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Best Portable Midi Keyboards 2024

For musicians and producers on the go, having a lightweight and compact MIDI keyboard can make all the difference in being able to create music anywhere. Advancements in music technology have led to an array of portable MIDI keyboard options that retain great playability and features without sacrificing portability. When your studio is wherever your laptop is, having a keyboard you can easily transport enables spontaneity and productivity.

In determining the best portable MIDI keyboards, key factors include size/weight, velocity-sensitivity, connectivity, and bundled software. Whether you produce electronic music or want a controller for live performance, there is a portable MIDI keyboard to fit your needs. In this article, we will explore some of the top portable MIDI keyboard options available today and their standout features for creating music on the move. Equipped with one of these lightweight, flexible keyboards in your gear bag, you’ll have the capability to produce tracks or practice parts whenever inspiration strikes.

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 – 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller With 8 Backlit Drum Pads

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 - 25 Key USB MIDI...
  • Music Production and Beat Maker Essential – USB powered MIDI controller...
  • Total Control of Your Production - Innovative 4-way thumbstick for dynamic...
  • The MPC Experience - 8 backlit velocity-sensitive MPC-Style MIDI beat pads...

The Akai MPK Tiny MK3 is Best Portable Midi Keyboard. the world’s best-selling mini keyboard controller’s third generation. Its small size makes it ideal for travel, and the large number of pads and assignable controls allow you to handle every part of your production. Simply put, the MPK is one of the most capable MIDI controllers available today.

The MPK Mini III from Akai Professional allows you to take control of your music-making in exciting new ways, whether you’re a mobile performer or a studio producer. This USB bus-powered MIDI controller has 25 velocity-sensitive synth-action tiny keys, Octave Up/Down buttons, and an ergonomic 4-way thumbstick for pitch-bend and mod chores, making it small enough to fit in your backpack.

The third-generation MPK Tiny has been updated to improve playability and incorporates Akai’s Gen 2 dynamic mini keyboard. The MPK features excellent keys for putting down virtual pianos, EPs, and synthesizers, as well as orchestral instruments. You also get eight illuminated, velocity-sensitive MPC-style pads (in two banks) with MPC Note Repeat and Full Level, as well as eight assignable knobs with the MPK Mini III. A built-in arpeggiator with customizable resolution, range, and modes is also included.

The Complete Music Production Starter Kit, a sophisticated virtual instrument and FX suite that comes included with the MPK Mini III, is the difference between a fancy MIDI controller and a comprehensive hybrid keyboard workstation. Over 1500 downloadable sounds are included, as well as a sophisticated software package that contains MPC Beats and six outstanding virtual Instruments (Bassline, Tubesynth, Electric, Hybrid 3, Mini Grand, and Velvet), as well as 2GB of sound content to jump-start your hit-making imagination right now.

Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 25-key Keyboard Controller

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Novation Launchkey Mini [MK3] — Portable 25-Key,...
  • Get hands on with Ableton Live - Have a seamless music making experience...
  • Get creative easily with arpeggiator - Easy to use but deeply controllable,...
  • Play chords with one finger - Lay down chords for your track quick with...

The Novation Launchkey Mini is your ticket to Ableton Live creativity on the fly. Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 is one of the Best Portable Midi Keyboards . It is quite functional, has a lot of helpful features, and fits neatly into your backpack. You may play your way with 25 synth-action tiny keys and 16 velocity-sensitive RBG pads. The illuminated pads can be used to play samples, start loops, or control drums.

Ableton Live and the Launchkey Mini MK3 USB Midi Controller are designed to operate together effortlessly. Your new Launchkey will work with any DAW, regardless of which one you use. Whatever you’re working on, the Launchkey will take care of your sessions like a champ.

The Launchkey Mini MK3’s eight onboard Scale Modes are perhaps the most interesting new feature. Whether we recognize it or not, we all employ modes. You can now lay down a smokin’ Mixolydian bass line or blast out a great solo in Dorian mode without getting bogged down in music theory with the third-gen Launchkey.

Scale Modes convert the keys you’re playing into notes in the scale you’ve selected. Simply choose your root note and the scale you want to use, and then start playing. Launchkey will streamline your creative process and improve your musical vocabulary, regardless of how accomplished a keyboardist you are.

Chord Modes turn the Launchkey MK3’s keys and pads into an interactive control surface for music exploration, with tonal and harmonic associations for every note you play. The arpeggiator allows you to quickly experiment with fresh ideas and nail the perfect melodies, while the mutate tool reassembles your patterns into new musical statements. Custom Modes streamline controller-to-software connection, placing more power at your fingertips than ever before. Custom Modes let you alter the behavior of your Launchkey using the browser-based Novation Components tool, giving you complete control over control assignments, MIDI routing, pad color, and more.

Because Novation intended the Launchkey’s controls to work with Ableton Live immediately and effortlessly, this is the case. All of the controls, on the other hand, are totally assignable. If you use a different DAW, the Novation Launchkey Mini will automatically map to it. Launchkey features full interaction with Logic and Reason, as well as native capabilities with Studio One, Cubase, and Pro Tools via HUI.

The Novation Launchkey Mini is compatible with external gear that has a TRS Type A 1/8-inch MIDI connection. Connect your hardware synths and devices to your rig and control it all from your Launchkey, whether you’re using it alone or with a computer. This capability was not available on previous-generation Launchkey models, so we’re thrilled that Novation has added it on the Launchkey Mini MK3!

Launchkey Mini is the keyboard controller that takes you deeper on your musical adventure, whether you’re just starting out or entrenched in the groove. Launchkey Mini comes pre-loaded with a powerful software bundle of virtual instruments, plug-ins, and sample packs, including Ableton Live 10 Lite, Spitfire Audio LABS Expressive Strings, XLN Audio Addictive Keys, Klevgrand R0Verb and DAW Cassette, AAS Session Bundle, a two-month Splice Sounds membership, and the Novation Sound Collective. With Novation’s Launchkey Mini, you can start composing music right away.

Nektar SE25 25-key Keyboard Controller

Nektar SE25 | USB MIDI Controller Keyboard with...
  • Compact, expressive and rugged MIDI keyboard for when you want to make...
  • Nektar DAW integration for most popular DAWs
  • Comprehensive MIDI functionailty. Compatible with all MIDI music software...

The Nektar SE25 is one of the best midi keyboard controllers with exceptional velocity-sensitive micro keys in a tough and portable package. You can use the SE25 to handle transport functions as well as track selection after downloading Nektar’s DAW integration software, making this compact keyboard a wonderful choice for anyone wishing to take their DAW on the road. The SE25 has a simple user interface with six buttons to the left of the keyboard that are pre-assigned for octave shift, transpose, and sustain.

The Nektar SE25 is the firm’s most compact MIDI controller keyboard to date, and it comes from a company dedicated to providing artists with high-quality MIDI controllers at an affordable price. This elegantly designed keyboard controller is as functional as it is portable. The SE25 has everything you need for hands-on control and DAW integration, including 25 velocity-sensitive tiny keys, three velocity curves, and six assignable buttons that handle the essentials you look for in a controller – and it fits in a book bag!

Part Two’s unique feature allows you to play in ways that aren’t even conceivable on larger keyboards with a lot more keys! To temporarily swap octaves, add an octave or harmony layer while playing, or switch to a different MIDI channel, use the “2” button. The SE25 reverts to its original settings when you press the Part Two button, allowing you to switch between two alternative keyboard configurations in real time. This opens up a slew of new performance options for you. The “2” button can be assigned to features like Octave, MIDI Channel, Transpose, Layer, and Latch, or a combination of them.

Download Nektar’s DAW integration software and use the SE25 to handle DAW transport features and track selection, allowing you to put down the mouse or track pad and take control of your DAW with your hands. It also includes Bitwig 8 track with over 50 software instruments and effects. The SE25 has a lot to offer, whether you’re just getting started with MIDI/DAW integration or are a seasoned veteran.

Arturia KeyStep 37 37-key Controller & Sequencer

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Arturia KeyStep 37 Controller & Sequencer...
  • CREATIVE IDEA GENERATOR: A powerful tool that seamlessly controls your...
  • CREATIVITY SIMPLIFIED: Bring movement to your melodies with 8 arp modes,...
  • INTUITIVE SEQUENCER: Experiment with intuitive step-sequencing or live...

The Arturia KeyStep 37 takes a new approach to MIDI sequencing and control. While many modern musicians have grown accustomed to using their keyboard controller only for basic note input and performing all sequencing and arranging in their DAW, there are a number of situations where having hardware control over sequencing, arpeggiation, chord and scale modes provides a distinct advantage.

This is where the KeyStep 37 enters the picture. This small controller from Arturia is jam-packed with smart capabilities that will speed up your music-making process. There’s a lot of advanced tech behind the hood that doesn’t readily meet the eye, beyond the 37-note keyboard, knobs, buttons, and LED screen.

The velocity-sensitive keybed of the KeyStep 37 has aftertouch, which is usually reserved for high-end controllers, as well as RGB LED feedback. Control-voltage (CV) pitch, gate, and modulation connections for interaction with modular synth configurations can be found on the back panel. Then there’s the eight-pattern 64-step polyphonic sequencer, an eight-mode arpeggiator with additional random modes, and a unique Chord mode with 12 voicings.

The capacitive pitch and mod strips, which are simple to use but don’t have any moving elements to accumulate dust or damage, would be appreciated. When you add in 5-pin MIDI DIN I/O, USB-MIDI, and USB bus power, you’ve got a formidable, appealing, compact, and roadworthy kit for the modern musician and producer on the go.

KeyStep 37 provides you advanced control over your hardware and software’s inner workings. With KeyStep’s four new rotary controllers, you can alter your settings in real-time utilizing 16 MIDI CC parameters spread across four switchable banks. Use MIDI I/O to connect your hardware synths. MIDI over USB gives you control over your VST instruments. Use the CV pitch, gate, and mod ports to connect your modular gear.

Your complete setup will be in sync thanks to KeyStep’s internal clock connectivity. The KeyStep 37 comes with Ableton Live Lite and the MIDI Control Center program for easy MIDI mapping on your Mac or PC straight out of the box, so you can get started right away. The Arturia KeyStep 37 gives you creative flexibility over your MIDI configuration.

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 Controller Keyboard

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 Controller...
  • 32 compact keys to control all your instruments and effects
  • Sleek and solid design, fused with professional production features
  • Comes with a powerful software package, including synths, basses, drums,...

The Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 is an excellent option for those looking for a low-cost tiny MIDI keyboard controller. This little, portable keyboard is a great way to get started with NI at a low cost. 8 touch-sensitive control knobs, 2 touch strips for intuitive expressiveness, and a 4-directional push encoder for one-handed sound browsing and project navigation are all included in the Komplete Kontrol M32.

The M32 offers a large choice of instruments and effects from NI and an ever-growing collection of NKS partners, in addition to being portable and packed with features. The Komplete Kontrol 32 comes with included software, including Ableton Live 10 Lite, allowing you to get started producing at home or on the move.

The Komplete Kontrol M32 from Native Instruments is a small, portable Micro Keyboard MIDI controller that can access a wide selection of instruments and effects from NI and a growing list of NKS partners. Play and write on NI’s first micro-sized keyboard’s best-in-class 32-note micro-sized keybed, get inspired by the M32’s Smart Play capabilities, and exercise your own creativity with hands-on controls, fine-tuning your works.

The Komplete Kontrol M32 comes with everything you need to make music, including soft synths, EPs, Maschine Essentials, Ableton Live 10 Lite, and the Komplete Start production suite. The M32 also includes full VST compatibility, deep integration with Maschine software, easy control over Logic Pro X, GarageBand, and Ableton Live, and USB 2.0 bus power. This is one of the better starter selections because it includes everything you’ll need to get started.

Alesis V25 – 25-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with Backlit Pads

Alesis V25 - 25-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller...
  • MIDI Keyboard with 25 full-sized, velocity sensitive square-front keys,...
  • 8 velocity- and pressure-sensitive backlit pads for beat production and...
  • 4 assignable knobs and 4 assignable buttons interface with your music...

With a 25-note synth-action keyboard, the Alesis V25 is suitable for two-handed performance while remaining portable. Pitch and mod wheels, transport controls, and a large range of pads, buttons, and encoders are all available on the V25. You have everything you need in the studio or onstage to master your virtual instruments and plug-ins. The Alesis V25 USB MIDI keyboard controller has incredible flexibility and functionality.

The V25 USB MIDI keyboard controller features full-sized synth-action keys and is ideal for use with virtual instruments, plug-ins, and other applications. In a tiny controller, you get the experience of huge keys with a square front. You can tap out rhythms, activate loops, and play synths with eight illuminated, velocity- and pressure-sensitive LED pads.

You can map practically any function of your plug-ins to a tactile controller thanks to a quartet of assignable knobs and buttons. When you combine it with the pitch and mod wheels, you’ve got a controller that’s ready to take command of your software. A single USB cable transmits MIDI data while also powering your keyboard. Ableton Live Lite 9 is also included, as well as a Software Preset/Parameter utility.

The Alesis V25 USB MIDI keyboard controller gives you access to a wide range of controls. To begin with, there are the full-size keys themselves, all 25 of which are velocity-sensitive. You also get 8 velocity-sensitive, illuminated drum pads to pound out beats and activate loops. Four lit, assignable knobs and four illuminated, assignable buttons are located above the pads and can be programmed to control the parameters of your favorite virtual instruments. When you combine that with the pitch and modulation wheels, you have a controller that can handle any project.

Arturia MiniLab 3 Mini Hybrid Keyboard Controller

Arturia MiniLab 3 - Universal MIDI Controller for...
  • GO WITH YOUR FLOW: MiniLab 3 is an easy keyboard controller that adapts to...
  • PERFORMANCE-READY PORTABILITY: Portable yet robust, MiniLab 3 is light...
  • ALL THE ESSENTIAL CONTROLS IN A COMPACT CONTROLLER: MiniLab 3 is USB...

Arturia MiniLab 3 is one of the top contenders for best 25-key MIDI controller, coming close to rivaling the acclaimed Akai MPK series. With its sleek, modern aesthetic, the MiniLab 3 looks as good as it performs. Where the MiniLab 3 truly shines is its array of assignable controls, including eight rotary knobs, four faders, and eight performance pads (16 with two banks). The faders in particular add expressive possibilities lacking in many competitors. The pads deliver responsive playback second only to MPC-style pads.

Beyond these assignable controls, the MiniLab 3 boasts excellent production tools like an arpeggiator, advanced Chord mode, and 5-pin MIDI I/O for connecting external gear. Though some may rank the MPK series higher, the MiniLab 3 tempts many with its unmatched software bundle. For those seeking top-notch performance controls in a portable 25-key controller, the MiniLab 3 brings dynamic expression and versatility to music production and live performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What features should I look for when selecting a portable MIDI keyboard?

When choosing a portable MIDI keyboard, consider key size and number, velocity-sensitive keys, key action, and connectivity. Key sizes typically range from 25 to 61 keys or more. Velocity-sensitive keys allow for expressive playing dynamics. Test keyboards for a natural, responsive key feel. Most portable keyboards connect via USB-MIDI but Bluetooth connectivity provides untethered use. Other beneficial features include assignable knobs, faders, and pads to control software parameters. Built-in sounds and synthesizer engines allow for standalone use without a computer. Battery power and a keyboard stand or case optimize portability. Prioritize the features that suit your usage – production or performance.

What are some top models of portable MIDI keyboard worth considering?

Some popular portable MIDI keyboard options include the Akai MPK Mini Mk3, Arturia Minilab MkII, Novation Launchkey Mini Mk3, Nektar Impact LX25+, Native Instruments KOMPLETE KONTROL M32, and the ROLI Seaboard Blocks. These keyboards provide 25-37 compact, velocity-sensitive keys along with assignable controls like pads, knobs, and faders. They offer deep DAW integration, expansive compatibility, and premium quality construction for mobile music production and performance. For portable MIDI keyboard needs, they are versatile, reliable options to consider.