What we are looking for here is not the best 25 key midi keyboard controller, but the best mini midi keyboard controller, for portability and travel use.
So, in this review we are going to be concentrating on size, weight, build quality, keys and added features for each individual portable midi controller, so you can easily slide this piece of gear in and out of your travel bag without breaking your back getting to gigs or making beats on the move.
So, let’s get into the hunt for your next ultraportable midi keyboard.
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The Best Portable Midi Controller
1. Novation Launchkey Mini
Weighing in at 2.1 pounds, with a footprint of 325mm width and 175mm depth the Novation Launchkey Mini is one of the larger Ultra portable midi keyboards that have been included in our list, but with all the features and workflow options it would have been an injustice not adding this mini midi weapon to the review.
The Launchkey mini is the smallest midi controller of the Novation Launchkey range, even smaller than its bigger brother the Launchkey 25 Mk2.
Good things come in small packages and if you’re an Ableton Live use looking for a portable solution then it hard to go past the Launchkey Mini.
This midi controller is packed with features on top of the 25 touch sensitive, mini keyboard keys.
16 backlit RGB drum pads have been included to launch clips and create drum patterns from Ableton’s famous session view and drum racks.
8 rotary encoders, plus multiple buttons to access sound banks and tweak the filters and parameters of your instruments on the fly.
2. Akai Mpk Mini Mk2 Review
Weighing in at 1.65 pounds and taking up a footprint of 317mm width and 180mm depth, the Akai Mpk Mini Mk2 is quite possibly one of the most popular portable midi controllers on the market today.
Akai has forged its name in the music producing scene, bringing out some of the most iconic pieces of production hardware, such as the Akai MPC and they have included some of the elements inside of this mini midi keyboard controller.
The Mpk Mini comes with 25 velocity sensitive mini keys, 8 assignable backlit MPC inspired drum pads for finger drumming and creating patterns, that can be accessed by the two Banks buttons on the controller.
8 assignable knobs, for manually playing with effects and instruments, plus Akai’s new added feature the thumbstick, the thumbstick is a replacement to the traditional mob and pitch wheel.
3. Akai LPK25 Review
The LPK25 is Akia’s bare bones ultra portable midi keyboard controller.
Weighing in at 0.09 pounds, with a footprint of 337mm width and 96mm depth we are no moving into lightweight midi controllers that lack the bells and whistles of the Akai Mpk and Novation Launchkey Mini’s.
The LPK25 has 25 mini keyboard keys, that have a good feel and response considering the size.
The keys are great for jamming up ideas and getting ideas and project started on the go.
The LPK comes with buttons that allow you to octave up and down the scale of the controller, quickly go into arpeggiator and sustain mode.
4. Korg nanoKEY2
Korg is better known for the synths and famous effects unit the Kaoss Pad but they are now also players in the midi controller industry with their Nano series of pad and keyboard controllers.
The Korg nanoKey2 has a unique key pad system, these low profile velocity sensitive keys, look more like buttons than traditional keyboard keys.
Don’t be fooled by the unusual keys on the naonKEY2, these keys are still playable and with 4 adjustable velocity curves, producers can customise the sensitivity to their style.
This is the lightest travel midi keyboard that we have reviewed, with a total weight of only 0.54 pounds, this is the same weight you would expect when you buy a wireless keyboard for your laptop.
The footprint of this controller is fairly standard for an ultra portable midi controller at 325mm width and 83mm depth, but due to the low profile keys, the height is only 16mm, making the nano key super convenient for backpack and travel bag use.
5. CME Xkey Air Review
The CME Xkey is unique in the fact that it supports full-sized synth style keys, with velocity sensitivity and aftertouch, allowing you to get that high-end controller and synth fell and performance out of a portable 25 key midi controller.
Due to the aluminum body and full-sized keys, the Xkey weighs 1.3 pounds and has a footprint of 388mm width, 135mm depth, and 16mm height.
So what’s the best compact, portable, lightweight midi controller for yours?
Well, that depends on what you want to get done, if you’re looking a great value 25 key midi keyboard controller that is portable but still has all the knobs and pads to create hot tunes then the clear winner is the Novation Launchkey Mini.
This controller is packed full with knobs, keys, banks, and buttons, plus its shipped with a great software bundle to get you making beats on the run.
- Launchkey Mini - the mini keyboard for Ableton Live
- 16 multi-colour backlit velocity sensitive drum pads
- 8 knobs, dedicated navigation and control buttons
- Software for Mac and PC, Including: Ableton Live Lite, XLN Audio Addictive Keys, Novation Bass Station and V Station virtual instruments and over 4GB of Loopmasters samples
- Novation now offers a 3-Year Warranty on this and all other Novation products.
Compact Midi Controller
Ultimate Buyers Guide
Finding the right ultra-portable midi keyboard controller is a personal preference and can be broken down by what your main intentions are of this piece of gear.
when it comes to anything portable size counts, so we have found the best options for you with the smallest footprints around.
This means that your controller will take up less room in your backpack or duffel bag, take up less real estate on your home music production studio desk and easily fit into your setup for triggering keys during your live performance.
You don’t want to be messing around with external power units while making electronic music on the road, all of the best midi controllers reviewed in this post are USB powered and Midi over USB, so, simply plug and play.
No drivers, no installs, and no updates, just make music and create audio art.
Due to the small size and footprint of the controller, you will not be playing full size, semi weighted synth keys like the modern-day Beethoven.
The keys still need to be responsive and playable so that you can create ideas and jam on the move, you can always go into Ableton, or your DAW of choice when you get home and edit and add automation and effects to your instruments to add movement and texture.
No doubt this controller is going to see some action, getting dragged around the country or globe getting banged around the overhead compartment and boot of the car.
So build quality is a concern that you have to have when you buy a portable midi controller, also look for additional carry cases that will fit your controller and protect it from any major damage and wear and tear that could happen.