What is one of the best things about today's tech? It allows us to be self sufficient, and we can create our own music. Back in the day, unless you were actually a musician or wanting to learn an instrument, creating your own music was not practical. It was just too expensive to purchase an instrument. Buying two or three instruments were definitely out of the question.
Today, it is really easy to create your own music. All you will need is a computer and a small midi keyboard. Just pick your favorite music/recording software, and you are ready to go!
What does midi mean?
In case you do not know, midi is short for musical instrument digital interface. The keyboard controller is a type of midi because it controls the sound on your computer.
You do not even need to be a musician, as the software is able to clean up your mistakes.
Hey - what could be better than that?
This post will take a look at three good midi keyboards. They are all inexpensive - around $100 so you really do not have to break the bank to create music for your YouTube channel, your ringtone, or that hot new EDM track you are producing.
Small Midi Keyboard
Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII
Akai has been in the musical instrument game for quite a while. They specialize in production instruments. This includes drum machines, studio monitor speakers, and of course the MPC series of products.
Akai has ten current keyboard controllers, but we like the MKII because it is the smallest of the bunch. It is portable, but is packs in all of the features that you will need.
The device has 25 keys. This is plenty, as you can still play all of the notes of a full sized keyboard. It also has eight MPC style pads. This is useful for creating those drum beats. You can make the beats on the slim keys, but there's something about banging away on the pads. Once you try it, you will know what I am talking about.
Here are some of the features and specs:
- 8 assignable knobs
- Tap tempo button
- Pitchbend/mod joystick
- Dedicated octave up/down buttons
- Sustain pedal input jack
- Comes with VIP3.0 - music software program
Oh, and I said it was small. It is only 12.5 inches long and 1.65 lbs, so you can just stash it in your backpack and take it anywhere. It works with both Mac and PC, so if you are already using GarageBand or Logic for Mac, you will be good to go. There's no power cord, as the USB cord powers the device.
You really cannot beat this model for the price.
Nektar Impact LX25+ Midi Controller
Next on our list is the Nectar Impact LX25+. Like Akai, Nektar makes a number of midi keyboards. They come in different sizes and with different features. This particular model is the smallest of the bunch. It is a little bit longer than the Akai, as it comes in at just under 19 in long. The LX25+ also weighs a little more, as it comes in at 4 lbs.
It also has 25 keys, but one of the reasons it is longer is because the layout is a little different. The pitch bend and modulation wheels are on the left side of the controller, similar to a professional keyboard. Lastly, the keys are regular size, so if you need to have that keyboard feel, this will help out immensely.
Here are some of the features/specs:
- 8 programmable knobs
- Dedicated mixer button control
- Works with iPad
- Sustain pedal input jack
- Octave shift buttons
- Comes with Bitwig 8-Track software
There are also 8 performance pads. These pads are slightly smaller than the Akai, and you also have the ability to choose from four color options. Color choices are important for some users, so I had to point that out.
The LX25+ also works with most DAWs.
Wait, what the heck is a DAW?
It stands for Digital audio workstation. That is a fancy way to describe your performance/recording software.
Like the Akai, the USB cord powers the controller.
This is also a really good midi keyboard. You would probably choose this model over the Akai because if the full size keys. If you have a piano background, this model may be a better fit for you.
Arturia MiniLab MkII 25 Slim-Key Controller
Our third midi keyboard is the MiniLab MkII. This model is more rugged than the other two. It is also the best looking controller of the three. So you have style AND substance. Like the name suggests, the keys are of the slim variety - similar to the Akai. The size is also similar, as the MiniLab comes in at 14 in long.
You know how the Nektar has the traditional pitch bend and modulator wheels on the left side of the keyboard. Well, the MiniLab has pitch bend and modulation strips, so the feel is a little different.
Here are some of the features/specs:
- Sustain pedal jack
- Octave up & octave down buttons
- 8 performance pads
The performance pads also allow you to customize the colors. Instead of two rows of four pads, the MkII has them all in one row. Size wise, they are more like the Nektar.
The controller also comes with three pieces of software, so if you do not have a favorite, you can try all three to see if one of these will work for you.
- Analog Lab Lite
- Ableton Live Lite
- Grand Piano Model D
Of course they offer the "Lite" versions, but hey, if you like the software you can always upgrade. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot get a really good DAW for free. For example, GarageBand is a free music software for Mac. It is good, but it does not even come close to Logic Pro. The professionals use Logic because it is a powerful piece of software. Since we are just starting out, we can roll with the free versions right now.
The MiniLab MkII is more like the Akai, really the only difference is the layout of the keys and buttons. The MiniLab normally costs about $30 more than the Akai, but the included software alone will make up for the price difference.
Best portable keyboard piano
No matter your skill level, we believe that these are the best portable keyboard piano options. They all are around $100, so buying one will not break the bank. If you are a piano player and need the full size keys, then the Nektar will be the one for you.
Do you want larger performance pads? The Akai will be the one to get. If you want a sleek looking keyboard controller that comes with high end DAW software, then the MiniLab will suit you.
What are you waiting for? Click the links above to grab that small midi controller, and start making your own music!