Compact Midi Controller Keyboard – How to Bring Home the Right One?

Compact Midi Controller Keyboard A Compact Midi Controller Keyboard can be useful for many applications. Here are the factors that would determine if you should go in for a compact midi controller or not.

Midi Keyboard controllers usually come in various sizes…61 keys, 76 keys, 88 keys but it is the smaller compact size keyboard controllers that you should look for if you want something that is very portable and does not take much space.

A compact controller keyboard usually comes with synth action keys and in some cases with semi-weighted keys.

Best 25-Key Midi Controller Keyboards

Akai Pro MPK mini 25-Key

Akai Pro MPK mini 25-Key

One of the more popular products out there, because of its compact size and sturdy build; great for on-the-go production. 25-key velocity-sensitive mini keyboard; ideal for your mobile recording setup. You get eight backlit, velocity-sensitive MPC-style pads (2 banks, 16 total). The Pads can send note information, MIDI CCs and program changes. The Eight assignable Q-Link knobs will let you adjust virtually any parameter. It doesn’t have any wheels though. Read more…

Akai Pro LPK25 25-Key

Akai Pro LPK25 25-Key

More compact than the MPK, the Akai Pro LPK25 is about a foot long but has several features including an arpeggiator, sustain button, and tap tempo. Its a scaled-down version of the MPK series of keyboard performance controllers, Read more…

M-Audio Oxygen 25 MK IV, 25-Key

The Oxygen 25 USB MIDI controller features eight assignable knobs, plus dedicated transport and track select buttons. DirectLink mode automatically maps these controls to common DAW functions including transport, mixer, track pan and plug-in parameters. Built-in factory presets offer support for popular virtual instruments right out of the box – no complicated setup required. Velociy-sensitive keys and a sleek, compact design round out a portable keyboard that’s perfect for lapop production, live DJ performance, triggering samples or composing on the go.


The compact M-Audio Axiom 25 II mobile controller combines all the production power and performance you need to get the most from your music software and MIDI gear. More than just a “data entry” controller, the Axiom 25 features piano-style, semi-weighted keys for a musically satisfying playing experience–yet it’s small enough to fit in a backpack.

Best 37-Key Midi Controller Keyboards

Korg microKEY 37-Key USB Powered Keyboard

Korg microKEY 37-Key USB Powered Keyboard

The Korg microKEY is perfect for live performance soft-synth applications or as a music production studio tool. Features 37 velocity-sensing mini keys, the key touch makes it easy to play chords, glissandos, and rapid-fire phrases. The Octave Shift buttons extend the range of the microKEY by four octaves in either direction – up or down. The Key Transpose allows you to play in any key instantly. Used together, these two features provide access to the entire MIDI note range. In addition, the range of the modulation wheel can be customized by setting minimum and maximum control change values.

Best 49 Key Midi Controller Keyboard

M-Audio Oxygen 49 v3 49-Key USB Keyboard MIDI Controller

The Oxygen 49 USB MIDI controller delivers next-generation functionality from M-Audio(R), the leading innovator in mobile music production technology. Oxygen 49 features eight assignable knobs and nine assignable sliders, plus dedicated transport and track select buttons. DirectLink mode automatically maps these controls to common DAW functions including transport, mixer, track pan and plug-in parameters. Read more

M-Audio Axiom 49 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

The M-Audio Axiom 49 is a 49-Key USB mIDI keyboard controller with Semi-Weighted Keys and an assignable control surface. It features large dynamic trigger pads, several knobs, faders, and buttons to provide complete real-time control over your software. DirectLink mode provides easy, automatic access to common digital audio workstation (DAW) functions including transport, mixer, track pan, and virtual instrument parameters.

Acorn Instruments Masterkey 49 USB MIDI Controller Keyboard

This may not be a very popular brand, but its a good functional keyboard and available for under 100 bucks. The Masterkey 49 USB MIDI controller keyboard comes with four knobs and the fader that can be used to control instrument or mix parameters, as you play. Pitch bend and modulation wheels allow you to add further articulation. It also has the octave up and down buttons to shift the keyboard range up or down instantly. Masterkey 49 is USB class-compliant, which means that no driver is needed for supported operating systems.

Compact Keyboard Controllers – Uses

A Compact Midi Controller Keyboard has less than 61 keys and as such may not be the preferred choice for live keyboard or piano performances.

If you have limited space in your desktop or in your live rig, you may need to consider going in for a controller keyboard with 25 keys or 37 keys or 49 keys…whatever suits your needs.

But you need to keep one thing in mind; you need a controller keyboard that gives you plenty of knobs and sliders so that you can control various software / hardware parameters.

If you are a club DJ, who wants to hook his controller keyboard to effect processors, and has a cramped space, you would ideally prefer a Compact Midi Controller Keyboard.

If you do a lot of recording on the move, then you need to look at portability. Be it at home, or while you are travelling, consider if your compact midi controller keyboard can be powered through USB (bus power)…this way you do not need another power adapter for your keyboard.

Typical Studio Setup

I’m sure you would love to use your 88-key Roland Fantom or Nord for all your recording needs, but there are times when its just not practical to use an 88-key or even a 61-key controller.

After all, most home studios allow only a small space between you and your computer monitor. Besides, if you just want to record an 8 bar drum pattern or a little melodic phrase, or a couple of triads (3-note chords), and not some piano concerto, a little controller with 2 to three octaves would be ideal to have on your recording desk.

You can keep your 88-key piano on a separate stand and play it when you need to play a piano piece. This arrangement, where you use the midi controller to record repetitive and smaller phrases, and then turn around a bit to play the piano (when required), works fine for most musicians.

The compact controllers are inexpensive because of fewer keys, limited functions, and don’t have a built-in sound engine. Its used to send MIDI data and the actual recording is done on the computer’s sequencer loaded with software instruments.

The on-board transport controls on the midi controller are a big help as you can easily press ‘record’ and other related buttons that act as a remote control for the software sequencer on your computer.

To Conclude

If you have a cramped space, or if you record on the move, or if you are constantly creating demos at your client place, then you need a controller keyboard that is compact and provides synth and software control in a minimum space. A Keyboard Controller with 25 or 37 keys from M-Audio, Akai, Korg, or Novation can solve your space problems. So take control of your software instruments with a compact keyboard controller that is designed to fit your desktop studio.

Read more on MIDI Controllers

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