Love to make beats but so busy to sit around and dwell inside your home studio? How about having a travel MIDI keyboard with you?
So, the next time you have an inspiration, you can easily make it into a new music piece
If you’re planning to own a MIDI keyboard, you’ve come to the right place. We have a few recommendations here to get you started.
We include the pros and cons, as well as tips for you to really pick the one that suits your needs.
Of course, we’ll share with you our best bet, right at the end of the discussions.
We only give you a quick and precise description of every product — specifically on the features. Read on and learn more!
10 Best Travel MIDI Keyboards in 2021
Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII
Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII has 25-velocity sensitive keys with dedicated up/down buttons to make you achieve a full melodic range keyboard. It has 4-way thumbstick for the pitch and modulation control.
Comes with an arpeggiator with resolution, range, and modes that are adjustable. It has a few hardware controls that let you compose and record with the effect plugins, virtual instruments and DAWs anytime.
It has two banks of eight backlit velocity-sensitive MPC-style pads, eight assignable Q-Link knobs and ¼-inch input for sustain pedal if you use one.
This machine is already bundled with software and downloadable virtual instruments for you to easily make beats and music whenever inspiration strikes. It’s plug-and-play and can be connected to a Mac or Windows PC with a USB cable.
- Functions well
- Beautiful aesthetics
- Budget-friendly and the cheapest way to learn digital music making
- Build seems poor and flimsy
- Complicated software setup
- Need to be resourceful and have self-study
M-Audio Oxygen 25 MK IV USB Pad
Whether you are using the popular Ableton Live, Pro Tools or Cubase, you got everything ready for integration with M-Audio Oxygen 25 MK IV USB Pad.
The DirectLink helps you map the parameters from the keyboard to your favorite DAW, so you can make tweaks to the mixers, editors and transport windows. It comes with 25-note, full-size synth-action, velocity-sensitive keys, eight velocity-sensitive pads, assignable knobs, and transport controls.
With built-in customizable mapping presets you can easily interface it with the effect plug-ins and virtual instruments. The transport controls allow you to initiate play, stop and record to your favorite DAW from your keyboard controller.
With Pro Tools and Virtual Instrument Player (VIP) you can experience more versatility and flexibility with your music production.
- Pads seem nice
- Velocity-sensitive and keep up with aggressive tapping
- Keys are nice to touch with a decent tactile feel
- Plug and play connectivity without the need of any driver
- Buttons require more force to engage
- Encounter some problems mapping this keyboard to the DAW
A 32-key slim keyboard with a lot of features, the Arturia KeyStep is something you can rely on with your music craze. It comes with polyphonic step sequencing, pitch and mod strips, chord and arpeggiator modes, and so much more.
You can also take advantage of the ‘Chord Play’ function which allows you to play a chord and trigger it with any single key across the keyboard.
The arpeggiator provides arrangement to complex notes. The onboard polyphonic 64-step sequencer is quite an amazing performance tool. This controller plus sequencer equipment gives you various connectivity options including MIDI, CV/Gate, DIN Sync, and Sync.
- Keys are wonderful
- Solid-feeling and all parts are well-built
- Amazing features at a very affordable price
- Pitch and mode strips are harder to manipulate than the wheels or joystick
- Need to connect to a computer to set the length of the sequencer
- Sometimes velocity isn’t accurate
Novation Launchkey 25 USB Keyboard
Novation Launchkey 25 USB Keyboard is primarily designed for Ableton Live, but still compatible with other software with its ‘In Control’ function. It has a 25-key synth-style keyboard, 16 velocity-sensitive RGB pads, eight knobs, nine faders, navigation and control buttons.
These pads are laid in two rows of eight — the first row to launch clips and the second row to stop them — matching Ableton Live session view.
Designed to help you shape your beats, however you like, it has eight reliable rotary knobs make tweaking of the effects and instruments easier.
Lightweight, very easy to play with keys and pads that are velocity-sensitive for more expressive performances. It’s USB-powered, so you won’t need any power cable or driver to use it. Start making music with everything you need onboard.
- Very light and portable
- Keys are quite good
- Knobs and sliders are great
- Automapping is amazing
- The build is quite poor
- You can feel plastic on the frame
- Pads may seem unresponsive at times
- Need force to trigger
- Velocity curve is inconsistent
M-Audio 32 Keys Keystation Mini 32
Keep up with the world’s high demand for making music through mobile and computer-based recordings with the M-Audio 32 Keys Keystation Mini 32. It’s a simple, yet powerful MIDI controller that is designed for portable music production, sequencing music and more.
Featuring 32 velocity-sensitive with synth-action keys, pitch-bend, sustain and modulation wheels, along with the buttons and controls on-board, you can really expand your playing capability in a very expressive way.
It’s USB-powered, class-compliant and has USB-MIDI connectivity for easier setup and integration for Mac or Windows PC. You can also connect it to your iOS devices via the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit, which you need to acquire separately.
Bundled with AIR Music Technology’s Ignite software with more than 275 instrument sounds onboard and the Ableton Live Lite, surely you have something worthwhile to do while you’re stuck in the traffic or waiting for a delayed flight.
- Lightweight and compact
- Perfect for small studio
- Plug-and-play connectivity
- Can easily connect even to phones
- Sturdy construction
- Awesome velocity curves feature
- Better with arpeggiator
- Better if it comes with micro USB which is used in most Android-based phones
- Keys are a bit stiff
- Especially the black ones
CME Xkey 25 Note Gun Metal Gray
Don’t want to have dangles when making music on-the-fly? Well, you can do it now with CME Xkey 25 Note Gun Metal Gray that has both Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
It has 25 keys giving you enough playability, yet still have those features from the original Xkey. Even if you connect it wirelessly, it can survive up to 10 hours of battery life.
Adjusting most settings of the Xkey like the sensitivity, timing, and velocity requires you to download the Xkey Plus app on your phone or computer. The key layout follows the traditional piano’s octave range, so you won’t have a hard time adjusting since it’s already in your finger memories.
Keys and buttons have customized pressure sensor underneath that’s connected to an intelligent circuit board. This circuit board will produce details of your performance at lower power consumption. So, you can survive long hours of usage even without charging the controller.
- Great portability without compromise
- Excellent keyboard
- Very easy to set up
- Micro-USB connection is weak
- Keyboard freezes sometimes
- Needs unplug and plug again
Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A25
Make great music from a smart and streamlined keyboard like Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A25. You get to enjoy this compact 25 semi-weighted keys with 8 touch-sensitive control knobs, OLED display and some onboard instruments and effects. It’s packed with Maschine Essentials, Monark and more.
Express yourself through your performance with his best-in-class keyboard which you can connect to your computer or laptop via USB. And, since it supports full integration with KOMPLETE and NKS plug-ins, as well as leading music software like Logic Pro X and Ableton Live, you know making music is more fun.
- Sturdy and solid construction
- Pitch and mod wheels are great
- Good grip and resistance
- Has great integration with other software
- KOMPLETE Kontrol features are still lacking
- Smaller screen than the S series
- Less backlighting of the buttons
QuNexus Smart Sensor Keyboard Controller
Playable, portable and affordable keyboard is what most MIDI keyboards want to convey to their customers. However, there are only a few of these keyboards that live up to their word, and one of the few is QuNexus Smart Sensor Keyboard Controller.
You have full control of your analog synthesizers by using finger pressure and tilt to easily manipulate filter, pitch and more.
With USB connection and plug-and-play capability, you can connect it to Mac, Windows PC, Linux, iOS and Android devices. It’s a perfect centerpiece of your home studio or a reliable travel companion for making great music.
- Great to play with
- Reliable MIDI keyboard for travel and studio
- Keys are smooth and responsive
- Velocity sensitivity could be inconsistent
- Some complaints about the high price
- Given its limited features
ROLI Seaboard Block
Look no further if you are looking for the smallest, portable and award-winning travel MIDI keyboard. You just found the ROLI Seaboard Block with all the features you need (plus useful bundled software) and it’s named as the “future of the keyboard.”
It comes with 5D Touch technology, you’ll be able to touch surface strike, glide and slide controls and effects to be able to produce great solos and simple melodies.
You can access your sounds either from your mobile phone or computer with the software included (NOISE, BLOCKS Dashboard, Equator Player and MaxMSP). With its 25 keywave with two-octave playing surface and more than 100 sounds, this wireless and portable keyboard is a tool in making music on-the-go.
- Very expressive multitouch keyboard
- The 5D Touch technology is very powerful
- An affordable
- Yet great ROLI
- Steep learning curve for this new performance paradigm
- Some users may find the keys a bit smaller
Nektar Impact LX88+
Although an 88-note keyboard controller is quite big for traveling, we explained why Nektar Impact LX88+ is part of our list of the best travel MIDI keyboards in 2021.
Designed for players who prefer to have an extra reach, this keyboard has 88-note velocity-sensitive with semi-weighted action keys, pitch-bend, and mod wheels on-board, including faders, buttons, encoders, and velocity curves.
To control the MIDI hardware, you can use the built-in MIDI out and the MIDI programming options.
This MIDI keyboard currently supports DAW integration for Cubase, FL Studio, Garage Band, Logic, Nuendo, Digital Performer, and some other music software. All buttons and controls are properly labeled, so you don’t keep looking into your manual or memorize how they’re going to be assigned.
You can maximize the four velocity curves if you’re still discovering your style or use the three fixed velocities if you want a consistent output. It’s compatible with Mac, Windows PC, and iOS devices.
- Solid construction Reliable build to carry around
- Keys are nice and feel great
- Comes with outstanding features
- Especially the pads
- Some say the keys are inconsistent
- Especially the black ones
- Knobs and faders have inconsistent friction
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST TRAVEL MIDI KEYBOARD
Music inspirations just strike whenever and wherever, so it’s wise enough to get ready and have an instrument with you when that happens. Having the best travel MIDI keyboard in 2021 is really a good thing to have with you wherever you go.
Yet, it’s hard to really have a small, portable, yet feature-packed keyboard. So, we give you tips that will somehow help you assess your needs and preferences. In this way, you’ll be able to spend your money wisely — and not wasting a single dime.
Your budget is the main consideration when it comes to buying anything, not just travel MIDI keyboards.
The price of the keyboards depends on a lot of factors, including the number of keys, the size, the features and more bells and whistles that will add more color and life to your music production.
The higher your budget can be, the more amazing MIDI keyboard, you get — but, this is not true for all. There are also cheaper products that are way better than expensive ones.
What we mean to say is, every other aspect mentioned here is just minor considerations because the budget is that one factor that can change everything.
Number of Keys
Commonly, travel keyboards have 25 keys. But, some players prefer 32 keys or 37 because they think the 25-key model is just too small for them.
Choosing the number of keys is dependent on your preferences and your willingness to add extra weight on your baggage as you travel.
Inputs and Outputs
This is an important consideration when choosing a compact keyboard. While most gears are equipped with a USB port, you really need to familiarize these ports carefully. Sweetwater has more explanation, especially when you want to connect the keyboard to other instruments.
Choose a keyboard that you’re comfortable playing, not just carrying.
There are a few things you might want to check out for the keys, explained The Hub. You got to consider if the keys are velocity and pressure-sensitive, weighted and have an aftertouch effect.
This YouTube video gives you more options for your travel MIDI keyboard. There’s no fuss, nor flattery words – just commentaries and a few more tips to pick the best for your music production.
OUR TOP CHOICE
You won’t be buying all these 10 MIDI keyboards, you’ll either buy one or two of the products on this list.
So, in terms of extra features, connectivity and portability, we have a tie — CME Xkey 25 Note and QuNexus Smart Sensor Keyboard Controller. Both of them allow you to make music and beats easily anytime, anywhere.
But, if we are to choose only one, we go for CME Xkey 25 Note. Why? It’s portable, versatile and flexible. You have the option to connect it via Bluetooth and it allows you to make music up to 10 hours before changing.
With the Xkey, all you need to do is start making music wherever and whenever the inspiration strikes.