A MIDI keyboard controller enables all computers and instruments in a music studio to connect with one another. If you don’t want your creativity to be restricted to four walls, you might consider investing in the best travel MIDI keyboard.
These ubiquitous gadgets may be plugged directly into your PC or laptop through USB – or even function wirelessly over Bluetooth in certain situations – and let you to perform and record with your DAW’s software instruments and any VST synth plugins you may have installed. Some can also control hardware synths, turning them into a central performance hub for your studio.
Depending on your requirements, you have a variety of options to pick from. You can pick for a full-size 88-note model with weighted hammer-action keys or a tiny, portable MIDI keyboard that fits neatly in a laptop bag. Most of the alternatives we propose have extra features like knobs, pads, buttons, and faders to help you be more creative and have more control over your software bundle.
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AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3
- 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 the world’s best-selling mini keyboard controller and considered the gold standard. 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 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. This tiny keyboard is a force to be reckoned with at a very affordable price tag making it the best portable midi keyboard in 2023 .
The Akai MPK Mini MK III has eight velocity sensitive drum pads that deliver excellent touch for accurate finger drumming and melodic sample playback with a number of keys that are pressure sensitivity. There are also knobs for excellent hands-on control of any assignable parameter in your music software. You can modify EQ, sweep a filter open on the go, and push up a reverb tail coming out of a guitar solo all with remarkable precision with the MPK Mini MK III.
The Akai MPK Mini keyboard controller comes with 1500 downloadable sounds, MPC Beats, and six virtual instruments (Bassline, Tubesynth, Electric, Hybrid 3, Mini Grand, and Velvet), as well as 2GB of sound content to get you started on your music production adventure. The power supply is via USB, which makes it extremely convenient to use. Simply connect it to your computer and start your DAW. Its plug-and-play interoperability with most DAWs makes it easy to use. There’s even an MKII editor for customizing settings and using presets. This device also comes with a variety of applications, including Hybrid 3, SONiVOX wobbling, MPC Essentials, and VIP 3.1. Overall, the design and performance are good, making it ideal for studio use and composing music on the go.
A 4-way joystick for dynamic pitch/modulation control, velocity sensitive pads, headphone jack, built-in arpeggiator with customizable resolution, range, and modes, dedicated Octave Up and Octave Down buttons, onboard arpeggiator, and a Tap Tempo button round out the MPK Mini III’s capabilities. To top it off, the MK III has USB-MIDI interface for Mac/PC, is USB-powered, and doesn’t require a power adapter. For all of its features, mobility, and durability, this is an excellent pick. This is the Best Travel MIDI Keyboard in 2023.
Arturia KeyStep 37
- 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 has a velocity-sensitive keyboard with aftertouch and RGB LED feedback, which are features that are usually reserved for more expensive keyboards. Hardware control of sequencing, arpeggiation, chords, and melodies is available with the Arturia KeyStep 37. This compact keyboard is jam-packed with smart functions that will boost your productivity. The KeyStep 37 comes with Ableton Live Lite in addition to its 37-note keyboard, knobs, buttons, and LED screen, making it a complete solution for your portable DAW.
This keyboard also has control-voltage (CV) pitch, gate, and modulation connectors, allowing it to be used with modular synthesizers. A 64-step polyphonic sequencer with eight patterns, an 8-mode arpeggiator with additional random modes, and a unique Chord mode with 12 voicings were also incorporated by Arturia. Choose from 12 chord types and a variety of strum effects in this Chord mode, then spread the voices out into intricate, velocity-sensitive parts that sound and respond fantastically.
Scale mode, on the other hand, allows you to map out KeyStep’s 3-octave keyboard range using any scale you like. Do you have a basic understanding of music theory? Don’t be concerned! Any key you play will quantize to the nearest note in the scale you’ve chosen. The Arturia KeyStep 37 also has 16 MIDI CC parameters spread out over four switchable banks, allowing you to tweak your settings in real time with four additional rotary controllers.
To top it off, Ableton Live Lite and the MIDI Control Center app come pre-installed on the Arturia KeyStep 37, making MIDI mapping a breeze on this best midi keyboard for travel. Overall, this is a terrific portable keyboard that is especially suited for gear heads, but it includes enough functionality to satisfy everyone. This is the Best Travel MIDI Keyboards in 2023.
Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 Controller Keyboard
- 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. 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 Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 is a small, portable MIDI controller with a lot of functionality. 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.
This Native Instruments small controller also comes with tag-based preset browsing via the Komplete Kontrol software, which allows you to easily select sounds and hear fast previews. The Smart Play feature on the M32 allows you to stay in key with over 100 scales and modes, play chord progressions and arpeggios with single keys, or map any scale to only white keys.
Komplete Kontrol software includes pre-mapped control of Komplete instruments and effects, as well as hundreds of Native Kontrol Standard (NKS) plug-ins from top manufacturers. 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.
Nektar SE25 | USB MIDI Controller Keyboard with Nektar DAW Integration
- 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 a fantastic small keyboard with exceptional velocity sensitive mini keys in a tough and portable package for the digital performer hardware control. 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 Nektar SE25’s velocity-sensitive tiny keys are one of its best features. These little keys have a wonderful rebound and a nice hard feel to them. Three alternative velocity curves are included in Nektar, allowing you to tailor the keyboard response to your specific playing style. 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 pedal.
If you don’t require transpose functionality or synth action keys, the SE25 allows you to assign the transpose buttons to manage pitch bend, MIDI volume, pan, track, or patch change instead. The “S” sustain button can also be repurposed as a modulation control. The Nektar SE25 has a one-of-a-kind Part Two feature that allows you to play in unconventional ways. You can add an octave or harmony layer while playing, or switch to a different MIDI channel, by hitting the “2” button to temporarily shift octaves.
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. Furthermore, the “2” button can be assigned to Octave, MIDI Channel, Transpose, Layer, and Latch functions, or a combination of them.
Novation Launchkey Mini [MK3] MIDI Keyboard Controller for Ableton Live
- 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 Lauchkey Mini MK3 is Novation’s smallest and most portable 25-key MIDI keyboard controller, according to the company. Given its dimensions of 13 x 6.8 x 1.6 inches, it is clearly smaller than a conventional 15.6-inch laptop and will fit into any luggage. It includes Ableton control, a creative arpeggiator with 4 octaves of range, 8 rotary controls. Fixed chord mode to trigger chords from notes, MIDI out, and numerous sounds, allowing you to create music anywhere.
In terms of software, the unit comes with Ableton Live Lite, which has a greater integration than earlier versions because it was built to work with it. There’s a lot to move around in a Live session, from clip and scene launch to track select and transport controls, device macros, and superb mixing support like volume, mute, and pan. You also get support for Logic Pro and the HUI protocol, which allows you to integrate with Pro Tools, Cubase, and other DAWs.
In addition, the Chord Modes turn the Launchkey MK3’s keys and pads into an interactive control surface with tonal and harmonic associations for every note you play. The arpeggiator allows you to experiment with fresh ideas, while the Mutate feature allows you to reorganize your patterns in a creative way. Custom Modes are another fantastic feature of the Launchkey MK3. You may make communication between the controller and the program easier here with each other. Custom Modes allow you to change your Launchkey’s behavior, including control assignments, MIDI routing, pad color, and more.
A TRS Type A 1/8-inch MIDI connection on the Launchkey MK3 allows you to connect your external gear. Whether you use it alone or with a computer, you can connect your hardware synths and gadgets to your setup and control everything from your Launchkey.
Connecting the controller to your PC or Mac through USB port is all it takes to get started. The front panel is well-designed, with 25 small keys that are all functional. There are eight rotary encoders, as well as pitch and modulation strips and 16 RGB illuminated pads that change color depending on context and velocity sensitivity. While there is no screen, everything is well labeled for ease of use, and the Shift + function is always available.
Overall, this is a fantastic small controller that can connect with both your MIDI hardware and your computer, and it works seamlessly with Ableton Live. At just under $100, it’s a steal.
M-Audio Oxygen 25 IV | 25-Key USB/MIDI Keyboard Controller with Velocity-Sensitive Keys and Pads, Plus ProTools
- Compact, ultra portable performance keyboard controller with 25 full size,...
- 8 velocity sensitive trigger pads for beat production and clip launching,...
- Dedicated octave up and down buttons increase the keyboard to the full...
For budding producers working from home studios, the M-Audio Oxygen 25 IV is a popular choice for a travel companion. It’s a little, 25-key device with some cool capabilities that connects to your PC through USB, as the name implies. One thing to keep in mind is that this MIDI controller is not small, measuring 20 x 10 inches (L x W). The full-sized keys on the left side, along with the usual MOD and PITCH wheels, contribute to this. That makes it ideal for a studio setting if there is room on the main desk or a side table to place it on.
However, the quality keys provide this unit’s best feature in exchange for its size. These are far more comfortable to use than mini-keys, and the increased space between them allows your fingers to wander about freely in your home studio. They’re also highly responsive and gentle to the touch, so you won’t have to apply a lot of pressure when playing.
There are also eight rubbery, squishy, and incredibly comfy to tap beats on drum pads. While you may modify the octaves on these pads, programming them to work with your DAW is difficult. If the default pad sensitivity does not work for you, you may easily alter it within the MINI keyboard without any external hardware. You also get eight rotary knobs to alter the sound in the studio or during live performances. When you turn them, they feel standard and well-made, but there isn’t enough resistance. As a result, they make compromises in terms of input and may not be entirely accurate.
Finally, while the unit doesn’t include any software, it does have simple integration with popular DAWs like Ableton Live, Logic, and Pro Tools. The transport buttons, which allow you to control your DAW without using a mouse, are also worth mentioning.
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...
The V25 is a mid-level controller from Alesis, which offers a variety of MIDI keyboards. This unit is very lightweight for most individuals to carry on travel, weighing 3.8 pounds, albeit it is heavier than the majority of the models in this list. All you have to do to use the keyboard is plug it into your computer, and your DAW will recognize it right away. It’s possible that you’ll have to look for it in the settings option among your MIDI network.
Most travel keyboards in this price range feature small mini-keys, so full-sized and velocity-sensitive keys are obviously what most producers desire. They also have a good responsiveness and a semi-weighted keys. The drum pads are illuminated and velocity-sensitive, and there are eight of them. Installing the V-Series Editor allows you to adjust the velocity curves of the drum pads, allowing you to go from 8 to 32 assignable pads.
You also receive four knobs, which you may use to control mixer settings or assign to effects and plugin parameters. The MIDI Learn function can even be used to assign them to any function. These encoders don’t have a 360-degree rotation range, but they do have a good 270-degree range. They are also attractively illuminated, which adds to the beauty when playing in the dark.
Other controls include pitch and MOD wheels, which are more popular than buttons for most people. The addition of Octave up and down buttons to the 25 keys allows you to reach a wider range of sounds if needed. Finally, the V25 includes a useful starter kit in the shape of Ableton Live Lite 9 and Xpand!2 software, both of which work nicely with Ableton.
Korg microKEY air 25 – Key Bluetooth and USB MIDI Controller
- Connect wirelessly to iPad, iPhone, or Mac
- Connect with a single USB cable; supports Mac, Win, iPad, and iPhone
- Lasts a month between battery changes
The 25-key Korg microKEY Air MIDI controller keyboard is the epitome of portability. You don’t even need to remember to bring a USB cable if you grab your laptop or mobile device and your microKEY Air. For those looking for a really portable keyboard to use in their on-the-go music creation activities, the Korg microKey Air 25 offers an elegant and simplified answer. With just a pair of AA batteries, this Bluetooth-enabled controller may connect wirelessly to your computer or mobile device for around 30 hours of low-latency virtual instrument control. You can even use your iPhone or iPad to charge it.
The microKEY Air-25’s main selling point is that it works with Bluetooth Smart “Apple Bluetooth Low Energy MIDI.” It’s completely portable, with the extra benefit of not requiring any cords to operate. The microKey may be used with MIDI-capable music production software on your Mac or Windows computer, as well as iPad/iPhone music apps like KORG Gadget, KORG Module, and GarageBand.
The microKEY Air is powered by two AA batteries and can be connected to a computer via a USB cable. You only need a single USB cable to connect the microKEY to your computer because it is powered through the USB bus. There’s no need to install a driver; simply use your favorite music software (or any of the microKEY Air apps), connect it to your computer, and you’re ready to go.
This micro keyboard also includes a velocity-sensing keybed, a pitch/mod joystick, octave selection buttons, and a sustain button, as well as 25 Natural Touch small keys that allow you to play over two octaves at once. The Legacy Collection M1 Le, UVI Digital Synsations, AAS modules, and Propellerhead Reason Limited are also included with the Korg microKEY. In other words, if you want to make music on the go and without cords, this is a terrific option.