It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned music producer or just a hobbyist. Choosing a reliable portable MIDI keyboard is one of the greatest components of a music production setup. A portable MIDI keyboard which is also referred to as a portable keyboard controller, includes music controls, piano keys, pedal inputs, among other components that are great for producing music. If you want to take control of your workflow in the stage or studio, then you need to choose the best portable MIDI keyboard.
7 Best Portable MIDI Keyboard On the Market
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Portable MIDI Keyboard
It can be confusing to look for a new portable MIDI keyboard for your home studio setup because the market is flooded with many choices. However, it requires a bit of research while looking for the best portable MIDI keyboard to purchase.
In this section, we have compiled a list of factors you should consider before you get the best portable MIDI keyboard that meets your needs.
The first and probably the most important factor to consider is the cost. You should consider your budget before you decide to invest in a portable MIDI Keyboard. When you know the money you have to spend on this product, it will help you know the quality you should look for.
Note that the price of a portable MIDI Keyboard ranges from around $100 to $3000. Therefore, if you are on a tight budget, you can look for a capable portable MIDI Keyboard with an affordable price tag.
Most portable MIDI Keyboards have Modulation and Pitch controls. Additionally, they come with buttons that shift the octaves on the portable MIDI keyboard. However, you may need to purchase a controller that has faders and extra rotary pots.
The good thing about these controls is that they can be used to automate parameters available in your DAW and assist you with mixing songs.
3. The Number of Keys
If you are searching for a portable MIDI keyboard, the question you need to ask yourself is how many keys should it come with? The answer is 25 key, 49 key, 61 key, and 88 key. The good thing about choosing a small portable MIDI keyboard is that you can carry it around easily. Also, you must check the size of the keys.
Another important factor to consider while looking for the best portable MIDI keyboard is the physical response of the keys. Musicians who want to translate their performances will without a doubt opt for a portable MIDI keyboard with a fully weighted piano-style action.
In case you are a piano player and you are not used to weight and resistance of a full piano action, semi-weighted keyboards may offer less resistance which is enough to offer subtle control over dynamics.
The digital work station is a vital factor to consider when you are deciding to purchase a portable MIDI keyboard. Certain programs can influence your final decision like the availability of AVID Pro Tool, FL studio, Apple Logic, Ableton Live among others. Remember that the DAW determines functionality. Hence, you must choose a portable MIDI keyboard that is designed with functionalities.
6. Drum Pads
Another important factor to consider is what you are going to use the controller for. A portable MIDI Keyboard is great for playing out piano parts as well as sketching out your melodies and chord progressions.
A MIDI Keyboard with drum pads is suitable for those looking for a device that is good for beat programming. Drum pads are designed to hit out beats efficiently, and allow producers to program in other instruments such as Push and Machine units.
Many modern portable MIDI keyboards come with a DIN MIDI jack which is suitable for full compatibility. However, you can find a keyboard that has USB, thus allowing for direct connection to computer-based DAWs as well as music apps that run on smartphones and tablets.
A smaller portable controller comes with the option to choose a wireless connection, which makes it suitable for keyboards that will be used on the road.
Top 7 Best Portable MIDI Keyboard Reviews
- The controller is versatile
- Ableton Live Lite 9 and Eleven Lite software included
- Relatively light and compact which means that it will not consume a lot of space
- Great value for money as it is one of cheapest 25-key MIDI controllers
- It is constructed from quality material which makes it durable
Watch out for
- The controller has no transport controls
- Dynamics on keys and pads are not great
Alesis V25 MIDI Keyboard Controller is our top pick on this list. The MIDI keyboard comes with 25 full-sized keys, including velocity sensitivity square front keys that make it perfect for playing virtual instruments.
Alesis V25 has 4 assignable buttons and 4 assignable knobs interface for easy controls. Also, this controller has 8 velocity and pressure-sensitive backlit pads for clip launching and beat production.
- Comes with regular piano-shaped keys
- Straightforward and easy to use
- Wireless portability for mobile songwriting
- Compatible with DAWs like Ableton Live, FL Studio, Cubase, Pro Tools and more
- Small design that makes it lightweight and provides extra portability
- Very budget-friendly
Watch out for
- No modulation wheels or pitch bend
Akai Professional LPK25 Portable MIDI Keyboard might have a small design but has many features, with a sustain button, tap tempo, and arpeggiator. The Akai Professional LPK25 has 25 velocity-sensitive mini-keyboard keys for playing chords, melodies, bass lines, and more.
Also, this portable MIDI keyboard has dedicated octave up and down buttons which are used to increase the keyboard to a full melodic range. Akai LPK25 Portable MIDI Keyboard works with different applications such as Logic, Sonar, GarageBand, Ableton Live, Fruity Loop, Digital Performer, ProTools, and more.
- It is easy to operate
- Comes with Mod and Pitch bend wheel
- Easy octave up/ down and Transpose built-in buttons
- Highly portable that makes it easy to carry to a live performance
Watch out for
- No faders or drum pads
- It does not come with many options like other high-end options
If you are looking for the best portable MIDI keyboard on a budget, then you need to get the MIDIPLUS AKM 320.
This portable MIDI keyboard comes with 32 note velocity-sensitive mid-size key, modulation wheel, pitch wheel, transpose buttons, and octave buttons.
In addition, it has a port for connecting to a computer through USB as well as an input that you can use for a sustain pedal. What we like about MIDIPLUS AKM 320 is that it is lightweight and portable, thus offering lots of ease and flexibility to users.
- The mini MIDI keyboard fits perfectly inside the backpack
- LED light is helpful and complements the process of playing with colors
- Comes with 8 channels each that come with 3 buttons, 1 knob, and 1 fader
- Supports various software titles and major DAW programs
Watch out for
- Has a noticeable vibration even when it is switched off
Korg 25 Key MIDI Controller is one of the best portable MIDI keyboard that comes with a convenient, compact control surface and is easy to set up for immediate use. This portable MIDI controller has a low profile 25 key USB MIDI keyboard which makes it suitable for use with netbook computers and laptops.
Thanks to the fader, knob, and 3 switches that are offered for each of the 8 channels, users can get complete control for their software synthesizer or DAW. With a USB cable, you can connect it from your nanoKONTROL2 to the computer, which offers a portable and quick music production system. The Korg 25 Key MIDI Controller is easy to transport and is a great choice for traveling.
- Has dedicated pitch bend, sustain performance buttons, and modulation
- 32 keys rather than the conventional 24 keys for a mini keyboard
- Inclusive of a user guide
- Comes with a safety and warranty manual
Watch out for
- Buttons for modulation/ pitch-bend and not wheels
Number 6 on this list is M-Audio Mini 32 Key USB Portable MIDI Keyboard. This is a compact and lightweight MIDI keyboard that is space-saving and helps users create music. With Pro Tools feature you can capture ideas very quickly.
The M-Audio Mini 32 Key MIDI Keyboard has 3 dedicated transport controls, 8 knobs, and 5 navigation buttons. Weighing 2.5 pounds and 15.6 x 1.5 x 7.7 inches, this portable MIDI Keyboard has 32 mini piano keys which make it ideal for programming VIs and synths.
- Powerful MIDI keyboard with advanced functions
- Functional with major DAW’s
- Lightweight and portable
- Has a well thought out design
- Includes Ableton Lite Live and VIP software
Watch out for
- The software integration requires improvement
Akai MPK 261 MIDI Keyboard is one of the best 61-semi weighted key MIDI keyboards available on the market today. This portable MIDI keyboard is a high quality gigging and studio keyboard which comes loaded with software as well as useful features.
It features 16 RGB illuminated MPC style pads that have 4 banks for 64 pads. You can take command of portable MIDI Keyboard thanks to the onboard USB MIDI interface which has 5 pin MIDI output and input. Another feature we like about Akai MPK 261 is MPC mainstay controls which include arpeggiator, MPC note repeat, tap tempo, MPC full level, and time division.
- Has great chord modes and arpeggiator
- Includes Ableton Live Lite 10
- It is compact and well-built
- Extremely lightweight and portable
- Comes with components that makes configuration easy
Watch out for
- The MIDI adapter is not included
- Lacks aftertouch
Finally on this list of best portable MIDI keyboard is Novation Launchkey 25 Mini Key MIDI Keyboard. The MK3 comes with a sleek design which is the same as its predecessor which is the MK2 Mini. Also, it has a creative arpeggiator that makes it easy to use but highly controllable, thus you can change octave, beat, rhythm, pattern, Gate, and more.
The deep and intuitive Ableton Live control includes device macro-control, capture MIDI, track select, clip and scene launch, mute/ solo/ stop, sends, pans, and volume. Novation Launchkey 25 Mini Key MIDI Keyboard also comes with 16 velocity-sensitive RGB pads, sustain input, Mod and pitch touch strips, and 8 rotary controls.
Benefits of a Portable MIDI Keyboard
A Portable MIDI keyboard comes in handy for both professional and amateur musicians who want to create innovative music that leaves many mesmerized.
One of the main benefits of a Portable MIDI keyboard has to be its compact design and versatility. This controller gives you control over a wide array of modern music software and hardware while being lightweight and compact to fit in your laptop bag.
The first advantage is that it is lightweight. You can find portable controllers that come in compact sizes, thus making it easier to travel with. The smaller the portable MIDI keyboard the easier it is to travel to gigs with.
The good thing about portable MIDI Keyboard is that they come with other sounds that are not available on a standard piano. Many MIDI controllers available on the market have drum pads which help users compose beats on their keyboard.
Great Sounding Melodies
The Portable MIDI keyboard has an advantage over other musical instruments such as traditional pianos in that it allows users to create the best melodies with the most effective sound quality. Because of the growing competition in the music industry, various players and musicians have started using this keyboard so that they can gain an advantage over their competitors.
Another benefit is that it allows you to connect wirelessly through Bluetooth or USB. This offers easy connectivity to Android or iOS devices such as iPhone/ iPad.
Many Portable MIDI keyboards come with software that integrates leading DAWs such as Ableton Live, FL Studio, Pro Tools and Cubase. The plug and play integration makes it easier to control the DAWs function without spending time mapping controls.
Depending on your needs and if you have limited space, you can choose a portable MIDI keyboard that has a compact design. Small-sized keyboards are suitable for those who produce music using a laptop and prefer a keyboard that is battery powered.
How Many Keys on MIDI Keyboard Should I Get?
Portable MIDI Keyboards come in many different sizes. The number of keys you want in a MIDI Keyboard will vary depending on its size. Usually, controllers have a key count that ranges between 25, 49, 61, and 88 keys while the sizes can vary from 20” to 50” in length.
There are also other models with 32, 37, 73, and 76 keys. So the question you might be asking yourself is how many keys on a portable MIDI Keyboard should I get? To know the answer to this question, you need to consider the following.
First is the amount of space you have in your music studio.
Second, if you want to play two-handed.
Third, the portability of the MIDI keyboard and whether you will be transporting it on the road.
In case you are looking for a mini keyboard, then the most keys you will get on a portable MIDI Keyboard are 25. Another compact option you can consider choosing is the 32 key MIDI keyboard. Other than these two smaller keyboards, you can find 49 key MIDI keyboard as well as 61 key MIDI keyboard designs.
Note that many of the smaller portable MIDI Keyboard comes with octave buttons which ensures you achieve the same range as 61 key full-sized MIDI Keyboard. Therefore, if you have enough space in your studio then you can get a larger keyboard.
3 Top Recommended Portable MIDI Keyboard Controllers
There are good reasons why you should buy the portable MIDI controllers on this list. The above keyboards can be great for live performance, music production, beat making, hip hop production, and electronic music.
Note that all the controllers on this list of best portable MIDI keyboards come with the same basic functions, which makes it important to figure out which ones best suit your needs. Portable MIDI keyboards have a lot to offer, and if you research and learn how to use its features then you can get a fun and useful experience.