi Will, the Novation SL doesn’t have arp and note repeat like the MPK49.

    I don’t use arpeggiators much but I think most hosts/sequencers include one.


    I picked up an Akai mpk49 Fri sept 19, 2008
    with plans on using it to control Ableton live
    as a full DAW controller

    I will set up a Live set ( like a protools session)

    8 tracks (8 akai faders set to control the track faders. 8 akai backlit buttons will be set to rec arm/disarm each track

    the akai transport controls will control rec/play/stop fst fwd/ rwd.

    the 8 akai knobs will be set to control track panning

    Whether making beats, tracking vocals or mixing a song my mouse will hopefully stay untouched mostly (my goal)
    by switching between banks the track count can be duplicated in each bank.

    prior to this i used an m-audio keystation 49 & a trigger finger…. minus all the extra controls.

    i havent used the other controllers listed so can’t say yay or nay but the Akai does it for me plus is a beast and heavy as a cinder block not like the lightweight toylike midi keyboards, a plus for home studio but not for easy onb the go stuff

  • Eki

    i have akai mpk 49.
    i work it in logic pro and ableton live
    very simple and rapid
    great akai product

  • kell

    i’ve used the remote sl compact 25 extensively, and very much liked it. it may not have sliders, but you get led displays above each knob that update immediately when their relevant settings are changed (by mouse or automation, for instance). i never had issue reading the displays…it worked great out of the box with logic.
    however, being the gear junkie that i am…i couldn’t help but pick up an mpk 49 on sale last week.
    my initial impressions:
    the keys are a lot “stiffer” than the sl, and you cannot modify the keyboard’s velocity settings (?!?). that’s just bizarre for a midi controller. you CAN alter pad velocity curves, however.
    the pads…well, i have yet to find pads on any controller all that useful…on the mpk, you really seem to have to whack them to get anything at all to register, even after playing with tweaking with the velocity settings. the novations’ pads aren’t all that hot either, though they seemed more sensitive. call it a draw for me. i still end up drumming with the keyboard, as i don’t trigger samples or loops or the like. one hope dashed.
    i DO like the extra keys on the mpk, and the rugged build. the size and weight pretty much rule it out as a traveling controller though. grrrr.
    i don’t have much use for the arpeggiator, though it seems to work fine, and is fun to mess around with. to be fair, on the novation, i never used automap either, just the default logic template.
    midi learn, baby!
    the mpk’s knobs and sliders seem fine, and do indeed send control messages. the mpk has 76 assignable controls, the novation compact has 64 (but, for you knob/fader junkies, the novation x-station sends 150).
    in the end, for mouseless daw use, i personally find the novation a more useful controller overall, mostly due to the visual feedback thing. on the other hand, i like the build of the mpk, and the slightly stiffer keybed and extra keys.
    which i prefer just seems to depend on what i want to do…

  • indigocat

    I wuv my widdle SL compact. I don’t use Automap either (nb Novation has just released Automap 3). It seems to work fine in FL studio, I just found in the FL Bible that there is a wrapper especially for Novations, must look at that.

  • ctrlshft

    I’ve used the Novation SL25 Compact, and recently purchased a MPK25.

    Gotta say, Akai’s MPK25 has an amazing key action, best I’ve seriously ever used, and Novation sources with Fatar, so that’s really saying something. It’s interface is great too, seemlessly fits into cubase/reason/virus etc very well.

  • P

    What about the M-Audio AXIOM Pro-49 ? Is it comparable with the Novation Remote sl, the KorgKontrol or the Akai mpk 49?

  • synthT

    ReMote SL 37s for $279 at nova musik, just got mine , love it. 37 keys is perfect for me, way more solid feeling than any korg or edirol(garbage)
    controller Ive used. But I dont know if Id recommend installing automap, for Ableton 8 anyway. It just seems to confuse Ableton. From what Ive learned you can either use the SL to control Abletons mixer OR Ableton devices NOT both at the same time. In order to say play a vst synth with full control vs. Controlling mixer in Ableton, You must switch between two different automap templates. I dont mind this because I useally am doing one or the other but if your a live-DJ type you might want to look into this. Still better than any other controller for Ableton but kinda defeats the purpose of having Automap if you have to map components separately. If you have a SL keyboard AND another usb mixer control that would work.

  • Emil

    Having owned Novation Remote SL Compact 49 for couple of years it still works very well and mine was a floor model. I like the response on the keys and that every single control is infinite, well all the knobs are, and buttons don’t get depressed. I’m not that advanced, but I really do not understand how you can sell a controller with fixed knobs or faders. What happens when you open up a project you worked on yesterday that you want to tweak? So this one is nice well built reliable controller that does the job for me.

    I can’t comment on the other two. Never buy Edirol, three of them failed on me and when I went to search the web it seems pretty much happened to most people.

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